Tracii Guns has once again commented on last month’s out-of-court resolution of the legal dispute over the rights to the L.A. GUNS name. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, he and singer Phil Lewis will continue to operate under the L.A. GUNS trademark, while Steve Riley and his bandmates from the other version of L.A. GUNS will now operate under the new name RILEY’S L.A. GUNS.
Speaking to Robert Cavuoto of Sonic Perspectives, the guitarist said: “I could have spent more money and eliminate it. There is a saying, ‘Turn that country into glass.’ At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have gotten any compensation. When you sue a rock, rocks don’t have money. You have to be wise and know how far to take it. I’m satisfied where we ended up.”
He continued: “I will never understand why a professional musician would choose to use someone else’s name other than their own. It’s so humiliating. It would essentially be like me going out and using the name GUNS N’ ROSES. [Laughs] To take something that someone else created for a very minimal gain. You are completely selling your soul. It was so expensive, boring and a waste of time and energy to end up with what was mine.”
Tracii went on to say that Riley is “locked into” using the name RILEY’S L.A. GUNS for his new band. “That’s how the license works,” he said. “He can’t do anything else. The running joke in our camp is, you pull into a truck stop, and someone asks, are you musicians, and what band are you in? You respond, ‘L.A. GUNS,’ and they go, ‘Okay. Whatever.’ [Laughs]. A least we have closure.”
Guns also addressed the fact that Riley‘s version of L.A. GUNS played at the M3 Rock Festival in 2019 and released a full-length album under the L.A. GUNS name, last year’s “Renegades”. He said: “Dude, when they did those couple of shows, we got so much angry e-mail from our fans. People were, like, ‘What the fuck? None of you guys were there!’ We would have to explain it’s a different band with the same name. When I say a lot, I’m talking over a thousand e-mails. Then they put out a record using the name L.A. GUNS, [and] the emails just escalated. That was the point where some from our family stepped who had unlimited funds, which we used to stop this. It was what we needed to do, and it is done. Can you imagine, now they have to make up their legal fees? In what reality is it worth it? For Steve Riley to spend $80,000, and they will never make that back with RILEY’S L.A. GUNS. There is no logic, and it’s so bizarre.”
RILEY’S L.A. GUNS features Riley alongside Orlando, Florida-based guitarist/vocalist Kurt Frohlich, bassist Kelly Nickels (a member of L.A. GUNS‘ “classic” incarnation) and guitarist Scott Griffin (who played bass for the band from 2007 until 2009, and then again from 2011 to 2014).
In January 2020, Riley was sued by Lewis and Guns in California District Court. Joining Riley as defendants in the case were the three musicians who performed in his rival version of L.A. GUNS; that group’s manager, booking agent and merchandiser; and Golden Robot Records. The complaint, which requested a trial by jury, alleged that Riley‘s version of L.A. GUNS (referred to in the case docket as “the infringing L.A. GUNS“) was creating “unfair competition” through its unauthorized usage of the L.A. GUNS trademark. In addition, Guns and Lewis were seeking relief from and/or against false advertising, breach of contract and unauthorized usage of their likenesses.