RATT first came on the scene in the early eighties and wasted no time carving their own niche into Los Angeles’ highly competitive music scene. Even to this day, the band’s name and musical legacy remain ingrained in the fabric of the Sunset Strip’s most notorious era. The members of this extraordinary band are living proof that some people listen to rock n’ roll and some have it coursing through their veins. Such is the case with legendary drummer Bobby Blotzer. Celebrating his 28th year in RATT, Blotzer has provided the crushing backbeat to the band’s biggest hits and shows no signs of slowing down. As the band prepares to unleash it’s 7th studio album, ‘Infestation,’ Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon sat down with the infamous drummer to discuss the new album, his thoughts on the band’s longevity, his autobiography ‘Tales of a RATT: Things You Shouldn’t Know’ and much more!
Seeing how RATT has been together now for over two decades, what do you attribute to the longevity of the band?
Great, catchy hit songs played well. Definitely well crafted, catchy, hook heavy songs. That’s the key.
The new cd is getting ready to come out, it’s the first CD in eleven years, what initially brought you all back together to hit the studio?
Well, we were back together touring and we had been talking about a way to do a record. Tom Lipsky, the President of Loud and Proud, that’s his own label, I guess they were merging with Roadrunner. He saw us at the House of Blues show, we had a great show, he loved it and said “You guys need to record. You guys have way too many great songs, I don’t know what you’re into now but I’d love to hear it and I’d love to offer you a record deal.” Then that took about a year and a half to consummate.
Going into it did you have any reservations about tackling a new album with RATT?
No, not really. I mean personally I have a lot of songs that I write, and everybody else probably had some of their own. By the time we got into writing as a band there was a lot of stuff and the producer just took what we were going to work on, out of a big pool. I wrote seven songs for the record and I ended up with two on the record, and everybody just kind of put in their “best of” you know?
This is the first time you have recorded outside of Los Angeles, how did that come about?
Our producers got a studio over in Virginia Beach right on the beach itself, he wanted us to do it there because it’s an account for the studio and he’s used to the studio. It’s pretty much removed from the city itself which I liked, it’s out on this peninsula island. It’s a white sand beach, beautiful water and the tracking room had a big double slider on it so you could see the white sand and water. It was inspiring, very relaxing and we were all staying at this home. He had like 6 rooms with tv and phone in each, it was almost like 6 little hotel rooms inside that house that he built the studio addition onto. So it was fun, we’d get up first thing and have our coffee and start rolling. By one o’clock we’d be rollin tape and we’d record till about eight or nine at night and then we’d start barbecuing. It was pretty bitchin’ actually! [laughs]
What was the biggest challenge in putting the record together?
The biggest challenge, in my opinion, was getting on the same page as Stephen (Pearcy), Warren (DeMartini) and Bobby (Crane) business-wise. That would be the biggest challenge.
Do you have a typical song writing process that you go about? I know you said you write separately, but how does that come together?
Well I would like to see it in a different way, because there’s not enough getting together and writing together. I would say that’s not because of me because I like to collaborate. We collaborate when everybody’s stuff is brought into the studio and we’re rearranging and tightening it up. It’s not a situation of “Hey Warren you wanna come over for a couple days and we’ll write a couple songs and then I’ll come over to your place?” He and Stephen did that for a little bit but I don’t know how great that went. But the record is great! And I don’t know, whatever we do as dysfunctional as it is, we always come up with good shit! [laughs] It’s the RATT way you know?
So starting out, you accomplished what you were looking for with this record then?
Yes. That and more. Yes, I was very pleased. Because you never know, with Stephen it’s not like we write the songs and work them up and rehearse them as a full song. We know what the choruses are, we don’t know what he’s doing until he gets in there. He’ll be down there writing melodies and lyrics and stuff while we’re working the songs up so you never really know what’s going on.
Obviously you’ve been involved with the record from day one, but where do you think this stacks up against your previous releases with RATT?
