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Exclusive! Deb Rao catches up with former Ratt frontman, Stephen Pearcy

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Sunday, February 12, 2006 @ 10:29 AM


"Pardon the pun, what goes aro

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The 80's were a time in music when Metal ruled the world. The Metal genre didn't play by the rules, held no boundaries, and lived life on the edge, never looking back or thinking about tomorrow. One band that stood out among the rest of the pack lived life dangerously, and was all about Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll was Ratt.

Ratt burst out of the Los Angeles Sunset Strip music scene in the early 80's and went on to become one of the popular acts of the Metal genre, inspiring a unique brand of "Ratt and Roll", with their controversial attitude, and catchy rock melodies. Ratt were all about LA., and the Glam-metal scene. Stephen Pearcy, the former lead vocalist of Ratt, known for his flamboyant, rebellious, Roll and Rock attitude, and unique vocal style, was one of the most dynamic front man to emerge out of the Metal genre.

Stephen Pearcy's career began in the early 70's when he formed the band Mickey Ratt, which later evolved into Ratt. In 1983, Ratt's first album featured the hit, "You Think Your Tough." This song led the band to a major record contract with Atlantic Records. Ratt's first major release, Out of the Cellar, was a major hit, reaching the top ten on the charts and selling over 3 million copies. With the release of their second album, Invasion Of Privacy, Ratt was well on their way to headlining arenas across the country.

In 1992, Stephen Pearcy left Ratt to form Arcade, with Cinderella drummer Fred Coury. Arcade issued a pair of releases, and later on in 1994 Pearcy went on to form an industrial rock style band called Vertex.

In 2001, Stephen Pearcy released his first solo album entitled, Social Intercourse. Pearcy spent most of the that year touring, with his solo band appearing on the Rock Never Stops Tour, which also featured Vince Neil, Skid Row, and Jackyl.

In 2003, Pearcy formed his own record label Top Fuel Records, and is currently producing cutting edge bands that have captured the artist's attention, as the rising stars of tomorrow.

In November 2005, Stephen Pearcy embarked on the Vh1 Metal Mania Stripped Tour , which also featured some of the top 80's artists including, Don Dokken, Jani Lane, Firehouse, and Kip Winger.

In this exclusive interview, Pearcy gives us an indepth look at the music industry today, why there will never be a Ratt re-union, his new album "Fueler", and a special preview to the Metal in America Tour 2006.

KNAC.COM: You are getting ready to embark on the Metal In America Tour 2006. Tell me alittle about the tour and the new members in your band.

Pearcy: Ah well it was a situation, and I checked up on some rhythm sections. I have known Chuck Wright for quite awhile. I got a call from Tracii Guns, a friend of mine, he mentioned checking out his drummer. We rehearsed a couple of days in my studio . It sounds ass-kick in, and I'm gonna take them out there and get it on ya know.

KNAC.COM: This is such a great line-up. What kind of songs will you be performing in your set this time around.

Pearcy: When I was out there and did the Arcade thing, people wanted to hear Ratt, and now that I am doing my Ratt music and solo stuff, people want to hear Arcade, or Vicious Delite. So I am gonna throw down whatever it takes to get the yah-yahs out.

KNAC.COM: Cool. The tour will begin on February 6 and run till March 12 is that correct?

Pearcy: Yes, we'll add a few more dates to it here and there. Right now I am actually in the studio, I have to finish up four new songs. I am actually re-fueling Fueler for the European distribution for March 7 release. So I am knocking these out this afternoon.

KNAC.COM: Four new bonus tracks on the European release, right?

Pearcy: Yes.

KNAC.COM: Will you be doing a European tour after the release?

Pearcy: Yes, I am looking forward to it, it has been a while.

KNAC.COM: What cities do you hope to visit on the European Tour?

Pearcy: Whoever wants some ass-kick-in music.

KNAC.COM: It has been awhile since you have performed in Europe. How do you European audiences differ from American audiences?

Pearcy: Well, they are a bit more reserved in America, as I remember. In doing the festivals in Europe and touring with Ozzy back in the day, unless you get a bunch of mud thrown at you, or two gallons of piss, you're not appreciated , so I like it.

(Laughter)

KNAC.COM: It should be alot of fun. Now on the Metal in America Tour 2006, you will be bring along Bang Tango and Pretty Boy Floyd as supporting acts.

