Interview with Rough Cutt and King Kobra frontman Paul Shortino (Part 1 of 2)

INTERVIEW WITH ROUGH CUTT AND KING KOBRA FRONTMAN PAUL SHORTINO (PART 1 OF 2)
Date: June 10, 2021
Interviewer: Olivier
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (first and fourth photos)

FOUR DAYS AGO, A NEW ROUGH CUTT ALBUM TITLED ‘III’ WAS RELEASED OUT OF THE BLUE VIA RECORD LABEL THE DDR MUSIC GROUP. THE NEW ROUGH CUTT ALBUM FEATURED BAND FOUNDER AND LEAD VOCALIST PAUL SHORTINO ALONG WITH ‘ORIGINAL’ LINE-UP MEMBERS MATT THORNE ON BASS AND AMIR DERAKH ON GUITAR. THE NOTABLE ABSENTS FROM THIS ROUGH CUTT LINE-UP WERE THE OTHER TWO ‘ORIGINAL’ BAND MEMBERS, CHRIS HAGER (GUITAR) AND DAVE ALFORD (DRUMS), WHO HAD PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED IN SEPTEMBER 2019 THAT THEY WERE FORGING AHEAD AS ROUGH CUTT WITH THREE OTHER MEMBERS.

AS WE HAVE NOW RECENTLY LEARNED, THE HAGER AND ALFORD LED VERSION OF ROUGH CUTT DID NOT RECEIVE THE APPROVAL FROM SHORTINO, THORNE AND DERAKH, AND WE NOW HAVE TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF ROUGH CUTT FOR THE TIME BEING. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH SHORTINO TO FIND OUT HIS VIEWS ON WHAT LED TO TWO DIFFERENT ROUGH CUTT BANDS AND WHAT PROMPTED THE RELEASE OF THE ALBUM ‘III.’ YOU CAN PURCHASE ‘III’ ON CD VIA THE DDR MUSIC GROUP’S WEBSITE AND DIGITALLY VIA THE RECORD LABEL’S BANDCAMP PAGE.

Sleaze Roxx: Thank you for doing the interview. That’s amazing.

Paul Shortino: Well, this whole thing has come along. It’s kind of strange how the whole thing happened but yeah, I’m honoured just to be able to sit and talk about this. It’s pretty interesting.

Sleaze Roxx: Yes. For sure. One thing that really surprised me was that the album just drops out of the blue. Whose idea was that to do that because it was a lot of fun and sparked a lot of interest I think?

Paul Shortino: Well, how all of this came about was that after we did the Monsters of Rock [Cruise in October 2016], we decided, ‘Maybe we’ll get back together.’ We also, a long time ago, before we did any kinds of reunions, we also said, ‘Hey, you know what? We won’t be like other bands and split up. If we ever decide to get back together, we’ll be all the original guys.’ So every time that we had gotten back together, it was with the original guys. We did The Viper Room. We did two or three Monsters of Rock Cruises. And during that period of time, we started writing some ideas and I think that after the last Monsters of Rock Cruise, we came up with some ideas and we were considering getting back together.

And, at that time, I believe that I was doing a record that I had been working on for a couple of years with a Japanese artist. I had a deal with Japan. I went over there after not being over there for 20 something years. There was this event where they were asking questions and there was a Japanese band. I got to perform Rough Cutt songs, Quiet Riot songs and some solo stuff that I did with JK Northrup, and some other things. So I had a deal going on and the record was done. I had actually gone to Japan and was sharing some of these Rough Cutt songs with the producer who ended up producing the solo record ‘Make A Wish’ that I did last year that I released in April and then, you know, the pandemic happened.  So the record kind of just sat there. So out of the blue with this Rough Cutt stuff, we all had kind of access to the social media platforms and actually, I took over 2,000 to 3,000 of my Facebook fans and asked them to go over to the Rough Cutt site on Facebook and on Instagram. So that upped the amount of fans that were on that social media at the time because we were starting to do stuff. I believe that Amir [Derakh] also stepped out to his fans and said, ‘Hey, go check out the Rough Cutt site.’ Bla, Bla, bla. So we had built up — I think that there’s about 7,000 fans on there. Somewhere around there. I don’t even know because we’ve all been blocked. That’s how we found out what Dave [Alford] had done and Chris [Hager] did.

