The members of power trio The Winery Dogs have long since cemented their reputations in the music world.
The supergroup is comprised of singer and guitarist Richie Kotzen, known for his work with Poison and Mr. Big; bassist Billy Sheehan, who has worked with the likes of Steve Vai, David Lee Roth and Mr. Big; and drummer Mike Portnoy, co-founder of progressive metal band Dream Theater.
The Winery Dogs will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. Tickets, ranging from $29 to $79, are available at www.oshows.com or by calling 888-695-0888.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Kotzen about The Winery Dogs and the group’s self-titled debut album.
Eric Schelkopf: You guys are touring with this album. What made you want to be part of this project in the first place?
Richie Kotzen: You know, the timing was very interesting, because I had just finished an album cycle of my own and a tour. I was gearing up to make what would have been another album of mine, and all of a sudden I received a phone call about the fact that Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy wanted to do a power trio and would I be interested.
And so we got together at my house and started playing and throwing ideas around, and before we knew it, we had a bunch of songs.
There was no laboring element, which to me is the ultimate thing. It was very effortless, and we got along great, so we decided to make this record. And now here we are, playing and getting a great response, so it’s very exciting.
ES: What’s the chemistry like in the band, as opposed to different projects you’ve been in?
RK: Well, the chemistry in this band is pretty cool. Unlike other bands I’ve been in, this is a band that’s starting from ground zero. And so we all have our roles and our things that we can contribute to the band that makes it what it is.
And so on that level, it’s a lot more exciting than just going out and joining someone else’s band that’s been that way for 20 years. I mean, that can be enjoyable, too, but when you start something from the beginning, it’s just a whole other kind of excitement. And that’s what we have here.
ES: The album has enjoyed a lot of critical and commercial acclaim. It debuted in the Top 10 on various Billboard charts. What were the goals in making the album?
RK: We really didn’t have any goals other than making something that was honest and exciting to us. We figured, “Look if we make this record and the three of us like it, then we’ve accomplished our goal.”
I don’t think any of us were expecting this record to do what it did. Certainly the charting on Billboard was a big surprise for us. This is all just like a bonus.
ES: You wrote the song “Stand” for the band Poison, which reached the top 20 on the Billboard charts. When you wrote that song, did you think it was going to be a hit song?
RK: I was excited about that song when I wrote it. I really was.
I remember when I did the audition for Poison, they had told me what songs to learn. I went in there, and for whatever reason, I didn’t learn them very well, and I thought – uh oh – I lost the gig.
And so they asked me if I had any originals. So I played them “Stand” and “Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice).”
After I got the gig, they pretty much let me know it was because of the songs that I wrote – they really liked those songs. So, Bret Michaels and I sat down and reworked those songs and made them into Poison songs.
ES: Do you see yourself as a veteran musician?
RK: It could have went a lot of ways. I could have joined Poison and then disappeared, but thank God it didn’t go that way.
I look at myself probably differently than other people look at me. The thing that excites me about music isn’t so much the gig or the show, it’s the creative process.
I play music because it’s an outlet. I’m not doing it to get up on stage and just play for the sake of playing.
I enjoy that, but there’s a monotony to that, so it becomes uninteresting real quick. The thing that I need in order to function in music is that creative thing, where you write a song, you record it, you release it and then you go out and play.
IF YOU GO
What: The Winery Dogs When: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27 Where: Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles Info: Tickets range from $29 to $79 at www.oshows.com or 888-695-0888.