I definitely think it’s in the same ballpark as “Out of the Cellar” and “Invasion” (Invasion of Your Privacy), I’d put it in between those two records. This is a good thing. I’m definitely not one to tell people “Oh, this is the best thing ever.” if it’s not great. I’m not going to just hype it up. I’ll do interviews for it, like the last one that we did. I liked that record. Do I think it was a great RATT record? No, I didn’t think it was a great RATT record. I thought there were a handful of really good songs, and I just think that Stephen’s heart wasn’t into that record and I wasn’t crazy about the production and the way it went. Although I like Richie Zito, there were just too many things thrown into that thing. John Kalodner making us write sixty fucking songs, it was just too much. It took too long for the process, by the time we finally got into the studio everybody was just like “Let’s get this fucking thing done.” [laughs]
Now you brought in Carlos Cavazo for this record, what did he bring into the mix, in your opinion?
Well he’s real easy to work with, it’s like he just wants to learn. It’s like he is Switzerland. Rob is Canada. Me, Stephen and Warren are Russia, Germany and Korea. I don’t know. [laughs] It helps to keep things going in a metal way. Carlos had a couple of song ideas that ended up on the record. The first one, “Best of Me” is now a single. He’s very open minded, that’s what I like about him and Robbie in general.
What can we expect from RATT in regards to your tour plans?
We’re touring, we’ve got a bunch of shows going all through April and a bunch in May that are kind of fly-out stuff. Then, June 8th we leave for Europe for six weeks. Playin all these huge festivals all over the place over there. We’ll come back here and there’s a big tour coming out. Actually I’m sitting here talking to you and I’m hearing “Click, click”, it’s e-mails coming in and I’m waiting for news of the announcement of this tour that we’re going to be doing starting in July and into August. It’s going to be a big tour. And I just got this announcement! I can let you in on, the Scorpions are who we’re going to be touring with this year.
Is that going to be a U.S. tour?
Yes, a U.S. tour later with the Scorpions. But anyhow, once we go through summer here and Europe and then back here we’re going to go through South America, Australia, Japan and Canada.
Looking back what do you feel your defining moment as a musician has been, with RATT or in general?
My defining moment would obviously be when RATT and I as a band had a platinum success. That defines where everyone wants to go as a musician, everybody wants to be a success, a platinum artist and headline arenas. I dreamed about it my whole life, and really, while I dreamt about it, I just never believed really that it could happen. I started playing in arenas before I was in RATT with a band called Vic Vergat when we were on tour with Nazareth in 1981, so I had a little taste of playing arenas. When I joined RATT I was like “Wow, I wonder if this band could ever get to that level?” because you know we had some good songs and were still sluggin’ it out on The Strip. We started getting more popular then, once we started selling out multiple nights in clubs, there was something clicking there. There was something clicking here and the metal movement was really gathering steam and the snowball was growing. July 27th of ’83 we got signed to Atlantic, we were in the studio in September, the record was out in February and by summer we were headlining arenas. So it was absolutely amazing. We were already touring and watching “Out of the Cellar” climb and getting popular in every state. That was great to be a local band from LA and get out of your local surroundings and be known name by name for each member of the band, and loved by fans. That’s an unbelievable feeling. And so the defining moment is obviously accomplishing that and to keep this going. Tomorrow (March 11th) I celebrate my 28th year for my anniversary of joining RATT. So at this point it’s like a life sentence! [laughs]
You’ve seen the music industry change so much, what advice would you give someone who wants to get into music like you have?
My advice would be to make sure you go to college and have a college degree and have a back up plan. There are so many great musicians that are never going to make it. I’ve known several along the way that were great and I’d watch them slowly, one by one, fall off, you know? It is usually a case of “I’ve got my job and I’ve got my kids.” They give up at some point. I understand that, they might play in a jam band or something, just to play, but their aspirations of being fed by their craft they disappear when they get older. Basically because they have a mortgage, children and a wife. My son Michael is a drummer, and he’s an excellent drummer, he’s been trying to get his break. He’s been playing since he was ten. Right now, he drum techs for me out on the road and he gets paid really well for it. He gets to be out on the road. I would like nothing more than to see Michael see his dream come to fruition, and he’s not giving it up, but it’s like I’m hearing from him what I’ve heard from other friends that are right around the same age. It’s like “Fuck it!” at some point man. You get discouraged, you gotta make money and all of that shit, you know what I mean? All that kind of sucks.