Also, before this all went down, I had discussions with Dave [Alford] and Chris Hager about you know, let’s get these guys back together so I think that Chris went to Wendy Dio and she booked some dates in Michigan or somewhere.It just wasn’t feasible for us to do it. So everybody put in their two cents. It didn’t matter to me. Money isn’t what it’s about. It’s never been about what it’s about for me. So, it’s been about the art and just sharing the talent that we have, that God has given us to others. So basically, everybody has responsibilities and obviously, it wasn’t going to meet some folks’ needs, this quick run. It was [laughs], it was something that you were gonna do if you’re in your 20s.

Sleaze Roxx: Right [laughs].

Paul Shortino: The gigs were back to back, and you know, the older you get, travelling just isn’t as easy as it was [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: So Paul, can I jump in?

Paul Shortino: Please do.

Sleaze Roxx: Who were the people that didn’t want to do the quick run?

Paul Shortino: Well, it was Amir [Derakh] for one. And also Matt [Thorne] was doing stuff with Stephen Pearcy at the time and he’s also got a business and a studio. For him to break away or for Amir to break away — Amir has a restaurant I think or two. He’s got a lot of things going on, and on his plate. I had a lot of things going on my plate. I was still finishing this record that we had been working on for two years. I had Doug Aldrich on this record, a lot of guys from the ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’, which was a show here in Las Vegas [Nevada, USA] for seven years. So I had a lot of guys just come in and be guests on this record, this solo thing. So I had my hands full. I still was loving the material that we wrote together. So to make a long story endless…

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Paul Shortino: We didn’t do the run. Wendy [Dio] got upset because we didn’t do the run and all of a sudden, everything just kind of fell apart. So Dave and Chris were calling me on a regular basis saying you know, ‘We need to reform Rough Cutt.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t think that’s a really good idea because it’s something that we all agreed upon that we would respect each other’s feelings and loyalty. Deception may give us what we want for the present but it will always take it away in the end. I didn’t want to be deceptive in any way and I was really strong so we put together a band called Rough Riot, which was Dave Alford, Chris Hager, myself, Carlos Cavazo and Sean McNabb. So I figured, we won’t put together Rough Cutt. This was a way for us — because all Chris and Dave wanted to do was get out and play music again and do what they do. Matt, myself and Amir didn’t have any problems with that so I put together this Rough Riot. So what did I do? I did I think the silliest thing that you can imagine anybody professional doing is opening an LLC and putting five people equal partners into it.

Sleaze Roxx: Right. That spells trouble.

Paul Shortino: [Laughs] So we had this band and we opened up a band account. We’re getting an agent for management. Rough Riot is doing some of the songs that I did for Quiet Riot, songs that Carlos [Cavazo], Kevin [DuBrow] and those guys made famous, and then some of the Rough Cutt songs. And for some reason, it wasn’t gelling. When it came to doing the Rough Cutt songs, everything was fine but doing the Quiet Riot songs, I was in Las Vegas and everybody was in L.A. so I’d fly up there to go to rehearsal and people wouldn’t remember what they were supposed to be doing.

Rough Cutt‘s “Dive” single (from III album):

Sleaze Roxx: It sounds to me that you are saying that Dave and Chris didn’t know the Quiet Riot songs. Is that what I’m hearing?

