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Smash And Grab: An Exclusive Interview With STEPHEN PEARCY

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Monday, March 13, 2017 @ 11:35 AM

"You can't write a song going 'that’s a hit', you don't even know. “Round And Round” we didn’t think was a hit!"

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Interview & Live Photos By Cynthia Fields-Jalil, Jalil Photos Rock

Stephen Pearcy is “The Voice” of the band RATT, founder, creator and songwriter of the glam metal, heavy metal, and hard rock band that originated in Hollywood, California in the late 70’s, early 80’s. RATT garnered major success in the 80’s with albums that were certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum by the RIAA. RATT is best known for its hit singles “Round & Round”, “Lay It Down”, “Wanted Man” and “Back For More” along with several albums, namely Out Of The Cellar, which became a commercial success going platinum many times over, along with several other hit singles. Through all of the original line-up changes, and disagreements regarding unresolved business, constant turmoil within the band, personal attacks, and in addition to band member discontentment regarding which original band member legally owns the rights to the RATT name, Stephen has remained successful. He is the founder and heads Top Fuel World and his own Indie record label Top Fuel Records. He is a producer, composer, art director, marketing director, the creator and product owner of “Mic Knuckles” (hands free mic holder), writer and author of the book Sex, Drugs And Ratt & Roll, and he's also involved in Drag Racing as a sponsor and song writer for the ESPN2 NHRA Drag Racing Series over the years in addition to being involved in several other TV projects. As of late, Stephen actively tours with his Stephen Pearcy solo band, still handling Lead Vocals with his bandmates - Matt Thorne, Bass, Erik Ferentinos, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals, Chris Hager, Guitar, and Greg D’Angelo on Drums, Percussion. He has also been recently dabbling with his former RATT band members Juan Croucier and Warren DeMartini, and together they have scheduled roughly 6 - festival gigs for the this year. Additionally, Stephen, Matt, Erik, Chris (“Shut Down Baby”), Greg, and former RATT producer Beau Hill (“I Can’t Take It”), have successfully created and recently released Pearcy’s 4th solo album called Smash which has thirteen tracks on it. It has garnered rave reviews from the industry, its peers, and RATT fans since its official release on January 27, 2017 by Frontiers Records Srl and Top Fuel Records.

I recently had the good fortune of chatting with Stephen about Smash in addition to picking his brain about the several other projects that keep him extremely busy today, as well as a few things RATT! His sincerity, humor and hysterical laughter brightened my entire day!

KNAC.COM: How are you?

PEARCY: I am fine, how are you?

KNAC.COM: I’m good, thanks for asking! Are you ready for our interview?

PEARCY: I’m like a Boy Scout (laughing), I’m always prepared!

KNAC.COM: One of the very first things that stood out to me was the fact that the producer on this project was Beau Hill, who also produced RATT’s first four albums. How did you reunite to create Smash?

PEARCY: I’ve always been in touch with Beau and have had much respect for him, and we’ve always gotten along. So, when I started on this other project that was supposed to be Sucker Punch, I gave him some songs and actually I had a couple in the can that weren’t released, but “I Can’t Take It” just set a standard for what we were about to do with Smash months and months later cause we started writing, Erik and I, about a year and a half ago, and then when Frontiers Music came to the table, we just scrapped everything and started writing it all again, and Erik co-wrote 99% of the stuff.

KNAC.COM: So, going back to Beau, what was it like being back in the studio with each other after him having done those four albums for you?

PEARCY: Well, you know the way things are done nowadays, my recordings were already done, I just sent him the recording and he mixed and mastered it and he sent me the song, and it just set a standard for the schematic of what we were to do with Smash.

KNAC.COM: So basically, do you bring your own material to the table, and initially bring it all and then collaborate on the finishing touches?

PEARCY: We collaborate on the finishing touches, we go back and forth but we didn’t sit in the studio per se, with Beau on that one song.

KNAC.COM: So, what was the creative process like?

PEARCY: It took a long time for Smash (laughing). I was writing songs, Erik of course is a writing machine, he was throwing songs left, right, front, center, and it was so hard for me to pick songs! And when we finally picked the batch of songs we wanted, and we started recording, Frontiers Music came into the picture and then I scrapped those songs and started writing again and Erik kept coming up with more brilliant songs and we just had at it! Even as songs were being recorded, he would play me a song a day later and I’d say “All right the song we were recording yesterday, it’s over, put it in the can we are starting on this one today!” It was an ongoing process, only the best songs were going to be on the record.

