Chuck Wright on May 20th released his solo album “Sheltering Sky” on the LA-based Cleopatra Records. The legendary bass player from Quiet Riot and House of Lords, teamed up with some friends including keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Billy Idol), guitarist Lanny Cordola (House of Lords), vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen), and Troy Luccketta (Tesla) among others. The album has nine original tracks with Chuck Wright either writing or co-writing all nine of these, they move between rock to heavy funk and you can hear the jazz heritage in the music. It’s an impressive album with a standout version of Bjork’s “Army of Me” to enjoy.

Rock the Joint Magazine sat down with Chuck to discuss his musical heritage and the new work.

We began talking about the Jubilee here in the UK and the celebrations ongoing.

Chuck – I run an event called Ultimate Jam Night that I started in 2015 that usually has from 45 to 70 pro musicians performing. We just did a show called Britain Rocks having songs by Rod Stewart, Billy Idol, Def Leppard, on and on. We have different themes for each show. While researching acts that came out of Britain, I thought, ‘okay this has to be part one, and could get up to part 16, as there were so many great acts from the UK.’

Who are your main bass influences? You mentioned some UK bands are your musical roots?

Chuck – I started guitar, and I only became a bass player because the kids in my neighborhood asked – “you play the guitar, right?” and I said, “Well, I kind of play guitar.” And they then asked, “Can you play bass?” I said, “that’s only four strings, right?” I’m not sure they knew how old I was; I was just turning 15 and I had to ask my mum! She bought me a Gibson E-B 3, like my first huge influence, Jack Bruce, from Cream. When I did my first gig, we played a lot of Cream, who jammed quite a bit, so I learned how to play by improvisation. I’ve never taken a lesson. When I started thinking about the bass players who influenced me in my career when I started out, I realized they all started with the letter J! Jack Bruce, John Entwhistle and John Paul Jones for example. And then, with jazz fusion, it was Jaco Pastorius or Jeff Berlin. Thinking about it, Paul McCartney and The Beatles were a huge influence, and name actually starts with a J, James Paul McCartney!

A little anecdotal story about Jack Bruce, the first song I learned on bass was “Sunshine of your Love.” Now I’m on tour years in the mid 90’s with Carmine Appice and Vanilla Fudge, the opening acts bass player had inherited millions of dollars and started a music memorabilia collection. I went to his house after the tour and sure enough, he had the bass that Jack Bruce played “Sunshine of your Love” on. So I got to play the bass that was used to record the first song I ever played.

We love John Deacon here at the magazine, there’s a J.

Chuck – John Deacon, yea, he’s the secret sauce in that band, right? I saw Queen’s first concerts in LA here, when they were more of a heavy rock/progressive band. When they did “Ogre Battle”, they did two shows back-to-back, and I watched them both as a teenager. They were another big influence. I’m very fortunate to have grown up in LA. The guy at the record store I used to go to said I had to check out this English newspaper called Melody Maker, and it was cool and very enlightening. It had all the bands playing at clubs in the UK, like Humble PieWishbone Ash and so on, and I discovered the music I loved through that magazine, and when those bands came to L.A., I’d go see them.  I remember driving down Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood with my friend and seeing the Whisky A Go-Go Marquee – YES-$5. That’s when I first got into progressive rock. I’d never seen anything like it, I was totally into Black Sabbath and Deep Purple at the time. I saw Sabbath’s first concert at the Whisky and I remember they put Ozzy in this little ramp area for storing gear because they were so loud!

We then got talking about Gene Simmons, who had managed Chuck during his time with House of Lords. I have a strong soft spot for Gene who signed my son’s guitar (a Punisher Bass) and was very gracious to my family when we met.

