My friends and colleagues ask me how I landed the exclusive one on one interview of a lifetime. Did I score him the best coke he’s ever snorted? I don’t have a dealer, I don’t score coke. I did not beg, kiss ass, give up my first born, nor did I have to meet the devil at the crossroads to get facetime with Alister Horton, AKA “Aggs Notorious” As it turns out, yours truly, the music critic/geek/journalist for Rock Rag was sought out by Aggs- he wanted to “give the gift of an interview” (yes, he really said that) for his 50th birthday, and chose me for reasons still unknown.
For as much as we think we know about Aggs and his reign as enigmatic, yet ever changing frontman of the Rock n Roll scene over three decades and counting, we only know his personas, poses, and magic-show guises. Aggs admits to me that he has never really allowed the media or fans to ever really get a handle, a clear view, of who he really is at the core. My editor informs me three days before the scheduled interview that Aggs would like it to be a unique forum- I would spend a day or so following him around, meeting some of the people in Aggs’ circle. I am instructed that I should sleep and eat well before hand, have my digital voice recorder fully charged, and be prepared to partake in any and all debauchery that may come my way, through any whim or fancy that Aggs may have.
The night before I set out on this joint venture, I take Ambien and go to bed at 7pm after eating about three pounds of spaghetti and meatballs, preparing like a marathoner. Unless Aggs decides immediately that I am the completely lame nerd that my friends and colleagues know I am, I will probably be up for 24 hrs straight, partaking in things I had not done since college, if ever.
The following events and conversations occured between May 21st and 22nd, 2010 around Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and other places I may have not even known I was…
4:15pm: West Hollywood California, Barney’s Beanery (specifically the third to last barstool by the air hockey table and rest rooms) This is where Aggs tells my editor for me to meet him, and this is exactly where he is sitting when I get there.
I am very jittery. In my fifteen years as a music critic/journalist, I have interviewed countless Rock and Pop stars, but this is Aggs Notorious- a personal hero, a man that I and so many others live vicariously through. He is an unrelenting, unapologetic, anti-tea totaling, ageless badass frontman and songwriting machine! As I stand somewhat frozen between the entranceway and the bar, I notice he is engrossed in something he is reading, completely unaware of my arrival, so I order a double shot of Sambuca (my shot of choice since I seldom do shots) just to calm my nerves. The bartender- a 20-something looker with jet black hair, striking blue eyes, and arms covered in tattoos asks if I want to take a seat or if I’m just going to stand there. I answer that I am meeting someone and gesture towards Aggs.
“Aggs?” she asks in disbelief, “no one meets him. I mean, sure people are always asking him for autographs and pictures, or to sign ‘I love you’ on their tits, but no one meets with him. He doesn’t meet with anybody, he’s like a legend”
“He is a legend” I am quick to correct her “and I am a writer who he has asked to join him, so he’s expecting me”
“Well shit” she blurts out sarcastically, and this is when I see Aggs look up from his paper and wave me down the bar to join him.
“Have a seat. I’m Aggs, nice to meet you. I am just reading the treachery of the day, but enough of that, thanks for coming”
I awkwardly shake his hand and have a seat. The bartender comes over and asked if I want another double of Sambuca to which Aggs answers for me “yes he does” and then looks to me, puzzled “but where was your first shot? Holding out on me bugger, are ya?” as he lightly punches my shoulder and takes a drag off his cigarette in a place that clearly does not allow smoking. As if that wasn’t a tell tale sign that he is considered royalty at Barneys Beanery.
“Brittany babe, you know I don’t drink anymore” and with that the raven haired bartender shoots back “you don’t drink any less either” as she scatters around the bar, concocting a potion like I’d never seen before, and serves if up to Aggs.
Three quarters of a pint of Belhaven Ale, a double shot of Irish Mist, and a shot of Jagermeister. “Holy Hell” I murmur.
“The lunch of leagues my freind. Cheers!” Aggs pops a small off-white pill into his mouth, raises his pint and clicks it against my double shot of Buca finishing off half the pint in three long loud swigs. I ask him if he drinks this mix all the time. “Well I’ve had six today now and it gets my belly full and keeps me going, but on the road, you know it’s hard to find all the ingredients and sometimes they just won’t make it. Only back home in England will they just serve it up like they do in this place” I ask him about the pill. “The best part of the drink” but he refuses to elaborate. I ask him if the drink has a name “The fucking Aggs! What else?”
