By Christian Duque
Jason Green of Wasting Time With Jason Green landed the interview of the century with legendary RATT vocalist Stephen Pearcy. This was Green’s first in-person interview and it took place in the frontman’s own home. The rapport between the two couldn’t have been better; they seemed more like old friends than journalist and celebrity. You have to figure, after forty years ruling the rock universe, Pearcy gets mobbed wherever he goes. A great many celebs would kill for the opportunity to, simply, be treated as regular people. This kind of interview isn’t the norm, it’s very much the exception.
I feel that Stephen was a lot more honest with what he said, especially with what he didn’t, than he’s been in other interviews, even with big names like Eddie Trunk. The general vibe was positive and upbeat, he wasn’t on guard. Despite the great atmosphere and pleasantries, this is still a band that’s been through hell and back. Pearcy tried to make the case against its dysfunctionality; however, I feel the basis for that was courting the increasingly isolated Warren DeMartini. From a legal standpoint, his presence may not be required for a reunion tour, but his bandmates, notably Pearcy, love him and miss him. This is why I believe the frontman was adamant that there “would never be another [RATT] studio album without the original members.” That was his way of saying he’d never do it without Warren.
Speaking of original members, Pearcy gave a ton of love to the late, great Robbin Crosby. It was unclear if he ever truly considered Carlos Cavazo as a full member of the band. Although Warren and Bobby had suggested so, during the Infestation era, I think for Pearcy, it’s far more difficult to acknowledge the Quiet Riot axe slinger as having the spot Robbin held. While no one has ever suggested Cavazo would replace Crosby’s memory, there seems to be staunch resistance to him even fully holding his spot, years later. Carlos’ mentions on this interview were few and very far between. Other members like John Corabi and most notably, Robbie Crane, received no mention. While these guys weren’t original members, they were instrumental (pun intended) in keeping the band/brand viable for 10-15 years. While they didn’t play during the heyday, they helped bring RATT music to new generations. In any event, the interview wasn’t about the complete history of the band, rather, about where the band is today.
Pearcy dropped a major bombshell, when he stated “the EP will see the light of day,” in 2023. He further stated that “you’ll find out through me.” This will surely create a lot of conversation among fans and the press. Does this mean that the EP will be re-issued – or – remastered and reissued? If it’s the latter, who is going to do the mastering and who’s going to approve the final cut?
Many times remastering records can be hit or miss. Sometimes the sound is way better, but other times, the process can strip the music of its original feel. In rare situations, where songs are remastered some parts might be re-recorded and in even rarer situations, re-recorded using different personnel.
Another big question is, if fans are to go to Stephen [only] for info on the EP in 2023, will this be a Top Fuel Entertainment release, and if so, will Warren, Bobby, and Juan sign off on that? Do they need to? And if they don’t, could this create a riff among the surviving 4 RATT members? To be honest, the idea that fans will find out through Stephen, as opposed to finding out from the band, seems like the singer might be doing this on his own and making no secret about it.
To piggyback off the last point, would we ever see RATT signed to Top Fuel Entertainment? Many independents from Perris to Golden Robot are pushing their artists to the next level, with optimal positioning on popular streaming services, working great touring packages with smart management companies, and providing fans with a number of merchandizing options. Also bands like RATT, that have dozens of huge songs, also need to work with folks who will maximize their earning potential insofar as licensing goes. Aggressive labels/management could get these classics on commercials, movie soundtracks, Netflix/Hulu productions and more!! Would the members of RATT ever vote to entrust this to TFE or vote to create their own label, which would see to the band’s interests, exclusively? Currently, the band seems to be in disarray, despite the best efforts of their lead singer painting a nice picture for the press.
That said, I’m not sure Pearcy is at all too-interested in making new music. There’s two main camps when it comes to 80’s bands. There are those who want to tour off their gold/platinum catalog and use the release of new music as an excuse to tour. The new music, itself, isn’t anything they’re necessarily proud of and they may only play a track or two for that particular tour’s set list. Years later, you’ll never hear those tracks, live, again. Some bands don’t even play songs off their current record in the setlist. They figure the fans aren’t there for that, but it does a huge disservice to the fans who bought the CD, vinyl, or paid for the digital downloads. Then there’s another camp, which takes great pride in their new material, investing whatever budget the label gives them into finding a great producer, a great studio, and making the most of the allotted time. I think RATT has a foot in each camp and I think Stephen and Warren are on opposing ones when it comes to the topic of new music.
