2007 - Johnny Kreis Q & A (Feb)
Johnny Kreis is best known throughout the GN'R community
for being in the drummer in Hollywood Rose, here we find out a little
more about his time in the band, other related projects and how his reunion
with Izzy went. Many thanks to Johnny Kreis and Ed for setting up the
Re-United: Izzy & Johnny at Long Beach California, mid 2004
1. How did you end up being the drummer in Hollywood Rose and how long did you play with Axl and Izzy?
Actually Izzy and I played together in a band called Shire which was more along the lines of Melodic Metal, ala Scorpions, Def Leppard. Izzy played bass then, but he was also collaborating and writing songs with Axl, it wasn't long before they needed someone to lay tracks down for their new project which was materializing rather very quickly. Izzy's and Axl's songs were very streety and bluesy but had a very strong edge, and very related to what was going in the lives of young rocker kids on the street. Finally after a disappointing attempt at getting a record deal with Shire, moonlighting and playing a few gigs with Izzy's and Axl's band I made the decision to leave Shire, and play drums solely for Hollywoodrose, or back then as a few of you rocker buddies who were hanging out with us Back in those days, of one of those buddies and an absolute awesome guitarist and friend Tracii Gunns, seen our name change a few times to ROSE, AXL, then finally Hollywoodrose.2. Could you share some of your coolest memories you have of Izzy (or Axl) from the HR period?
One of the coolest memories was the first time we played a very large venue/club called The Country Club in Reseda California, and the expression on peoples faces as we unleashed our brand of StreetMetal/Rock N Roll, from sitting on my drums I can almost read their minds saying "What The Hell Is This"….and yet Hollywoodrose in the very beginning was hitting a nerve in every person who was in that hall that night, a nerve that Would carry atleast two of the musicians of HR to become one of Rocks Icons! To Fame!3. What was your reaction when you heard the HR tracks 'The Roots Of Guns N' Roses' was going to be released?
Honestly, I was rather troubled, cause nobody bothered to even try to contact me to let me know that my drum tracks would be released without my consent to the public, and I knew that some people out there would be interested and buy the CD, they don't represent the best of my playing but for that time I was pretty proud of them and they were with my friends, Izzy, Axl and The HR Crew. Now I look back and there's nothing I could have done about the release I have tried to contact the label, to no avail, somebody's makin money off of this CD, and it aint me, not a damn penny!........so that's life in the record biz!...yes! I am bitter about how it went over!.....but I am proud that now the world can hear me Johnny Kreis play drums with Izzy and Axl and Hollywoodrose!4. In 2004you met with Izzy again and talked for the first time in 20 years, how was that like? And have you had any contact with any of the other HR members after all these years?
I still remember the first email I got from Izzy after a friend from Norway by the name of Jan gave me Izzy's email, and it was first contact after 20 years and for Iz, many tours albums and reaching the other side of Fame The Big Time, it was really cool for me to hear from Izzy once again, and through email we arrainged a meeting at one of my dads gigs in long beach and thinking that "Well Izzy's Famous Now He Won't Show Up to my Invitation!5. Do you still have any HR bootlegs or recordings lying somewhere in the basement that the fans don't know about?
"My friend Iz, who toured the world!.....who played stadiums! With other famous musicians He won't show up to see his buddy from the beginning of time!....and my mom and dad knew Izzy also before he made it!........
Well I was wrong!.......as I look at the entrance of the event, there's Izzy walkin in! right on time!.......you see! Izzy is Famous! In my book! But damn! He's still Izzy …a nice and warm-spirited person that I knew before fame, he was down to earth then, and he is down to earth now in the present! We did book some studio jam time after that day and we still had that musical chemistry even now!....that was fun!
Yes I have a copy of the very first demo we did,on cassette tape, which is now slowly disintegrating though time cause the label I remember was white, and now it's a dark brown and it said Rose, Wreckless, Shadow of Your Love, and My Way Your Way.6. Could you please tell us something about how and when you started out playing drums?
Well my Dad, Theo Kreis (who played bass guitar in a polka band with Jan Van Halen, and believe it or not, back then a very young Alex Van Halen on drums) in the early seventies bought me a cheapy Drumset from a five and dime store, I remember it very well as it was Really just a toy set and had plastic rims and gold colored cardboard shells with paper skins, But then after showing that I had a real interest in drums my dad bought me a real drumset from Sears which had metal rims real drumheads and wood shells with silver sparkles in it! And a few years later my dad bought me a real drum set which was a Tama set. He would let me sit in with his band with his good friend Gary, from "Gary Spar and The Fragments" and play a tune or two, and boy was I nervous when I was called up by his drummer and sit in. I was 13 then. Then one day many years later my dad brought home an Album from one of his friends son's band that would change the way I see drums and where drums could take me!.....that album was The Very First Van Halen Album, yes with Alex On drums and my dad would tell me, Alex is playing in a hardrock band in Hollywood now! …..and after listening to that!......and the rest is history!.....I had to give it a try!7. What are some of your favorite drum kits?
Lately I really like playing Pearl Drums, though I did play Tama for awhile when I was younger and I played my silver Tama whateverStar series during my Hollywoodrose days, they really kept up very well and I used Tama Hardware with The Harley Davidson of Bassdrum Pedals, The Ludwig SpeedKing bassdrum pedals. These days I play a double pearl Bassdrum pedal clamped on to a 26in pearl marching bassdrum, and the also play a real marching pearl snaredrum for my new rock set, its very basic but also very big and oversized, As I wanted a very big sound and look!....which was really funny cause I got this idea from watching marching bands and their big drums and how they projected their sound, so I thought how neat it would be to convert marching drums for use on stage, so I did thinking that I was the first and not knowing that while attending the NAMM Show here in Anaheim that everybody is now using oversized drums!......oh well! But I am getting nothing but praises from everybody of how they really like the sound of my converted oversized drums on stage.8. Most people in the GN'R community know you from the Hollywood Rose days, in what other bands did you play?
A Few Unknown local bands in the LA and Orange County,RockBand Circuit, Striker, Badboys, (my last rockband was in 97 by the name of Harmsway with Kurt Wada on Vocals)9. Are you currently in a band or involved in a musical project, if so could you tell us some more about it?
One of my projects that I'm working on is with guitarist "Lord of The Strings" Randy Jacobs which is an instrumental trio with the style of Steve Vai, Satriani, Buckethead. And another project of reuniting the core members of Harmsway with Kurt Wada, Tommy,and Jeff Trott with myself on drums probably under another name but we'll see what the future brings! but til then I will play casual gigs with my pops band SoundsUnlimited which are the OGs (the ol guys band) but they are fun to play music with and I get paid to play drums!10. Looking back at your musical career so far, on which project are you most proud of?
I would say Hollywoodrose, cause with that band you just can't get any closer to fame than to have the honor of playing RockNRoll in the same band with Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose…..I doesn't get any better than that! And to now the entire planet can hear my drums on The Roots CD, cause I can say that!.............Thats's Me!............I Was There! Hey! Quick Thanks! To My Friend Edwin and Staff at www.chopaway.com for inviting me to this incredible opportunity to share my little part of musical history with all of you! Take Care! And Cheers! Johnny Kreis
If you visit this page of Johnny Kreis Hollywood Rose website you will find some very cool Hollywood Rose recordings and a rare video.
In an interview with SlamRocks.com we found Johnny had also jammed with Izzy in 2003. He says "Izzy and I hooked up in May 2003 and jammed in a studio in West LA once more!… for fun! And it was amazing, as the musical Chemistry was still there"