Interview by Lucky (SugarBuzz Hollywood)
Photography by Mila Reynaud
Lightnin” Woodcock is a bad man. He’s raunchy and animalistic. He hath sold his soul to the devil. He is the epitome of downtown LA blues. He also has a new batch of material ready to hit on Suicide King Records. With a need to heed, I heading to the district, crept along deserted stretch and skulked up back alley clearly designated no trespass. There in the night by a fire in a can I approached and commenced. The following transpired.
1) What was Lightnin’ like as a small boy? What were your circumstances as a child? Were you considered “special”? Did you have any religious upbringing? Any early traumatic episodes?
As far back as I can remember, Lightnin’ was horny. The discovery of Daddy Woodcock’s stash of nudie mags at a tender age gave Lil Lightnin’ the idea to ask babysitters to show they titties. I developed serious crushes on some of these older girls, but never saw any skin.
Lightnin’ was baptized Catholic as when I was just Baby Lightnin’… I don’t exactly remember details, but it was probably the scariest thing Lightnin’ had experienced since the day Mama Lightnin’ squeezed me out. I’m sure it was traumatizing, to say the least. Daddy Woodcock was never a religious man, and we stopped going to church when Lightnin’ was three years old… but I figure those 3 years of Catholic damage contributed significantly to Lightnin’ being such a pervert.
I ain’t lying, by the time Lightnin’ had entered first grade, I already had a filthy mouth and was a terrible influence on the other kids. When the grownups was around, I was extremely well mannered, but when it was just us kids, I’d cuss my ass off. My preschool and kindergarten teachers loved me, they thought Lil Lightnin’ was some kind of genius… then it all went to shit in first grade. Got even worse when Lil Lightnin’ found out in second grade where babies come from.
2) What is your earliest rock and roll memory?
KISS Alive II, Double Live Gonzo, Smash Hits by Jimi Hendrix, and “Earache My Eye” all came into my life at the same time, courtesy of my next door neighbor who had an older druggie brother. I think I was in third grade at that time; before that I liked disco, Sha Na Na and Shaun Cassidy. I remember dancing at the community center as a kid in the 70’s… digging on Amy Stewart and Donna Summer, and the DJ would slip “Running With the Devil” by Van Halen in between disco songs. Suddenly, Lil Lightnin’ stopped dancing and started listening. What the fuck was this noise I was hearing? It sounded too good to be real.
3) When did you start to be musical? Was guitar your first instrument? What was your first guitar and how was it obtained?
The first attempt was around age 8; inspired by Gene Simmons, I wanted to be a bass player. My parents gave me a shitty nylon-string acoustic and suggested I learn crap like “Born Free”. I couldn’t get the damn thing to sound anything like “God of Thunder”, so I gave it up real quick. In junior high I was listening to a lot of DEVO, Ozzy and Van Halen and still fantasized about being a bassist… I saw AC/DC at the Omni in Atlanta in 1982, and I decided that night that I was gonna be a rock guitarist. I started learning on another shitty acoustic at age 14; the first song I learned to play was “Don’t Need Religion” by Motorhead. My parents recognized my efforts and gave me a cheap SG copy for Xmas and I started learning AC/DC, Sabbath and Zeppelin songs by ear.
4) Who or what is your biggest influences as a guitarist, performer, and as a human being?
As a guitarist: Jimi Hendrix. As a performer: Angus Young (and Hendrix). For the last 16 years, my biggest influence as a human being has been my son Wolf Woodcock. For the past 3 years Lightnin’ has been in love with the girl of my dreams; since then the ol’ lady is a major influence on Lightnin’ as a human being too.
5) The ladies are all talking about your sexual prowess. At what age did you first become sexually active? Who was your first kiss? What is your obsession with Cunnilingus all about? Why should all good boys and girls give it a go?
The first kiss was with my cousin when Lightnin’ was 5; hey, we all gotta start somewhere. The first time Lightnin’ gave and received oral-to-genital I was young, too young. We were both 7 years old, it was the girl’s idea and it was the greatest thing that ever happened to Lil Lightnin’. Neither of us munched down for more than 10 seconds… but that experience might have fucked Lightnin’ up a little bit. I never got another glimpse of pussy until I was 15, which was a very long time to wait. That probably fucked me up a little too. Lightnin’ finally started fucking at age 16 and with practice, I started to get good at it around age 25.