To make my case, Pearcy gave the Portrait record a 2 out of 5, saying those “were not RATT songs,” even though the record featured 3 original members. I’d imagine John Kalodner gave RATT as much of a budget and push as he gave other huge bands like Dokken. The difference might be that singers like Don Dokken embraced the process and perhaps Stephen resisted it. Clearly, the band wasn’t used to working with outside writers, but it was also a different time and different times sometimes require different measures. It’s not like RATT was selling out arenas in 1999. In fact, this period was before the major package deals that would emerge 5-10 years later. In ‘99, the giant bands of the 80’s were still trying to reclaim their lost glory, alone. It was only, later, that the package deals emerged, putting 80’s bands on the same bill, bringing them back to huge clubs, arenas, and even stadiums! Perhaps if the whole band subscribed to Kalodner’s recording approach in ’99, they might have sold 300,000-500,000 units and started the new decade off with a bang. Then again, artists will be artists.
One last note on the self-titled (‘99) record, Green tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to draw Pearcy out by noting it had “a lot of odd Bobby Blotzer co-writting credits.” The singer politely acknowledged the comment, but did so in a split-second type fashion. Pearcy moved away from ragging on the band’s legendary drummer. In another interview making the rounds online, legendary RATT producer Beau Hill pummeled the drummer with accusations that he couldn’t write, that credits had to be created for him, and that he was his least-favorite member of the group to work with. Although the Pearcy interview was great, I suspect Green wanted to give it some teeth, and this might have been one of the few attempts at getting him to bite. The singer’s radar was just too sharp and he saw it a mile away. That said, Stephen didn’t hold back from trashing the band’s experience with John Kalodner, even though he did call him a friend and seems to like him.
Pearcy was also not too kind to Infestation, the band’s final studio album, giving it a 3 out of 5. The interview had a live chat and many of my questions were answered, wonderfully. Kudos by the way on that! One question I had, dealt with how much (or little) did the label push this record. Unlike previous efforts, RATT had inked with a major label, in Roadrunner Records. From the production quality, album art, and high caliber of the songs, you can tell that Warren was all over this record. The songs sounded like they were made for Warren and Carlos and together, they created pure magic playing them live. This album also features a track written by longtime (often overlooked) bassist Robbie Crane. Blotzer’s drumming had also stepped it up. Pearcy did a good job, but the band really shined here. I’d say the band took this album and ran with it. Had this album come out in the 80’s or even 1992, I think it would have severely slowed down the rise of Grunge and been so big, Pearcy never would have left the group. That said, the singer only gave it a 3, so clearly, we don’t share the same opinion on Infestation.
That said, Pearcy is clearly the man who wants a reunion. He’s also evolved from being the loud, outspoken frontman to somewhat of a diplomat.
From what I gather, Pearcy was the driving force in reconciling with ousted drummer Bobby Blotzer. Even though Blotz took out what could only be described as a tribute band out on the road, confusing fans, and arguably, diminishing the value of the brand, Pearcy took him back into his good graces and in so doing, probably earned him a pass from iconic bassist Juan Croucier. Stephen has also worked hard on keeping himself visible, doing interviews, and staying in great shape. He looks awesome and his voice is stronger than ever. Whereas a lot of singers have to sing in different keys and/or remove certain songs from their setlists, Pearcy’s vocal range is damn near perfect and nonstop touring has kept him conditioned to embark on pretty much any type of headliner or package tour.
In a very real way, a reunited RATT could easily land a package deal with a band like Motley, even a co-headlining tour, like they did with Def Leppard. People, even today, fail to realize just how big RATT is!! Stephen has also made recent overtures with DeMartini on song sequencing and other tasks on re-releasing old material. On the surface, it might seem like everyday business, but I feel Stephen has used the opportunity as a way to rekindle some kind of footing with the legendary six stringer. In fact, Pearcy stated Warren was still not on board, but that he has “left no stone unturned.”
I can’t rave enough about this interview. It’s certainly a must-watch!! Kudos to Jason Green, Golden Robot Records for sponsoring the show, and to the one and only, Mr. Stephen Pearcy!! We would all LOVE a RATT reunion in 2022, but it all depends on Stephen and Warren.