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Members include Bobby Borg (replaced Steve Sweet and James Kottak) drums; Jerry Dixon, bass; Jani Lane, vocals; Rick Steier (replaced Joey Allen), guitar; Erik Turner, guitar; Dave White, keyboards. Addresses: Record company--CMC International Records, 106 West Horton Street, Zebulon, NC 27597.
From mega-hit, pop-rock-star success to bankruptcy to lineup changes, Warrant rode a wild roller coaster ride through the first decade of their musical career. The group surfaced in Los Angeles and adopted the City of Angels as their new home and as their launching pad to stardom. From the very beginning, the band took the motto of hard work and exposure to reach the largest possible audience. When Warrant played the L.A. clubs, they were well known as the band who got the plug pulled on them; they would never stick to their allotted time limit and stayed on stage until club management shut down their power.
In early 1989, Warrant signed a recording contract with Columbia Records just as the image-conscious, party-themed, long-haired, "melodic hard rock" began to take off. Almost immediately, critics chastised them and questioned their musical abilities because of the high focus on image. "Image is important, but it's not everything," singer Jani Lane told Chris Nadler in Seventeen. "The songs are number one and foremost. You may be able to hype a particular song and take it to the top, but in the long run, people aren't stupid. They're going to catch on to the fact that the quality isn't there."
Lane, along with bandmates Jerry Dixon on bass, Erik Turner and Joey Allen on guitars, and Steven Sweet on drums, released their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich and entered Billboard's Top 15 Pop Album chart within the first month of its release. Ironically, the first single from the album, "Down Boys," was also the first song the band ever played together as Warrant. "Thank God 'Down Boys' came out first," Lane told Screamer, "because that established us as a rock band. I don't want people to come out and say, these guys are a ballad band, because we're not. We have a lot of really rocking songs."
The single "Heaven" helped kick up the sales of Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich to 2.5 million copies. During the album's recording, producer Beau Hill didn't want to include the song on the LP, but the band knew its potential. Fans would almost drown out Jani Lane's voice with their united voices when Warrant played the song in the L.A. clubs. And they didn't even have an album in the stores yet. "There's things like that where you have to put your foot down every once in awhile," Erik Turner said in Screamer. "We're not a passive band by any means. We're reasonable, but if we really believe in something, we don't let people step all over us." Warrant supported the release of their multiplatinum album on the "Warrant Eats America" tour. They played 282 shows--175 in clubs-- in about 16 months.
After the tour, the band returned to the studio for their next recording, Cherry Pie, which also sold about 2.5 million copies. The singles from the album included, "Cherry Pie," "I Saw Red," and "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Warrant stirred up a little controversy, though, with a 54-second track called "Ode to Tipper Gore," a compiled string of expletives from Lane's stage banter in honor of the head of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). The annotation in the LP's liner notes stated, "Freedom of speech--what a concept." Despite a dispute from the band, Columbia Records insisted on releasing a second version of Cherry Pie without the controversial cut.
Warrant chose to maintain their image as a major part of their approach. John Mendelssohn wrote in Rolling Stone, "Warrant is New Kids on the Block with nipple-length hair and Marshall amps." Critics kept bashing their glitz and glamour as a mirage for their lack of talent, while Warrant's popularity and success earned them a headlining tour across the United States.
The single "Uncle Tom's Cabin" veered slightly off their pop rock style into a more hard-edged sound. The response from fans and the instinct of singer/songwriter Jani Lane resulted in a different musical approach on their third album, Dog Eat Dog.
"This record picks up where 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' left off," Jerry Dixon told Paul Suter in RadioActive. "That tune worked really well for us--it was a bit heavier--and the reaction we got was such a good feeling that we felt we should pick up the theme again. That was the starting point for this record; it's not such a big change that our fans will say we've sold out or thrown them a curve ball from hell."
However, by the time Dog Eat Dog hit the stores in 1992, grunge rock had already taken over the airwaves and MTV's playlist. Along with other so called "hair bands," Warrant's popularity, sales, and industry support plummeted. In spite of these difficulties, the LP went gold.
Later, Jani Lane recalled the two separate marketing meetings with the Columbia Records' president about Cherry Pie and about a year later for Dog Eat Dog. Lane recounted his memories to Alan Di Perna in Musician, "The first time I walked into the office, and I remember seeing this gigantic poster of our album cover on the wall above the secretary's desk. I thought, 'Wow, I guess we're gonna get a push on this one.' But when it came time to discuss promoting Dog Eat Dog, I'll never forget walking into [Columbia President] Don Ienner's office seeing this huge poster of Alice in Chains' Dirt over his secretary's desk. And I thought, 'Hello Seattle ... good-bye Warrant.'"
Lane's instincts proved correct. In 1993 Columbia Records dropped the band from its roster. Then Warrant was sued by its own merchandising company. This resulted in several members of the band filing bankruptcy, and within a few months, Jani Lane's marriage dissolved and he decided to leave the band.
Erik Turner and Jerry Dixon persevered and began to write songs together for the first time. Although they actively searched for a new singer, one was never found, and the band's future looked very bleak. Then, in July of 1993, Lane contacted the remaining members of the band and asked for a meeting to discuss a possible reunion. Ironically, the same night the members of Warrant decided to give it another try, Tom Hulett, their long-time friend and manager, died.
Despite their misfortunes, Warrant picked up the pieces and hit the road on a club tour across the United States. They didn't have a new album to promote, nor did they have a record contract. Yet, the band managed to sell out shows at clubs across the country. When they returned home, guitarist Joey Allen decided to leave the band to go back to school, and the remaining members decided to fire drummer Steven Sweet. Former Kingdom Come members, guitarist Rick Steier and drummer James Kottak, replaced the original members, and Warrant's touring keyboardist Dave White became an official member. Within the year, former Left for Dead drummer Bobby Borg replaced Kottak.
With a new lineup in place, the newly formed independent label CMC International signed Warrant to a recording contract. In 1995 the band released their fourth album Ultraphobic. However, the band still faced the shadow of their former selves. "We knew we had a very fine line to walk between being current and remaining Warrant, which I think we did a good job on," Lane told Sharon Kaufman in Circus.
"We were aware of the fact that there is a stigma surrounding the band, that we're still supposed to be 25-year-old, hair-band guys in makeup and leather. We weren't kidding ourselves. I feel very confident that if somebody listens to the record, they'll find some stuff that they'll really like on it. It's the getting people to listen to it that's a bit difficult."
by Sonya Shelton
Band formed in Los Angeles, CA, 1987. Signed with Columbia Records and released debut, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich, 1989; released two more LPs, 1991-92. Rick Steier and James Kottak replaced Joey Allen and Steven Sweet, 1994. Signed with CMC International Records and released Ultraphobic, 1995. Bobby Borg replaced James Kottak, 1995.
- Selective Works
- Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich, Columbia Records, 1989.
- Cherry Pie, Columbia Records, 1991.
- Dog Eat Dog, Columbia Records, 1992.
- Ultraphobic, CMC International Records, 1995.
- Billboard, January 13, 1990; October 13, 1990; November 11, 1995.
- Circus, Volume 26, Number 5, 1995.
- Musician, May 1995.
- RadioActive, September 3-16, 1992.
- Rolling Stone, October 18, 1990.
- Screamer, December 1987, February 1989, June 1989, February 1991.
- Seattle Times, January 18, 1991; February 15, 1991.
- Seventeen, March 1990.
- Wilson Library Bulletin, June 1995.
- Additional information for this profile was obtained from CMC International Records press material, 1995.
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