Pearcy: Yeah, we have a couple of bands out there. It is Top Fuel Entertainment presents, I plan to get some projects out there one of them being The Bastards of Metal, we're working on that. I have a record coming out "Metal in America" with twenty unsigned bands out and around the USA. So I decided ya know I am gonna throw down a tour to instigate that release for early summer. Just to get out ya know. Nowadays, when I go out I have a great time, I get to do my solo material, I get to do Arcade, I can throw down a Zeppelin or a Aerosmith cover, just do what I want, it is music.

KNAC.COM: I recently got to see you perform in Connecticutt. You looked like you were having a blast onstage. Did you have fun on that tour performing acoustically?

Pearcy: It was interesting . I like weird things like that. Because it is a change of pace. Alot of people don't know that I play guitar. I went up there Old School, miked the guitar Willie Nelson style. We had a great time. We beat those things up. I like involving Top Fuel Entertainment and anything that will defend the faith, ya know?

KNAC.COM: That's True. I especially like the line-up of your next tour.

Pearcy: Yeah, Bang Tango actually go back to the days, when they opened for my old band RATT in the late 90's. Ya know what, everybody needs to get out there and scratch and itch. It is a game ya know. It is a fun game, we have a great time. People want to get out and have a good time. They don't want to sit there and bum out on bullshit ya know.

KNAC.COM: How does "Fueler"differ from your first solo album, "Social Intercourse." What kind of sound were you aiming for when you produced this album along with Matt Thorne?

Pearcy: He goes back to one of the bass players in Ratt actually. I have been working at his studio for quite awhile cuz he handles alot of the bass arrangements for my projects. I can literally walk out and he will take care of the bass and engineering. We co-produced "Fueler". He will be working on my third solo album , in which I will start later in the year when I get back from touring. My first solo album "Social Intercourse," was just so chaotic and social. With "Fueler" I kind of had a cohesive thing going with the drag racing feeling, we took time on it. We had song titles, "Drive With Me," "Overdrive," "Dream Machine." We had a good thing going. It is colorful, exciting, and dangerous. It is in your face. That is just where I was at. Now these new songs came along. I am like great, now I can throw down those, including "Novocain," "Red Licorice," "Wide Open," and a couple of other songs.

KNAC.COM: Now tell me about the first single "Drive With Me." Is that song about your love for drag car racing?

Pearcy: Yeah, pretty much. I am doing some work with ESPN and drag racing and they are playing my songs on weekends. That was perfect for them, cuz I did the video with race cars in it, and the band also appeared. The next single I am submitting to them is "Dream Machine." off of "Fueler." I t is all just crazy, live psychotic footage of the last tour. Yeah man, it is about wheels of steel.

KNAC.COM: Let's talk about your early days in music in the 70's before Ratt, when you first got started. Did you always want to become a musician? How did you get started in the business?

Pearcy: Not necessarily, I wanted to be a young Top Fuel racer in the early 70's. I got in a mishap, busted bones up bad, when I was recuperating, long story short, somebody gave me a guitar. I was self-taught. Next thing I know a couple of years later , I started my own band Mickey Ratt after singing in a couple of other bands. Worked Mickey Ratt until 76. In 1982, I went and dropped the Mickey from the Ratt. I went thru plenty of musicians from Jake E. Lee's , from this guy to that guy, and then you have Ratt as we knew it.

KNAC.COM: How has the LA music scene changed from the early 80's?

Pearcy: There is alot of cover bands. There are some good bands around. I am dealing with one now, Forty Cycle Hum, my label is interested in them. There are great bands around just far and few. inbetween. We have some other bands on my label called Tijuana Bullfight, Gash, an all girl band. We take things slow, we're independent twelve years old. We're doing OK. We have a real young metal band all under 20 years old called Rebbecca. I am excited about some of these projects, we develop things .We them out there to see if they stick.

KNAC.COM: Now did you approach Ratt about a re-union on Ratt's 20th Anniversary in 2004?

Pearcy: I actually did. That frivious lawsuit was amicably resolved. I got together with the original bass player. I am like ya know it is a good opportunity , it is an anniversary this happened two years ago. I guess they are quite comfortable in their situation. I am in a small business, and I' m way involved with my label now. I been there, done that, and I still appreciate it , and I still enjoy getting out there , but there is bigger fish to fry in the industry. I like the industry, what is left of it. Top Fuel entertainment have songs for movies, songs for commercials, so we are busy. It is all about Rock and Roll. 99 percent of it is.

