Currently wowing European crowds as one of the main guitarists in Chris Cornells touring band, Yogi Lonich is not a sideman of considerable talent, he's also released his own solo album recently. All this and he still found time to chat to RoomThirteen about the tour, his own music and the varying influences and outside activities that makes him stand apart from your stereotypical rockstar.

R13: Hi Yogi, on your website, you talk openly of retreats and of passions outside music, can you explain some of them?
YL:I enjoy a variety of retreats and activities including hiking, juice fasts and yoga. I've attended a week long raw food detox at OHI – Optimal Health Institute, but if you're talking about Vipassana, it's a meditation technique that was introduced by Siddhartha Gotama (the Buddha) 2500 years ago. It's non-religious and devoid of all rites and rituals. It's 10 days of silence with about 8 hours of meditation a day. I attend once a year.

R13: Do you have a spiritual side?
YL:Yes. I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school but have not continued on that path. I've been exploring Eastern philosophies and metaphysics since high school. My life is in accordance with generating love and compassion towards all beings.

R13: Do you think it can be at conflict with the usual expectation of a musicians life?
YL:I think today's rock stars are a different breed from the classic heros; you see a lot of sober rock stars today. Artists like Sting are really open about what he practices, i.e. yoga. Spiritual consciousness among musicians today is higher than it was in the 70's and 80's. Granted I'm not a sober person, but I definitely believe that there's more rock 'n roll than the clichés we've all seen. My solo album 'Metta', which means "loving kindness", draws on personal relationships and expresses my worldviews. There are a couple of fictional songs on the record, but mainly my aim is to inspire and generate peace and equanimity in the world.

R13: You've been involved in a film which is currently in pre-production 'Changeling.' Would you like to discuss it?
YL: Sure, the director, Kevin Michael Thomas wrote and directed it and is currently in the editing process. This is film about self-discovery, love and adventure. The main character feels he is different from everyone around him, and then discovers he's a changeling. I play a character called Thomas The Rhymer, a modern day rockstar who is an immortal 13-century English poet. My character's roll in the film is to help the changeling find the portal into the land of the fey and rescue his girlfriend from eminent death. One of my songs is featured in the film. Kevin has asked me to score the film, which I'm entertaining. I've dove a bit scoring in the past and enjoy it. My introduction to acting was fantastic and I intend to continue work in the film industry.

R13: Your myspace list of influences barely mentions music at all, and no specific acts. Is this deliberate or were there no acts in general that got you going?
YL:I feel my music is inspired by life more than other music. I am however a big fan of British pop rockers like The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who etc... but I appreciate contemporary ones as well, such as Radiohead, Keane, Coldplay, Travis as well as many others. My guitar influences are Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Angus Young and several jazz guys as well, however you won't find any guitar solos on my record, it's more of a singer-songwriter record.

R13: Your album's over 50 minutes long, a lengthy album in comparison to some acts nowadays. Was the length of the album important to you?
YL: I honestly didn't really consider the length, only making a concise body of work representing my current mind frame. There are the two bonus acoustic versions of songs at the end of the album, which make the record seem a little longer. The main album is about 40 minutes.

I've been writing new songs lately. I find it easier to write on the road because there's a lot of downtime that make it conducive for songwriting. When I'm home, I enjoy catching up with friends and family and must take care of business so it leaves limited time for creativity.

R13: You've played with a who's who of rock stars, do you worry you'll be forever viewed as a sideman?
YL:Not worried at all, I dig the sideman work. It allows me to learn and play with incredible bands and artists. I hope to continue the diverse career I've been blessed with.

R13: Have you fit in many of your own shows around the Chris Cornell shows?
YL: When we were in Austin, Nashville and London, I've managed to play solo shows. It's impossible to perform many solo gigs while touring with Chris, but it's good to fit them in when I can. I have a rhythm section in London and in New York so I can play band shows when in or around those cities. I do love playing solo acoustic shows as well.

R13: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
YL: To kick some serious butt with Chris and continue my solo work as well. I'll be recording two albums. One will be an acoustic solo record and the other will unveil my new psychedelic rock band, Run Through The Desert, complete with heavier material and guitar solos! Other than the music, I'll continue on my path towards self-liberation. If you may be seeking info on this, check out the Dhamma website

At times you need blatant rock 'n roll with all the shenanigans that go along with it, other times it's good to see there is more depth with a rather pleasing solo album in addition to his current tour work with Chris Cornell. It's obvious that Yogi has worked hard for his current state in life.