Interview with The Defiants / Danger Danger bassist and producer Bruno Ravel
INTERVIEW WITH THE DEFIANTS / DANGER DANGER BASSIST AND PRODUCER BRUNO RAVEL
Date: November 10, 2016
Interviewer: Tyson Briden
MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH SLEAZE ROXX IS ONE THAT I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH GREAT ANTICIPATION. BRUNO RAVEL, THE GREAT BASS PLAYER, SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER OF THE DEFIANTS AND DANGER DANGER. BRUNO IS SOMEONE THAT I HAVE GREAT ADMIRATION FOR. I HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THE MAN ON MANY OCCASIONS AND I HAVE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT BRUNO WAS A MAN WHO HAS IT ALL TOGETHER. BRUNO, AS YOU’LL BE ABLE TO READ IN THIS INTERVIEW, IS PRECISE, HONEST AND INTELLIGENT. TO ME, THE PRODUCTION ON THE DANGER DANGER AND THE DEFIANTS ALBUMS IS BRILLIANT. HIS PERSONALITY SHOWS THROUGHOUT.
DANGER DANGER RELEASED THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IN 1989. SINCE THAT TIME, THEY HAVE BEEN RELEASING ALBUMS AND TOURING NON-STOP. THERE HAVE BEEN MEMBER CHANGES OVER THE YEARS, BUT THE BACKBONE OF THE BAND REMAINS THE SAME. BRUNO RAVEL AND STEVE WEST HAVE KEPT THE DANGER DANGER TRAIN ROLLING FOR ALL THESE YEARS AND CONTINUE TO DO SO AS OF THIS WRITING.
THE DEFIANTS IS BRUNO’S LATEST PROJECT WITH DANGER DANGER VOCALITS PAUL LAINE AND CURRENT D2 GUITARIST ROB MARCELLO. IT IS A VER STRONG MELODIC ROCK RECORD. AS A MUSICIAN MYSELF, BRUNO WAS SOMEONE THAT I LOOK UP TO AND WOULD GO TO IF I EVER NEEDED PRODUCTION ADVICE. AS ALWAYS, BRUNO WAS ALWAYS WILLING TO SHARE WITH ME WHAT HE KNEW WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM. IT IS AN HONOUR FOR ME TO SHARE THIS INTERVIEW.
Sleaze Roxx: Bruno, I’ll start right off with The Defiants. How did the project come to be?
Bruno Ravel: The answer is two fold. It came from my desire to keep pushing forward, to keep recording, writing, creating even though the demand for new music has diminished substantially, and from the good folks at Frontiers Records, especially Serafino Perugino, and my good friend Primo, who is always banging the Danger Danger drum. Frontiers originally wanted to do a deal for a new Danger Danger album. Steve West had no interest in it. So Serafino then suggested that Paul Laine and I reunite to record a new record.
Sleaze Roxx: With the diminished demand for new music and people not buying albums, how do you feel about your music being used on Multi Media such as YouTube? It must be frustrating as an artist? Especially in terms of live shows where you don’t have any say in what is posted.
Bruno Ravel: Sure it’s frustrating, frustrating as hell, and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure I’m not getting ripped off that bad, but the reality of the situation is that the train has left the station and it ain’t coming back. So I can either be a bitter old dude and complain all day, or accept it and move forward. I choose the latter…
Sleaze Roxx: Well put. Let’s get back to The Defiants’ album. How did the recording process go? You’re in New York City, Rob Marcello is in Sweden and Paul Laine is in British Columbia, Canada. And was this album put together mostly at Soundcheckers, which is your studio?
Bruno Ravel: Yeah, it was assembled, mixed and mastered at my studio except for the drums, which were tracked at this studio Live Wire in New Jersey. Paul cut his stuff in his studio, and Rob cut his guitars in a studio in Sweden. Then, it all came together here. The recording process was the most stress free, fun process I’ve ever had in the studio. Technology does have its advantages as Paul, Rob and I were never in the same room during the entire process. This helps because we all have other things going on — family, other interests — so we can all decide when is the best time to get stuff done.
Sleaze Roxx: Seems like a great way to work. Less expensive too. When it came to the guitar solos, did you have it in your mind what you wanted them to sound like or did Rob just do it and send them to you? “Lil Miss Rock N Roll” comes to mind especially. The solo fits the song perfectly.
