Prior to The Assassins, Michael Grant was the driving force behind Endeverafter, a San Francisco based alternative/hard rock band signed to Epic Records in the early 2000’s. Handling vocals, lead guitars, and songwriting, Grant released two albums with the band before disbanding them in 2012.
Grant then served as touring guitarist for LA Guns for five years and recorded one album (The Missing Peace) with the band. Grant plans to take The Assassins out and play shows once the world gets back to normal.
Michael Grant and the Assassins have a new record entitled “Always The Villain” and Grant plays all instruments on the record with a little help from LA Guns drummer Shane F. on a few tracks.
Rock N Roll Experience had the chance to chat with Michael on June 19, 2020 and the conversation went like this:
Rock N Roll Experience: Why is your backing band called “The Assassins”?
Michael Grant: It just felt right
Rock N Roll Experience: Your new record is called “Always The Villain”, do you feel like a villain?
Michael Grant: In alot of instances in my life, yes. Definitely. And if not me feeling that way it's alot of people pinning me to actually be as the villain, like the villain
Rock N Roll Experience: Why did you leave LA Guns?
Michael Grant: Technically I was fired by Phil Lewis and uh, you know, it's...I think that people who were around could kind of piece it together why and to me it's kind of old news and I'm trying to move past that and pave my own way. I don't even want to be mentioned in the same article as them.
Rock N Roll Experience: When Phil Lewis made the comment about all black people being one dimensional at a show here in Baltimore did that shock you and do you agree with that?
Michael Grant: Are you kidding me?? I was incredibly incredibly pissed at him and disappointed at him (Phil Lewis) as a human being for that. For one, whatever he said onstage did not represent anyone else's opinion in the band. Those were soly his (opinions) and unfortunately we had the trickle down of that and it's like, dude, none of us, we're like dude what are you talking about, I mean I love hip hop, I love R&B, I love Soul, I love Jazz, some of the best music on the planet, and he was just, what he (Phil Lewis) said was unbelievable and especially the young cats in the band like me & Shane, we were just like incredibly not down with that shit, we were just, we were like, can you believe this fucking guy? So yeah, that had nothing to do with my opinion at all, I would hate Prince then (laughs)
Rock N Roll Experience: Would you ever play music with Phil Lewis again?
Michael Grant: I would never play with Phil again.
Rock N Roll Experience: Musically speaking “Nightmares” has an alternative sound to it and is very different than what you did with LA Guns for 5 years. As an artist did you ever feel limited by only playing hair metal in LA Guns?
Michael Grant: Right, and I was incredibly limited, I was limited to how intense my guitar solos would be at shows, to every degree of being held back, I was pretty much held back, and when Michael Grant and the Assassin's, my goal for one was to do nothing close to LA Guns. I wanted my album to not be compared to or even in the same genre and hopefully I accomplished that. That was the main goal because everybody, I think, when I got fired or when I left LA Guns, I think everybody was expecting me to come out with like a fucking LA Guns album or something in the vain of and I had absolutely zero interest in doing so at all. LA Guns for me was to put food on the table and to pay the bills to be honest.
Rock N Roll Experience: Who is “Red Light Run” about?
Michael Grant: It's about an ex girlfriend of mine. She will not be named but she's Voldemort, do you know what I mean? (Laughs)
Rock N Roll Experience: Being the lead singer/guitarist for this project you have more responsibilities onstage now, would you consider adding a 2nd guitarist to the live band?
Michael Grant: If I found the right guy with the right vibe I would definitely consider it but until then I would probably just resume being a power trio. It would really have to be the right guy with the right personality, someone you could get along with on tours, someone who really got the music, someone who was flexible enough in genres that they could even make it happen. Some dudes, some musicians, some guitarist are very one dimensional, like if they play rock they do just rock, if they play metal its just metal, like that's their lane, and I think with this record and even the future of Michael Grant and the Assassin's music I want to be with somebody in the same lane, I want to spread out and have my hand in very many pies like I love different genres of music so I have no interest in making one dimensional albums.
Rock N Roll Experience: Did you learn anything from playing with Tracii Guns?
Michael Grant: Yeah, I learned alot from Tracii Guns. Tracii Guns is a sweetheart and he and I are still cool. He taught me some things, his style of playing, he taught me alot about blues, alot about some rock bands that I probably would have never listened to had he not kinda, and he's also been very supportive of Michael Grant and the Assassin's back then and now so I have nothing but great things to say about Tracii Guns. He's a lovely human being.
