Catching Up With Stephen Pearcy
It’s been awhile since the last Stephen Pearcy solo offering Under My Skin (2008) and almost as long since the last RATT release Infestation (2010). Needless to say, Pearcy fans have been not only very patient but also very confused with everything that has been going on in the RATT camp in the last few years. Well, the wait is over.
On January 27, direct from Frontiers Records, comes Pearcy’s fourth solo release Smash. A 13-track collection of exactly what you would expect from Stephen: great hooks, solid songwriting, veteran backing band and even a little Beau Hill. I had a chance to catch up with Stephen and get a little clarification on the current state of his solo band, Smash and all things RATT.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Hey Stephen, wanted to start off with talking about Smash. This record was a little untraditional in that you were releasing songs individually (initially) rather than all at once with a new record. Do you think this was intentional due to changes in listeners habits and do you think this is a growing trend that may catch on moving forward with a lot of bands?
Actually, the record was originally called Sucker Punch. I was recording this originally as a 4 song EP. The first track that was recorded was “I Can’t Take It” which Beau Hill heard and liked it. So he ended up helping out with the final mix and mastering. I stayed in the studio in and out still touring working on additional tracks when I was approached by Frontiers Records. They were really impressed with the direction and sound of the tracks up to that point and asked if I would be interested in working with them on a project. I was like sure why not. Then a person from my Atlantic records days got a hold of me and talked with me more about so at that point we moved ahead. The whole process changed at that point. I basically scrapped all of those other songs.
Then a person from my Atlantic records days got a hold of me and talked with me more about so at that point we moved ahead. The whole process changed at that point. I basically scrapped all of those other songs. Me and my guitar player Erik (Ferentinos) decided well now we are going to go all over the place, this record is going to be way different. We are going to do other things. I wanted it to be very diverse myself; taking my time recording it making it just right with not too many layers on the cake. So away we went. The last 3 months of the recording were crazy times. We all knew we were onto something good. We kept “I Can’t Take It” on the record and there was actually some vocal parts that
The last 3 months of the recording were crazy times. We all knew we were onto something good. We kept “I Can’t Take It” on the record and there was actually some vocal parts that mention the word Smash, so I thought somehow that title really hits with this new music. Months later we are writing songs and the good ones are going by the wayside and the better ones keep coming up. We stayed true to form work on the best songs possible. Be diverse. Try different things. Not be intimidated by trying new things. We achieved what we wanted – good rock record.
Yes hopefully have that shot, edited and completed prior to or close to the release date. What’s interesting about that track is that Erik told me he thinks he channeled Robbin Crosby in the studio. To me ‘Ten Miles Wide” could have been on the RATT EP or Out of the Cellar.
Earlier you mentioned Beau Hill and he is such a big part of your past, was there any thought of his involvement beyond just one song?
At the end of the day I did try to get Beau in to mix and master the entire record but he was out of the country and couldn’t do it. I was happy with “I Can’t Take It” so the door is open for future collaborations.
This current lineup with Erik, Greg D’Angelo, Matt Thorn, Chris Hagar has been together for quite some time so I think it’s safe to assume that their contributions should not be undervalued here and this is as much of a group effort as it is a solo release coming from you?
Yea it’s about all of us. I’m really proud of what we all accomplished on Smash.
Smash is your first release with Frontiers Records. How did that relationship initiate? Did they approach you based upon what was being released online during the Sucker Punch phase?
Correct, it’s been a very comfortable relationship so far. I just jumped into the deal. These guys have tremendous distribution around the world and I just knew it was the right fit. It’s a great record so let’s move.
Let’s get the latest RATT update direct from the source. I spend my time reading are several posts, updates, gossip, rumors and very little facts. As a RATT fan it’s frustrating because every year that goes by is another year older for all of us and I fear it will get to the point where fans will stop caring at all. It’s too confusing and we all want RATT touring and recording in 2017. What can you tell me?
Well right now it’s me, Juan, Warren and Carlos. The drummer situation has not been 100% solidified yet but we do have a date booked on February 11 at Treasure Island Casino in MN and M3 festival in MD April 29th. Other shows will be booked into the summer. A lot of offers out there. As far as the name rights go, the dust is getting cleared and it’s been a very unfortunate incident that was not brought about by us (Stephen, Warren, Juan, Carlos). It was started by someone who was trying to recreate history and he wasn’t pleased that there really was no recourse. Without dwelling on it, we want to get on our way and do our thing.
The court already made the first ruling stating quite a bit. Not much else needs to be answered except for a couple of things and that’s an hour in court or it may be just a few minutes. I’m just glad it’s winding down because we have a lot of work we want to do, letting the fans know that we are not a cover band or a tribute act but this is the real deal. Warren and I have already demoed a few songs and I’m sure Juan will be bringing some stuff to the table. We would like to start on a new record before the end of the year and see how far we can take this.
Will you also continue to tour in support of “Smash” this Spring into the Summer?
Yes. All of those dates can be found at www.stephen-pearcy.com. Frankie Wilsey is back playing with me also for 2017.
Is there any possibility of an Arcade reunion in the future?
We have talked about some things but we are all so busy with other projects. Frankie is back playing with my solo band again, Fred has been working, writing music for TV and some other projects. Not sure what Michael Andrews is up to these days. Donny Syracuse has a very successful restaurant. We might do something in the future but it would have to be the perfect time when nothing else is going on. Never say never.
I was one of the first to post a review of your book Sex, Drugs, Ratt and Roll: My Life in Rock and I thought it was well written and took no prisoners. It was very forthright and didn’t hold a lot back. However, my lone criticism (at the time) was the fact that there were a few topics and names within the RATT history that were not even mentioned. I was hoping that if I mention a few of them you could comment.
You’re right and when I start part two of my story later this year I will touch upon them all. But go ahead what have you got?
A great singer and guitar player. Initially, he was just playing guitar with us and I kept telling him – John you’re a lead singer. You’re so well respected and you’re just playing guitar. That’s all I thought at the time. He’s a respected, thoughtful, talented guy. I think he’s in a good situation right now. Great guy. Talented. I’m very happy for him.
I never had a problem with him. Honestly, I don’t think he ever liked the situation he was in. It was just something he was doing, a paid performer. I don’t think he was thinking “I’m taking over Stephen’s place and we are going to go somewhere”. He’s a different kind of guy, he comes from more of a hard-edged kind of music. Great guy, he was just doing a gig. He got grief at the time but overall a great character.
Sobriety seems to agree with you because you seem to be sounding better than ever. What does the future hold for Stephen Pearcy?
It’s nice to walk down a one-way street and know where I’m going! Oddly, I accomplished a lot of great things in not so great places in my life but I just finally came to the conclusion that I’d rather be in a great place too, better than walking down a lot of wrong roads. I had such a great experience with “Smash” that I just want to remain in a sober environment. That goes for everybody around me including my band. We look after ourselves and take care of ourselves.
For all the latest on Stephen Pearcy, please visit www.stephen-pearcy.com