Interview with Aerial Stiles September 2006

Q1. So, word from your musical camp has been quiet of late. What have you been up to?


I work for FOX Interactive and I write/perform/produce comedy songs, music & skits. On the side, I've been doing session work playing guitar on songwriter's demos and background music for commercials. I'm the demonstration guitarist for two pedal companies online at www.guyatone.com and www.maxonfx.com. I'm teaching a comedy music songwriting workshop online for songU.com. I've moved, so I hope to get another band going here in the near future.

Q2. Of course, you were a major songwriter in the early days of Pretty Boy Floyd. Were you approached to rejoin the band for their 2004 release, Size Really Does Matter?

No. I didn't have any material on that release. I was very happy to see Steve create some new music with new people.

Q3. Keeping with the last question, your past issues with the band have been well documented. Please discuss your past relationship with the band. Have you buried the proverbial legal hatchet with PBF?

You don't know how much I'd like to be able to say something pleasant and kind here, I truly do. I was raised with: "Say something nice, or say nothing..." But what can I say when "the proverbial hatchet" is buried in my back!

I want the fans to know that I'm not here to turn fans against PBF-- I'm glad they like the band and the music and I want them to. I'm not doing this interview because I'm bitter or whining. I'm happy and successful on my own. I don't want or need the attention, but you asked for an interview, so here it is. I'm sorry if the truth tarnishes the band, but it is what it is.

Right now, Vinnie, Kari & I (are all good friends) and we're suing together, (though with Kari rejoining PBF, he may opt out now, I don't know). They are not being paid publishing royalties and for the use of their likenesses. For me, it's a case of my songs and recordings being flat out stolen from me and released without my permission. According to what the labels are indicating, the name that keeps coming up on contracts is Kristy Majors, not Steve's. Kristy has licensed around 35 of my songs and recordings from demos onto various cd's such as the vault I & II, tonight belongs to the young, ultimate pbf, dirty glam, etc., and a bunch of compilations. About 27 different CD's in all.

I've heard that Steve didn't receive any money for these cd's either and complained to one of the labels about not releasing the cd's (which were competing with the release of "Size really does matter..." at the time), but I don't know that for a fact. Keep in mind, Kristy did most of this before he was even back in PBF himself! This has happened not only with my songs on these releases, but to others as well. Kristy is also named in a lawsuit filed by Cody Jarrett. They took two of Cody's songs, one of which was co-written with Chip Z'nuff, and recorded/released those without permission. They took Kery Doll's song "Seven minutes in heaven." So it 's not just me, this is just what they do to people.

I don't know if Steve is even aware that at one point Kristy contacted Vinnie and Kari to join him in two lawsuits against Steve. He wanted back royalties in one and the take control of the band name with the other. Then Kristy asked me to join them as well, saying: "If we have the name, Steve is done. Steve can't play or sell anything under pretty boy floyd." So you can imagine my surprise when I hear that Kristy is rejoining the band.

Anyone who's purchased one of the demo compilations knows the recordings sound like crap. Those recordings did not come from the masters. They came from bad copies and whomever put them out knew that, too. I'm extremely pissed off about that! The fans are getting ripped off. The original masters, which were much better in quality, could have been obtained and even improved upon with the modern digital gear that's readily available. Numerous fans have complained about the quality and rightly so. Here's my assumption: Kristy just saw an opportunity to make money. He apparently did not give a fuck about giving the fans a good quality recording. To obtain the high quality original masters, various songwriters have to get paid and he apparently wanted all the money because he sure as hell never asked anyone. Adding insult to injury for me, Kristy strokes his own ego pretending he's the one writing and playing on the songs--utter bullshit. Then what gets put out is just the worst crappy, baked-in-the-sun cassette copies possible that got pressed onto cd. It's not like I really want to say I played on it, it's fucking embarrassing.

The releases alone tell the story: After 10 years they release a new cd (porn stars) and it's almost all old material again. After that, a bunch of compilations of old demos. Most bands write and release new songs. What does that say?

At the end of 1990 I started writing for them again and gave them a 2nd chance after this rip off was tried on the "Leather Boyz..." CD. We settled out of court and I rejoined mainly because they had a new manager (warrant's mgr) who was my lawyer's good friend, so I figured I wouldn't get screwed again. I forgave and forgot in an attempt to move on and try to help us all become successful. Everything was fine for 4 years. I wrote and recorded a lot of songs during that time. After that, I wanted to do something else musically and Vinnie and I both quit and started a new band, Rattlin' Bones.

The bottom line is I've never done anything to these guys other than quit the band twice because I wanted to do something else. The minute I'm out the door the stealing starts (again) and screwing me out of what I created. Anyway you want to slice it, that's wrong. It's been 16 years of bullshit for me, dealing with these guys, who have attached themselves to my song catalog like a bloodsucking leach on my nut sack! I made the bad choice to work with them a 2nd time and shame on me. I should have known that a leopard does not change its spots. It's interesting how the PBF camp tries to not even acknowledge that I ever played with them! Now you know why. And that's fine by me. I don't want my name ever associated with PBF again. I don't associate with crooks and liars.

