Of all the bands that strutted the Sunset Strip from the 1980s to the early ’90s, few have been as underappreciated and left out of the history books as Love/Hate. But damn, this band had everything. Throughout the ’90s they released a string of excellent albums, but the first two in particular, 1990’s Blackout In the Red Room and ’91’s Wasted In America, are simply spectacular examples of power-pop meets cock rock. Stunning tunes, no filler, with a cheeky swagger. And they also had Jizzy Pearl.
Blessed with a powerful, high-pitched rock & roll screech, Pearl’s voice became as key to the Love/Hate sound as Axl Rose’s is to Guns N’ Roses. It’s a fair comparison — those two bands haunted many of the same Hollywood rooms, albeit a few years apart. Many predicted huge things for the original Love/Hate lineup of Pearl, guitarist Jon E. Love. bassist Skid Rose and drummer Joey Gold on the strength of their debut album, but wider acclaim eluded them.
They were signed to Columbia Records but were dropped after the first two albums. BMG picked them up for a minute, after which Love/Hate danced around a series of indie labels. It all got to be a bit much for the band members, as the lineup continuously shifted for the next decade or so.
Pearl’s vocal chops, and the respect he commands, were illustrated beautifully by the fact that he was in constant demand. Every hair-metal band that needed a vocalist due to their own fluid lineups seemed to turn to Pearl. Stints were had in Ratt, L.A. Guns, Quiet Riot and, as if to cement those Axl Rose comparisons, Adler’s Appetite (the band formed by classic-era Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler).
“Well, the definition of a working musician is a musician that works,” Pearl says today. “That’s what pays the bills, and it’s a righteous way to pay the bills, for me. But it was a good time.”
Of those post-Love/Hate bands, Pearl recorded a hugely underrated album with L.A. Guns called Shrinking Violet, and a less impressive record with Quiet Riot, 10. There also was an enjoyable little self-titled EP with Adler’s Appetite.
“I don’t really think about the Quiet Riot one too much,” Pearl says. “The L.A. Guns one was fun because I enjoyed playing with Tracii [Guns, founding member of L.A. Guns]. We go back to that whole era, so we share that bond of growing up in that time. All the early Love/Hate records I made are still great. I still listen to them — they’re still great today.”
He’s absolutely right. Early Love/Hate tunes such as “Wasted In America,” “Don’t Fuck With Me,” “Blackout In the Red Room” and “Why Do You Think They Call It Dope” sound as fresh and fun today as they did when the band were blasting them at the Whisky’s No Bozo Jams night.
“It was an experiment the Whisky did at that time,” Pearl says. “On Monday nights, generally, not much was happening. So a bunch of bands got up and played their best 20 minutes. We really thrived in that atmosphere. We loved the combat aspect of it, so we could get up and play our new song, whether it be ‘Blackout in the Red Room’ or ‘Tumbleweed’ or something like that. We got to play every week, which was awesome.”
Now living in Las Vegas, Pearl says he doesn’t really know if the Sunset Strip is anything like the Strip that he remembers, but he’ll have a chance to find out when he plays a solo show at the Whisky this week — a triumphant return to his old home base.
“A lot of the famous places have closed down, and it’ll never be obviously as amazing as it was back in that day,” he says. “It was like Woodstock every night. It was awesome. So I’m gonna go to the Whisky and have a good time, and it’ll be good.”
It should be a great night; Pearl just released his third solo album, All You Need Is Soul, which he proudly describes as “the best thing I’ve done in a long time.” It is a solid piece of work but, naturally, fans of Pearl are always going to ask when the next Love/Hate reunion will take place.
“I’m always writing new material,” Pearl says. “The other Love/Hate guys are either retired or disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m still carrying that torch.”
There was a reunion a decade ago, which Pearl says was fun but slightly awkward.
“We all got together,” he says. “It’s like one of those 10-year high school reunions. It’s really cool but then the day after, you don’t have much to say to one another.”
At the Whisky, Pearl says the set will mostly be songs from the first two Love/Hate albums, despite the recent release of his new album. Plus there are a couple more treats.
“Joey Gold, the original drummer, is going to be sitting in,” Pearl says. “He’s coming in as a special guest and we’re all really excited about that. People who dug the old Love/Hate will dig this.”
And when that show is done?
“I generally tour Europe once or twice a year,” Pearl says. “I’m usually back there, playing in the U.K. I’ll work on new music, and carry on the life of a working musician.”
Jizzy Pearl plays with Classless Act, SJ Sindicate, Made N America, Charlie Bonnett III and the Folkin’ Gasholes at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 22, at the Whisky A Go-Go.