Alister “Aggs Notorious” Horton walked out of boarding school in Leeds when he was seventeen and headed off to New York City, literally to become a Rockstar. He still has a slight accent and definitely the Brit demeanor, but all his bad habits and his style comes from the city he came to eventually call home- Los Angeles. Aggs explains that he moved from his five bedroom sprawl in Silverlake that he’d owned from 1985 to 2001, to a two bedroom apartment in West Hollywood because he wanted to have a simple “suitcase” life.
“It just got to a point where I could give a shit about all those empty rooms. I wasn’t gonna have a litter of kids and I wasn’t going to marry again, so what was the point? Plus I wanted to be right in thick of it all and blend in, and being in a mansion in suburbia wasnt doing it for me, you know. So I found this great little flat in WeHo and it’s less than ten minutes walking distance from this place, so now this has been it for the past nine or ten years”
Aggs take two swigs and finishes his concoction with no hint of being turned off by the taste, nor does he seem to enjoy it either. It’s more like a ritual. Brittany brings over the tab of $54 to which Aggs takes out a $100 and hands it to her. She leans over the bar and hugs him graciously.
“See you in a day or two babe” he says and she fakes a pout “aww, that long?” and with that we are off. My car would be left in the hands of the kind Columbian boy who takes care of valet for Barneys, as we walk across Santa Monica Blvd and into West Hollywood’s residential neighborhood.
“It’s getting earlier by the minute and we need to get to Wanda Ma’s for pancakes”
I admit I’d never heard of Wanda Ma.
“You wouldn’t have, unless she picked you up off the ground at 5am on The Strip and took you to her place for Cakes and recovery”
About eight apartment buildings down one of the side streets we arrive at Wanda Ma’s. Aggs rings the bell and moments later a short portly black woman with kind eyes and closely cropped hair answers the door. Wanda Ma looks to be in her early sixties and has an immediate “Mother Teresa” aura about her. “My Aggs, baby come in, come in” then she turns to me “you must be his writer friend” she shakes my hand and turns to give Aggs a big hug. Neither of them are over 5’6, but he is such a skinny man and her hug swallows him whole.
Wanda Ma leads us to the kitchen where blueberry pancakes are already cooking in a frying pan. She piles them high on two plates and brings them over to the table. I inform her I can only eat one or two at best, so I put a couple extra pancakes on Aggs plate. He takes out a small blue metal cylinder, opens it, and taps a small pile of cocaine onto the pancakes, forming it into two thin lines.
Wanda Ma looks over in disapproval, folds her arms and shakes her head, “uh uh uh, you ain’t never gonna learn Aggs baby, but I love you anyway”
Aggs looks over at me “one for you and one for me, dig in” I shake my head ‘No’ and hesitate, but Aggs’ pensive glare into my eyes reminds me that I made an agreement- in this game my chips are all in. I take a deep breath, duck my head into the plate of cakes and snort a line. I hadn’t done this since college and even then it was only a handful of times. The cool sting is instant, just like fifteen years earlier. Aggs snorts his line after me but in half the time. “AAH! Good shit Ma!”
“Don’t thank Ma, it’s your ass that thinks its powdered sugar” she replies and walks into the living room. Moments later she calls me in and offers me a seat. I ask her how she met Aggs.