Q4. In the early 90's, you released a cd with a band called Stratosphere that had a sound that could be described as alternative. Was this a conscious transformation? Also, is the cd still available? Any plans for a re-release, if not.

It came out in '97. There was a 2nd CD we never released. The sound wasn't alternative, actually. The sound was more retro 70s on some songs and more Black Sabbath on others. I purposely wrote in the direction of a 70s feel. There's only about 20 cd's left and we don't plan to re-press any. We may eventually put some of them up on myspace for free download. The singer, Jeff Alpin & I are talking about it. He's in another band now and about to release a cd and focused on that.

Q5. Let's be honest. Some artists are rather irresponsible when it comes to merchandise delivery. When bands operate on the club level and sell merchandise to fans around the world, how important is the trust between the two parties and why does it seem that some bands have little to no problem violating this trust?

I'm not sure why you are asking me this. (I think I may have a clue as to why). I agree that the relationship is even more important when you are at "street" level. A band must do their best by the fans that support them at a career stage where a band really needs a core fan support to establish themselves. Why bands shaft fans when they need them most is baffling, there is no answer, nor excuse.

Q6. What's the most you've ever paid for a cd?

A new release CD, probably $23. But prices have come down since then. That was when "the wherehouse" was just ripping everyone off, I felt, with ridiculously high mark up. I'm considering spending $99 for a rare brent mason cd, though!

Q7. What feelings do you have for music sold on ebay? Any problems as an artist from a royalties perspective?

Well there's a song of mine "leather boys" being sold currently on eBay as a music download that I did not license. I'm not getting paid, so it's a problem! Other than that, I've had to ask 3 different people to stop who were selling multiple copies on a regular basis of a 3-CD set called "aeriel stiles demos." These were something someone burned and printed up. When it's a one-off sale anyone has the right to sell something they own, but when it's selling mass copies week after week, that's illegal. I asked them politely to stop, they did and that was the end of it. I don't want to kick people off of eBay, but just don't start up a business with my shit! No one has that right but me. (Will someone please explain this concept Kristy Majors?)

Q8. Do you have any feelings on this year's presidential election? Do you think there's more venom going around than usual?

N/A

Q9. What bands did you see on the club level and were shocked that they didn't make it big?

Tryx. I thought they had great songs and the whole package. I even wrote some songs with the singer Jesse Star. I know there's a lot more bands, but I hate to admit that it's been over a decade and a half since then, so I can't remember any others right now!

Q10. Back to PBF. The band, since you left, has released more tunes as demos than they've written as a band. Since you wrote most of the tunes, you tell me, is it really that hard to write songs in this style of music?

Not really, but it depends where you want to take it. You can write three-chord songs and keep it simple. Then it becomes more about the lyrics and the melody carrying the song. The later stuff I was writing for PBF was more riffs than chords, more metal-style and thus was more involved to play. They don't play those songs live now, they stick with the old stuff and later stuff that's similar to the old stuff. They just recently put a couple of them (kiss my fist & no respect for the law) on their myspace site, there's pic of Kristy that comes up, but that's me playing. I don't know why they never attempted to write more of their own material (meaning not mine). I can't answer that. My best guess is that maybe by using my songs it maintained a consistency; since their sound and lyrics, are in reality-- my particular glam style of writing to fit that particular band. I was surprised to see "Porn Stars" come out as half of the first album again after 10 years! I expected all new material given that there had been 10 years in which to write new stuff. But I'm sure the reason was that they wanted new fans to hear songs that had become out of print, so it was kind of a re-introduction approach and in one way that makes sense. But in another way, why weren't Kristy and Keri Kelli writing? Keri Kelli is a strong writer. Instead, they do 9 of my old songs and 2 covers and 2 Kristy songs. But with releasing such a barrage of CDs consisting of old demos as opposed to new songs, that seems like a quick way to make a few bucks as opposed to a serious desire to progress as a band. More like living off the past. Had they not fucked me at every turn, perhaps I might still be writing new songs with and for them.

Q11. Here's a series of either/or questions. Please feel free to drop in explanations wherever you see fit.

A. Coffee or Tea?

Iced Tea. I drink everything with ice in it, I don't like hot drinks.
B. Bikini or Commando?
I'll take a bikini stuffed with a female of ample bosom, please. But to stay out of trouble, I've actually got one of those at home. :)
C. Songwriter or Performer?
I love to play guitar live, that's my favorite thing in the world to do. However, I've been fortunate enough to make a living writing songs (and now teaching songwriting workshops, too) so I have to go with what's keeping food on the table. That said, I'm so grateful that I get to play music every day instead of working some other type of job.
D. Glam or Punk?
Punk: X, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, The Germs, The Gears, The Adolescents. However I prefer 70s glitter to 80s glam, way better songwriting and less contrived. I prefer 70s glitter to both.
E. Can or Bottle?
Bottle, Corona or Heineken.
F. Jenna or Barbara?
I've heard it said that Veins of Jenna are a great band, I have to check 'em out.
G. Los Angeles or New York?
L.A.