Paul Shortino: Well yeah. Dave and Chris weren’t playing them the way — Dave could learn the parts like Frankie [Banali] but it just didn’t have the same feel, ok? There’s certain things that people play so basically we would show up. It wasn’t just that. It was also Sean having an acting career. Chris and Dave happened to call me one day after we had did a few dates. The first one went great. The second one went great. The third one just kind of fell apart and I’d fly up for rehearsals and Chris and Dave were kind of busy. Dave — something would go on with his drum pedal or something in the middle of a song and he’d stop. Chris would be having issues with his gear, which is something that you are probably going to run into when you’re running a rehearsal place and someone’s gear is rented. So here Carlos comes in, plugs in. Sean, the same thing and I come in and we’re rocking, and everything is going to good, and we’re having issues with certain songs and equipment issues so people are getting frustrated.

Basically, to make a long story endless, I get a call from Dave and Chris, and they’re telling me how this is not working out the way they thought it was going to work out. I didn’t tell them until then that Carlos and Sean were feeling a little bit the same way. They weren’t copping some of the parts and remembering some of the parts. It’s easy to say that but when you’re so far apart in the rehearsals, and the gigs were so far apart, people tend to forget their parts. However, they should listen and get ready for the next rehearsal. Sean I guess, with his acting thing, was a real big thorn in Dave and Chris’s side. It wasn’t so much in anybody else’s side. Anybody, they said that they wanted me to make a choice. I’m in the middle here. I’m playing with two guys that I played with in Quiet Riot and I’m playing with two guys that you know, are part of my legacy — Rough Cutt. So anyways, I said, ‘Well, I think that I’m going to carry on with Carlos and Sean.’

Sleaze Roxx: Why did you choose Carlos and Sean over Dave and Chris?

Paul Shortino: It wasn’t that I chose them over. It was just that Carlos and myself and Sean had been continuously playing music for the last 30 something years since I left Rough Cutt. And Dave and Chris — Chris started a computer company and Dave had a few bands and like us all in the music business, if you cannot make a living making music, find another way to do it. So those guys hadn’t been in the business circle for quite a while. Chris started doing some dates with Matt [Thorne] and Stephen Pearcy. So I figured, you know what, and me and Carlos had fell out, and I thought, I kind of want to play with Carlos. It wasn’t a choice over… It was also over, ‘Hey! Where is the music direction going to go?’ I had been in numerous bands with Sean. Our music, and playing in ‘[Raiding The] Rock Vault’, and doing a couple of King Kobra records playing with Carmine Appice, who is a legend and an amazing drummer, doing some records with JK Northrup, numerous records, playing with Matt Abts for Gov’t Mule, my feelings… I’m doing a record right now with Tracy G that is like a Gary Moore record. But growing up in my music, my mother was a singer. I was listening to everything [Paul Shortino sings a few lines] — Italian music, classical music, jazz — and so I wasn’t just stuck in one genre. I felt that Chris and Dave were stuck in a genre. They hadn’t grown as much as everybody else had. That makes sense?

Sleaze Roxx: That makes sense.

Paul Shortino: Believe me, the last thing that I want to do is put anyone down. It’s not what I am trying to say. I’m just saying some people grow by playing with others or working with others. Am I correct by that? If you work with people that are better than you, it’s probably going to make you better. And I’m not saying that Chris and Dave weren’t better than anyone else, I just think that they had stopped growing for a while by reaching out and doing other businesses. That makes sense.

Sleaze Roxx: Yes, but ironically, you’ve released an album with Rough Cutt and I would presume that Dave and Chris would have liked to been involved if things could have been worked out between the five members, right?

Paul Shortino: Oh absolutely! In fact, that’s what happened with these songs. We were going to continue and then this whole thing happened with these gigs, and Chris and Dave were furious that Matt and Amir, it wasn’t feasible, and that’s including myself. I said that I would do it but you know, physically, it was going to be a burden on my health. I’m no spring chicken. I just turned 68 years old so [laughs] going out there and touring like a 20 year old. It wasn’t in the cards. They were at a point where, ‘Look it, we’re an old band that hasn’t done anything for years. We’re going to have to come back and go in the trenches.’ We all knew that. However, if we could do it in a better way where we weren’t going from one gig and then driving maybe eight hours or nine hours right after the gig to another gig. The gigs were set up where they were going to be really tough on people as far as their health and travelling. Yeah, some of these songs were written with Dave and Chris while we were working on them and they got credit on this record. However, they deceivingly and deceptively went behind our backs and closed us out of the social media. That’s how we found what they were doing.