“It was about eight years ago, around five or six in the morning, sun barely up” Wanda Ma explains that she is a jewelry designer whose work is sold in many of the shops on Sunset and Melrose and she likes to take long morning walks past the shops to see which and how many pieces of her works are getting featured in the showcase windows, without the shop owners around to see her snooping. “That’s when I started finding these boys. I collected them off The Strip- outside the Rainbow Room, Whiskey, Viper Room, even down at the Troubadour. I didnt know Aggs was this big rockstar still, cuz most of them are pretty washed up by the time I find them. Anyway, I take them home, feed them, clean them up. At one point or another I took care of them all- Axl, Duff, couple of the boys from the Crüe. Aggs is one of my regulars, every few weeks or so when he’s so drunk or stoned or both and can’t find his own place, which is only a couple blocks from here, he somehow finds me or I find him”
Wanda Ma pauses, wipes sweat from her forehead and takes a deep breath. “Of all the rockers and rollers that have been here at my place, for some reason I’ve taken a shine to Aggs the most. I think he’s gonna live a long long life. He shouldn’t, with all the touring and the shit he puts in his body, but I think he will live well beyond me”
6:35pm: “Is it ok if I break you women up?” Aggs asks from the archway, “we need to get on to the next place” Wanda Ma walks us to the door and gives each of us a big hug. “Take care of him best you can and good luck to you” she says to me with a smile and wink. Outside there is a cab already waiting.
“To that Mexican wrestler bar, you know the one!” Aggs shouts to the Middle Eastern driver, who nods his head in acknowledgement and we are off. Within ten minutes we are at El Carmen, which I had been to a couple of times before. Aggs pays the driver, tipping him double the cost of the ride. Aggs pushes the velvet-covered double doors open with confidence and struts in (with me almost falling in and dropping my digital recorder). Like I’d said, I’d been here before but not with Aggs- we are treated like royalty, seated at a booth by the bar, offered a very sexy Cuban waitress to take care of any of our needs. They even have the makings for Aggs signature drink “The (fucking) Aggs” (though they had to rush in a couple of the ingredients just for him, I’m told later) Pure dedication to a rock legend!
The bartender with a shaved, tattooed head comes over with a box of Cuban cigars and offers one to each of us. Aggs and I light them up (me choking at first) and relax into the leather hatch shell booth. He is staring at the ceiling and I ask him what he is thinking about.
“My kids- they are ten and twelve years of age. Their mum lets me see them anytime I want and yet I only see them every six months or so, cuz of touring and recording and… (he trails off for a moment, looking for another excuse I assume) They live with her in Scottsdale. I am just missing them a little right now, but I have a cure” and with that Aggs waves over the hot Cuban waitress and she glides into his lap and starts running her hands through his hair. “Benny, Cabo Wabo please” he yells over to the bartender and Benny brings over a full bottle of Sammy Hagar’s famous tequila which Aggs breaks open and pours all over the chest of his sexy Cuban friend. She hands him a lime that he rubs all over her neck and proceeds to lick the tequila off her chest, gliding it up to her neck to mingle with the lime and pulls away to look in her eyes. She laughs and squirms with excitement as Aggs let’s out a primitive howl and the entire bar applauds. The Cuban girl pinches his cheek, gives him a kiss on the lips and takes off to the ladies room to wash off the crime scene on her body.
Aggs looks at me with a devilish grin, “that’s Sephora, she’s twenty-six and she’s one of my ladies. I’ve known her in the ways of love since she was nineteen and I got her this job here. She could barely speak English when met her in Oceanside at a skateboard event I was endorsing seven years ago. We aren’t that much involved these past couple years, since I got the old band back together and we are riding this tour and the two new albums for all its worth. I still have contractual obligations to get a solo album out in the next eighteen months too. I have some songs, but I want them to be for another Moutherloud album”
Aggs first burst onto the scene in 1981 at the age of twenty-one. He formed the band Model Shock in New York’s East Village with three guys he met out around the club scene. With heavy use of synthesizers clashing with rock guitar and rebel cries, they were the perfect combination of New Wave and Punk, and are looked at today as the precursor to Industrial music. The fact that they were able to merge new wavers and punks into the same clubs without incident was baffling. Aggs already had star quality, putting on a stage act that blended the best fashion of Ziggy-Era Bowie and the leather trash of Sid Vicious. Aside from playing in LA at the Whiskey once as an opening act for Roxy Music, they mainly played CBGBs, and sometimes The Rat in Boston. As the band was working on their debut album in early 1982, their drummer Brian Doles and guitarist Slick Steve died in a horrific drunk driving accident. That was the end of Model Shock, but not of the hopes and dreams of Aggs Notorious.
