Mike Tramp, lead singer of the rock band White Lion, says he is looking forward to the group's return to Salt Lake City Tuesday.
"We played there with Aerosmith, and it was one of our best shows," Tramp said. "The crowd was amazing."And if the crowd was amazing before, they should be crazed beyond belief now. White Lion's album, "Pride," has gone platinum and the band's two hit singles, "Wait" and "Tell Me," have zoomed up the charts and gotten lots of play on MTV. White Lion, like the even more successful Bon Jovi, has a melodic and accessible sort of heavy metal sound.
The band has been on the road for about a year, and Tramp says the crowd has changed as the album has become more successful. "We do the same thing every day - every day we are the same, but we see our popularity grow."
Tramp talks about doing the same thing every day, but in no way is that to be interpreted as a reference to complacency. Life on the road - keeping odd hours, sleeping on buses - is not easy and there are a lot of responsibilities, he says.
"You gotta be ready for the next night's show and give you're best performance every night - I mean, you can't say to the kids, `hey, you should have seen me last night,' " he says.
And when it comes to backstage life, Tramp says the wild, out-of-control rock and roll star party image does not apply to this four-year-old band. "There's not that much going on backstage - you can't tour a long time and do that." Again, Tramp, who is 27 and says he wants to live a lot longer, mentions responsibilities - he doesn't use alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.
"I'm well-behaved, I take care of myself," he says.
But don't think the band is unrealistically entrenched in the the straight-and-narrow. "We can party with the best and rock and roll with the best, but without being destructive."
A slight accent reveals Tramp's heritage - he hails from Denmark, but came to America because "this is the place to be if you really want to rock and roll." His previous band, Mabel, released 6 albums, and all went gold in Denmark, but there was still something missing. Tramp said he wanted to focus on rock and roll 24 hours a day, and that wasn't how they did it in Denmark.
Tramp and his Denmark band played in America and it was on one of those trips that the singer met guitarist Vito Bratta, his future songwriting partner. Tramp and Bratta wrote all the songs on the "Pride" album. The other members of the band are bass player James Lomenzo and drummer Greg D'Angelo, who are starting to get into the songwriting side of things now.
But the next album won't really be an issue until January, Tramp said. "1988 is dedicated to `Pride.' " A ballad called "When the Children Cry" should be released as the next single sometime in the fall, he said.
More touring - in the U.S. and Japan - is in the bands immediate future, first as the opening act for AC/DC, and later as a co-headliner with Stryper. White Lion's first album, "Fight to Survive" was for a Japanese recording company, and the band was a big success there.
At the Salt Palace, White Lion will be opening for AC/DC, a group that seemed to hit a popular peak in the late 70s and early 80s with hits like "Highway to Hell," "You Shook Me All Night Long," and "Back in Black." They haven't had that kind of success with singles lately, but their most recent album, "Blow Up Your Video" is still certified platinum.
But AC/DC's live reputation goes beyond any chart talk. Lead singer Brian Johnson, who joined the band after Bon Scott died in 1980, growls and screams his way through the songs with vigor, and the infamous Angus Young puts on his own show, which can include mooning the crowd.
According to Rolling Stone's Summer Music Guide, "...the spectacle of lead guitarist Angus Young dressed in schoolboy garb and tossing off manic riffs while bastardizing the Chuck Berry duck walk is worth the price of admission alone."