So if I go back to the Rough Riot thing, I had put this band together and this is what I get a little irritated at. That I had just finished the ‘Make A Wish’ record and had a release coming out in April 24, 2020 with all these great stars on it and we were going to licence it out to the rest of the world, bla, bla, bla. But the whole world shuts down. So anyways, in the meantime, Chris and Dave don’t want to play with Rough Riot, and Dave and Chris don’t want to play with Sean and Carlos. And so I make my choice and now, here I have to go and get them off, because we have a bank account and everything else, and maybe some dates coming up. So I have to get them to sign off the LLC.

Sleaze Roxx: Right.

Paul Shortino: So what do they do? They get an attorney. Chris’ brother is an attorney. They put me through three months of waiting. OK? And in that time, what happened was, I ask a friend to make a logo up, just like I came up with the name Rough Cutt. I got it from a Burt Reynolds’ movie called ‘Rough Cut’ and added a ‘T’ to it. I’m infuriated that they stole the name I came up with so I went and fought for the name Rough Riot. While I was fighting for Rough Riot with another attorney to get them to just sign off, on something that — there was nothing there. You know what I mean? I just wanted it because I came up with the name. If nothing came of it, I would still own the rights, the logo and everything else. It’s like Rough Cutt. Well, so what do they do? They run me through three months of litigation and while they are doing this, behind our backs, they’re stealing Rough Cutt. They’re stealing it and to me, that is deceptive to the fans. It was deceptive to us ’cause all they had to do — and you know what — I know that they just want to go out and play and work, and that’s part of their legacy, but you know what?

As far as Matt, myself and Amir are concerned, they should be straight up about it and say that it’s Alford’s and Hager’s Rough Cutt because it’s not our Rough Cutt and they stole the name. The name that I came up with, they took. Just like I was fighting for the name Rough Riot because I had come up with it. I asked a friend to come up with the logo. I never went out — when I did a solo record — it was called The Cutt. Jimmy Crespo was in it. I think that somebody in San Diego mistook it for Rough Cutt and booked it as Rough Cutt, but I never put out anything of Rough Cutt until now and that’s the reason why we actually put out these songs that some of us collectively wrote and they’re getting the credit. Dave and Chris are getting the credit. However, I’m probably not getting the credit on the stuff that they are releasing and it’s probably some of the same material because I was part of that, and so was Amir. We’re being straight up about everything and the bottom line is that I just want to get the truth out. I’m kind of really upset of the fact that you know, they did this really deceiving[ly] you know. Just because something isn’t alive doesn’t mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows he’s a liar [laughs].

Rough Cutt‘s “Bed of Black Roses” single (from III album):

Sleaze Roxx: Paul, in terms of timing, when I look at the social media, it looks like Chris and Dave announced that they were forging ahead as Rough Cutt in September 2019 so is that after your three months of litigation with them or is that before?

Paul Shortino: Hmmm. [Long pause] We were in litigation before that. Yeah. We were in litigation before that. [Paul double-checks with his wife Carmen] That was in June. They stalled it the whole summer when we were in litigation.

Sleaze Roxx: So Paul, in September 2019, Dave and Chris announce that they are going out as Rough Cutt. So what happens on your end with Matt and Amir that prompted you guys to finally come up with a new album as Rough Cutt?

Paul Shortino: Well, we didn’t have to come up with a new album. We had already written the songs. The songs were there. So I get a call from Matt and Amir. Amir, when he was in Orgy, [Orgy lead vocalist] Jay [Gordon] — you see that’s kind of what — when you go on Wikipedia, they changed everything. They changed the whole history. I have a stack of magazines here that my mother gave me after she passed away. She saved everything.