In 1983, Aggs released a solo album to lukewarm sales. He’d written all the songs and played bass and keyboard on a couple of them. Backing musicians came from Roxy Music, The Stooges, and Hawkwind. The music lacked direction, having one foot in the glossy glam rock that was taking over the airwaves, and another foot in progressive rock, which was dead in the water. In 1985 Aggs moved to LA, specifically Silverlake- a quiet little artist community. There he met Anthony Kiedis and Flea, both around the same age as Aggs. Their band was about to record its second album and they had a lot of advice on how to survive as a musician in LA. They introduced Aggs to Perry Ferrell who also helped Aggs network. It was from these friendships and frequent trips to Venice beach that Aggs was able to make the connections that would become Moutherloud.
8:45pm: El Carmen is getting crowded and my conversation with Aggs (which is fractured every half-minute or so by his painfully short attention span) is now getting interrupted even further by the patrons who have spotted the rock star and are vying for his attention. Aggs is extremely polite, if not downright blissfully oblivious to most of it, but notices the look on my face and my body language “Let’s move along” he says and gives a long hard kiss goodnight to Sephora. She watches us leave, staring at Aggs with a combination of longing and sadness.
Outside a limo is waiting. The driver who looks like a combination between Gary Busey and Ed Harris gets out and opens the door for us, leading us into a black-light sprawl, with wine and liquor on ice, and the 80s glove-metal band Ratt playing over the speakers. Aggs boastfully points out that some of the wines are fifteen to twenty years old and worth hundreds per bottle. “But I know shit about them. They all taste the same to me you know?”
He forgoes the wine and grabs a bottle of Glenfiddich 18yr Reserve- a Scotch so smoky that your tongue tastes like a campfire even an hour later, but it’s so damn worth it! Though I pour two knuckles worth in a glass with a considerable amount of ice, Aggs just hauls back and chugs it. No expression of burn or anything. He pops the cap back on and slides into the leather seat, spreading his arms and legs out, as relaxed as I’ve seen him thus far.
Aggs has had many looks over the years. Many have called him a chameleon, both in voice and appearance. Now at fifty, he is comfortable in expensive, un-tucked silk dress shirts with wide collars and either leather pants or tight black jeans. His hair line has receded a bit, but he sports thick locks dyed black and spiked, with pork-chop sideburns, and a soul-patch under his lips. His face and body are thin, but not to the “heroin-chic” extreme he was known for in the mid to late 90s. He claims that the days of heroin and crack are behind him, but does not confirm nor deny the use of other drugs (as evidenced by the Coke Cakes earlier in the evening). Alcohol is a definite constant in his life. Despite all this, at fifty years of age Aggs doesn’t look a day over forty.
Aggs slaps me on the knee “We are heading the cliché my friend. Yes, we are going to the City of Sin” and lets out a sinister laugh. I ask him what’s in store. “Some of the usual and some of the not so usual” I ask if we can talk about Moutherloud and how they came to reunite after 11 years apart. For those of you who had lived under a rock from 1986 to 1996, here is the back-story…
The seeds of Moutherloud would be planted when Aggs was introduced to a friend of Dave Navarro’s named Mericka Sands- an unbelievably talented guitarist and songwriter who had been a session player on many great rock records. Sands would often go out on the road with the artists he’d written songs for and recorded with, usually as a fill-in guitarist and keyboardist. He was comfortable with his role as he shied from the spotlight. Mericka was three years Aggs’ senior but the two shared a great deal of influences and experiences. Each artist’s strengths were the other’s weakness and through this they came to start a songwriting collaboration the very day they met- Aggs as the lyricist and melody maker while Sands would write the music on guitar.
Within two months, they had close to a dozen solid hard rock songs under their belts. It was around this time that Sands reached out to his cousin who was a talented drummer- enter Richie Simms. Richie was only twenty and working at Universal Studios as a maintenance foreman.
They needed a drummer to complete the band, so Aggs reached out to someone he hadn’t talked to in over three years- Tilt Wessin, the bassist for his old band Model Shock.
