INTERVIEW WITH NASTY RATZ FRONTMAN JAKE WIDOW
Date: November 25, 2019
CZECH SLEAZE ROCKERS, NASTY RATZ, CONSISTING OF BAND FOUNDER / LEAD VOCALIST JAKE WIDOW, DRUMMER RANDY DEE, BASSIST XRISS STRING AND GUITARIST JORDY RIOT, HAVE JUST RELEASED THEIR SECOND FULL-LENGTH ALBUM TITLED ‘SECOND CHANCE’ EARLIER THIS MONTH. NASTY RATZ HAD A MAJOR LINE-UP OVERHAUL TWO YEARS AGO WHEN WIDOW FOUND HIMSELF AS THE LONE MAN STANDING IN THE BAND AFTER HIS BANDMATES LEFT HIM AND FORMED ANOTHER BAND WITH A NEW SINGER. WIDOW DECIDED TO PERSEVERE WHILE IMPROVING HIS SINGING AND THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES WITH THE NEW ALBUM ‘SECOND CHANCE?’. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH WIDOW IN ADVANCE OF THE NEW ALBUM RELEASE DATE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT NASTY RATZ.
Sleaze Roxx: Maybe first, you could let me know how did your tour go in the UK with Snake Bite Whisky?
Jake Widow: [Laughs] I can’t remember much to be honest. We loved it. At the beginning, it was kind of strange because after the show in Belgium, we were supposed to go together to the UK but Snake Bite Whisky got barred from entering. They were stuck at the border and actually, they were in jail for 10 hours or so.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh wow!
Jake Widow: Now it’s funny because there’s a happy ending but the first show in London [on October 10, 2019], we played on our own and we didn’t know shit about it [laughs]. All the stuff was booked by Jay of Snake Bite Whisky and we got info a few hours before the show so we weren’t even sure if we were playing or not. Luckily, two support bands — Spiderbite — and I don’t want to mess up the second name. These guys lent us their [inaudible] and the venue was cool so it was great. Snake Bite [Whisky] joined us for the second show and all the rest was wild and crazy. Especially the second half because the first half wasn’t very crowded but the second half starting in Newcastle was always packed and we didn’t expect it so we were like excited children in a toy store. We really enjoyed it.
Sleaze Roxx: Was that your first time in the UK?
Jake Widow: Yeah. Yeah, it was our first time playing [there]. We were there two years before.
Sleaze Roxx: Now you have a new album coming out called ‘Second Chance?’. What’s behind the album title?
Jake Widow: Well [laughs], it’s all about — I don’t mean the lyrics — but the tile is actually based on the recent stuff that happened when three quarters of my original band left me alone. I was kind of given a second chance because people didn’t stuck… Actually, the shows in 2019 were bigger than ever before. I mean, we got the opportunity to support bands like Hardcore Superstar and we have been to the UK and all stuff like this so it was even crazier than before. And now I have members that are like my brothers and we can compose together. They are always excited about stuff. There’s no arguments or something like that. Again it’s like a ‘Second Chance?’ because you also have to consider the first album was ‘First Bite.’ Now ‘Second Chance?’. I am not sure what is going to be the third album [called] but I bet that the title will be ‘Third’ something.
Sleaze Roxx: How did Nasty Ratz get started in the first place? Who founded the band?
Jake Widow: Well, it was actually me so that was the reason why I am the lone member with the [band] name. But needless to say that the ‘First Bite’ line-up wasn’t the first line-up. There were a couple of friends and people from The Edge and magazines who wanted to play and also, needless to say, many of them are still friends of mine ’cause they stopped playing music at all. Then it happens. I remember — I believe — that 70% of members came because they saw advertisements or something. I used to be a big mouth [laughs] so I promised a European tour because [there’s] only one rule for me, it was “fake it ’till you make it.” So I promised an European tour, label and stuff. I shouldn’t [have] do[ne] that [laughs]. It was kind of really bad.
Sleaze Roxx: So what year did Nasty Ratz start?
Jake Widow: I think it was 2012. Yeah. There were a lot of members before but [drummer] Rikki Wild was the first long-time member. He came in during the end of 2012. The EP was released two years after I guess.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up with the band name Nasty Ratz?
Jake Widow: It’s actually a secret. Even my bandmates don’t know it.