Chuck – I spent a lot of time with Gene in those House of Lords days. We used to play racket ball once in a while and hang out. He’s a genuinely super nice guy, but when you go into a business deal with him that involves $$ signs, that’s a different thing. But in general, he’s nice, he’s amazingly well-read, and he’s hilarious, really funny. With the House of Lords, I’ve always felt that band was super strong musically, musicians, songwriting, great singer. I thought we had all the elements, we even had the number 1 most requested song on rock radio in 1990 with our remake of Traffics, “Can’t Find My Way Home”. Unfortunately, Gene, did his custom label deal, with RCA, which was a country label. That label didn’t have the machinery, the rock radio promoters, or the right staff to break a rock band. Put House of Lords on Geffen, you’d certainly get a different story. What labels do is they’ll say, “you want this band, you gotta take this band too” and RCA didn’t have those artists on their roster to hold over anyone’s head.

One sneaky question pre-album. Can you tell us about your time working with the London Phil?

Chuck – Well, during that time I was working with Matt Sorum (drummer for Guns n’ Roses & Velvet Revolver)… I got a call to do a Universal film with Matt called The Conqueror and at that time Metallica had an orchestra album out that was very popular (S & M, 1999) and the film composer, the late Joel Goldsmith, thought it would be a good direction for the movie to go heavy rock, so they brought us in. The London Phil was done in London and us here…It was at Capital records, a very cool experience. Really Great…. People mainly know me as a rock musician, but people who know my history, know I’ve done over 100 albums in different styles, I’ve co-produced and played bass on two reggae records, Ambient Trance, heavy Rock Rap with Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, Country, and was even in a Flamenco group for two years.

We discussed the Queen track Innuendo and the use of flamenco guitar on that track. The discussion moved to the solo album and how diverse it is.

Chuck – The album covers Prog, Jazz Fusion, Funk, Industrial Hard Rock, one song has a Led Zeppelin feel, I even have a track like Robert Plants/ Allison Krauss folk records. I also have a Celtic piece that could be in a new Braveheart movie.  The reason is, I had no plan to do a solo record. Then the pandemic came and I had time to write, so composing music inspired by how I felt at the time. Art for arts’ sake. There’s a song called “The Other Side” and I wrote that when I got the phone call that Frankie Banali had passed. It brought up memories about losing those close to me over the years, My Mom, and 6 of my best friends. I picked up a 12-string guitar that was sitting next to me and wrote that song from beginning to end in one sitting. I even had the chorus vocal lyric and idea then finished the verses with a singer Frankie had been working with in a Zep tribute band called Mr. Jimmy.

The music was mostly written during the pandemic and I decided to do a video for my cover of the 1995 Bjork hit, “Army Of Me” working with my 3D animator friend, Drew Lanius.  I have 41 amazing friends on the album. You will know many of them from the bands, Skid Row, Asia, Dream Theater, Boston, Mr. Big and so many others. I just reached out to those I thought would be perfect for a particular song. They were all into what I was doing and wanted to join me on my solo adventure.

At the magazine, we loved the video for Army of Me.

Chuck – Thank-You, yea, it really came out great! Drew created the 3D animation segments during the unrest, riots and craziness here. That’s also when I started working with award winning film composer, editor, cinematographer and engineer, Tim Janssens. He mixed and co-produced a number of songs on the album with me. He did all the filming and editing on that video. I also started working with vocalist Whitney Tai at that time, who sings in the video, appears on three tracks and co-wrote “Time Waits For No One” with me. My newest single/ video is called “Throwin’ Stones” and has an anti-war message written by vocalist Joe Retta (TSO, Sweet) before the Russian invasion. You can check out my videos and get more info on the album at  

We spoke of the anti-war message before the invasion. The video is almost prophetic and so powerful considering everything that has gone on in 2022. But at this stage, the magazine here can only thank Chuck and point readers to the album and the video, the link is here. Check out the album and pass the news around. It’s well worth a listen, it’s innovative power rock and jazz fusion for these troubled times.

As a last note, we hope you enjoyed the feature. We work hard for you here and all the features and reviews are free for you. However, we really do appreciate it when people buy us a coffee on the “support us” page below. Thanks.

Mark C. Chambers.

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