Ex-L.A. GUNS Bassist KELLY NICKELS Doesn't Want To Say Anything Negative About PHIL LEWIS And TRACII GUNS
October 14, 2022
RILEY'S L.A. GUNS bassist Kelly Nickels, who was a member of L.A. GUNS' "classic" incarnation, spoke to Waste Some Time With Jason Green about the out-of-court resolution which was reached in April 2021 in the legal dispute over the rights to the L.A. GUNS name. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, guitarist Tracii Guns and singer Phil Lewis are continuing to operate under the L.A. GUNS trademark, while drummer Steve Riley and his bandmates from the other version of L.A. GUNS are now operating under the new name RILEY'S L.A. GUNS.
Regarding the disparaging comments that Lewis and Guns have made about RILEY'S L.A. GUNS in recent months, Nickels said: "The reason we don't ever say anything negative about them is that I don't want the fans to think that everything about L.A. GUNS is negative. I can't have that side being negative and this side being negative. I don't want it all to be negative about the band; there has to be a positive side about it. That's why we're not gonna take the time and be involved in [a war of words].
"[RILEY'S L.A. GUNS is] a hobby at this point," Kelly clarified. "We get together every few weeks; we do a show. We're just trying to have fun and play music and songs that we worked on that are part of our history. We needed to keep L.A. GUNS in the name somehow, or else we have nothing. And for Steve, who's been in the band [for] 30-something years, to walk away from that… he wouldn't do it. We'd rather not do it. So we worked it out. We put 'RILEY'S' in it. We were all cool with that; we don't care. At least the fans know. This is what's happening now. We're here [playing] tonight with GREAT WHITE," he added, referencing another group which has gone through a legal dispute over its name]. "There's a lot of bands it happens [to] after 30-year careers; some people drift apart and things happen.
"I just don't want to be surrounded by negativity and I want there to be positivity for some part of it," Nickels added.
RILEY'S L.A. GUNS features Riley and Nickels alongside Orlando, Florida-based guitarist/vocalist Kurt Frohlich and guitarist Scott Griffin, who played bass for L.A. GUNS from 2007 until 2009, and then again from 2011 to 2014.
RILEY'S L.A. GUNS will release a new single, "Overdrive", digitally on October 21 via Golden Robot Records. The track is taken from the band's upcoming sophomore album, "The Dark Horse", tentatively due mid-2023.
In January 2020, Riley was sued by Lewis and Guns in California District Court. Joining Riley as defendants in the case were the three musicians who performed in his rival version of L.A. GUNS; that group's manager, booking agent and merchandiser; and Golden Robot Records. The complaint, which requested a trial by jury, alleged that Riley's version of L.A. GUNS (referred to in the case docket as "the infringing L.A. GUNS") was creating "unfair competition" through its unauthorized usage of the L.A. GUNS trademark. In addition, Guns and Lewis were seeking relief from and/or against false advertising, breach of contract and unauthorized usage of their likenesses.
In May 2021, Guns discussed the resolution in an interview with The SDR Show. He said: "We ended up settling in a way where, basically, [Steve] licenses the words L.A. GUNS for free; I'm not even asking for a percentage of when he plays. I'm just saying, 'Hey, I could have taken your house. I could have taken anything you own. But I don't want you to die in the street, and I don't want you to be poor.' And I really love his son, Cole. It just got to the point with all this litigation…
"I live in Denmark half the time, so when we did this thing called a mediation, that mediation started at 11 p.m. Denmark time, and it was nine hours," he continued. "And I just had a baby. And my wife and my baby were in the bedroom, and I'm in the living room, and this is our first apartment there, which is, like, 72 square meters — it's tiny. And I'm up, and I'm doing this mediation. And finally, it just got to the point where [we were] just going back and forth, and I'm, like, 'How can I easily make it just make sense?' 'Cause in the end, they had no argument. 'Well, I'm in L.A. GUNS.' That was the argument. No, you're not — you're not in L.A. GUNS. You were hired by me. The bass player guy was hired by me. And it's as simple as that. But if you wanna pretend that you came up with the name or you formed the band or it was your musical vision or that you even wrote one fucking song, you can go live in that fantasy, as long as it doesn't infringe on my business."
In a separate interview with Sonic Perspectives, Guns addressed the fact that Riley's version of L.A. GUNS played at the M3 Rock Festival in 2019 and released a full-length album under the L.A. GUNS name, 2020's "Renegades". He said: "Dude, when they did those couple of shows, we got so much angry e-mail from our fans. People were, like, 'What the fuck? None of you guys were there!' We would have to explain it's a different band with the same name. When I say a lot, I'm talking over a thousand e-mails. Then they put out a record using the name L.A. GUNS, [and] the e-mails just escalated. That was the point where some from our family stepped who had unlimited funds, which we used to stop this. It was what we needed to do, and it is done. Can you imagine, now they have to make up their legal fees? In what reality is it worth it? For Steve Riley to spend $80,000, and they will never make that back with RILEY'S L.A. GUNS. There is no logic, and it's so bizarre."
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