Duff McKagan, Dave Navarro, Dave Kushner Lead All-Star ‘Rhonda’s Kiss’ Cancer Benefit Concert (INTERVIEW/PREVIEW)

On November 3rd an extraordinary group of iconic performers are coming together at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angles on Tuesday, November 3rd in the name of cancer awareness. The show was organized to benefit Ronda’s Kiss, an organization which raises money for cancer patients struggling to pay their medical bills. The core band under the moniker Hellcat Saints features, Kesha, Billy Idol, Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction), Juliette Lewis (Juliette & The Licks), Duff McKagan (Velvet Revolver, Guns N’ Roses), Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses), Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), and Josh Freese (NIN, Devo, A Perfect Circle).  Dave Kushner, who along with his wife are helping to organize the event chatted with Glide about the upcoming event.

You have been playing in bands since you were sixteen. What was your original inspiration to become a musician?

 My parents turned me on to music at a young age. I would listen to their records, bands like NeilYoung, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Joni Mitchell. Then I had a friend with a couple of older brothers and we got into their record collection which contained a lot of soul music like, Stevie Wonder, The Ohio Players and Earth Wind  And Fire. The first record I bought with my own money was Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, so I had a lot of different musical influences early on. Most musicians are open minded to different styles of music. So when I was 16 I started playing guitar in a punk band

Your first success was in the band Wasted Youth. How was that experience?

My stint in Wasted Youth was a step up for me. They were an established hard core punk band. The most important thing for me was, that it is where I met my friend Joey Castillo, who was playing drums for the band. He was pivotal in helping me make the right connections in my musical career.

You were in all kinds of different groups for the next 12 years can you talk about that period prior to Velvet Revolver…what was your short stint with Danzig like?

I went on to play in many different groups during that period, some with Joey (Castilllo). We were both in Danzig’s band for a short time. That was a weird experience. Danzig had lost his voice and would show up at the recording studio not knowing if he could sing each day. He would try and speak with laryngitis and talk about all the remedies he was trying . He would go down to Chinatown and try all sorts of herbal remedies. Probably the most important thing that happened to me during this period was that Castillo introduced me to Dave Navarro (Janes Addiction). We became friends and he invited me to work on his solo project band. I sort of became the musical director

Is it true that you went to school with Slash and that he was an early influence on your music?

I did actually go to Junior High school with Slash. I think I tried out to be a singer in one of his early bands at his Mom’s house. But I wasn’t much of a lead singer so that didn’t work out (laughs). I was actually working with a Japanese rock band called Z.I.L.C.H. with  Joey (Castillo) and Dave (Navarro) touring Japan when I met Duff McKagan. We were all working on this project and it was Duff that got me the invitation to work with Velvet Revolver. The band was actually formed as a one off to do a benefit concert in memory of drummer Randy Castillo (Ozzie Osbourne, Motley Crue}, who died from cancer in 2002. The original line up included, Josh Todd and Keith Nelson of Buckcherry. Slash asked me to join the band after we jammed together.

You probably have a  much wider audience of music fans who might not even realize you are responsible for the music of the popular television series Sons of Anarchy. Could you talk a little about that experience?

Well Bob Thiele Jr., the musical director of the show approached me to help out with the “Sons of Anarchy” project. I had a few ideas and we sat down and recorded some riffs right away that became the theme song (nominated for an Emmy). That was a great project that lasted quite awhile when the show became a multi season hit. That led to lots of other soundtrack opportunities. My latest project is the soundtrack for a new animated adult sitcom series for Netflix, set for a December release. The show called F Is For Family and is a project of writer Michael Price and comedian Bill Burr (Burr will be performing at the Rhonda’s Kiss benefit.)

How did you become involved with Rhondas Kiss? What can fans look forward to at the El Rey Show.

The organization was started by Rhonda Stefanski and her family in 2014 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She started the organization to help people in the inner city of Cleveland who did not have the resources to receive proper cancer treatments. While she lost her battle with cancer, Rhonda’s organization lives on to help those most in need in the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My mother died of cancer four years ago and my wife had a fight with cancer three years ago so this event is very personal for me. My wife’s company has helped organize this event and it is incredibly difficult to match up performers schedules and get them to the same place at the same time to perform, but we have been extremely fortunate and you just have to look at the line up to realize the enormous talent that will be at the El Rey in Los Angeles, for one night on November 3rd.

What advice would you give to any young aspiring musicians today?

Learn your instrument and focus on what you really like to play. Write music for yourself. If you do get lucky and become successful you are going to have to go out and play the same music relentlessly so make sure that it is music that you love.

Any shout outs you would like to give

I just want to see as many people as possible Nov. 3rd at the El Rey for this phenomenal event that will only happen once.

Tickets start at $75.00 general admission and surely will sell out by the time of the show. For more information visit: http://www.rhondaskiss.org/

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