The name Moutherloud came on a drink-filled night at the Rainbow Room on Sunset Blvd. where the band was sharing a booth with members of the soon-to-breakout band Guns N Roses. Chugging Jack Daniels from a bottle being passed around in a circle, one of the guys from GNR looked at Aggs and gurgled with a mouth still filled with JD “Yer mouthah ‘lowed you to leave the house wearin’ a fuckin’ woman’s shirt?” to which Tilt asked “who or what the fuck is a Moutherloud?” and suddenly there was a no-stop laughing fit from a bunch of soon-to-be rock stars, and out of it came a band name!
Enter the fall of 1986 and the band is recording their first album for EMI/Capital Records. They had proven themselves on the club scene in both LA and NY, putting on very intense rock shows, led by the axe-handling of Mericka Sands and enigmatic frontman Aggs Notorious. The band was hard to pigeonhole. They were not Glam Rock, nor were they giving off the same vibes as their funk-rock friends and label-mates the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Moutherloud fit somewhere between their other buddies’ band Jane’s Addiction and the newly formed Soundgarden up in Seattle that would take the early 90s by storm, along with Jane’s, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and a little band called Nirvana.
Between their 1986 debut and their 1996 swansong, Moutherloud stayed true to themselves, their fans, and their songs, churning out six solid hard rock records and earning four Grammys that they could have cared less about. In that ten year period they released fourteen singles, three that made it to number one, along with two of their records- this all in a time when Pop music was king of the radio. (Except now there is no radio and the art of “rock” and “guitars” are fading faster with every year)
Moutherloud didn’t break up so much as just disappeared. It was a slow and quiet decline and if you weren’t a fan of hard rock, you would not have noticed. There were no tabloid headlines, no public feuds, just a “burn out and fade away” demise. Mericka was introverted and easy going. No doubt that Aggs erratic behavior brought on by his heavier drug and alcohol use in the mid-90s wore on Mericka and the rest of the band. Shows were started hours late and sometimes not at all, money was lost, cold wars started between Aggs and many in the Moutherloud camp. Aggs could care less, as he continued to turn up the volume and put his foot through the accelerator. His bitter divorced from first wife Shauna Thomas in 1996 allowed Aggs to find even more reasons to live recklessly. An arrest later that year from driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of cocaine forced Moutherloud to cancel the final two weeks of the West Coast leg of what would turn out to be their last tour for the next twelve years. It was a crushing blow to the cities and fans up and down the coast that helped the band become so big in the late 80s. Moutherloud’s diehard yet heartbroken fans would hear “Burned Down & Out” all over rock radio in the fall and winter of 1996, with the irony of the title and lyrical content not lost on them.
11:45pm: we arrive where the desert is interrupted by neon lights. Las Vegas is humid tonight- an oddity. It’s about 70 degrees with no breeze as we open the door and are escorted into the low-key, off-the-strip Sam’s Town Hotel. Built in 1979, it remains unpretentious and looks virtually the same as it did thirty years earlier. I ask Aggs if he is a big money gambler.
“Shit no!” he laughs and shakes his head “I know nothing about cards or anything. I play the dollar slots and once in awhile if I’m really tilted, I might throw a few chips on a roulette wheel, but that’s the extent of it. But Spano, now he practically lives here when he’s not managing me and when he is”
By Spano, Aggs means Erik Spano- his personal manager since 1989. Erik Spano is a very large and intimidating presence with smoke-lens eye glasses and a fat cigar in his mouth at all times. At sixty-five, he’s been in the scene for a very long time, having managed Bowie and Iggy during their transitional years from the cool 70s to the awkward early 80s. We find Spano sitting in a chair too small for his beefy frame, watching horse racing on a massive flat screen, along with a half dozen other dreamers. Only difference is Spano is a self-made millionaire having fun with his money. His dreams have come true and not from Vegas, but from Rock n Roll.
Erik sees us, gets up and gives me a very firm handshake despite his small hands. “You are the writer he chose, huh? What’s going on, I’m Erik his manager.” He pulls his glasses down a bit so I can see his eyes and gets serious “I know that this little road trip he has you on is supposed to allow you all access to everything he says and does and I just want you to know that I don’t support it and as far as I am concerned, this is where the info ends OK?” and with that Aggs grabs Erik by his head and kisses it, causing Spano’s cowboy hat to fall off. The large old man starts turning red and tries to remain serious, but Aggs is physically and emotionally wrestling with him until he lets out a laugh. “Fuck, Aggs yeah, good to see you too, come on, stop, you know I’m trying to be serious!” Spano bends down out of breath and picks up his hat, readjusts his glasses and puts the cigar back in his mouth. Everyone from Wanda Ma to Sephora to Spano just melt for Aggs, no matter what an irresponsible pain in the ass he can be.