KNAC.COM:COM: I think that is why you have survived in the business. You have that business savvy. In my opinion, you have that distinct vocal that really no one can copy.

Pearcy: I appreciate that. I did create the monster. Rest in peace Robin Crosby was my right hand man in the beginning of all that. We pulled those other guys in. It so happened thru Robin's demise and my intense business manner some things just don't go down properly. We made the effort, we made the proposal, and De martini and Blotzer shot it down and decided it is better to have and be comfortable in what they are in. They tour, that is great. I don't foresee another Ratt record. I think we pretty much seen that close. In all do respect, it is all music.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, It is all good. I was so sad to hear of Robin Crosby's passing. Were you on good terms with Robin right up to his death?

Pearcy: Of course, we just finished Behind The Music VH1, and it is suppose to air this April. I am glad it is coming out because alot of people are confused, never new the history of RATT. We were fortunate enough to sell out arenas. We had the big shows , the big money, the big everything. The platinum debauchery card. It is when you get into something like that you never know when it is going to end. I have been prepared for it with my label. Some of those guys out there are alittle more extreme. Robin was metal all the way, he was into it, that is where it went ya know.

KNAC.COM: How did you get your first record deal with Atlantic Records?

Pearcy: We were for a time independent with our manager, then we got picked up with Atlantic, they came out and saw us play and we went and we did "Out of the Cellar", and the rest is history ya know.

KNAC.COM: The final Ratt album in '97 was a John Koldner project. How was it working with him?

Pearcy: The best thing about it for me I had the opportunity to write with some of the best writers on the planet, ya know., but that doesn't guarantee hits. The band was still not cohesive, and down a band of platinum status like that , and re-cement them , it was a bad approach. It is was it was, and it not my favorite record. I tried to get involved.

(Laughter)

It just wasn't there.

KNAC.COM: Are you getting ready to release your book Rat Tails?

Pearcy: I am finally getting ready to release it. Finally , after that Ratt mess closure. We actually will start working on that in a few weeks. It has taken a few years.

KNAC.COM: Great, we will be looking forward to that. What about the Ratt Attack CD? Tell me about the musicians on that album?

Pearcy: Yeah, we had George Lynch come out and do his special guest on a Mickey Ratt song, Tracii Guns actually came out. We tried to get Jake E. Lee, but I will be releasing some Micky Ratt archive stuff with Jake E. Lee on it that is incredible. That just got picked up for European , distribution so we are happy.

KNAC.COM: You been busy acting too. You were in the movie Camp Utopia. How did that project come about?

Pearcy: That was strange because that was around the time of Robin's death. I wasn't in a good place with myself and I decided to get my shit together. This opportunity came up with the songs, and they say hey we have this part open for a cult leader killer. I am like OK. I am in the frame of mind for that, I am a fuck-in mess.

(Laughter)

So I went out there three days and filmed and it was interesting. I am this cult leader guy, feeding my cult people acid, it was like a big party in the 70's. I take this girl into the woods, and chop her head off , and waltz right back into the little party, and I go nuts, and start wasting away my cult kids. I go berserk, then we switch into the year 2000 and some kids wanna know what happened and where the party was, Timothy Bach , my character was such a creepy leader. It is an independent movie, you gotta start somewhere, as long as it didn't have anything to do with Rock and Roll. This was OK, I rather create reality shows and things like that.

KNAC.COM: You also will be appearing on the Liberty 'N' Justice CD that will be released in March. How did that project come about?

Pearcy: It was an interesting concept . They came to me and they gave me some ideas and I said ya know I like this. Those kinda things don't come along often . Sometimes people in my caliber , t hey think this guy will never sing that. But ya I said I like that shit! You live once man. MUSIC LIVES FOREVER YA KNOW. IF YOU BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING THE MUSIC WILL LAST. It doesn't necessarily have to be successful, platinum hits. I mean granted, we were fortunate to have these platinum records, I mean one day we actually thought when is this going to end. Ya know !

(Laughter)

And the hits just keep coming at ya. So I said Yeah, I'll fuckin yodel on this thing. It was great ya know. The song was Killer Grin, and I like doing those things every once in awhile for sure.

KNAC.COM: Stephen, you have been in so many great tours in your career. What was your favorite tour? Was it when you toured with Ozzy?