Lightnin’ advocates oral generosity because everybody loves to get blown. But you know what? A lot of people are happier in their lives when they have genitalia in their faces from time to time. Lightnin’ has lived both ways in my life, and getting pussy always beats not getting pussy. And don’t you know? Blues music is about making you feel better when you’re down… and getting that gash will alleviate your blues every time.
6) Have your sexual exploits gotten you in trouble in the past? Please elaborate.
Who hasn’t made bad decisions in the name of pursuing sex? If you haven’t, then you probably haven’t lived. There was a time when Lightnin’ was on a first name basis with the folks who work at the anonymous clinic. Nowadays sex keeps Lightnin’ out of trouble… I like fucking better than fighting. If you spend more time chowing down on each other’s goodies and less time bickering about bullshit, you’ll have a happier relationship. Lightnin’ don’t need no Viagra, my dick gets hard and works real good. It could get me in all kinds of trouble if I ain’t careful, sho ‘nuff it did in the past.
7) Let’s talk the Blues. Are you a fan of all sorts of Blues genre or do prefer a certain style such as Delta, Chicago or say Texan? In your minds eye, who were some of the greatest bluesmen ever? Is there really such a thing as British Blues, or is it a reflection of Americana with a British accent?
No preference, really… Lightnin’ loves all sorts of blues, from prison work songs to AC/DC and all points in between. Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf influenced me profoundly, as did Lightnin’ Hopkins, Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan… Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, on and on… y’know, Lightnin’ loves all the same shit everybody else loves.
Sure, there’s British blues, the human condition is universal regardless of one’s geographic location. The blues spoke to the English youth of the 60’s, so they put their own spin on it and sometimes they made magic. Can you imagine what the world would be like now if the blues band Earth never became Black Sabbath?
Los Angeles blues is very dear to Lightnin’s heart, and mostly overlooked and underrated… Captain Beefheart, Jim Morrison, Frank Zappa, and Canned Heat all wrote timeless blues songs and contributed to the evolution of the genre, rather than simply regurgitating what the ancestors gave us. Lightnin’ feels that’s the problem with the blues nowadays, too many cats imitate the innovators and never push forward. Lightnin’ loves the fact that Jack White and the Black Keys are making successful bluesy pop music, it gives me hope for the world.
8) In your smash new single “Jesus Help Me” we hear a familiar story of the crossroads and the selling of the soul. Tell us Lightnin’, what sort of gent is Satan really? Is he as evil as we are told? Or does he just have a good press agent?
Satan is known by many names and comes in many forms. In Lightnin’s experience, Satan is most often female and usually looks Caucasian. Lightnin’ made my deal with an agent of darkness, not directly with the Lord of This World. Satan is crafty, clever and tricky, but not necessarily evil as we’re led to believe by the folks who still push the mythology. All of the real evil in the world is perpetrated by humans, always has been.
9) Who are our cohorts in crime on stage, have they rotated much or are they loyalists?
Currently my left hand man Lil Donkey Clayton Kemble plays guitar (and sometimes bass), Whiskey Will Lefevre is the normal bass player and John Lord is the drummer. Lil Donkey and Whiskey Will have been with Lightnin’ for years, you could call them loyalists. Johnny came to us in May of 2012; we knew him from his previous band HDR. We’ve had local legend Bill Bateman (The Blasters) sit in with us on drums a few times over the past year as well. Since 2006 there have been about 20 guys and two females that have recorded and/or performed on stage with Lightnin’ Woodcock. Probably gonna be another twenty or so before Lightnin’ calls it quits… It’s very hard to find good Bad Muthafuckers these days.
10) How did your affiliation with Ian Downs and SKR Studios come about? Have you recorded there prior to the sessions for the upcoming “$atan’s Work is Never Done (Vol I)” release? What main factor(s) do you attribute to the “magic” that permeates forth from SKR?
Our first endeavor together was the D.T.L.A.M.F. EP that we recorded with Ian and Philco Raves at Downtown Sound in 2011. SkR Studios was the phoenix that rose from the ashes of DTS when Philco moved back up north. Lightnin’ was at a crossroads, feeling like I was DIYing myself into an early grave, and was contemplating hanging it up and moving on to do something else. Ian put an offer on the table to make a record and release it on his label, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
We achieved great results recording with Ian because we approached it like an analog recording, despite using ProTools. Many of these songs had been played hundreds of times in bars, so we were able to capture good performances from solid players on the rhythm parts. When tracking Lightnin’s guitars and vocals, we took our time to get shit right, and when a mistake sounded cool, we left it. No auto-tune ever, Lightnin’ doesn’t believe in using that shit.
