So, as anyone with a pulse knows by now, Stephen Pearcy has just released a great new solo record Smash via Frontiers Music. It features 13 tracks of killer hard rock, bluesy jams, and a couple of curve balls thrown in. And I’m sure most, if not all of you are aware that RATT is back featuring Stephen, Warren DeMartini, Carlos Cavazo, and Juan Croucier. I had the chance to sit and talk with Pearcy about his new album and solo tour as well as RATT’S planned run of live dates, and more. Have a look:
Amps: I’m currently on my second spin of Smash. There is some really great stuff on there, and musically it’s pretty diverse. There’s styles that I wasn’t expecting from you, which is always cool.
Stephen: Thank you. We’re getting a great response but it doesn’t surprise me because we put so much into it and really wanted this to be a great thing.
Amps: And (former RATT producer) Beau Hill mixed and mastered the first single “I Can’t Take It,” correct?
Stephen: Yeah, that’s the one he did. He wasn’t around for the rest of the sessions because he was out of the country. But, he set the standard with what he did on “I Can’t Take It.” And when we heard the end results of that we were like, “Oh shit! We gotta step up to this. Everything has to be of this caliber.”
Amps: “Shut Down Baby” has this very ZEPPELIN-type slide guitar blues riff, and it’s my favorite. And I think “Rain” is such a pretty song.
Stephen: What’s crazy is we didn’t wanna get out of control with overdubs and ten tracks of vocals and this and that. But “Shut Down Baby” was the first song we recorded, after “I Can’t Take It” and the ironic thing is that it came so easily. And then I did the vocals right away and I did one or two vocal tracks and I said, “Alright let’s leave it alone for a while and start on something else.” We kept going back to it going, “It doesn’t need anything else.” Why put some magic dust on something that’s pretty magical already, you know? And of course there’s no denying my ZEPPELIN influences. It was amazing how that song came about. I love it and we’ll be playing it live.
Amps: “What Do Ya Think” is also very interesting because of its country, bluesy, swampy feel.
Stephen: Erik Ferentinos, lead guitar player and co-writer on this record came up with the greatest riffs and songs, and then he would just give me a title or something and I’d go, “You know what? I can work with that title!” (laughs). But that song is another that’s influenced, obviously, by the past, and it’s one we’ll probably play live, too. It’s one that we can present live and sound just like the record. That’s why we didn’t overdo it on these songs. We didn’t wanna squash all these songs and compress them so they couldn’t be heard. I wanted people to be able to turn it up as loud as they wanted, period. That’s a fun song, for sure.
Amps: I’m a firm believer in listening to an album from start to finish, in order. It’s all about the journey, and the ebb and flow of Smash definitely works.
Stephen: It’s so cool that you said that because I sequenced this record to be like that, to where you wanna listen to it as a beginning, middle, and end. And “Summers End” is the most appropriate song to end it if you’re cruisin’ down the road, looking at the stars, maybe having a trip with somebody, and at the end you maybe hug and say, “Will I see you soon?” And I’m glad I put the lyrics there, so people would really get it.
Amps: Since you mentioned playing live, what’s happening as far as a tour for this album?
Stephen: We’re starting the Smash shows around April 8, I believe. And we’ll continue through July. We have a bunch of shows on the table to confirm if need be, and I wanna just bring this to the masses 100%. Then again, the RATT guys have gotten back into action, dust is settling, and we’ve also got some dates, festivals, we’re headlining M3, taking it slow. We’d like to get started on a record later in the year. Warren and I are co-writing, Juan will be in the picture co-writing, we’re gearing up. But I wanna give respect to both entities, especially because Smash took a long time, you know?
Amps: When I saw you on tour in 2009 I really thought that Carlos Cavazo fit the band extremely well. I like the way he and Warren play together, especially on Infestation.
Stephen: Yeah, Warren put that together. But I’m glad he did because, Carlos is no slouch when it comes to playing guitar. It worked out for the best, that’s for sure. It’s gonna be the four of us on this run and we’ll figure out who will be doing the drums soon enough. That’s something we really wanna think on because the band’s gonna be off and running for a good solid two years once we get going.
Amps: What does Stephen Pearcy do away from music to relax and unwind?
Stephen: I play music and write music. It’s a 24/7 thing. I do have other interests, though. I’m trying to sponsor another race car out there, I still deal with bands for my indie label Top Fuel Records. I help bands out, so that’s still a process I’m getting into further. I work on other business ventures, write songs for movies and TV, commercials, etc.
Amps: Since you’re going to be busy playing live the next two years or so, how do you keep your voice in shape? What’s the secret after all this time?
Stephen: Well, first and foremost, back in the day it was, “Gimme a shot of Jack and a cigarette and I’m good to go.” I really don’t have the kind of voice that needs pampering, it is what it is. I never claimed to be some Pavarotti kind of guy, nowhere near a Paul Rodgers or some of my peers who I respect that are these singer guys. I take it very seriously what I do, but nowadays it’s just a cigarette and a coffee. Eventually it’ll just be coffee and water. Nowadays we’re a whole different machine. When I say it’s a sober experience it’s a VERY sober experience now and will remain that way. The party’s not over, just the utensils have changed (laughs).
Amps: And of course hearing you sing and then hearing you speak offstage it’s like, “THAT voice comes from that guy??”
Stephen: (Laughing) yeah, I get that a lot. People go, “You don’t sound like you.” And I say, “Well, sometimes I don’t know who that guy up there is myself!” I just flip a switch and away it goes.
Amps: Over the course of your lengthy career is there any one moment, show, venue, or song that stands out?
Stephen: I love all of it, you know? Things we’ve experienced like Madison Square Garden, The Forum in L.A., Castle Donington, and opening up for ZZ TOP back in the day. Hell, playing with AEROSMITH at a festival recently in São Paulo, Brazil. We’ve never played with them. VAN HALEN we’ve known for years and we just played our first show with them a couple of years ago. There’s plenty of good moments that you just can’t measure in Platinum or Gold albums. Of all my accomplishments the only things I really cherish are my very first Gold and Platinum records, that’s it.
Amps: what would you like to say to all the Stephen Pearcy and RATT fans out there in the world?
Stephen: Thanks to everyone who still appreciates what we do. A big thank you!!
As you can see, Stephen Pearcy plans to be a very busy guy in 2017. I’m hoping I get to see him with both his solo band and with RATT on the upcoming tours. Check HERE for dates and pick up your copy of Smash today!!