Sleaze Roxx: Wow.

Paul Shortino: I have stacks of newspapers, fan magazines — all the magazines that were happening in the ’80s — you know Kerrang!, Circus Circus, whatever. I have them all. In every interview, Paul Shortino came up with this name, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla. That’s how I came up with it. And they changed it all. Dave Alford now supposedly started Rough Cutt with Jake E. Lee, and that’s not how it came out. Anyways, Matt calls me and says, ‘I’m really upset. Amir’s really upset.’ Because when Amir was in Orgy, when that band broke up, Jay [Gordon], the singer, wiped anything to do with any of those guys that were in that band and that were up for a Grammy. He went in there and just deleted any kind of history of anybody who was in that band. And Amir felt that maybe the same thing might happen with Rough Cutt.

By them going in and me giving all these fans, my own fans — they were Rough Cutt fans but they were also Shortino fans from my Facebook. And because we were doing gigs and maybe we were going to get back together, and do stuff, basically, I took fans over there and we all had access to that, and all of a sudden, Chris took all that away. Chris blocked us all out. And that was about in September [2019] when they announced that they were going to do this. To me, to be quite honest with you, Rough Cutt with the original members was having a hard time getting booked. I’ve done a lot of stuff on my own so this was something that we thought that we would do just to release another album before this happened with all the original guys. But because of this tour run that a few guys refused, that pissed off Dave and Chris so that’s where they wanted to have me and let’s start looking for guitar players and bass players to reform Rough Cutt. I said, ‘We made a pact that we wouldn’t do that.’ That’s how I came up with Rough Riot. So we went on with that and that didn’t work out. And then there was nothing there.

I think if Chris’ brother wasn’t an attorney, we wouldn’t have gone through three months and they would have signed off on that and moved on. And you know what? What is interesting is that Matt, myself and Amir spoke and we said, ‘Had they just been honest with us and said, ‘Hey, we want to go out as Alford’s or Alford’s and Hager’s Rough Cutt.’ Go for it! It’s just like Jack Russell who lost that thing with Great White and Geoff Tate with Queensrÿche. There’s three of us. It’s usually the majority end up winning a lawsuit if there is any lawsuit. You know what? I don’t really want that. We put out that record to let fans really know that we have worked on this together. Some of the songs are with those guys. Some not.

Sleaze Roxx: So which ones that you worked with [Dave Alford and Chris Hager] and which ones did you not?

Paul Shortino: Well, there’s “Secret.” There’s a song on the album that they did not have any participating with. I think the other one Oh, what is it? “Bleed” — they didn’t have anything to do with “Bleed.” I don’t think that they had anything to do with “Don’t Say A Word.” That’s me and Matt.

Sleaze Roxx: There’s a couple of songs from [the album] ‘Rough Cutt Live’ [released in 1996] right? There are three songs from ‘Rough Cutt Live.’

Paul Shortino: Yeah, they’re not live tracks. They’re just off that live album. One of them is off ‘Anthology’ [released in 2008]. That’s “Peyote” and that’s “House of Pain” and what’s the other one? “Prowler.” Like I said, we are giving those guys credit for everything that they did and we’re actually giving Carlos credit on the songs that he actually played some solos on. Who knows? Who knows what will happen. Maybe we’ll do some gigs as Rough Cutt with Carlos Cavazo. I don’t know about [the] drums. We used a studio drummer for this stuff [except for the tracks that Dave Alford played on].

Sleaze Roxx: In terms of the tracks on the album [new album ‘Rough Cutt III’], did you, Amir and Matt — did you record the songs as fresh [recordings]? The three songs from ‘Rough Cutt Live’, are they the same versions that appear on ‘Rough Cutt Live’?

