I am proud to present another exclusive Hair Metal Mansion interview!
This time, I had the honor of talking with Harlot guitarist, Jeff Schofield. Harlot played a role in the L.A. Sunset Strip scene back in the mid 80's to early 90's and they have recently returned. They will be releasing an album on Retrospect Records soon and will be performing at this year's Rocklahoma as well! So I had the chance to talk with Jeff about all aspects of his career, from the early days on the Sunset Strip to signing the deal with Retrospect Records and playing Rocklahoma.
So here it is, without further delay...the exclusive Hair Metal Mansion interview with Jeff Schofield of Harlot;
Hair Metal Mansion: Hey Jeff, before we get started here, I just want to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview, it's greatly appreciated. So, who are some of your biggest influences and when did you first decide to pick up a guitar?
Thank you Andrew for having me in the Hair Metal Mansion. It has a feeling of familiarity. The band that made me want to get a guitar was KISS. The band that made me want to spend time learning songs was AC/DC. The guitarist/band that made me want to spend more time working on it was Eddie Van Halen.
HMM: Were you involved with any other bands before Harlot?
A few bands that were doing backyard parties, beer halls, etc....
HMM: Harlot first formed in 1984...how did you guys first come together?
Steve Zoelle, who is the band's other guitarist and my co-writer, called me through someone both of us knew and we decided to get together and jam. From there we decided to play together, he had a bassist and drummer he was working with.
HMM: Harlot was a big part of the L.A. Sunset Strip scene back then...What was that like? And if you could, tell me about something crazy that happened back then!
Los Angeles/Hollywood was really hopping in the 80s. The music scene was on fire and the clubs (and streets outside them) were packed every Friday and Saturday night, and many weeknights as well. We were fortunate to have a good run in L.A. and really enjoyed it. There is something very special about writing a song, working it to where it is finished, and then taking it out and playing it live. As far as crazy stories, I wouldn't know where to start, and would first have to run that by our legal department! Lol.
HMM: What were your favorite places/venues to play at?
We played the main Hollywood clubs, the Roxy, the Toubadour, the Whiskey and Gazzari's, and they were all great to play because I had gone to see bands there when I was starting out. But my favorite was the Country Club in Reseda because it was a bigger club and had a big stage and sound system. Our first soundcheck there I remember hitting a chord and hearing the guitar just echo all over the place. It gave me chills.
HMM: Being a part of the scene back then, I'm assuming that you shared the same bill with a lot of different bands from that scene...who were your favorite bands to play a show with?
Well being in L.A. we got to play with lots of good bands. A couple of the bigger ones included Vixen and Hurricane. We also did bills with other fellow Retrospect artists like Pair-A-Dice and Silent Rage. There were many nights we played with one or two other bands that I enjoyed. L.A. was such as rock and roll hub in those days that it was fun to play shows and also attend them.
HMM: When did you first start to record and what was it like?
We started recording within the first year of Harlot and continued throughout our years as a band. It was of course exciting, but each time we wanted it to be better. Those first recordings that at the time were so big to us, well we would later just look at each other and laugh. Like anything else you strive for growth.
HMM: Harlot disbanded around 1990...what did you do after that and how did the change in the music scene affect you as an artist?
I continued to play, write and perform, but it was different than in the Los Angeles heyday. The crowds began to change in the early 90s. Both in size and musical style. At that point you could see it coming, but some of the 80s feel held on, at least for a while. And of course may of us have continued to listen to those songs for years. Old habits die hard, especially when they rock! Lol.
HMM: Also, what have you been up to all these years? Were you in any other bands?
I've played with quite a few bands, including a band called Out To Lunch which for many years included Steve, the other guitarist from Harlot, and a band called The Mod Squad which included Jaime St. James, who you would know from Black 'N' Blue and Warrant. I also have a writing project I work with in Nashville.
HMM: Now fast forward to present day...Harlot has re-grouped and you guys have been signed by Retrospect Records. You guys will also finally be able to release your CD entitled, "Keep The Dream Alive". Tell me about how the signing with Retrospect Records came about....and what made you guys want to get back together?
It really just dropped in our laps. I had been told about Retrospect by Billy D'Vette, the guitarist in Pair-A-Dice. And Big Nick, their roadie (who also now works for Harlot) had also told Sam at Retrospect about us. When Sam contacted us about signing, at first I thought it was a joke. You know, something one of my wise guy old high school buddies had done. But when I got to talk to Sam, it sounded like a fun thing to do. Steve and I had done a one-off show with Wayne (our singer) years back, so I got a hold of everyone (including Rodney on bass and Dante on drums) and they were into it, and now here we are.
HMM: Harlot played their first show in Los Angeles in support of the CD back on June 19th. What was that like and what was it like playing with the band again?
It was really a good time. We had rehearsed and I was confident we'd do good, but once we got onstage and the amps started blasting, the songs just felt like they came alive again. It put a big smile on my face and I could tell the other guys were having a ball as well.
HMM: You guys are also scheduled to play at the Rocklahoma festival in July. How do you feel about that and what can the fans expect from Harlot?
We are excited and we leave tomorrow. We are also thrilled that they have us playing on 3 of the 4 days, so we're going to get a chance to get a lot of playing in. The fans can expect us to go out and give our all. It is a rock and roll show you know!
HMM: If you could pick the biggest highlight or the most memorable part of your career, what would it be?
That's tough, the early jams where the first songs were played was a great feeling, as were some of the early shows where we began to rise on the L.A. scene. They say you always remember your first love, I guess those days were kind of like that.
HMM: What's on the horizon for you as a musician and Harlot?
To keep playing and writing. The great thing about music is that no matter where it takes you, there is always more you can do, more you can reach for, it's a lifetime thing. At least that's how I see it. Judging from the amount of musicians still out there from our day, I'd say I'm not alone in feeling that way. As far as Harlot, I'd say that we are definitely looking to see where it will take us this time, the ride is part of the fun.
HMM: I just want to thank you once again for doing this interview Jeff....it's been an honor. I want to wish you nothing but the best! Also, if there's anything else that you'd like to add or if there's anyone that you want to give a "shout-out" to, feel free to do so!
First off I want to thank you Andrew for having me in the Hair Metal Mansion, it's been a pleasure. I'd like to thank the family and friends who have stayed with us all these years, as well as the new recruits. Of course we have to thank Sam at Retrospect Records too. We hope that people enjoy the new CD and to see them out there at the shows. Keep rocking, Jeff.
So if you're going to Rocklahoma this week, be sure to catch Harlot on the Retrospect Records stage!
Also, for more on Harlot & to hear some of their songs....stop by their official Myspace page;