With RATT in the rock news just about every day, it was amazing that we were able to pin down Stephen Pearcy for a few minutes recently, but instead of rehashing old news (or new news if you aren’t aware of current goings on), we wanted to chat about Stephen’s new release – SMASH. This disc is full of rockers that sound familiar to fans of his mainstream rock, but also darker moodier stuff that will appeal to fans of his various side projects as well as fans of his solo material and RATT stuff…
Toddstar: Stephen, thank you so much for taking time out for us, we really appreciate it, man.
Toddstar: There’s so much going on and your name’s been all over the news, but let’s talk about what’s really going on, man. Little over a week from now, Smash is going to be released on Frontiers Music and your fans far and wide are finally going to be able to put their hands on some new Stephen Pearcy music. What can you tell us about this disc that you might nit grab the first or second time through?
Stephen: Well I don’t expect anybody to grab it first time they’re through. I think they should listen to it over and over because it’s quite diverse and it’s not going to be what people think they expect. You know, me trying to be RATT music or me just playing whatever they think I play. This record was very thought out, we went through ton of music and took our time doing it, got creative in every way. A very sobering experience. Doing different effects, keyboards… we just pulled out all the stops. It’s like having ‘Immigrant Song’ to ‘That’s the Way’ or something. I wanted ebb and flow. I didn’t want just to throw a record out there, but I did want to put a record out. Myself and my main co-writer Eric Ferentinos, we really chomped at the bit making sure everything was just perfect. Including Matt our engineer/recorder, we all ended up mixing and mastering it. I did get Beau Hill in to mix and master one song, “I Can’t Take It.” He wasn’t available for the rest of the sessions, but we did a great job. I didn’t want to compress it. I know how people listen to music these days and I want you to be able to turn it up as loud as you can, not have it distort when you turn it on at 4, you know? But there’s a lot going on in the record and it ended out turning out just as we wanted. It took a long time.
Toddstar: Yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve heard some Stephen Pearcy music. You mentioned the “ebb and flow” and I get it, because you’ve got a song… it kicks off with “I Know I’m Crazy,” which is kind of a moody, darker track. Then you go into “Ten Miles Wide” which is just straight-at-you arena-rock sound. When you were writing these tunes, did you have that thought process in mind, where you wanted to just put together different tones and grooves, or is it just this is how you write when you write, Stephen?
Stephen: No, the songs actually kind of ebbed and flowed with each other. We were recording other songs, and if a better one came along we would just say “stop, we’re going to move to another song. This one’s a lot better, it makes more sense”. That went on more than a few times while we were tracking drums, guitars. I would just say “stop. We have a better song here Eric and I have a better song”. So we wanted to be cohesive. Also we just didn’t want it to be a grab-bag full of songs. I mean, I wanted some fun in there, some reality in there, and time and space in there. Just interesting things, you know? This is the second time I’ve out lyric-sheets in any of my records – RATT, solo, period. I’m glad I did, so people can really understand what I’m saying because they’re going to go “oh, this guy’s got other things on his mind besides girls, partying and racing”.
Toddstar: I definitely want to touch on that a little bit later, especially ‘Sex, Drugs and RATT and Roll’ because it’s one of my favorite rock and roll books I’ve ever read. As far as this material, Stephen, you’ve been able to embrace this for quite a while. I’ve had my hands on it for a little bit and your fans are going to, again, get their hands on it next week. Looking back, what song fought you the most tooth and nail? Which one just didn’t want to get finished?
Stephen: “Passion Infinity” because it’s so in depth. I’m not a preacher kind of guy but when I notice things – people not wanting to speak and they keep their eyes shut. Their eyes are shut they’re bleeding. They don’t want to say anything, they don’t want to speak up. They just want to look ahead, walk, and do their daily thing without a care. At the end of the day, what’s the purpose for the children of earthling, you know? Where are we going? What’s happening around us? Nobody has eyes, you know? Nobody’s listening, nobody’s watching, nobody’s seeing the real picture. Maybe someone’s going to come down here and go “bad people, that’s not even what we made you into”. The song starts out immediately with exactly what we’re trying to talk about. Consciously thinking about it. Passion Infinity, it’s not what it’s meant to be. “Sky is turning black”… I don’t know what I say, but it makes relevance. Then, you know “Hey, the evil in you, meet the evil in me, I’ll open up your eyes, it’s time to angel me”. Now, what’s this guy trying to say? Is this is a bad guy saying “it’s time to make me a bad angel, or a good angel to take care of business” you know? So it goes all over the place, but not really. It’s very straight in your face, that song. “Wake up people. Look around. Look ahead or you’ll be bleeding your eyes”. Then you have other songs that are pertaining to reality. I wrote this song “Rain” about my daughter, because she would tell me about these people who have trust and they turn and start backstabbing – just different things.
Toddstar: You definitely stepped outside of where you normally go. Anybody who is familiar with your solo stuff, or even your stuff back with Vicious Delite or Vertex – this really blends more off your arena sound, your mainstream rock sound than some of those offerings did.
Toddstar: Top Fuel records – you done well putting your own releases out on that. Do you proactively go out and scout new material, or is this something that’s really for you? This is your baby and this is how you’re going to make sure how your music’s heard?