KNAC.COM: While previewing Smash I felt like there were several messages throughout the songs and so on. And so, I thought it would be fun if you could tell me what your inspiration was for each of the following songs with a quick back story for writing them? "Dead Roses"?

PEARCY: Oh, that’s just an angry message that anybody can have towards anybody! Well, if someone gets in your way, they are going to get beat down!

KNAC.COM: Okay, next ones, “Passion Infinity” and “Summer’s End”?

PEARCY: “Passion Infinity” is interesting, Erik threw me that title when he gave me the music and I went “This is going to be a very interesting song, we’ve gotta keep it and work on it!” “Passion Infinity” is a song about-interstellar life, it’s about underworld, it’s about reality, it’s about eyes wide shut, it’s about people who don't look, who don't want to talk, it’s no political message, it’s a message of destruction of reality of life, and incoherency of people’s surrounding, of human surroundings, let’s start thinking about you know, the earthlings, the children of earthlings you know? This one has quite a lot to blow in there, I’m glad I put the lyrics in this record because people would have a helluva time figuring it out! It’s only the second time in my career that I’ve ever done it, and it will be the last (laughing). I like mystery, but this record needed some explanations and when they brought the idea to me, the label lyrics, I went “Oh shit, I really don’t do that, but well, okay!” I think people might get a kick out of it so that they can figure it out so I did.

KNAC.COM: What about “Summer’s End”?

PEARCY: Well, the record was put together to have a beginning, middle and an end. The sequence theme was very important to me the way I put it together, I wanted it to end with a soothing experience even though you went up, and left, and soft, and hardcore per se or fun, I wanted to have kind of well, it’s not really a relationship, it could be a relationship oriented thing, it could be a relationship with your higher spirit and power, it could be a relationship with a best friend-it was the trip if you read it. You hold your hand and I’ll hold mine, but it doesn't always turn out that way, but, will I see you again? Who knows, I hope to, it’s one of those kind of things. I just wanted it to be a kind of in-depth ending to this whole trip of the songs-the thirteen that are on there. I wanted it to end on a very soothing kind of an emotion per se.

KNAC.COM: And “I Can’t Take It”?

PEARCY: Well, that was written a while ago and that’s pretty much about somebody that gives you a big headache (laughing)! I don't know if it’s a she, or a he, or an it, or a... ya know? Everybody can relate to “I Can’t Take It” and people say it probably a hundred million times a day! Somebody wrote me one time and they go “That is the perfect song when I leave my house, and I’m in my car going to work!” And I go “Whatever gets ya up, whatever releases your stress!” And so, that’s pretty much the tell-tale of that song!

KNAC.COM: And what about just for fun, “Lollipop”?

PEARCY: Oh God yeah! Well, I had to throw one of those in there because the record was getting in depth, and I just decided “Hey man, I want the perfect summer song, something fun!” I’m very self-explanatory of who I am. I don't think of anybody, but if you see something you know, “Hey good-looking what you got cooking?” But there is a part in there that says; “Don't think you're hot just because you think you’re hot!” You could be hot, but that don’t mean you could deliver the goods (hysterically laughing)! It’s like you open up a steak and it’s actually a pork chop! I ordered a Filet Mignon and “Yeah, why is there a pork chop on my plate (hysterically laughing)?”

KNAC.COM: I remember listening to that lyric and I was like “Yeah, you may be so hot or whatever, but just don't think that I might want you or whatever, just because you are you - you’ve got to stand out!” Wasn’t that it?

PEARCY: Yeah! And ya know, I also wanted some fun in there because you know there's some girls we have in there and they’re going “Hell yeah” you know and I say; “Hey girl - I’m talking to you, just give me a Hell yeah!” It’s like I want to involve every woman, every kind of women, I want to give a kudos to every woman on the planet! Hey look, I love women, it doesn’t mean ya gotta be with every woman, but they're just interesting creatures (hysterically laughing). I wanted to give a shout out to them you know, give me a hell yeah-just have some fun, dance, swing it baby, sell the goods, have at it, this song’s for you, I stand right there!

