MIKE TRAMP On Why He Doesn't Use WHITE LION Name For His Solo Band: 'I Tried, And It Cost Me Money'
September 29, 2023
In an interview conducted at this year's Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, Sweden in June but only now uploaded to YouTube, former WHITE LION singer Mike Tramp was asked how he keeps his voice in shape. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, I follow what I can do. And when I started WHITE LION, I was singing much higher than I should ever sing. So, in a natural sort of way, my songwriting from WHITE LION to FREAK OF NATURE to my 13 solo albums, I follow what was natural. Because I was 24 when I started WHITE LION; I'm 62 today. There are a couple of singers out there that have been able to almost sound the same through their entire career. It's not everybody who can do that. At the same time, I don't wanna go out on stage and try to recreate Mike Tramp 24 years old, 'cause I was a different person. So I feel that the songs need to be performed as close to the original, but also by who is singing them on stage. So when I recorded the [recent] 'Songs Of White Lion' [solo] album, it is sort of, like, in a lack of better words, it's like a new Indiana Jones movie — you know what he's done and what he looks like; he's just not gonna climb as high anymore. It's just the way it is."
Regarding the possibility of WHITE LION reforming for a tour, Tramp said: "When we broke up in '91, we always knew we would never go back together. And a lot of people always talk about reunions. WHITE LION reuniting would not be a better WHITE LION than WHITE LION was, so I'm out there performing the songs, not trying to recreate WHITE LION."
Asked if he has ever thought of calling his solo band WHITE LION and touring with new members, Mike replied: "I can't call it WHITE LION." Pressed about whether he would call his band WHITE LION if he could, Mike said: "I tried, and it cost me money. [Laughs] I think that the audience now is understanding that I'm just keeping the songs alive, and I'm able to perform it in a different way. I'm able to show the image that I'm not coming out there and doing a show but I'm gonna take them through like a greatest hits. I like to tell stories about what the songs are. You can't always do that on a festival when you have one hour, but that is my goal, that I will keep the songs alive. And I think that all the fans and the music fans know who Mike Tramp is and it doesn't need to be called WHITE LION. But it's called 'Songs Of White Lion'."
Back in 2019, Tramp revealed in an interview that he had apologized to guitarist Vito Bratta for trying to resurrect his former band without his onetime songwriting partner and bandmate.
The Danish-born singer hasn't played with Bratta since WHITE LION performed its last concert in Boston in September 1991.
In the 32 years since WHITE LION broke up, Bratta's public profile has been virtually nonexistent, while Tramp has remained active, recording and touring as a solo artist and with the bands FREAK OF NATURE, THE ROCK 'N' ROLL CIRCUZ and, more recently, BAND OF BROTHERS. Tramp also attempted to revive WHITE LION with the 2008 album "Return Of The Pride", featuring new members. Two years later, Tramp ceded ownership of the name WHITE LION to Bratta in an out-of-court settlement.
Speaking to SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation", Tramp said that he and Vito are once again on speaking terms following his ill-fated attempt to bring back WHITE LION a decade and a half ago.
"I have, over the past couple of years, been the one out there basically both admitting and apologizing that the only thing that I never planned to do in my career and wanted to do was go back and rehash a version of WHITE LION that had nothing to do with WHITE LION, nothing to do with the guys that played in the band," Mike said. "Mike Tramp's heart was not in it. It was just a moment of weakness, not believing enough in my solo albums. [You listen to] some guys saying, 'Hey, if you put a new WHITE LION together, you can play festivals and get much more money.' And then you fall for that and you engage in it and you go out there, and then you realize it's not what you wanna do. And then, of course, Vito did not want the name WHITE LION to be used without him being in the band. And it actually took a couple of years for me to really understand how much it meant to Vito. And when Vito one day told me in one of these conversations… First of all, he told me, 'Mike, I'm not against you. I just don't wanna turn YouTube on and see the title 'WHITE LION live in so and so,' and somebody doing 'When The Children Cry' solo and it's not me. WHITE LION was you and me, it was our band, we wrote the songs. That is the memories I want for the rest of my life.' And when he told me that, I had tears in my eyes and I totally understood it, because I had also gotten to that point that when we closed WHITE LION, we felt that this is where we wanted to stop it. There was something, going into the '90s, that didn't agree with the things we were looking at, and we wanted to somehow end it on a higher level than something that would not represent us in the future. But it just took many years to really understand it."
Asked if he understands why Vito doesn't want to play music professionally anymore, Mike said: "Yes, I do, because there are actually times when I also don't feel like doing it anymore. When all the magic around us, the stuff that made us fall in love with rock and roll — first of all, our heroes, then the industry, then the touring stuff — when all of that was really exposed that it was a two-faced kind of thing, that the people we thought loved us — and I'm not talking about the fans; I'm talking about the people that made money from us, and stuff like that — turned their back on us and stabbed us in the back, it really ripped us apart. And maybe it's just that I came from a different background than Vito, that I maybe was a little bit stronger or just of a different nature that I just fought back, but Vito just said, 'I just don't wanna deal with this.' And I understand now — I understand it from every conversation that I have with him."
Tramp also once again closed the door on a possible WHITE LION reunion, saying: "I can't be Mike Tramp 1988. I can't sing like that, and I'm not going up on stage and doing a half-assed job, which most of the bands out there are doing."
Mainly active in the 1980s and early 1990s, WHITE LION released its debut album, "Fight To Survive", in 1985. The band had its breakthrough with the double-platinum-selling "Pride" album, which produced two Top 10 hits: "Wait" and "When The Children Cry". The band continued its success with the third album, "Big Game", which achieved gold status.
By the time WHITE LION released its final album, 1991's "Mane Attraction", alternative rock was in the ascendancy, leading to a swift decline of the so-called "hair metal" scene in terms of sales, popularity, radio play, and most importantly, relevance.
Mike released "Songs Of White Lion", in April via Frontiers Music Srl. As the title implies, the album sees Tramp re-imagining select cuts from WHITE LION's catalog.
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