Paul Shortino: Yeah. Yeah. I actually wanted to go in and re-record them but [DDR Music Group principal] Lance [V] is such an awesome and professional guy who released this record on this great label. He’s just a real sweetheart of a guy. Yeah, some of tracks don’t have Dave or Chris on them. Even though there may be a couple of tracks we worked on, I think that they were removed after all of this stuff went on. But if there was anything that they had written, and were part of… What’s interesting is and I found out a long time ago, if you’re in a room with a band and you play the band members a song that you wrote, and if anybody puts in their opinion about something and you use that opinion, they have just as much right to claim for the song as you do. And then you can fight over the percentage. So basically, anything that they have written with me that they are re-releasing differently, actually I legally have a part but I don’t really care.

Like the first time that I knew that they were reforming Rough Cutt and had done a LLC was right after the litigation with Rough Riot. It was like so weird. I got a call from Matt. It was like this was all planned — Chris dragging this thing out. Carlos said, ‘Just lend them the name and let follow it into the ground’ and I said, ‘No. I had a friend spend some time coming up with a logo, a really kind of cool logo. I pulled a lot of favours from people to do this and now I have had to spend three months.’ I just want the name, whether we went out with it or not. If I had known that they were doing that with Rough Cutt, I would have done it just like Frankie Banali did it with Quiet Riot.

Sleaze Roxx: Say Paul, did you ever get them to sign off on the Rough Riot name?

Paul Shortino: Oh yeah, they did. It was really interesting. I had just got some of the masters for my Shortino ‘Make A Wish’ album and I played them some tracks because one of the tracks we did. It’s on YouTube. We did a remake of “Send In The Clowns” and Vinnie Paul played drums on it before he died 12 years ago. We did it because we were thinking, me and Vinnie, that we were going to do something for Carrot Top. Well, Carrot Top ended up being in the video. Gary Orona, who is a director and a producer, and who does a lot of HBO stuff, his wife filmed it and we did another video for “Make A Wish.” They were great videos and in fact, people should check them out. And I was playing these tracks. I made a drive to Los Angeles to have them sign off on this paperwork and played them some of the record. I was so excited about it because it was my solo record. I have so many great guys on it, great players on it and then all of a sudden, I fall under ‘plandemic.’

I don’t care what anybody says. It seems like it could destroy the world. It’s the new reset, the new world order. I have friends all over the world in Spain and that’s just stuff that I hear from people. It’s like, ‘OK. Whatever it is.’ But people’s lives have been destroyed and spent about a year and a half trying to get back on track and that record, after a year and a half of it coming out, or [laughs] coming on. I’ve got people still interested in maybe releasing it but right now, this record really needs to be heard. People really need to know the truth. I’m also right now working with Carmine [Appice] on another King Kobra record. I’m really wanting to go out with Carlos and with Amir and Matt, and maybe do some shows. We’ll see.

Shortino‘s “Send In The Clowns” video (from Make A Wish album):

Shortino‘s “Make a Wish” video (from Make A Wish album):

Sleaze Roxx: Let me ask you this Paul. I think that the fans have gotten used to when there are two bands with the same name — Queensrÿche, Great White. L.A. Guns, Ratt — eventually one party wins the name over.

Paul Shortino: Yeah.

Sleaze Roxx: So the real question will be… There’s two Rough Cutt’s. There’s three classic line-up guys in one band and two in the other. We know that eventually, if it goes to Court, someone is going to win the Rough Cutt name. I understand that you, Amir and Matt have the trademark for the Rough Cutt name. Am I correct in that?

Paul Shortino: Well, actually, to be quite honest, there are different variations of getting a trademark, which I just recently found out. I think that they have the merchandise thing. I’m really not clear on everything that is going on. I do know that there are all kinds of issues with fighting this. I really think that if it goes that far, when it comes out, Amir has got some clothing with Rough Cutt on it from you know… He’s got the first ticket. I know that legally, that…

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Sleaze Roxx’s interview with Paul Shortino, which will likely posted on Monday, June 14th. Thank you to DDR Music Group principal Lance V. for facilitating the interview.

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