Q12. When writing music, what's the process you usually go through with regards to order of instruments, lyrics, etc.?

Every order possible, no set pattern, wherever the inspiration comes from first. I try to make sure I have a good title or hook or lyric concept, match it with a catchy melody and a contagious groove. If I manage to do all that, then I've done my job. Back in the PBF days I always either had a title idea or a chorus melody. I'd write the chorus first and then work backwards to the verse. I always like to write to a groove, so I usually wrote to a beat on the drum machine.

Q13. Which of your musical influences would our readers find to be most shocking?


Before PBF and Kery Doll I was totally a metal player. Priest, Maiden, Ozzy, Old Scorpions, MSG/UFO. But I'm sure fans will find it more shocking to hear that it's also: Country music. It's the first type of music I learned to play. My dad's from Tennessee, close to Nashville, so I grew up listening to Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and Buck Owens to name a few. My dad played in country bands and got me started in music. What's cool though is that he actually helped us make KISS-like costumes for my band in high school. My sister was always playing records of John Denver and Neil Diamond, Elvis and the Beatles. I think those influences helped me because all of those people wrote or played well-crafted songs.

Q14. When was the last time you turned on the radio to listen to music?


Today. The nature of my job is doing a lot of parodies, so I have to listen to a lot of new pop, rap and country to stay up on current hits. Otherwise, it's all about the iPod for me.

Q15. What five cds have been getting the most spins in your player of late?

John 5 - vertigo; Jeffrey Steele - hell on wheels; Johnny Hiland; Zakk Wylde (never leaves the player); Wolfmother. It's mostly guitar players for me this week. It changes week to week. 70s style hard rock music is my favorite, so I'm digging Wolfmother. Yes, they are derivative but I don't see any of their influences making new recordings, so if you like the 70s rock style (as I do), this is as close as you can get to hearing some new songs in that style. It beats the choice of emo or metal with cookie-monster monotone vocals! I'm eagerly awaiting the day when metal singers sing again.

Q16. Are there any new bands you think our readers should keep an eye out for?

Killswitch Engage, although not really new, I think they're killer musicians. They have such a great sound to their guitars and drums in the studio and live. They recently did an awesome cover of Holy Diver as well. Anxious for the new CD. Also the aforementioned Wolfmother.

Q17. Over the last 20 years, what year would you consider to be the best, musically speaking. Which bands/cds do you consider to be the major reasons for this choice?

Great question. Let me say, that when I started playing I really researched my music history and went back before my time to check out groups from the 60s & 70s and what I found was that the music of that era was considerably better in terms of writing and playing. All were major influences for me. I can't narrow it down to a single year, sorry! But since I prefer hard rock, from '66 to '73 you have some great bands and albums: Jimi Hendrix (Are You Experienced, Electric Ladyland, Axis bold as love, Band of Gypsys) (, Cream (Fresh cream, Disraeli Gears, Goodbye), Deep Purple (Machine Head, Burn, Fireball, In Rock, Who do you think we are), Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Volume IV, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Led Zeppelin (I, II, II, IV, Houses of the Holy); all British bands. American bands like The Allman Brothers Band, Lynryd Skynrd, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, Aerosmith, I know I'm missing a lot here. Then there's the glitter rock bands: David Bowie (the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust), The Sweet (as they were called prior to '74), Slade, T-Rex & Mott The Hoople [all British bands]; in America, Alice Cooper (love it to death, killer, school's out, billion dollar babies). Alice Cooper's band at this time was incredibly musically talented. What I didn't like in 80s glam was that bands that had the "look" weren't laying down these kind of chops like Alice's band, so the music was just poppy and in my opinion, weak by comparison. But that's me, a guitar player talking, and I know others like songs and certain music for other reasons. These 60s-70s bands paved the way first and were the best at what they did. These are the inventors of heavy metal and glitter, which gave birth a decade later to glam. I also think there was more open-mindedness and experimentation in the Record Industry then. I don't think bands weren't as pressured to write "singles." Bands were given more opportunity to develop over a few albums before they were expected to sell big numbers; not like today where it's more like a "go gold or your gone" mentality. The radio playlists had more variety and every song didn't sound like a formulaic radio hit. There's no such thing as an album track today, it's about singles and that's it. I don't want pre-packaged pop idols, I want artists. The late 60s and early 70s are the era of the true rock greats to me. I've met quite a few teen-age musicians that are influenced by the music of that era and see it as stronger, too, and I think that's a very good thing for the future of rock!

Q18. After purchasing an import cd, what do you suggest to do with the obi strip?


Keep it intact, it helps increase the value of the import to collectors!

Q19. In this space, please promote any projects you might have.

I've gathered my comedy cartoons from the various web sites into my own portfolio at loonymusic.com. and myspace.com/throttlehold is a now-defunct metal project I had going on in CA that I hope get up and running again now that I've moved.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

Thank you for your interest!

Interview Questions submitted to Glitzine by a previous Staff Writer