Nasty Ratz‘s “Against The World” video (from Second Chance? album):
Official music video for “AGAINST THE WORLD” by NASTY RATZMusic by: Nasty RatzMix & Master: Rony Janecek (John Wolfhooker)〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰️〰…
Sleaze Roxx: Alright [laughs]. Fair enough. So you guys released ‘First Bite‘ which had a very provocative cover and this time, ‘Second Chance’ doesn’t really have that. Is there a way that you have moved on from the provocative covers?
Jake Widow: Well actually [laughs], I thought that the ‘Second Chance?’ cover was provocative as well. But it seems that I’m an old fuck or something because it would be provocative in my childhood or childhood era [laughs]. Nowadays, nobody gives a shit [laughs]. They don’t care abut a child who has nothing to eat and a pregnancy that’s smoking a cigarette. Actually, it was meant to be provocative but I guess it’s not.
Sleaze Roxx: Well, I’ll have to take another look at it [laughs]. So how is the new album different musically and song wise from ‘First Bite’?
Jake Widow: Well, I believe that it’s heavier but we have one slow song as well — “The Last Kiss.” There are more catchy choruses I guess because this was something that we really focused on. And it is better recorded because even though the guys are not the same guys as on ‘First Bite’, we are all more experienced musicians and also we have a producer, which wasn’t the case for the first album. We just had a sound engineer who helped us a lot. But our producer on the second album is a true producer and he has his own successful band so he taught us a lot of stuff. And the melodies sound better. The harmonies are big because the first track is called “The Waste” and there are about 16 harmonies or so [laughs] but it’s still sleaze and it’s still glam. But it’s just heavier, catchier and there’s more energy from this band. So at the end, one reason could be why it’s a new album. I listen to it every day. ‘First Bite’, it’s like, “Oh, that was 2015.” You know, I kind go get used to it [laughs]. I believe that the old school fans of ours will love it and also it could bring some new ones. It’s got a modern style but not too much because we still love the ’80s and the older stuff.
Sleaze Roxx: Your song “Price of Love” was actually produced by the renowned producer Beau Hill. What made you decide to get Beau involved for one of your songs?
Jake Widow: It was just crazy because he wrote us. He wrote us that he heard us on a radio station somewhere in Michigan I guess. After that [laughs], we realized that he writes to many bands like that. He wrote us that he liked the “Made of Steel” track and also wrote he liked my voice. We thought it was a joke but [laughs] we thought it was from someone Czech. They are all our friends. We thought it was a joke but then he sent us a link with stuff he did and his website. So we were sure that it was really him and to be honest, I didn’t know him [laughs]. I did know his work. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t know his name and the guys told me that’s actually the guy who produced [Warrant’s] “Cherry Pie”, stuff like this. So we were so excited. It wasn’t free [laughs]. I believe that it was the most expensive song that we ever made. I guess it was but fans love it so we love it too.
Nasty Ratz‘s “Made of Steel” video (from First Bite album):
Made Of Steel is taken from “First Bite”, the upcoming album of Czech glam/hard rockers NASTY RATZ!Sleaszy Rider 2015, SR-0163www.sleaszyrider.comTo order th…
Sleaze Roxx: After you released that song though, eventually your bandmates decided to leave you to form a new band. So what happened there?
Jake Widow: Well, it was such a strange feeling because we had a meeting like we’ve had many times before and I was in the studio for a few hours before. But then they told me that I sucked as a singer, which I did. I knew it and I know it so they told me that they don’t want to play with me anymore and I was actually give no chance but to accept it. I respected it. Up to now, I am still good friends with Nikki [Allin]. I met him like a few months ago for a show in Germany. It was fun. So you know, I respect their decision and the move. There were actually a couple of dick moves though because Steve [Gunn] tried to play songs that I wrote the melody for or the lyrics for. And he was claiming it was all his because he composed the guitar part. What [laughs]? I am lucky to have new members and I actually work on my vocals so hard. I went to see a teacher twice or three times a week to become a better singer. When something like this happens, you have like two choices — you can give up or you can work hard but not in between. I chose to work hard and I believe ‘Second Chance’ — the album — just proves eventually it went well.
Nasty Ratz‘s “Price of Love” video (from Second Chance? album):
Official music video for “Price Of Love” by NASTY RATZ Music by: Nasty RatzDirector- Balkins PicturesProducer – ZlyartMake-up artist- Petra SmitkovaCostumes:…
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! Well credit for you for doing that. I noticed that their band Double Raw that they [three band members who left Nasty Ratz] started is no longer so in some ways, you are persevering while the rest of them have stopped playing.
