Erik Turner: One of Rock’s hardest working stars

Posted: July 12, 2012 in Print Articles
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Warrant’s rhythm guitarist and co-found Erik Turner

By Chris Shapiro
July 2012
The members of Warrant are some of the hardest working guys in Rock ‘n Roll.  It’s an attitude they adopted from the start and one they never forgot, especially co-founder Erik Turner.

“Well, you know we started this band when we were, Jerry and I, were 19 and 16 years old respectfully.  And we’ve just been doing it ever since.  You know it’s in our blood, it’s our baby, it’s our live, it’s what we do and to be able to do it this long, is crazy,” Turner said.

Turner says the band is currently touring the U.S. with over thirty shows for the summer.  They’ve also recorded a live DVD they hope to be releasing soon, not to mention their fuel-injected, high energy album Rockaholic was released last year. [click here for a full list of summer tour dates]

When it comes to Warrant and Rock ‘n Roll, Turner says that he and the rest of the band, “still do it and still love it.”

Their 2011 release, Rockaholic, is record Turner says he’s, “very proud of.”

“You know we spent a couple years writing it on and off.  It was a long process we wrote about twenty-three songs and when we finally felt we had enough material for a record Robert contacted Keith Olsen,” Turner said.

Olsen, a Grammy award winning music producer, has worked with bands such as Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, Fleetwood Mac and Sammy Hagar among many others.

“Once we started working with Keith, everything started happening pretty quick,” Turner recalled.

He says the band and Olsen, “spent four or five weeks making the record.”

“It was amazing to work with him.  It was a real treat.  He did Sammy Hagar, I believe he did Foreigner 4, he’s done some huge, huge records.  His catalog of records that he’s produced have won some Grammy’s and also sold over a hundred million copies.  It was cool.  It was very cool working with Keith and I hope we someday get to work with him again,”

Turner also calls the record a mile stone for Warrant as it is the first with Robert Mason, the band’s new lead singer.

Warrant’s summer tour is in full swing with dates scheduled across the U.S.  Turner says the band still plays their classics but they love playing new material from Rockaholic.

Turner says it’s a “rush” when he plays in front of their crowds, which reach numbers of over fifteen thousand.
“I like looking out at the crowd and see people singing the words and smiling and dancing and their waving shirts in the air.  The best part for me is you know seeing a reaction from the crowd,” Turner said.

Turner was a young teenager when he decided the rock life was the life for him.

“Well you know what, I was thirteen years old or so, I figured out I wanted to be in a band, so that was my dream.  It didn’t come out exactly how I pictured it as a kid but still to be able to be in a rock band with the same guys for twenty plus years it’s pretty cool,” Turner said.

Turner also says that choosing a career in music allowed him to see the world and, “follow my dream and my passion and my love for Rock ‘n Roll.”

I Saw Red, a new wine from Erik and Warrant

When it comes down to selecting a favorite song from his extensive catalog of work, Turner says it’s, “like trying to pick, if you’re a parent, I don’t know if you’re a parent or not, trying to pick your favorite child.  It’s very hard to do, maybe in some cases it’s easy to do I don’t know.  But there’s so many songs for so many different reason.  Obviously the songs that did well for us at MTV and radio will probably have the most, you know, longevity.  But you know ‘Cherry Pie’ is the song we’re seemed to be known for, even though it’s not our biggest hit.  But my favorite song, if I had to pick one, cause it stands the test of time forever, people are listening to it along time from now, I really love ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’”

Though the meaning of Rock ’n Roll has changed for Turner over the years, he says there’s one band who will always serve as the definition for him.

“The Rolling Stones are Rock ‘n Roll to me, you know Keith Richards is about as Rock ‘n Roll as it gets if I had to pick somebody.  His life and his body of work,” Turner explained.

Turner has been witness to many changes in the music industry during his band’s twenty-plus year history.  He says that he knows there are people out there who still love listening to and playing great music.

As for the actual music industry, he believes it’s going through a “transition period” where a new workable business model has yet to be found.

“Everything got turned upside down in the mid-90s with Napster and all that, and it’s never quite been the same since,” Turner explained.

With iTunes, subscription based music and the fact that record companies are selling less physical copies, it’s a much different world for Turner than when he and Warrant were first starting out.

“For me it’s a little bit like the wild west right now and hopefully people keep making great music and new fans are born.  I’m sure it will carry on just a different generation you know wants to find its own voice,” Turner said.

Warrant was sitting on top of the world with top tens on the Billboard charts when one of the most famous shifts in recent music history took place: the explosion of grunge.

“The music industry did what it always does and always has done, it just jumped on, everybody wanted to have their Nirvana on their rock group.  You know, rightfully so, great record, Nevermind, I’m a big fan of that record as well.  Unfortunately, the record industry has a very, doesn’t have a very broad view of anything, they’re just monkey see monkey do.  Think it was definitely Nevermind, the record exploded,”

Turner says that popularity and success of Nirvana’s Nevermind caused all the record companies to change treads and climb aboard the with grunge.

“Everybody just jumped on that band wagon and kind of just wrote off all the 80’s bands and that’s what happened, we were kind of left for dead,” Turner remembers.

Yet, the changes in music style did not stop Turner and Warrant from their dream of rock music.  Warrant embraced the motto, “never say die” and went on to release several albums during the mid-90s.

Knowing the nature of the recording industry Turner has powerful words of wisdom for young musicians.

“I think at the end of the day, the most important thing is still the most important thing it’s always been, great songs that touch people’s hearts and souls and minds.  Be true to yourself, be orginal.  And it’s a scary thing to be totally orginal and out on an island you know you’re kinda standing out there naked for the world to judge you.  It’s easy to try and chase the trend of today or whatever might be successful on the radio.  It think the true artist and the people who have the best chance of being rock stars tomorrow are the people who blaze their own trail,” Turner said.

Turner closes with saying, while it may be hard work, it’s doable.

  1. Bart says:

    Great article and I love the pic of Erik with some of his classic guitars. I wonder which classic guitars he still has? Man, I love to ask him because over Warrant’s career I’ve had my favorites that he’s played.

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