11) Speaking of “$atan’s Work is Never Done (Vol I)”, when is it going to drop and what formats can Shugsters expect to be available? Where do you recommend we steal, I mean, buy a copy?
The release date is 3/19/13… They’re taking pre-orders on the Suicide King Records website www.skrstudios.com, where it will be available on an antiquated format called Compact Disc, as well as digital download. They intend to put the record on vinyl as quickly as possible, but don’t know yet when that will be cuz times is hard all over. Lightnin’ recommends downloading it from SkR, because it will be cheaper there than iTunes… If you are allergic to paying for music, you’ll be able to listen via Bandcamp, Rhapsody, Spotify, etc. (I know you’re waiting for vinyl, Lucky… Lightnin’ hasn’t forgotten about you.)
12) Word on the street is that you ripped it up at The Viper in support of Nashville Pussy. Have you ever been booked on the same bill as Nashville Pussy before? Did you get to hang with them at the show? Have you ever met Blaine or Ruyter before? Just what is a “Nashville Pussy”?
This was Lightnin’s first time playing with Nashville Pussy. Lightnin’ hung out briefly with Bonnie Buitrago the Badass Bassist and spoke with Ruyter for a minute. She informed me that she used to wear the same pants that Lightnin’ was sporting that night. After their set, they split to go party up at the Rainbow, and Lightnin’ held down the fort at the Viper Room, so I didn’t meet Blaine.
According to Double Live Gonzo, “Nashville Pussy” is what or whom the Nuge dedicates a little love song to called “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”. He says it’s good for you.
13) Those who have seen Lightnin’ live are amazed that you can play guitar with an oven mitt on your hand. What in the world first influenced to even try such a thing and how is it even fucking possible? Can you play slide with the mitt on?
It’s required per the agreement Lightnin’ made with dark forces at the crossroads. Picking with the teeth, playing behind the head, all sorts of showboating is commonplace with bluesmen. Lightnin’ actually performs musical miracles by paying homage to Hendrix without touching the string with my fingers. It’s a devil-given talent… the mitt is always available for inspection because people suspect it’s a gimmick. It’s a regular mitt, usually purchased at the dollar store. First time I tried it was 1985, using the one in Mama Lightnin’s kitchen. Lightnin’ does not play slide with the mitt on.
14) What is your guitar of choice? I’ve seen you play a Parker, how do those rate? What pedals do you favor?
Lightnin’ uses the Parker for everything except slide guitar, which is all done on a Gretsch Diamond Anniversary hollowbody. The Parker is good for Lightnin’ because it has the tonal range of a Strat combined with a Gibson, plus it stays in tune really well. Purists seem to think that blues has gotta be played on classic instruments… That’s bullshit. I seen T-Model Ford play an Aria Pro II or some shit like that… Prince gets the meanest guitar sound Lightnin’ ever heard when he wails on that faggy-looking custom guitar.
Lightnin’ uses very few pedals, other than the Bad Horsey II wah pedal, and an MXR Dyna Comp. Most recently, Lightnin’ picked up the cheapest phaser pedal I could find, which is a lot of fun to dick around with on ‘shrooms.
15) What kind of vehicle does Lightnin’ drive? What is your favorite memory of said vehicle?
It’s an old ’94 Toyota Pickup, the kind you usually see landscapers driving, it’s got about 240K miles on it. Lightnin’s favorite memory of the little truck was boning my ol’ lady up against it. We were in the alley behind El Cid after loading the gear out at the end of the night, she was wearing a sexy red dress and she gave it up real easy. Lightnin’ blew my load right there on the pavement.
16) If you absolutely, positively, had to give one of the following three items, which one would it be? Sex, Drugs or Rock and Roll.
Probably drugs… Lightnin’ has put them down before, and surely I will again. I’ve never been able to abstain from sex or Rock & Roll for very long.
17) Any advice you’d like to bestow on all the Shugsters worldwide?
Enjoy life, eat out more often!
Think for yourself, even if Lightnin’ is telling you to. Don’t ever stop dreaming! Be a better person, and contribute to changing this world into a better place for all of us. Don’t fucking blend in, so many people are interchangeable carbon copies of each other. Don’t ever settle for a relationship with the wrong person; if a crusty old man like Lightnin’ can fall in love, so can you.
Lightnin’ on Facebook
Lightnin’ on Reverbnation
Mila Reynaud Photography