We head up to the sixth floor where there is a suite Spano rents out when he comes to Vegas. When we enter, there is a very attractive blonde and an equally stunning Asian watching some reality TV show. They are drinking white wine, whispering and giggling to one another, when Aggs yells out “My Poodles!’ and they come to him like little school girls, hugging, kissing, and snuggling up to him. Aggs throws an arm around each of them and they disappear into another room as a door slams. Initial muffled giggling is drowned out by the newest Moutherloud song coming through the speakers, compliments of Spano.
“Have you heard it yet?” he asks and I tell him I am an admirer of everything Aggs has done. “That’s one of the reasons he’s chosen you to do this piece I’m sure. This new album is much more together and more of a band album than the one from ’08. That one, you could tell they needed the money. A lot of people don’t know this, but that album was a contractual obligation for Sands and Aggs. They had to collaborate on one more full length record for Capitol Records, or what’s left of it, before the end of 2008, or they would stand to lose money that neither of them had anymore. Way I see it, at least that got them talking and collaborating again. No one expected the album to be half-decent and a tour to follow. But with what they have been doing this past year and a half, I see these guys hitting their stride, I mean, they still got some issues with each other, but the passion is back. Fuck, I’m talking too much…”
I tell him I appreciate the candor and we talk a little about Aggs’ second and third solo records (1998’s Velveteen Selections and 2006’s The Walk, Not the Talk) as well as his collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Eddie “Ese” Sanctoro (2000’s The R Factor and 2004’s Hell’s Own Saints) Erik takes a puff of his cigar “Alister was pretty outlandish with those solo records, especially that first one. I mean, he’s not a bad bass player and fucking no one knew he could play anything, but I think him dipping into his Television and Hawkwind influences was not something anyone expected and it just didn’t do well sales-wise. None of the Moutherloud fans knew of these old bands that influenced his solo work. The experimentation was great and some of the songs, you don’t even know it’s Aggs’ voice because he can change it up so much. In the writing, you could hear the sadness of all the mistakes he’d made and people he’d lost, but he’d never talk about it.
“When he started working with Eddie, now that was a super duo man! I mean, nothing is Moutherloud, but that stuff with Eddie, that was old-school, blues-influenced Classic Rock! The fans really ate those albums and tours up, because you had a songwriting god with the frontman & lyricist of the ages working it out together. I am still trying to get some of the audio and video footage of those tours packaged into something and out there for the fans.”
As a critic, I refused to review the second Aggs Notorious solo record because much of what Spano is saying is true and I never wanted to realize my disappointment with his solo record by putting it in print. The record was not suited for the times in which it was released. It would have been perfect for a small window of time in 1979, but aside from very strong and thought provoking lyrics, it was Aggs’ masturbation of his past influences. This is when I realized that I was not the biggest fan of Aggs when he has total control of a project. The best of Aggs the frontman and Aggs the vocalist comes when he is collaborating with great guitarists who are songwriters too. His third solo record had some of the outlandishness of the previous one, but lessons learned by working with Sanctoro were definitely pulling the songs in a more modern, catchy, if not downright “poppy” direction.
As Spano and I are talking, the blonde bursts through the bedroom door in a night gown coming loose as she runs towards us. “It’s Aggs, he like, not talking, but his eyes are open. Come see, I think it fucked him up but she thought he could handle it. Shit!”
