Hard-Rocking The Winery Dogs Take a Quieter Turn With 'Fire': Exclusive Video Premiere

Winery Dogs
Jamel Toppin

Winery Dogs

"Fire," the new video for The Winery Dogs, is a case of a song finding its time and place.

"It's an idea I had floating around for awhile," singer-guitarist Richie Kotzen tells Billboard about the track, which appears on Hot Streak, the second album by the rock "supergroup" of Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big), bassist Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Steve Vai) and drummer Mike Portnoy (co-founder of Dream Theater). "Fire" was, in fact, initially called "Last Chance" but wasn't coming to fruition until Kotzen showed it to his bandmates.

"When we were writing for (Hot Streak) I remember sitting around with the guys an playing the chord changes and kinda humming the melody," says Kotzen. "Billy and Mike made some really great suggestions for the arrangement and I went and took it and wrote some words for it, and we cut the song." Watch the video for "Fire" below, which Billboard is exclusively premiering below.

You'll notice, of course, that "Fire" is markedly quieter and gentler than Winery Dogs' usual chops-flaunting hard rock. But Kotzen says he's happy to make that part of the trio's repertoire, too. "My comfort zone, the music that I love is really singer/crooner-based music," he explains. "I love that music. When I'm home I'll listen to Curtis Mayfield or put Sam & Dave on. If I had to pick one (style), I would much rather live in the world of 'Fire' or 'Remember' or 'Damage' or 'Regret' rather than the more frenetic, aggressive world, because I feel like you can be so much more expressive musically and artistically when you have that kind of space in the music. The fast, crazy shit is a lot of fun, but, personally, I can't live with it 24 hours the day. I need the balance."

The "Fire" video was directed by Steve Lyon, a friend of Kotzen's who combined performance and behind-the-scenes footage with ethereal images of a woman on a beach in Thailand. Lyon also put Kotzen in New York's Times Square with an acoustic guitar after a concert in Manhattan for a few shots. "He said, 'Hey, just go out and walk around with the guitar," Kotzen recalls. "At first I was really shy about it, but he was like, 'Nah, just go do it,' and it wound up being fun. It's got a lot of the character of both the song and the band in it."

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The Winery Dogs plan to continue their campaign for Hot Streak well into 2016. The group heads to Europe in January and will also be playing in Japan, Latin America and Mexico, as well as another run through North America. And the album, which came out in October -- and debuted in the top 10 of the Top Rock Albums, Top Hard Rock Albums, Top Independent Albums and Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums charts --  is holding up well for Kotzen and company, especially compared to the trio's self-titled 2013 debut. 

"(Hot Streak) is more of the band's album," Kotzen says. "The first record, 'cause everything was so new and we weren't sure what was going to happen, was mostly songs I'd previously written and worked into Winery Dog songs. On (Hot Streak) we got into a room and threw ideas around and came up with things together, just being in a studio and jamming and throwing ideas around. I think the band is comfortable enough now that we can collaborate for real, and I think that made this record stronger than the first one."