Bruno Ravel: I love Rob’s playing. He’s probably the most naturally gifted guitarist I’ve ever worked with, and that’s saying a LOT. Having said that, he does need some direction to focus on the end goal. I didn’t want to micro manage his playing on this record as I’ve done in the past. I wanted him to love what was going on, to create it, and to be proud of it. So I gave him some loose parameters on some tracks and basically the bulk of it, is him. Did I tug on the leash a little? Of course I did. Any producer would, but we’ve worked with each other long enough now that he knows what to do, and what I’m gonna like. For “Lil Miss Rock N Roll”, we were going for a ’70s kinda solo and yes, he nailed it.
Sleaze Roxx: Perfect. I agree Rob is amazing. When it came to writing the songs, how did you and Paul go about the process? “That’s When I Stop Loving You” — how would a song like that come together?
Bruno Ravel: We both came up with song ideas and we agreed to check our egos. [We agreed] to only work on songs that we gravitated towards no matter how many cool ideas fell by the wayside. And there were more then a few! “That’s When I Stop Loving You” was a track that I had lying around and Paul instantly gravitated towards it, and wrote a beautiful melody for. At first, I wasn’t that keen on his idea but Paul was very excited about it so I lived with it and it began to grow on me. Now I love it.
Sleaze Roxx: Are there any definite plans to continue doing The Defiants? Another album? A live release maybe? Because the footage I’ve seen is great.
Bruno Ravel: Yes, we plan to continue! We will start throwing around ideas sometime early next year and take it from there. [I’m] not a fan of live releases, so on that, I’d vote no.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of The Defiants live, would there be any North American dates? I am pretty sure Canada is a long shot. Stateside seems more practical. The M3 Rock Festival comes to mind.
Bruno Ravel: We’re always up for live dates, but the days of me going out in a van and roughing it are long gone. If a promoter or individual contacted us with something that made sense, then of course, we’d love to play.
Sleaze Roxx: I’d like to ask a few questions regarding the past. You were once in the band Talas. How did it lead into what Danger Danger would become?
Bruno Ravel: When I was in Talas, we did a show at the famed L’Amour East in New York. As a joke, a fan came up to me before the show and handed me a t-shirt that said “Billy Who?” on it. I took the shirt and put it in my bag. After the set, I was in the dressing room soaked with sweat and had nothing to change into, so I put the “Billy Who” shirt on and put a jacket on over it so it wouldn’t show. A few fans and friends that came backstage peeked, saw it and we had a laugh. Well, somehow that got relayed to Billy Sheehan as “Hey! Did you hear? Bruno wore this shirt on stage, yada, yada” Which of course never happened. Billy got pissed and since he owned the name Talas, called his attorney and demanded that the band not use the name Talas, which in turn, caused us to lose our record deal. After all of that, the members of Talas started running for the hills. After a few member changes, the remains turned into what we all know as Danger Danger.
Sleaze Roxx: I was listening to Danger Danger’s ‘Rare Cuts’ recently. The demo track for “Temptation” — it’s a really great song. It was written by yourself and former Danger Danger guitarist Al Pitrelli. Y&T recorded it on their ‘Contagious’ album. The first Danger Danger album came out a couple years later. Were there ever plans to include it on that album or had it already run its course? Great answer on the Talas question by the way…
Bruno Ravel: Thanks Tyson! I’m not sure if there were any plans to include it or not. Remember, at that time, we were very full of ourselves, so there was a lot of jockeying, and politics going on to get one’s own songs placed. Looking back on it, I don’t think we wanted it to be on any Danger Danger record.
Sleaze Roxx: My last question, I swear… Speaking of unreleased tracks, are there any tracks that are sitting in the vault that just never made it, that you wanted, but others didn’t? And vice versa? Also, are there songs that were put on the albums that you cringe when you listen to today?
Bruno Ravel: If you are referring to Danger Danger, there are a few lying around, but if they weren’t good enough to make the cut then, the reasons are clear. They weren’t good enough. As far as cringe worthy? [Laughs] Sure, but not always for the obvious reasons. Off the top of my head? “Horny S.O.B.,” “Feels Like Love,” the original version of “Comin’ Home,” “I Still Think About You,” “One Step From Paradise”… There are more but I’ll stop there. As far as The Defiants, yes there are a bunch… and we’ll probably revisit some of them for record #2.
Sleaze Roxx: Bruno, thank you very much for the great insight. It was a pleasure. See you on the road somewhere in the future.
Bruno Ravel: Of course Tyson!