Stephen: No. I go out and scout stuff, but I’ve also made the mistake of getting bands, putting them in the studio and then, unfortunately, watching them implode. So the people I get involved with, they have to be of a certain caliber. They don’t have to be successful. I know when they’re successful – the minute I hear them. It’s keeping them together, what garbage is with them, who’s locked them into what. They don’t know, they could be signing over their publishing with somebody they don’t even know saying “I’ll get you gigs, but here you have to give me that and this. If somebody else comes around they got to buy me out”. There’s a lot of work into that. There’s still freaks out there that try to pull that. Kids are smarter – younger people who are in bands now – they’re learning. Their whole world is the internet. You can make it on the internet, you know> you can get discovered there. But I absolutely do get submissions and CD’s sent to me and people inquire, and if they’re interesting enough to me? Sure, I’ll invest and put into it. I license my records out. Even ‘Smash’. It was licensed to Frontiers. You know, it’s Top Fuel. So I just learned to do things a certain way, to where you’re not just giving it away.
Toddstar: It’s not your first rodeo, Stephen. You’ve been releasing material since ’83. So you’re definitely one of those guys – if you’re going to run a label and help young bands and out or help them sort the quote-unquote bullshit behind the scenes – you’re definitely one of those guys who can do it.
Stephen: Yeah. They think I can give them advice, and that’s usually the core sometimes. I ask them “what’s going on with you? Who are you with? What’s happening?”. Some of them don’t all have the real story. It’s like “we don’t know”. It’s like “well, you should find out”. That’s your life, that’s your career. It’s you music, and if you’re having it taken from you, stolen from you because somebody’s promising you something, then you’re fucked. So I give them that insight. Even other peers that I know don’t do things properly. I’m not the answer to everything, but I’ve lived and learned that there’s certain ways to do things. How you record your own music, how you go about it, and market it. That’s what I do too, is market my own music for TV. Music for television or movies or B-movies – it doesn’t matter. ABC. It’s irrelevant to me. It’s business.
Toddstar: Yeah. Again, as you said, there’s right ways to do it and wrong ways to do it. Sex, Drugs and RATT and Roll – that book was fun from beginning to end. I was on vacation when I read it and I couldn’t put it down. Is there another book in there, Stephen?
Stephen: Yes. I’m actually going to start up on one. I’m going to fire up another one and start doing it. By the end of the year it should be ready to start going.
Toddstar: Will that kind of pick up where the other one left off, or dig in a little deeper? What do you have in mind, or are you just still trying to figure the slate out?
Stephen: No, I think it’s going to be more about the music, the people, and maybe some fun stuff. Pretty much the reality, the Christmas tree of the people involved. Where I was to get to where I am. Things like that. Some history insight, business insight and different things, but fun. Not so serious, but still you get a kick out of it.
Toddstar: That’s one of the things I dug about your book, was it was kind of a tell-all but it wasn’t 98% you dishing on other people or just pouring out the bad shit.
Stephen: Yeah, there’s no reason for that. I mean, shit, those people know who they are.
Toddstar: Looking back Stephen – and again, you’ve been doing this since 1983 in recorded form, and since before then live and in garages and clubs and everything else – if you could go back and take one scenario, one situation and re-do it so that it had a different outcome? What would you do different, Stephen?
Stephen: We’re talking about that now, actually, with my lawyer.
Toddstar: I was trying to stay away from that, man. Everyone else is printing that shit. I want to talk about you, but please, give it to me.
Stephen: So I really can’t talk to you about it. It has nothing to do with the case or what’s winding down. The dust it settling or settled, so that’s why we’re off and running, doing some festivals. RATT doesn’t interfere with my ‘Smash’ shows, which start March 11th through July 2nd. I still have dates to add, but we do ae some festivals. We’re taking it slow with this RATT thing and making sure it’s done correctly and properly right, to set us up so we don’t have these complications. That arose recently, last year, so that’s the end of that.
Toddstar: I love that you’re taking the high road, man. Again, so many guys wouldn’t, so I give you props for that.
Stephen: Yeah, man. I mean, shit. You going to cry over spilt milk? You fight over it.
Toddstar: So true. You’re coming close to when you’re going to play Rock the Arena 2 in March. You’re going to play Toledo, Ohio. But up here in Detroit, man, we miss you. What are the chances we’re going to Stephen Pearcy or RATT or you onstage? I don’t give a shit if it’s an Arcade reunion. How do we get Stephen Pearcy back up here in Detroit?
Stephen: I’m working on it. I don’t know. It’s going to be one of those “is RATT going to be there first, or is it going to be me”. I don’t know what’s going on. We’re not letting anything out of the bag with RATT till beginning of summer, which would take us there. But I actually have to finish booking my solo stuff. I’d love to be out there. I still get a kick out of yelling at people and having a good time, except just leave the Jack Daniels behind, you know?
Toddstar: Listen man, I know you’re busy. As a fan of yours from the beginning, through the ups and downs, ins and outs, this has truly been a pleasure for me to take some of your time and speak with you about Smash, which will come out January 27th. Packed with killer rockers that “ebb and flow” as Stephen Pearcy would say.
Stephen: The dark and the light. It’s going to be on vinyl too.
Toddstar: Awesome. Listen man, again, we appreciate the time. We wish you well. Can’t wait to see you in March in Toledo at Rock the Arena, but I really can’t wait to put my hands on a piece of plastic next week with your name on it.
Stephen: Right on, brother. Me either. Thank you so much.
Toddstar: All right Stephen, we’ll talk to you soon.
Stephen: Thank you, brother.
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