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Published: Sunday, 7/19/2009

Ratt: A conversation with lead singer Stephen Pearcy

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ratt today: Warren DeMartini, Carlos Cavazo, Stephen Pearcy, Bobby Blotzer, and Robbie Crane. The band will be in town for a show Saturday at Toledo Harley Davidson. Ratt today: Warren DeMartini, Carlos Cavazo, Stephen Pearcy, Bobby Blotzer, and Robbie Crane. The band will be in town for a show Saturday at Toledo Harley Davidson.
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Ratt is back.

Maybe you forgot about the glam band that disappeared in the 90s, along with its big hair and heavy metal sound, but it s impossible to deny the impact of a group that put out four consecutive platinum albums. That s what Ratt did beginning 25 years ago with its breakout debut, "Out of the Cellar," which sold more than 3 million copies.

To celebrate, a reconstituted version of the group that is touring still featuring frontman Stephen Pearcy, guitarist Warren DeMartini, and drummer Bobby Blotzer is playing the album top to bottom. The band will appear Saturday at Toledo Harley Davidson.

All of this is part of what you could call a Ratt revival. Its hit "Round and Round" was included in last year s acclaimed movie The Wrestler and the band is in the middle of working on its first new album in more than a decade. Lead singer Pearcy talked to The Blade about all this, as well as why kids still like Ratt music, what he s been up to for all these years, and, of course, his hair.

Q: Ratt has a new album coming out ... Is there going to be any kind of different sound or anything that you think fans will notice?

A: Well, it s going to be Ratt music, but it s going to be back to basics. Very happy with it. No outside writers, and it s Ratt circa 84, 86. It s exactly what everybody s going to want but a lot more.

Q: Who is your audience today and how do you think that compares to back when you guys got started?

A: Our audience today is quite variable. Even like last night s front row, there s got to be this kid, must have been like 12 years old or 13 or something. I mean, my daughter, she s 13. It s the youth and it s our fans from 25 years ago who are now probably 45, 50, who knows. Our audience is a wide range, which is good. We re in all these video games and things, so the audience is a wide margin now.

Q: What do you think attracts [kids] to that kind of music these days.

A: I tend to think it s the same thing that attracted them in the beginning. It s colorful. It s exciting. It s dangerous. It s all these elements that make rock entertaining.

Q: Do you guys blame grunge for pushing out heavy metal?

A: No, not at all. We did it in our own screwed up way. I pulled out and we really didn t break up and nobody really did anything to pull the band out of the scene. We pulled ourselves out, which is a good thing. And then we came back.

I think the 90s and even early 2000s were all about cookie-cutter bands not really exciting and not really colorful. You didn t know if the crew guy, the roadie, was a band member, you know? At least you have some identifying characters with our genre of music.

Q: So what were you up to in the years when Ratt wasn t together?

A: I was doing side projects, getting my label developed, and just kind of trying to do something different than "Ratt n Roll." I like trying different things and doing different things and that s exactly what I was doing getting into my auto racing and entertaining myself instead of each other.

Q: Who have been your influences in the last few years?

A: The last few years I ve found not too many bands in particular, but there s a band called Kaiser Chiefs that is really great that I ve pretty much been listening too. And there are some new bands, bands on my label even. I like new bands. I like new music. So it depends on what s out there. There s not too much that excites me.

Q: You mentioned auto racing earlier. My understanding is that that was your first career choice before life sort of intervened?

A: Yeah, it was Top Fuel drag racing and I sponsor those cars quite a bit. Ratt had an association in the 2007 season with a Top Fuel dragster. Hopefully the end of the year we ll introduce a new car for next season. I never stopped there. I write songs for ESPN2 and movies. I re-recorded some Ratt music for The Wrestler. I just like dabbling in other things, you know?

Q: What happened that sort of got you off track to be an auto racer yourself?

A: That s what I wanted to do, be one of the youngest drivers at that time. I got run over by a car on a bike and broke legs and somebody gave me a guitar in the hospital and I kind of just picked it up and taught myself how to play. And next thing you know I m in a band and somebody asked me if I could sing and I really couldn t but I said yeah and then next thing you know I m a singer in a band. And I just kind of went for it and adapted to it very easily and found song-writing very comfortable and easy thing for me to do.

Q: Any regrets about that change in direction?

A: No, not at all because the success in music enabled me to get back into auto racing as I wanted to.

Q: You mentioned The Wrestler and the music that you did for that. ... That s a movie about coming to terms with past fame. ... As a group that has put our four platinum over the years, is that an issue that you ... have dealt with?

A: The music business per se, it s an up and down thing. We did arenas for so many years and we still do. If you get into it seriously and you re fortunate enough to have success you ll see it ll go up and down and you hang in there and you ll ride it up again because what comes around goes around, you know?

Q: One things that rock bands from your era are known for is their hair, so I m wondering how yours is doing these days.

A: Hair! Oh, I ve got plenty of hair left.

The "WIOT Riot" featuring Ratt, with special guests Lethal and Neon Black, takes place Saturday at Toledo Harley Davidson, 7960 West Central Ave. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets $15 in advance, $20 day of the show, through Ticketmaster and at Toledo and Signature Harley Davidsons, the latter at 1176 Professional Dr., Perrysburg. Information: 419-843-7892 or toledohd.com. Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Ryan E. Smith at: ryansmith@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.

724-6103.



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