You know I’m really drawn to the show “American Idol”, I’ve watched every season, every show. Because I am emotionally attached so much to every person that’s on that show, good or bad, and their strive to make it. It is that this one giant brass ring that they’ve got their hand on and they are really trying to get their other hand on it. That show in happiness and sadness moves me, it wells my eyes up sometimes because I get so happy for them and I feel so sad for them. To see all that talent and see that emotion in them, it’s real. That’s fuckin the real deal. I’ve had so many arguments with people that roll their eyes at it or talk about it like it’s some fuckin gumball show. I’m like “You don’t really get it man. You see that dude? That’s you, and that’s your brother, that’s all of us right there that are just aspiring to be something in their life.” That’s going for the holy grail, some of them are gettin it and some of them aren’t. You get to live that be watching them on television, going from nothing to be seen every week and maybe gettin canned but yet some go on to super star global status that’s just out of this world. I just wish everybody, so much luck in hitting their dreams, I really do.
In getting back to the music real quick, you said you’d written seven songs for ‘Infestation’ and two appear on the album. What is the fate of that other material, would you be using it for other projects in the future?
I am. I’m going to come back after this tour and do a solo record. I acquired www.bobbyblotzer.com, which had been taken for years by somebody who was always trying to get me to buy from them. I’m like “No look person whoever you are, I am not going to give you a nickle and buy my own site.” It came up and I snagged it, I’m using it to advertise. I have a book that I’m going to be selling and collectibles for fans: sticks and signed drum heads. I’m going to start putting music out through it, cds and stuff. That’s my next move. I’d like to do another Saints of the Underground record with my friends Keri Kelly and Jani Lane. We had a great record a year and a half ago, we sold about six thousand records but we never got to play it live and I’d like to do another project because those guys are great players.
Let’s talk a little bit about your autobiography. How did that come about, what’s it called and what can you tell us?
It’s called “Tales of a RATT” and the subtitle is ‘Things You Shouldn’t Know”, that’s just kind of a tongue in cheek thing to get someone’s attention really. It’s a fun book, I just want to tell my life story up till now and so many friends of mine love hearing stories. Road stories and things like that, so many people have told me “You should write a book.” and I never had the balls to do it. In 2008 I started writing a couple chapters and I got in touch with a guy named Jim Clayton who helped me hone it in. He’s a writer, as I am not a writer and don’t have any journalistic background. I can write lyrics and such but writing a story to me is different. Obviously people go to college to learn how to do that and I’ve never taken any courses like that. He was able to take my stories and my words in the way I wrote them and dictated them and add some color of the respected time period I was talking about and kind of give it a twist from that time, mentioning a politic, something that would put you back in the time period I was talking about. It involves me and a lot of my famous friends and people we hung out with, things we used to do, where we’d go and how we’d party. It’s definitely not like a Nikki Sixx “bummer book,” although there are some instances…of course you know the death of Robbin Crosby has to be discussed and I touched on that. I definitely didn’t use anybody’s personal things to enhance this book, it’s just really the true stories without anybody’s embarrassment and hammering. I’m not gonna roll that way. It’s not an Enquirer Magazine type of book.
So nobody has anything to worry about right now?
I don’t think so! [laughs] There were people that were in my life that were integral, that I had to include, but it’s nothing that’s too scandalous, well, we’ll see. [laughs] I mean, everyone that has read the book really loves it, so, we’ll see. [laughs] And we’ll be taking pre-orders starting Monday (March 15th) on www.bobbyblotzer.com and it’ll be shipped the day the record ships, which is April 20th.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about or anything you’d like to say to your fans before we wrap this up?
I always appreciate meeting everyone out there and everybody buying the records and the tickets and coming out and supporting the band. Because we would definitely be nowhere without you guys. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. And I just got this announcement that I can let you in on, the Scorpions are who we’re going to be touring with this year.
Be sure to swing by Bobby Blotzer’s official site, www.bobbyblotzer.com, for all the latest news and to order his new book ‘Tales of a RATT: Things You Shouldn’t Know.”
Visit RATT’s official site at www.therattpack.com.