KNAC.COM: I thought it was so much fun, and I really enjoyed it and all the other ones too, but this song-it just reminded me of a fun in the sun, kinda thing and just a good time!

PEARCY: Yeah, it was meant to be that because so many of those songs got a little bit in depth, and the Smasher character that’s on the record-the Horn, Halo, there is relevance for that guy!

KNAC.COM: Who are some of the artists that may have influenced your writing style throughout Smash?

PEARCY: Well, you know I'm totally influenced by what I grew up with - BLUE OYSTER CULT, AEROSMITH, COOPER one hundred percent. There are a couple of songs you have that kind of have it, and then just what we write, you know? “Passion Infinity” is an outside kind of a swing. When Erik writes songs, and presents them to me, I either will get it right away or it takes months to get! But, influences? My influences are what I see, hear, do, read, feel, experience. It’s no particular band, artist or anybody.

KNAC.COM: Who are your all-time favorite songwriters and why?

PEARCY: That’s a tough one! Well definitely Plant and Page, Tyler, Perry, “Back In The Saddle” days, early Cooper from the Love It To Death record, “School’s Out”. I like BLUE OYSTER CULT definitely, the earlier stuff! Those kind of writers. Shit, I like DeMartini, Pearcy, Crosby, and Croucier (RATT), too (laughing).

KNAC.COM: What is it about their writing that gets you, is it the stories that they tell?

PEARCY: You’ve hit the nail on the head, especially with a couple of songs that I wrote that are a little ZEPPELIN-ish. I kinda delved into some things and it was crazy because it wasn't really premeditated, we just said “This song is like _____” But, what I liked about ZEPPELIN - the diversity, you have the “Immigrant Song” and then you’re “That’s The Way” and then you’re “Going To California” and then you’re “Heartbreaker”. I mean that kind of stuff we really wanted to do on that kind of a thing, we wanted that even flow on this record like, a ZEPP record. We just wrote songs, you just write songs! Like the STONES, Keith and Mick, they just write songs and if they’re great, they’re great-you can't write a song going 'that’s a hit', you don't even know. “Round And Round” we didn’t think was a hit! It wasn’t until Beau got a hold of it and was like “What is that?” and we’re like “It’s just a song we’re working on and we kinda play it live sometimes!” And he was like “No, that’s the first song we’re going to be working on!” It might take others years until they get a song. But, we didn’t know and it took a lot of hard work, and so, you really never know! You can’t write a song and go “That’s a hit”, that’s impossible thinking, ya know, logically thinking.

KNAC.COM: Do any of the members of RATT play on Smash?

PEARCY: No, I had an open invitation, but, we had our hands full, we were 24/7. Erik and I writing, and even Matt throwing ideas in there, and keyboards, and arrangements - Matt’s our John Paul Jones. Besides being an excellent engineer, mixer and recording us, I’ve done all of my work there, so, no they did not. And ya know, it’s a solo record-it’s me getting my yaya’s out! RATT’s a whole other breed of animal! And speaking of, Warren and I happen to have a couple of songs recently, and we would like to start on a record later in the year, and we will just entertain a handful of festivals at the moment and see what’s up.

KNAC.COM: How soon do you plan on hitting the road in support of Smash?

PEARCY: We hit the road around the 8th (March), we have one RATT Show on the 11th (March), to get the gears in motion, and then it’s Smash shows starting next month, early next month, and it runs through July 2, and we’ll take it from there! They don't disturb each other nor should they, and that's it-we’re gonna go out, and we’re gonna play four or five songs from Smash, a couple of RATT hits, maybe ARCADE or maybe I’ll wanna do an Alice Cooper, Bowie, or an AEROSMITH, or a ZEPPELIN, I don’t know, it depends!

KNAC.COM: There are a ton of folks out there that may or may not know this about you, but you are not only a recording and touring artist, you're also a producer, a composer, an art director, a marketing director, the owner and project creator of “Mic Knuckles”, plus you’ve not only written songs for various TV shows and movies, but you also do the drag racing thing too, and you’re also a sponsor! How did you fall into so many projects and career endeavors?

