Street Regal

I'm in the back of Louis XIV's tour bus as the San Diego group's front man Jason Hill is knocking out a new composition on acoustic guitar on the couch next to me, something with the refrain, "I don't want to be a fool no more." I wait politely for Hill to finish, as I'd caught him in midsong when I arrived for our pre-concert confab prior to he and his boys rockin' the Marquee Theatre in Tempe this past Saturday evening.

"I usually write up until stage time," explains Hill, indicating a small black notebook with scribbled-over pages. "But some days it depends on how much privacy you can get."

Dressed in jeans and a generic blue tee that reads "California," lounging with a brew in one hand after he's set the guitar aside, he looks less rock god and more laid-back West Coast musician. Less a young Ozzy Osbourne, who he resembles in videos, and more Don Henley circa Hotel California. But as you probably know from hearing the hit single "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" off the album The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, Hill and Louis XIV have a raunchy, bump-uglies sort of sound, full of dirty guitar and sneering-leering vocals with lyrics like "Wind you up and make you crawl to me/Tie you up until you call to me," or "Ah chocolate girl, well you're looking like something I want/And your little Asian friend well, she can come if she wants . . ."

I'm feelin' the style because for too long rock's been the domain of gelding neo-punkers howling about how Suzy Creamcheese from around the way won't change their diapers, or some such crybaby nonsense. Like when did rockers start having to check their nads at the door? That B.S. never happened with hip-hop, praise Jay-sus and Jay-Z. But all Louis XIV has to do is put a little butt-crack on their CD, make some lewd comments on their tracks, and a lot of precious little music scribes get their panties in a twist.

"There was this feature recently where this writer did, like, a thesis article about why we should be stopped and why you shouldn't like our music," Hill relates. "It included calling us racists. . . . Said the cover of our record depicted a dead woman that we'd defiled by writing on her."

"Dead woman?" I scratch my chin looking at the cover again, a copy of which I have with me. "She doesn't look dead to me. But so what if she was?"

"It was so outlandish!" continues Hill. "Complained about the phrase 'little Asian friend.' To me it's like, 'Hey, honey, come over here,' or something like that. It's like my version of the Beach Boys' 'California Girls.' But I say 'chocolate girl,' and this and that. I don't know a single black girl that would get offended by that phrase.

"There's one part where the article says, 'I just want my rock 'n' roll to have a little more responsibility,'" Hill chuckles. "I certainly don't. I want it to be irresponsible and bold, to take chances and make people question things and feel freedom. Too much responsibility in rock 'n' roll is a bad idea."

Yeah, screw that responsibility crap. Bring on the hookers and the mounds of blow! But that's where I have to say I'm slightly disappointed in my man Hill. Of course, if he was really a sex-obsessed, Sadean narcissist ravaging the countryside's womenfolk and taking names -- you know, like the Ying Yang Twins, or somethin' -- he'd prolly be too busy bonin' to mess with the press. But when I ask him why his tour bus isn't a nonstop orgy on wheels, the cat almost blushes!

"You'll have to see it for yourself after midnight," he suggests. "I wouldn't be a gentleman if I went around talking about things like that."

Seems Hill resides in girlfriend-land these days. But can you blame me for wanting some old-fashioned Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry decadence with a capital D? Not so much of that at the concert, which ran for about an hour, and highlighted some slammin' musicianship from Hill and bandmates, with a black-and-white image of the Sun King hanging behind them. Hill was still dressed down, having changed to a tight black shirt with yellow stripes on the shoulders -- a far cry from the hipster royalty of Louis XIV's image. High point of the eve came with the chicks in the crowd singing along campfire-style to "Finding Out True Love Is Blind."

If you're wondering, the Jettster made the concert, but not the Q&A with Hill, mainly because I knew that if we hopped that Louis XIV bus together in the Marquee parking lot, they'd have to pry her out with a crowbar. I didn't want her turning into Kate Hudson à la Almost Famous. You know how hard it is to find a good AC/DC Jett in this town? As is, when we connect, all she can talk about is meeting the band at the official after-party at The Rogue, during Shake!, the popular Saturday night debauch hosted by William Fucking Reed (

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons