Stevie Rachelle Interview

August 24, 2010

Interviewer: Skid

Stevie Rachelle is gearing up for a European tour, almost 20 years since the release of Tuff’s debut album What Comes Around Goes Around. While promoting the Tuff/Shameless tour, Stevie revealed that he is working on a What Comes Around Goes Around Again EP featuring re-recorded classics and a brand new song. From there he talked about being the mastermind behind the infamous website Metal Sludge and discussed his opinions on Bret Michaels’ recent health issues.

Sleaze Roxx: Your European tour starts in a couple days, how excited are you to be heading back there?

Stevie Rachelle: During the Tuff heyday we went to play in England in 1991 when we were on Atlantic Records, and that was our only trip outside the US. Then it wasn’t until almost 10 years later, in 2000, that I got hooked up with Alexx Michael from Shameless in Germany. I recorded a record with him here in LA at Gilby Clarke’s studio and six months later he put together a tour for Germany and Holland and he asked me if I wanted to come. So ten years after I was on MTV, I found myself touring in Germany and Bruce Kulick was a special guest playing guitar and it was great. That was the beginning of my relationship with Alexx and Shameless and now it’s been 10 years and we’ve done five records and this will be our sixth tour together. We do this about every year and a half or so. I feel very fortunate with Tuff that 20 years removed from being signed with Atlantic Records that I get to go and play Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium and a bunch of these places. It’s a great thing, I feel very happy to be able to go and I Can’t wait.

Sleaze Roxx: Can the fans expect any surprises during these shows?

Stevie Rachelle of Tuff - Sleaze Roxx InterviewStevie Rachelle: Like any band that has been around this amount of time — with a catalog of seven Tuff records, a couple of solo records and Alexx has put out five records — we pretty much stick to the basics. People want to hear The All New Generation, I Hate Kissing You Good-bye or Good Guys Wear Black from the What Comes Around Goes Around album. They definitely want to hear Queen 4 A Day, Nonstop City, Steal The Girlz, and the more famous and popular tracks off the Shameless records as well. Between the two bands, even if we play 6 or 7 songs off each catalog, our set is already 12 or 14 songs.

We are playing part of his stuff that I sing on and then Tuff stuff and occasionally we throw in a cover tune. Of course we play American Hair Band which is pretty much a new song for Tuff, but ultimately it’s almost a decade old. It was released in 2001 but it still holds up. I’ve played Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Spain, England and everywhere across the United States and wherever we play that song is the encore. That’s the song people want to hear. They love that American Hair Band anthem. It’s nine years and it’s still a big hit so that’s been added to the set. We will do a couple of jams, we are going to do something special at Stockholm Rock Out which will be a lot of guys from other bands so we are looking to do a jam at the end of the night with some friends. We are figuring out who is doing what, so I’m sure it will be a good time.

Sleaze Roxx: I was going to ask you about Stockholm Rock Out. Are you curious to see Great White with Paul Shortino?

Stevie Rachelle: I just heard about that. I think Jack Russell has been struggling with some things in the last couple of years health wise. It’s a tribute to the band, they are a great band and have been around a long time. Great White in the beginning were one of my favorite bands. I personally liked the earlier stuff best when they were technically a little more metal — like Stick It, Out Of The Night, and Street Killers. I saw them open for Judas Priest and at that point they were a fucking metal band. As the ’80s wound down, and into the ’90s, they turned into a blues-rock band which is good for a lot of people and they had their biggest success with some of those cover tracks. They have more of a Led Zeppelin feel in the last 15 years or so. Terry Ilous from XYZ has filled in for Jack at a few points along the way where he couldn’t perform and Paul Shortino is obviously a pro. He’s been there, he’s done that. He filled in for Kevin DuBrow when the Quiet Riot thing went half assed backwards many years ago. He’s a pro singer and instead of canceling shows they bring Paul and maybe they will throw in a couple of other tracks or covers that would fit well with Great White. It should be interesting.

Sleaze Roxx: It should be a great show, there a lot of good bands scheduled.

Stevie Rachelle: That whole weekend is Friday and Saturday and there are two stages. The main bands alone on the two stages have everything from Pretty Boy Floyd to Lizzy Borden and U.D.O. on Friday and on Saturday is John Corabi, Tuff/Shameless and Keel who haven’t been over there in a long time. Then Kingdom Come, Lenny Wolf’s band, and Great White close the show.

Sleaze Roxx: Do you think this tour will energize you to record a new Tuff album or any new songs?

Stevie Rachelle of Tuff - Sleaze Roxx InterviewStevie Rachelle: I’ve only told a couple people this, so you’ll probably be the first to print it. I have a thing that has been in the works for a while that I’ve been planning. Me and Todd Chaisson, who have been playing together as Tuff for the last couple of years on the West Coast and wherever we can get a gig (laughs), are going to re-record four songs off the What Comes Around Goes Around album. I’m going to release it in 2011, the 20 year anniversary of the album, and it’s going to be called What Comes Around Goes Around Again. I’m going to re-record I Hate Kissing You Good-bye, So Many Seasons, All New Generation and Good Guys Wear Black… those four songs. It’s essentially going to be an EP, a remake of that record. I have a whole idea of how I want to do it.

I’m going to put one bonus track on there of a new song called Shagadoo To Lollipop. The only thing I will tell everyone is it’s an original song but it has a Stevie Rachelle twist to it. I think some people are going to be hearing about the song. Shagadoo referencing Bon Jovi’s hair, and Lollipop referencing Lil Wayne’s big hit rap song. That’s all I’ll tell you. Look for that in 2011, a 5 song EP called What Comes Around Goes Around Again. It will be the four tracks re-done from What Comes Around Goes Around and the new song, Shagadoo To Lollipop.

Sleaze Roxx: We will watch for that. You are also covering a Ted Nugent tune for the Fat Chicks tribute album with Jay Jay French and Stet Howland. How did that pairing come together?

Stevie Rachelle: The guy behind this tribute is also the guy who did the tribute to Vinnie Vincent. He contacted me some time ago about recording the Ted Nugent track and I said I’d love to do it. I wasn’t actually in the studio with any of the guys. They cut their parts in respective studios and it found its way back to LA and I cut a vocal for it and it’s been building up for the last several months. It’s a great, unique and original way to do a tribute. For so long through the ’90s and early millennium years there was a tribute to Kiss, Poison, The Cult, Skid Row, Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi. His idea here is a tribute to, as he calls it, a tribute to fat chicks. All songs reference a fat girl or something big on a woman. I think it’s a great unique idea.

Sleaze Roxx: What are your thoughts on all these cover albums being released? Do you think bands are running out of ideas?

Stevie Rachelle of Tuff - Sleaze Roxx InterviewStevie Rachelle: Yes and no. Doing Metal Sludge was essentially a parody of Metal Edge with a bit of a shitty twist on it. American Hair Band was a parody of Kid Rock’s song. I had the Cheeseheads project, that I did in Wisconsin, that was a parody of NWA.

People say everything has been done before and in some ways that is totally true. I think tribute records and parodies are fine. Vanilla Ice sold 15 million records based off of Ice Ice Baby which was really a cool David Bowie collaboration which he rapped over. It was 20 years later when Biggie Smalls died that Puff Daddy rapped over The Police song Every Breath You Take. I hear the Puff Daddy version on hit radio stations more than I hear The Police version. Music is music, film is film, video is video… parody is parody. If someone borrows from something else and puts their own twist on it I think it’s a good idea. There is room for everything. Some things are totally unique and original and some people want to rub shoulders with something that was done before and remake it.

Sleaze Roxx: You have been helping Vains Of Jenna for a few years now. How impressed are you with their new singer?

Stevie Rachelle: It’s been over five years already. Oddly I met them in July 2005 and it was quite a run. We did a lot of stuff with the original band — we got to put out a few records, went on a few tours and made a little impact. Obviously there was a big change in the Spring and the new singer Jesse Forte is amazing to me. I saw him when his band opened for Vains Of Jenna about a year ago and they were very impressive… especially Jesse, he stood out, and I thought he was awesome. When all this stuff happened, with Lizzy DeVine deciding to leave the band, I asked the band ‘what, if anything, do you have in mind?’. They said, ‘we’d like to look at this guy’, and that was Jesse. We had to put our foot forward and move on. So we talked to Jesse and he agreed to meet with the guys and within a day or two after meeting, going for coffee and jamming they had a chemistry. Based off of that chemistry we did everything else to follow suit in not even days, maybe hours.

We were with our backs against the wall. We had a European tour booked and Lizzy was definitely not doing it. He said he was not going to go and he made his decision to leave the band. We weren’t going to cancel the tour and the band wasn’t going to say let’s go on a break for six months. They were in the middle of a brand new record they had put out. So when the band met with Jesse we realized there was a connection and some magic we literally had days to put things together. We did everything from re-cut vocals, photo shoots, press, posters, MySpace, kept all the shows we had and booked more. It’s been about five months and they have played about 40 shows in Europe and now the band are getting ready to come Stateside again in September. We are about to do new press and announcements on sites about the new deal, new video that is coming out and new music that has been recorded.

Sleaze Roxx: I heard they are going to be working on a few things.

Stevie Rachelle: We are doing a covers record for Deadline/Cleopatra which is going to be some real cool stuff. A year ago we were approached by this label to do something like this and now we’ve essentially signed the deal and the band is going to record covers of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Bob Seger, and I think there is an Amy McDonald song. There’s some cool stuff they are working on and they are going to record that with Bob Kulick in Los Angeles.

Sleaze Roxx: Since you revealed you were behind Metal Sludge have any musicians black-balled you because of it?

Stevie Rachelle of Tuff - Sleaze Roxx InterviewStevie Rachelle: It depends what black-balled means. Do some people not like me? I’m sure there are. Very few, if any, have voiced their opinion outside of Bobby Blotzer and Sebastian Bach (laughs). Other than that, no.

It’s been over six years now. Me and my original partner Shawn Card, worked on Metal Sludge from the summer of ’98 until he didn’t want to do it anymore. He went his way and I went mine… it got ugly between us, but that was resolved over time. I wanted to continue to do Metal Sludge and as it grew I had ideas of what I wanted to do with it and Shawn had ideas as to what he wanted to do — it was like a band almost. We were both wanting to go one way or the other. It was just like a band, just like a marriage, and we went back on forth on it. I’m not a quitter… I don’t quit anything. If something becomes a huge success, great. If something fails you go forward. That’s why I’m still doing Tuff 23 years later. We take our breaks. There are times I do more or less with it.

I started Metal Sludge, it was my idea. Trust me, when me and Shawn talked about this in summer ’98 we had no idea that it was going to turn into what it did. We believed in it. We were both huge fans of this kind of music, we listened to these bands and went to the concerts. I knew everything that was going on with the industry so there were times I thought, ‘if the world really knew this, they would be in for a shock’ (laughs). When we were talking about this we were like let’s make a hair chart, a penis chart, a top 10 list like David Letterman and Shawn said let’s do 20 questions like Playboy. We came up with all these ideas and started to be creative with it and we put it online. This was when the internet was infantile… I didn’t even have a computer until ’97.

It was something new and exciting and none of the magazines at that point who were still running, like Hit Parader and Metal Edge, would touch Slaughter, Warrant or Bang Tango, much less Nitro, Sleeze Beez or Pretty Boy Floyd. So we found a niche and we started to put out our content and then we realized people wanted merchandise and shirts… then people wanted to advertise, pay money for it and sponsorships. So suddenly this funny idea about Jani Lane being a drunk or Slaughter being mocked by Beavis and Butthead turned into ‘wow’!

We were getting checks in the mail. Holy shit, we were starting to make some real money off it and it was a blast! I ultimately felt there was a lot of pressure, because I think people started to narrow it down. A lot of people thought it was either Rikki Rockett, Jizzy Pearl or Scott Ian, but my name was in there too. I lived here and I played these shows, went to these clubs and was friends with these guys. There were some people that knew it was me, but very few. It’s amazing that me and Shawn were able to keep it the way we did. Our initial idea was do it like the unknown comic.

So that was the plan, we were going to do this website and basically mock and make fun of and kick dirt in the face of the ’80s metal industry, but at the same time give some love to the guys soldiering on out there busting their ass like Rhino Bucket, Dangerous Toys and Enuff Z’Nuff. Some of these guys were still doing it. We knew we couldn’t totally reveal who I was. I was a known guy from one of these ’80s bands, so we realized it was going to be like the masked magician and the unknown comic. So that worked for a long time and it was fine, but like I said as it got bigger and bigger it got to the point where we had representatives who wanted to meet us about a TV show and they were sending us emails and confidentiality agreements. We were like ‘holy shit’… this is getting big. I compare it to Kiss, I wanted to take the makeup off. I didn’t want to be the guy that had to hide behind an email and a PO Box anymore. I was, ‘this is me, this is what I want to do’.

Sleaze Roxx: When you mentioned Bobby Blotzer, was he upset when you posted that he got a DUI?

Stevie Rachelle of Tuff - Sleaze Roxx InterviewStevie Rachelle: Yeah there are two things and you can print all of this. Bobby was mad that Metal Sludge had posted that he was arrested for felony assault on his girlfriend in December 2009. Obviously that did happen, because we ran a link to the sheriff’s office and it had all the information right there. He was arrested for it. What happened, how he was cleared, what he was charged with or what became of that charge I’m not completely aware. But I know he was charged and arrested and we had proof so we ran it. He wasn’t happy. He sent us a nasty email and then I replied and basically said if you want to write a response to that go ahead, and he did and we ran it.