PEARCY: Ummm, because I’m a hyper-active person and I need to stay busy, and I just can’t settle in! With the drag racing, I do marketing stuff and co-sponsor, and it’s something that I was involved with before music. I kind of fell into music, it was a mistake, but a blessing! Drag racing is a definite thing that I’m still involved with. But, everything else I just dabble in. I just had a contact today to write for a Boobies song! And then I do a bit of acting, Indie parts, whatever, it just depends on what kind of a mood I’m in!

KNAC.COM: Well, bravo to you because I’ll tell ya, the average person I know can barely handle one occupation let alone everything that you're doing!

PEARCY: Yeah, I know people think I'm crazy, but the first song on the record spells it out, “I Know I’m Crazy” (laughing)!

KNAC.COM: How do you manage so many projects and how do you stay so grounded and sane while you're managing all of these projects and commitments?

PEARCY: Yeah, well I kind of bite off a little more than I can chew, but with my record company, the Indie, it’s going to be kicking back up again. I don't want to be yelling at people-which some people call singing for years and years to come, only when I feel like I want to, that’s why I do my solo thing! I go out there when I want, and have a good time. It’s a whole different sober environment for me nowadays, so I can handle things a lot better. Some other things with a little stress, but I’m just a hyperactive person who likes to be creative and keep myself busy and it's better for me now, because it keeps me out of trouble.

KNAC.COM: Well let’s look at the other side of this all, how does Stephen Pearcy relax? And where is your favorite all-time place to relax?

PEARCY: Walk my dog, write songs, ya know, kick about business (laughing), that’s how I relax! I mean I’m always like thinking 24/7, art directing or doing something since I’ve done it since day one. Art directing, creating things making sure things are how I envision or see relating to what project I'm doing except if it is out of the my hands. And that's pretty much about it, you know I just keep busy. Busy is good, and being above ground is good!

KNAC.COM: Do you have a favorite place that you go to, or is that really seriously your office taking care of business?

PEARCY: No, I go, I go deep into my mind (laughing)! Well, I like learning, I don't think earth is just earth, I don't think life is just life. I think after, before, during, below, under, above. I think and have other interests. I like to learn. So, without getting into specifics…

KNAC.COM: Everything is finally coming together for you especially in today’s market with so many other artists roughing it. You guys have been doing this your whole lives and then all of a sudden, you lose your fan base and then they come back later on and it’s CRAZY!

PEARCY: Well, it’s like I told somebody before, I created my own independent label Top Fuel Records in 1995 because I knew what was right around the corner. I knew there was some shit flying and I wanted to be in control, and if somebody was going to say ’NO!”, I was going to say “Well, go fuck yourself, I have my own gig anyway!” I’ve been there and done it, there ain’t nothing I haven’t done! And I can only do it better! And how do you do it better? Well, ya do it yourself! The same with Smash. I was off and running, recording my own stuff getting ready to go, and doing it off and on the road, and then an old interest from Atlantic Records days, says “Hey Frontiers got ahold of your music, and they want to talk to ya!” And I said: “All right sure!” And this is when I was like already recording and got back off the road, and in 6 months we made a deal with Top Fuel Records, and away we went! I scrapped the whole other project I did except for one song, “I Can’t Take It”, which Beau Hill, RATT producer got a hold of and mixed and mastered. And he couldn’t do the record, so we ended up producing it ourselves, and we definitely used it as a schematic for the quality, and the way Smash was going to turn out! It was a lot of work!

KNAC.COM: Yeah, and it turned out really nicely, I really like it a lot and the fans are really digging it!

PEARCY: Thank you girl, I appreciate that, and the fact that people dig it, it took a long time, and youknow what? Good things come to those who wait, I guess.

KNAC.COM: So, with the recent demands and challenges for all music artists to stay relevant in the industry to maintain their support and their fans, are you having more interaction with your fans? And are you doing it through your social media platforms or what are you using?

PEARCY: Well, the label Frontier, God Bless them, they have Freeman there and a great publicity department which greatly helps, and I do my thing every now and then. I don't have chit chats with people, but I let them know what we’re are doing, give them a couple of teasers here and there, and do what we do! And it’s gotten out there thank God! And the next thing to do is to be able to play it live, the record was recorded to be able to play any of these songs live, and so, we’re going to have a good time!

KNAC.COM: There are so many RATT fans who would like to know if you have any positive updates regarding the headaches and drama that you’ve had to endure with your former bandmate(s)?