By she, she meant the Asian girl, and by it, she meant whatever was making Aggs’ nose bleed all over his chest. Spano clearly upset, but seemingly understanding what was happening takes over the situation “Kiko, you stupid bitch, I told you to keep that shit away from him! You know he’ll try anything, what were you thinking?” as he runs into the other room and comes back moments later with a needle and shoves it directly into Aggs’ arm. Moments later, Aggs’ chest starts to heave and he blinks his eyes and starts coughing. Everyone including me let out an audible sigh of relief. I ask “What the fuck did he take? What just happened?” to which no one ever comes close to answering. The girls, a little weepy and shaky, help disrobe Aggs and put him in the shower as Spano tells he that I cannot write about this and I argue (well not argue, so much as whisper with my eyes downcast) that Aggs has allowed me all access/no censoring. Spano walks around the suite in a frenzy “SHIT SHIT SHIT!” and he does not talk to me as I wait the next twenty agonizing minutes for Aggs to reappear.
When Aggs comes out of the bathroom, it’s as if nothing ever happened, aside from him being a little pale, with blood-red eyelids. “Hey its past midnight by way too far and we haven’t even had fun yet. Come on Tanner, let me take you to the dollar slots, let’s get our blood flowing again!” and with that we leave Erik Spano and the girls behind as we take a long, uncomfortable elevator trip (with an elephant no one is supposed to talk about) down to the main floor.
Aggs leads me to a very specific slot machine. He points in excitement “this, this is where I won one-hundred thousand with one pull, and I’ve never used another since. That was about seven years ago” he says, beaming like a proud child. He sits down and I sit at the machine next to him. He puts a dollar in mine before I can reach into my pocket, and pulls the lever for me. I instantly hit three sets of blueberries. Aggs does not only have nine lives, but a lot of other luck too, and he’s happy to share it. I start inserting my own bills and my luck varies, points go up and down. Aggs’ machine just keeps on ringing as the cocktail waitress brings over drinks that I don’t remember either of us asking for. “Welcome back sweetie! How’s the tour going?” she asks him as he caresses her ass and tells her that the tour is on a two week break between the second leg and the summer festivals. She tells me my drink is a double shot of Buca to which Aggs winks at me, and his is more of the Glenfiddich- this time the 25yr Reserve, compliments of the owner of Sam’s Town Hotel. “Charmed fucking life we lead Tanner, cheers” and we toast to his semi-charmed life.
After the very public relationship and divorce with first wife Shauna Thomas, Aggs went through a relationship with one B-movie actress or Indie music darling roughly every six months. Then in 1998, Aggs met supermodel Zenara Claussen at the MTV Music Awards and sparks flew. Within six months they were living together and Zenara was pregnant with their first child, a son named Zachlan. Though the marriage was rocky at best, with each getting arrested for both disorderly conduct and drunk driving, they managed to stay together long enough to produce a second child, a daughter Adjella in the fall of 2001. A month after giving birth, Zenara fled the Silverlake home, accusing Aggs of spousal abuse, claims he denies to this day. At this point, Aggs gave up the home and moved to his current apartment in West Hollywood. After the divorce was finalized, Zenara and the children initially moved back to Silverlake but eventually she met and married real estate tycoon Michael Rinwald and moved with the children into his Scottsdale Arizona mansion. Since the 2001 move and the 2002 divorce, Aggs has been seen as vulnerable and sad beyond his masks and rock-n-roll persona. He became even more private, and it seemed for awhile the drugs and alcohol were under control when the truth was he was just better at hiding his vices.
“I don’t wanna fucking talk about this anymore, OK?” Aggs warns me on the 3am(ish) limo ride back to LA when I try to dig deeper. He has tears in his eyes and dabs at them as he looks out to the black desert. We are quiet and uncomfortable for about five minutes and all I can think is I made an enemy out of Alister Horton. What the hell did I do? Why did I agree to this interview when he leans forward, put his hands on the sunroof, and dives into me with a great big hug. “AAAHHH!” he screams out as if letting go of any tension and bad vibes. “Tanner you sweet fucker, lighten up! This is supposed to be a good time, man!” and Aggs opens a compartment under one of the seats and pulls out a bottle without a label, a clear liquid with brown sediment on the bottom. Oh no I am thinking what now?
