When the chance comes to sit and interview Heavy Metal royalty like ROSS THE BOSS comes along, what do you do? You TAKE it!! As someone who came up to his music in my teen years this was a conversation I was dying to have. And what I found was a real nice, down to earth, hardworking guy who takes nothing for granted, and doesn’t rest on his laurels. His new album By Blood Sworn was a few weeks from release at the time, so we got into great detail about that, and touched on a few other things as well. Have a look:
Amps: It seems like you’ve never stopped working since the 1970’s.
Ross: Nope, I’ve been at it for a long time. Luckily I’ve been able to do a lot of things in different genres. Some were better than others, but I’ve been doing it (laughs).
Amps: With only a couple spins of By Blood Sworn the standout for me so far is “This Is Vengeance. That riff is insane!!
Ross: I wrote that song around June or July of last year. Me and Mike LePond (bass) put it together. We pretty much did all the music for this recording, and some stuff really rips right off the speakers, and that’s one of ’em. It’s a tremendous riff, and the lyrics are great. The only way I can describe it is glorious. I love the way we switch modes on the breakdown. I kind of switch modes on the guitar a little bit, and it’s so satisfying.
Amps: How long did you and Mike LePond work together? Every time I turn around he’s involved in something cool.
Ross: We worked on this for about six months. But Mike LePond is just an animal. to me he IS the best bass player in the world. He’s John Entwhistle, Geezer Butler, and Lemmy all in one. And he plays with his fingers. He’s a complete master and virtuoso.
Amps: Couldn’t agree more. And he’s also such a nice guy.
Ross: You can’t make a better person than Mike. He’s one of the best guys I know. He’s incredible to be on the road with and hang out with. You never see him get flustered, you never see him get nervous, you never see anything out of him but joy. He’ll do anything to play, and I’m so glad that he’s my partner and that he’s in the band. I love him, ya know? There’s no words.
Amps: As far as the band goes, you really have a good one on this thing. And it really feels like a band, you know?
Ross: Oh yeah. After Mike and I came up with music we started making demos, Lance (Barnewold, drums) came in and put down programmed drums to make them sound really good. Then we sent them to Marc (Lopes, vocals) and he proceeded to start working on lyrics, titles and content, so when we went to the studio we were totally prepared. Marc did juch an amazing job, coming up with incredible hooks and subject matter. Watching the album develop was the most incredible thing for me. He works so hard, he actually did most of his layering recorded by himself at home. I think the results are world class and I couldn’t be happier.
Amps: What are some of your favorites on the record?
Ross: Right now I’m really close to all of ’em. But “By Blood Sworn” has that MANOWAR gallop. And “Among the Bones” I love, and “Faith of the Fallen” as a ballad, that 80’s style is great. I really don’t have any favorites ’cause I love all of ’em.
Amps: I’m glad you mentioned the 1980’s because that vibe is there throughout the album but it never sounds dated. It sounds like real metal.
Ross: We recorded it organically, together in the studio. We did not use computers for drums. We did not have help. We did it the right way, and we wanted a real, organic-sounding record. A lot of metal today is computer music and it doesn’t endear itself to me. I don’t get a great feeling from it. My record is the real deal.
Amps: It’s a very warm-sounding record. Dean Rispler did a really good job in the producer’s chair.
Ross: He was in THE DICTATORS with me for seven years playing bass. And he’s an amazing producer, what else can I say? He’s also one of my best friends. He got great tones out of the drums, especially.
Amps: Since you’re so busy, are you always writing? Or just when the the mood or inspiration hits you?
Ross: Basically it never stops with me. I am constantly humming riffs into my phone, and always coming up with something. I can’t waste time, there’s so much to do. Then I see some lazy musicians always crying the blues, and I’ll say to them, “What’d you do today? What time’d you get up?” “Oh, I got up at 11 o’clock.” I’m like, “11 o’clock?? Know what time it is in Europe? 6 or 7 o’clock! You missed a day, bro. You missed a day in Europe. Where’s all the metal music located now in the world? EUROPE!! Duh!”
You gotta get up early and do your business. I’m up early every day. My record company AFM is in Hamburg, Germany. I’m up with a lot of things to do. More songs to write, I’ll do a session for a friend.
I come here to my batting cages where I am as I speak to you, getting ready for baseball season. I’m multi-tasking, doing this interview with you and working at the batting cages. You can’t be lazy and expect things to happen. And that’s my advice to ALL young musicians. If you’re lazy it ain’t gonna happen. Mike LePond plays in a zillion different things, and he’s up at 6 a.m. He hustles.
Amps: You’ve got that East Coast, New York “Let’s put on the tool belt and get it done” mentality, as do I being New York born and raised. Where in New York are you, by the way? And Yankees or Mets?
Ross: I’m in Queens. And Mets all the way. New York is a hustling town and you gotta get things done if you wanna make it.
Amps: GOOD MAN!!
Ross: I grew up in the Bronx and I was a Yankees fan all my life. Then I married this girl who’s a sports maniac, and a die-hard Mets fan. You’re just not gonna stay a Yankees fan for very long around her (laughs). That was around the time they won the 1986 World Series and it was great for the city.
Amps: How do you relax and unwind?
Ross: To unwind I listen to my blues and stuff like that. But I really don’t have time for relaxing now, you know? It’s all about this new record for me. I don’t rest on my past achievements, and I really think this new record is one of the best I’ve done. I’m really proud of it, I’m proud of the guys in the band, the label has stood behind me.
It was a great experience. It’s been a great process and an amazing year, starting with me getting inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History. It keeps getting better and better. I’m blessed. I think we have a really great record here.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the ROSS THE BOSS fans out there?
Ross: I’m still going. I think By Blood Sworn is one of my best records ever. Give it a listen, give it a shot, and please BUY it. BUY, BUY, BUY!! And we’ll see you on tour!
ROSS THE BOSS is such a great, unassuming guy and I’m glad I got to spend this time with him. And more musicians need to have his work ethic. If they did the scene would be much better off that’s for sure. And if it’s no-bullshit, plug in and play, kickass metal you’re looking for, then look no further than By Blood Sworn, out now on AFM Records. You won’t be disappointed, believe me. Make sure you catch them on this upcoming tour as well. You’ll find dates and ticket links HERE.
LIVE IMAGE: SCOTT BRAUN PHOTOGRAPHY