PEARCY: Ummm, it’s not former bandmates, it’s one person in particular and that dust has pretty much settled or is settling. And we’ve got RATT by the tail, Warren, Juan and I. We had a show on the 11th of this month, we have a handful of festivals - I think like 6, and I think we’re headlining a good bit of them! And we’re gonna go out there and take things very meticulously, and give you the best we can give you. And then, there’s talk of starting on a new record at the end of the year and furthering the adventure.

KNAC.COM: So, 2017 sounds like it's the year to finally put all this negativity behind you

PEARCY: Yeah, its going to be a busy year, but that’s okay, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Smash turned out the way it did because we had a very sober environment to work with, and the same approach will be had with RATT. We want to do things very meticulous, and cautious, and do it like that, ya know! Take our time, do it right, and give you the best we’ve got!

KNAC.COM: So, for the most part do you anticipate some of the shows will be almost like a full reunion type thing and then you’ll hang on to doing whatever it is you do with your Stephen Pearcy band?

PEARCY: Correct, they won’t interfere with each other. Some of those shows like I say start-I believe the 8th of March, and they continue though July 2, 2017. I might have some other dates and stuff going on, but after that, it’s a whole other ballgame, and we’ll play it by ear.

KNAC.COM: I noticed that there are some artists that do have a couple of different bands maybe even sometimes three like Chad from HELLYEAH or example. Do you think that there could ever be a possibility where you'll be playing pretty much with all the guys in or all of your former bandmates from RATT the original lineup type thing and then have your solo project on the same bill?

PEARCY: No, never, ever, I would never let that happen! And, there will never be the original members as you speak as there hasn’t been since we lost Robbie (Robbin Crosby died on 6/6/02), and I don't believe there will be any chance of the former drummer participating in any acts with the band either!

KNAC.COM: Well,that’s too bad.

PEARCY: No, it’s not (laughing), it”s called business honey (laughing louder)!

KNAC.COM: Do you have any personal messages you'd like to say to your fans or extend to your fans?

PEARCY: Yeah, where are you from?

KNAC.COM: Houston/Tomball, Texas!

PEARCY: Okay, how come you guys don't use rolled up armadillos at the bowling alley (loudly laughing)! Nah, I’m just kidding, you can throw that out there too! Let me tell ya, I have full respect for Texas, it’s always bigger and better in Texas! God knows we’ve been there forever since day one, and we’ve abused and used, and who knows, maybe we might have grandchildren there for all I know! It’s been a pleasure, and I’m always ready to come back for more, whether it’s solo or the band RATT. Ya know, we always had a good time in TEXAS, that’s one thing I’ve gotta say! And then to run into my brothers from PANTERA and even back from Dime, every time I was there, he’d come on stage, jam and run around like a crazy man and go for it! Texas was a good place, we were on the road with OZZY when he pissed on The Alamo, is that in Texas?

KNAC.COM: Yep, you’re right (laughing)! Were you really?

PEARCY: Yeah, we were on that tour with them, and he went out all dressed in like makeup, a chick’s dress on, and shit, and did his gig! But, my message to TEXAS is ‘Hey man, it’s always bigger and better and more fun in TEXAS!”

If anybody wants to see what’s happening in my RATT World or the Smash World, we just finished the video for “Ten Miles Wide”, it’ll be out soon enough, and if you want any info on this, go to Stephen-Pearcy.com, and that’s where I’ll be, that’s where I’m at and let’s get it on!

KNAC.COM: And then we’ve got Facebook at SEPearcy and we’ve got your Twitter and then we’ve got a YouTube Channel for ya, is that all pretty accurate?

PEARCY: Yeah, I’ve got the Spacebook and the Zitter, and all of that other shit too, yeah (laughing).

KNAC.COM: I wish you all the very best that this year can bring you, and all the blessings from my heart and soul!

PEARCY: That’s cool that you say that! I’ve gotta say, the last thing I say in these interviews is; it’s still aprivilege to hang out and yell at everybody and have a good time and get out there, so, thank you very much!

Find Stephen Pearcy at these Social Media Platforms:

Website: https://stephen-pearcy.com
Facebook: (Spacebook) http://www.facebook.com/SEPearcy
Twitter: (Zitter): http://twitter.com/StephenEPearcy
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/topfuelnation

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