Rock N Roll Experience: Why did you choose to play every instrument on the new record as opposed to bringing in other musicians to play/write with?
Michael Grant: At first I did try to do the whole put a band together and try to write with them and make something special and every line up or every member that I would hook up with, they would just either be a little flakey or more often than not it was being flakey, undependable, unreliable, and after shuffling through so many musicians, after a certain point especially when you have a contractual deadline to deliver an album, I just said, you know what? I could actually do fucking all of it myself and I did. I hopped up on every single instrument and I know exactly how I want the songs, I'm the only songwriter and in my head the songs are already done before they are even put to tape so I just did my due diligence and studio work and I got it done, every single instrument. I had a little help on the drums fron Shane who played in LA Guns at the same time with me. He did a couple of those tracks on drums and once I couldn't get anyone to really come in or really be into it I just got fed up man, I just decided to do everything myself. It was more out of necessity than I had to show people I could play all these instruments, it was like, I got to get this shit done and it was kind of like that Wayne's World Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, if you build it they Will come kind of thing and in my mind, if I just make it a great record, or as great a record that I could make, hopefully the other pieces will just kind of line up and follow along. If I build it they will just come. So, that was my whole thing and in the end, it ended up being a good thing I guess in some ways.
Rock N Roll Experience: How has becoming a new father changed your outlook on life?
Michael Grant: Tons! I mean like, becoming a new father is obviously one of the most important things I've ever done with my life and now your life is no longer about you where you would kind of think selfishly, now its different. For me everything is like, how am I going to be a good father, how am I help this little girl to grow up and be an awesome, strong, beautiful young lady, so its totally different, I don't really party anymore, i don't even have an interest to do that shit because like, for me, family, family, family, I was always really family oriented since I was a kid, like even now so, being a father, so yeah, everything has changed. I'm scared to even go to the store because I may infect my daughter, whereas before I would have been like, whatever, Man, covid, what's up? Come on, let's go! Have a go at me! Let's go! I'll beat you, I could survive you kind of thing, but now its like I won't even take a risk
Rock N Roll Experience: In 2021 will there be a full US tour from The Assasins?
Michael Grant: I'm truly hoping so, there's definitely alot of people that have reached out about booking Michael Grant and the Assassin's. I know that we have an Asian tour in 2021, but coming up that will be like Hong Kong, Thailand, The Philippines, just a bunch of Asian dates. I know that's lined up and nothing in the US yet because everything is so up in the air, but I'm sure we are going to make it happen one way or another.
Rock N Roll Experience: When you’re not on the road do you have a day job?
Michael Grant: Uhhh, I have little side hustles here and there. Like, one of them is I'm teaching guitar to a select few students via Skype & Zoom.
Rock N Roll Experience: Do you want to tell my readers how they can get lessons?
Michael Grant: I'm all good. I have alot of students already. (Laughs) If anybody wants to, you can all reach out to me and we could definitely talk about it for guitar lessons. The main thing I want to promote is just Michael Grant and the Assassin's "Always The Villain".
Rock N Roll Experience: Would The Assasins ever do a tour opening for LA Guns?
Michael Grant: I don't think that will ever happen. Nah. As much as possible I want to keep my shit separate from them as musically, artistically, sonically if it hasn't already, I just think like it's already confusing enough, there's 2 renditions of LA Guns and that's already a mind fuck so putting Michael Grant and the Assassin's on the bill it would just....no.
Rock N Roll Experience: The song "Break Me With U" off your new record sounds slightly like "Purple Rain" by Prince to me, would you agree with that?
Michael Grant: That is incredibly accurate, I fly my influences very proudly just like alot of Rock n roll bands like KISS for instance, and they will ride that. I ride my Prince influence into the ground as well (laughs) I'm proud of it and to even be compared or for people to pick up on that and to get that vibe, for me, is like mission accomplished.
Rock N Roll Experience: Is there anything else you would like the say?
Michael Grant: Michael Grant and the Assassin's "Always The Villain" is coming out on July 10 and everybody watch out for it. We got the "Red Light Run" music video up on YouTube right now for you guys to check out and we are putting up a new video in a week or two for a track called "Nightmares" and we have a lyric video for another track coming out when the album drops for a song called "Runaway".