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The Winery Dogs


The Winery Dogs is a hard rock super-group of sorts, featuring guitarist Richie Kotzen (Poison, etc), bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, etc) and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre, etc). The band has just released its second album, Hot Streak, and it’s about to hit Denver’s Marquis Theatre, so we spoke to Kotzen…T

Yellow Scene: How did you hook up with Billy and Mike?

Richie Kotzen: I’ve known Billy for over 20 years. When I moved to Los Angeles back in 1990, he was one of the first people that I became friendly with. Our connection stems from a man by the name of Mike Barney, who had a record label called Shrapnel Records. Shrapnel signed me to their label when I was 18 and I started making records for them, and Billy shortly after that. We maintained a friendship over the years. Mike, I met through Eddie Trunk, another friend of mine, a DJ from New York City. The band started as a very casual meeting – we wanted to try and see if we could something really fun, and we got together at my house, wrote a couple of songs together, it was very easy and before we knew it, we had about ten or eleven tracks that we really liked. We decided to start recording, and we made a record. Originally, it was meant to be ore of a thing for us to do to have some fun, and it turned into a real band. We ended up doing over 100 shows around the world, and here we are now with our second record. Thankfully, it’s getting an even better response this time than the first one, so I guess we’re doing something right.

YS: You’re all really busy with other bands – how does the songwriting process work?

RK: For me it’s a nice process because I have a solo project that’s been great to me over the years. I started that in 1989 and I continue to do that. That’s the only real thing that I do. The Winery Dogs is a nice addition to that. For me, it’s a pendulum that swings. Right now, I’m in Winery Dogs mode – we wrote a great record together and we’ll probably tour for about a year. Once that cycle ends, I’ll likely have written a collection of new songs, and I’ll feature them on a new solo record at some point. With Billy, he has his band Mr. Big that he gets together with from time to time, as well as his fusion band Niacin. We all have things that keep us busy. Mike is the one who has the most on the table, but according to him, the Winery Dogs is a priority. This is now a project, it’s a real band and we love playing together. We have a great record, so at least for the next year or two we’re going to be focussed on promoting this record and touring.

YS: Do you like playing Colorado?

RK: It’s been great. We’re looking forward to coming out there and playing. The good news for you guys in Colorado is that we’ll have a lot of shows under our belt so you’re gonna get the Winery Dogs at their very best. We started the tour in Connecticut – that was our first show. We’re doing a lot of new songs. Any time you introduce new material it takes a while for it to adjust, but by the time we get to Colorado we’re gonna be playing at a whole other level and I’m looking forward to it. I think the audience is gonna be great.

YS: You’re here on Halloween – anything planned for that?

RK: That’s great. I’ll have to wear a costume.

YS: When the tour’s done, what’s next?

RK: Oh God. I hate to sound like a hippie guy, but I don’t really think that far in advance. I know that for the next year, we’re gonna be touring. We’ve got this United States tour, we’ll take a break for the holidays, but we’re gonna go right back at it in January and February when we’ll be in Europe. We’ve got plans for Latin America, Japan, Australia, it looks like it’s coming together. We’ll do another run in the United States in the summer, when hopefully we’ll do a lot of festivals. I know next October, we’ll go on the Monsters cruise again. We’re booked all the way up until October of next year. The whole thing with me is, as long as it’s fun, as long as people enjoy the band and we’re out there, it’s resonating with out base, we’ll continue to play. I’m feeling great, I’m excited, and hopefully this lasts for a long time.

The Winery Dogs plays with Kicking Harold at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, at the Marquis Theatre; 2009 Larimer St., Denver; 303-487-0111; $25-$28.


Brett Calwood
Brett Callwood is an English journalist, copy writer, editor and author, currently living and working in Los Angeles. He is the music editor with the LA Weekly. He was previously a reporter at the Longmont Times-Call and Daily Camera, the music editor at the Detroit Metro Times and editor-in-chief at Yellow Scene magazine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Callwood

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