“A very, very special Moonshine my friend. You need to try this, only a little, but try it all the same” he twists the cap off and that liquorish smell fills my nose and burns my eyes. I hesitate and he takes the first swig. As I am taking a sip, he tilts the bottle and it becomes a swig. I start to cough and my eyes blur. Wrong pipe! I can’t stop chocking as Aggs can’t stop laughing. I closed my eyes and hear the windows roll down. I can feel the desert breeze fill the car. It cools my head, and gives me my breath back. Suddenly I feel a crazy burst of energy, and electricity in my skin. I ask Aggs to open the sunroof as I ransack the CD collection. I grab a copy of Afghan Whigs 1993 album Gentlemen and insert it into the player. “Excellent choice my man!” Aggs shouts as I turn it all the way up and we storm through the desert. I pull myself up through the sunroof and scream out the lyrics and that’s when everything goes blank for awhile…
I wake to the sound of waves. The sky shows a hint of that early morning purple. I feel sand in my hair, on my skin. My pants are wet from the knees down. I adjust my eyes to see the fading stars, which are spinning. I am going to puke I think to myself and then turn over and do just that. After a couple minutes, I feel a little better. Where am I? Where is Aggs?
“Right here Tanner. We are on Malibu Beach. Got here about an hour ago. It’s about 6am or so” he says from somewhere behind me as if I asked the questions out loud, and maybe I did. Before I can turn around, he is walking past me naked and bursts into a sprint, diving into the waves of the Pacific. How the hell does he have the stamina, the energy? I watch him for a minute or two, head just above the waves, bobbing out there, treading water, treading life.
Alister Horton, AKA “Aggs Notorious”- fifty years old and a mere teenager. Flawed and unapologetic. Haunted yet happy. Riding a second life with his band Moutherloud while burning nine lives over and over. I yell out to him that I am going to call a taxi home to get some sleep and ask where and when I can find him to finish the interview. He ignores me as he bounces with the waves, singing Hendrix, but I already know the answers to my questions…
1pm: I’ve actually slept five hours, showered, and feel like a half a human being again, but the after affects of the Moonshine remind me to take it slow and deliberate. I take a taxi form my place in Santa Monica back to Barney’s Beanery where it all began. I’m actually looking forward to seeing Britanny, though she is not my type, (and I am more certainly not hers) there is just something about her. Pleased to see my car still in the lot, I enter Barney’s a little bummed out to find the bartender is a 30-something guy. He asks what I want to drink and I tell him a Bloody Mary (for some equilibrium). He asks if I have heard the news, I ask what news-
“Someone drowned this morning off Malibu Beach. They haven’t indentified the body yet, by the time some guy walking his dog got to him, it was too late” I put my Bloody Mary down before I drop it all over the bar and start shaking inside. I feel sick again. A sharp lump forms in my throat. How could I have left Aggs there alone like that knowing how he almost died the night before? Did I just assume he was superhuman? OH FUCK!
Sports Center is on every TV in the place. “Fuck Sport Center! Turn on the news right now…please!” I beg and he looks at me like I am nuts. Fox 13 News- there is a live aerial view of a sheet covering a body on the beach, an ambulance with no lights on, cops everywhere, and the newsman saying there is a lot of speculation. The sound of a loud car engine drowns out the audio and I grow aggravated pounding my fist on the bar. “Is everything ok pal, calm down” the bartender is about to kick me out.
Suddenly car keys come flying down the bar and hit me in the elbow. “I never gave you a ride in my Mustang, Tanner. It’s a ’67, you’ll love it! I only take it out a few times a month, because I don’t have a license, well, you know why” Aggs says as he walks down the length of the bar to his seat. I let out the longest, most stale breath of my life as I watch him come towards me and slap me on the back. “Scotty, good afternoon” he says to the bartender with a knowing grin and the bartender says “The Aggs for Aggs” and he makes the signature drink. I remember back to what Wanda Ma said- Aggs would live a long life. Who am I to doubt her?
We both watch the TV and Aggs shakes his head, “Wow, could have been me huh?” He takes a swig of the Fucking Aggs and ponders it. “The ocean don’t give a shit who we are, or what we do for a living, it just takes anyone”
Scotty walks over, grabs the remote and turns the TV back to Sport Center, “but not you. Because you’re fucking Aggs Notorious! You can’t die”
And Aggs lights up a cigarette in a place that clearly does not allow smoking.
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