Then it was a few months later that he was arrested for DUI, and again we found public record from the Arizona sheriff’s department. He was arrested for DUI and this was ironic, especially to a lot of people who had just read his book, because he talks in his book about how he drives better drunk and some other heinous comments. The fact we exposed him for being a drunk driver made him angry again.

Lastly, he had a girlfriend he had dated years ago and after they broke up I had been involved with and had relations with this girl and Bobby to this day is still angry about it. Just to give you an idea of the time line of this… this happened with me and this girl before my children were born and my daughter is almost 7, so this is going on almost a decade (laughs).

Sleaze Roxx: He’s holding a bit of a grudge then.

Stevie Rachelle: Yeah but I get it, we mocked Bobby on Metal Sludge. We’ve also mocked Stephen Pearcy of Ratt when he got drunk in Mexico and fell off the stage and couldn’t perform anymore and had to have John Corabi to finish the show. But you know what, Pearcy is still my buddy. I love Stephen Pearcy, and Robbie Crane is a friend of mine, and the other guys have never really had a beef with me that I know of… but Bobby does.

Sleaze Roxx: Looking back on Metal Sludge do you think there was ever a point where you went too far, or maybe something you regret?

Stevie Rachelle: I don’t know that I regret anything, I wouldn’t change anything. There were a few people that helped contribute and people would write some really brutal things about members of the music industry. Ultimately there were a lot of people who contributed stuff, but at the end of the day it was really myself and Shawn who put the final touch on everything and actually published it. There were a few times that Jani Bon Neil or Bastard Boy Floyd were quoted as saying something that was really brutal. I would be on the phone saying, ‘you can’t say that’! There were a few times it got borderline… we might be looking at a legal system here (laughs). A lot of it was done in fun.

Sleaze Roxx: You’ve been pretty out spoken about Bret Michaels’ brain hemorrhage. What are your thoughts on that whole scenario.

Stevie Rachelle of Tuff - Sleaze Roxx InterviewStevie Rachelle: Here’s another thing… people have taken my thoughts out of context. I totally believe something happened to Bret. Bret was at home, he had a headache, and something happened. He went in and ultimately had a seizure or hemorrhage and there was some bleeding. But it was very early on. In my opinion, and from some people I have to talked to close to the Bret Michaels camp, within a couple of days he was out of the woods. He was in the clear and he was ok. I believe Bret and his camp ran with it as much as they could. Suddenly he’s on the cover of People Magazine, Yahoo, CNN and it was a big deal that the singer from Poison suffered this medical emergency of sorts.

My biggest gripe on Metal Sludge, and from a personal stand point, is that they really emphasized the use of the word ‘critical condition’. Bret Michaels is in critical condition… he’s bordering on being in a coma, he’s in critical condition and it’s touch and go. A lot of people thought this guy was going to be dead.

Fast forward two weeks and this guy is on the biggest fucking TV show in the world, he wins it, he comes out and he’s looking healthy as a fucking horse. The next day he’s on Oprah and ten days later he’s on stage in front of 15,000 people. Now it’s been a month and a half, he’s playing every night and he’s rocking and rolling! My point is yeah, he had an appendectomy, had a headache and he had a little brain hemorrhage. Then they found a hole in his heart, what people didn’t know is the doctor said he had the hole in his heart since he was a baby. It’s something he’s had his whole life. There are photos of him in People Magazine with IVs hooked up to his arm, allegedly in critical condition, but he’s doing photos with a head band on?

Here is my analogy. If I was in a motorcycle accident and I broke my leg or ankle and I’m in hospital with a moderate to serious injury I’m not wearing socks, I’m not wearing boots and I’m not wearing tennis shoes. I’m definitely not wearing anything wrapped around my ankle. It’s been cared for and taken care of. So when his head had supposedly had incurred this horrific life threatening condition critical injury, I think the last things the doctors would have said was, ‘yeah lets fucking put a head wrap on you’.

Sleaze Roxx: Maybe his hair looks worse than we thought?

Stevie Rachelle: Yeah! I think he was completely ballooned for publicity. That’s my opinion.

Sleaze Roxx: Anything else you want to say to the fans reading this?

Stevie Rachelle: I just want people to come to, or just Google Stevie Rachelle and Tuff. Vains of Jenna are there and of course Metal Sludge as well. For anybody that is reading this from Europe, I got about 15 shows coming up and I hope you can come out and make it to the shows.