Pearcy: Ya know what? You hit it right in the head. We almost had something going with Motley, because we never really did big shows together, but we did have the opportunity to do a couple of Beacon Theaters, one was on my birthday, and this other festival. The tour with Ozzy most definitely, after he pulled Motley up in the ranks, we were next in line. He took us out, on the European Tour, Canadian Tour, U.S. Tour. It was fuckin nuts man. That is why the [the book] will have plenty of stories. I t is not just about the debauchery of Rock and Roll. It is about the rise and fall of the mighty Ratt band. YA know? I created it, and there is so much in there from mutiny. It is an interesting tale, so to speak.

KNAC.COM: What has the highlight of your career been so far? What are you most proud of as a musician?

Pearcy: The highlight is I still survived.

(Laughter)

The ultimate highlight is definitely my first gold and platinum award because , ya know back in the day when Robin and I first got "You Think Your Tuff" on the radio, the first time we heard it, we were like, we have been ready for this for a long time. We knew it was going to go down. We just didn't know it was going to go down as big, and as long as it did. That is when you consider the longevity , and you try to really understand the business. It has disintegrated, and changed so much. The highlights were also the first gold and platinum records. I rehearsed at my parents house and looked down at The Forum, I use to see Zeppelin ,Stones, Aerosmith, my favorite bands like Blue Oyster Cult. I go man I 'm gonna fuckin play there one day. Sure enough I was sitting there saying , guess what, ya know I am playing here tonight.

KNAC.COM: A lot of young concert-goers are discoering Ratt and Roll for the first time. Do you see a trend going back to old school metal?

Pearcy: Well pardon the pun, what does comes around, goes around. I really think it is especially true nowadays. When you are forced feed things from labels, and they are synthetic, you got singers who sing the songs, and they all sound alike, nobody is really learning solos. Granted there are some great bands out there like Disturbed and Staind. It has changed alot. The whole thing is it's there. It is being given to people. Now people are going indepently underground to get what they want to here.

KNAC.COM: Any advice for aspiring musicians getting started in the business today?

Pearcy: Well ya know, first thing that I would say do to this last frivilous thing that went down with me don't put your band name in a corporation.

(Laughter)

Cuz they can veto you out no sweat. Secondly, I'd say play, anywhere, anyplace, anytime for any reason, cuz it is almost like it is back to the 70's, where you have to be seen, and be heard. NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE MAN. You either take a high interest song with a major label and get it done or you do it indepently and get that attention and get it down anyway. Bottom line is, if you are committed , than stick to the day job. Right now I have done it all for so long, I enjoy it, but I also enjoy the business aspect. When I step outside and go, I like getting my yahs-yahs out, but when I go on the A and B, and I am the ultimate A and R guy for my label. So I get to see everybody around the country. I know there are some real good bands out there. I could name a ton them. These bands can compete with anybody. Accept, there is no A and R people out there anymore.

KNAC.COM: What can the fans expect from Stephen Pearcy in 2006?

Pearcy: I call it 2000-Sex. Well I tell ya what, we're just trying to keep metal going. Keep Metal Down and Out. We are always ready to come and play and have a great time, and take advantage of it. If you want to Ratt and Roll I am around. I'll give you a good kick in the ass.

KNAC.COM: The 80's were a time in music when Metal had no boundaries. There were no rules, and everyone lived life on the edge, full speed ahead . How would you best describe the 80's?

Pearcy: It is an era that will never be repeated. It was so colorful, exciting . It was dangerous. To me it is just like drag-racing. Back then it was like anything went. Anyone night you could trip down the Strip, you could see Ratt, and you go down the end of the strip, you will see Quiet Riot, you go to the other side of the street, there is a Great White, maybe Motley, or Ratt might be playing the same night. It was ridiculous. You had the Roxy, The Whiskey, The Troubadour, The Cathouse, it was incredible. It was like that 70 Doors movie, with all the people just tripping around, pissing on lawns, fucking on lawns, it was that. It was something that was just , even being involved in it was just like shit, this shit is really going down. I use to come up to LA in the late 70's, and met Van Halen before they were signed. Back then it was like this. It is fucking nuts, I said gotta get up to it, and it is exactly what I did.

KNAC.COM: I am glad you made it to LA in the 70's and started Ratt. Also Stephen, Thank you for your special insight of RATT, and the 80's. I hope to See ya on the Metal In America Tour 2006.

Pearcy: So I am. This is what got me into this mess. It is how it all got started. Thanks for your support at KNAC.


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