Jake Widow: Well, I heard two or three different versions but what I know is that half of the band doesn’t play anymore in any way. I also heard that one of the guys sold all of his equipment and is not playing at all. You know, I think that the true reason is that they tried to get something from the name Nasty Ratz, which isn’t that big. It isn’t and it wasn’t so obviously when you try to make fame from the fans, when there are 100 people at shows, it’s never going to happen. But that’s just my opinion. I actually like their first single [“A Million Faces”]. I like one song from their album, which they released right after the break up. There were two songs that I really liked and I think that they are all great musicians. I also like Peter [Duff] as their singer.
Sleaze Roxx: So who’s in Nasty Ratz now? There’s obviously you but who else and how did they get into the band?
Jake Widow: There’s Randy Dee who is the drummer and he was a friend of mine since… I don’t even know. I remember him from the beginning of Nasty Ratz but he lives like 325 km away from me so that was always the trouble. I’ve asked him many times before to join Nasty Ratz and he do it now. He’s been my friend for years. So there’s our bass guitarist Xriss String who used to attend shows of Nasty Ratz during the first line-up or so called “first line-up.” So he was a fan of the band. And the last one, Jordy Riot, who we got from a music advertisement. He’s a fuckin’ shredder. I still don’t get it because I had never seen a top guitarist in Czech Republic.
Sleaze Roxx: I know that you have a tour with Cream Pie in April I believe.
Jake Widow: Yes.
Sleaze Roxx: So tell me about that tour and what are some of your upcoming plans after the release of the album?
Jake Widow: You’re well informed as that just came out yesterday I believe.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jake Widow: It’s organized by Poser 667 Productions. We know that he’s going to do a great job. Joining Cream Pie — we didn’t know it. He just told us, he just offered us a tour and a couple of months later, he told us, or he added me into a chat group where there was also Nikki — Nikki Dick of Cream Pie. We’ve know each other also through the years. We had a first mutual gig in Prague [Czech Republic] when we didn’t even have a bass player. We played again in Prague and I remember it. I remember it because Rachel [O’Neill], their singer, totally blew my mind so we started talking and played a couple of gigs together. And also when they play in the Czech Republic, we also come there as fans. And when we played in Milan [Italy], they came as well so I believe that I can say that we are good friends and we are excited about the tour. Also, we got this gig in Germany so there’s no need to apply and stuff like this so we can bring our van full of beer and it’s going to be fun.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Cool! Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Jake Widow: Yeah. I don’t know how to mention it. There’s one thing that I always wanted to say and it’s the difference between Czech bands between the way [other] European bands are. Czech bands don’t support each other and I’m still pretty mad about it. I know if you can mention it somehow. If I could say one thing to Czech bands, it’s support each other more because you know, Czech musicians are full of shit. They’re just talking shit about each other and it’s such a shame because we have many great musicians and many great bands, which should cooperate together to be much better.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you, what are your three all-time favorite records and why?
Jake Widow: Ooooh [laughs]. First one would be something from KISS. ‘Revenge.’ Yeah. I love ‘Revenge.’ You know, it’s really tough to talk about it these days because yesterday was the anniversary of Eric Carr’s death again. It was something [hard] as they were the hottest band. We all can feel it. I’m all into power ballads and I love Paul Stanley’s voice. I love KISS. I think that I am one of their biggest fans [laughs]. But this one, it’s an album without make up and it’s harder. I just love it. Second would be — it’s a tie between ‘Hey Stoopid’ and ‘Trash’ from Alice Cooper because even though he’s not like a traditional heavy metal artist, I think that every heavy metal fan would love to sound like him on these records. It’s full of catchy stuff. There are great harmonies, great guitars, great songs. I don’t remember the moment where I turn off the radio or whatever, when I would stop listening to any of the songs from these records. The third one, I would say, would be ‘The Crimson Idol’ by W.A.S.P. because it’s heavy and I love when musicians that are judged to be in heavy metal bands or heavy metal bands with four chords or something like that, every song on this record is powerful and the lyrics tell a story and there’s no voice like Blackie’s [Lawless] voice.
Nasty Ratz‘s “Watch Your Back” video (from Second Chance? album):
On 17th November our fans decided between “catchy old-school” and “heavy new wave”. First option won by far so we decided to make another video for the singl…