Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy, “It’s A Dangerous Occupation”


May 8, 2008

Welcome to the year of the rat. Yep, the year in which we live, 2008, will go down as the year of the rat.

But hold the traps.

This also happens to be the 25th anniversary of rock band Ratt’s first release. The million-selling hair metal band’s lead singer, Stephen Pearcy, will appear at the Crowbar in Johnson City on May 13.

No Ratt, no rats. However, fans can look to hear plenty of Ratt’s hits, said Ken Howell, Pearcy’s publicist.

“Ratt’s songs are about 99 percent of Stephen’s show,” Howell said. “But I’ll tell you, I think his new songs are better.”

Ratt formed in Los Angeles in 1983 amid heavy metal rock’s so-called hair band era. The group came of age parallel with such rock heavies as Motley Crue and Twisted Sister. Led by Pearcy, Ratt struck stardom aboard breakthrough single “Round and Round.”

Catchy, loud, raucous – and life-changing.

“We lived in Ratt mansion west, a one-bedroom apartment before, and then we had our own homes, Porsches and all,” Pearcy said recently by phone from on the road in Ohio. “It was more of everything.”

Big time. When Ratt struck gold on the big time train, they rode with might. As with most metals bands of the day, the group compounded strong record sales with non-stop touring.

“We did good work,” Pearcy said. “But man we toured, did a record, toured, did another record, toured and so on. It was a grind.”

And you can bet your Motley Crue records that Ratt bellied up to the whole sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle. Million-selling albums and sold-out shows came attached to opportunities to live as wild as imaginations can imagine.

Ratt dove right in.

“Oh, 200 percent,” Pearcy said. “When we started, it was for a good time and being creative. It used to open doors. It depends on which door you go through – sex, drugs, rock and roll – but we went through them all.”

Ratt paid a tragic price. Though on hiatus, the band yet exists and will tour later this year. Pearcy lives and lives well. But Robbin Crosby, whose slashing guitar lines helped establish Ratt’s sound, died in 2002 at age 41, reportedly of a heroin overdose.

“We lost Robbin to that sort of excess, and that made some of us give up that [stuff],” Pearcy said. “It’s a dangerous occupation.”

Folks from the era are still paying a price for excess. Late last year, Kevin Dubrow, lead singer of 1980s metal band Quiet Riot, died as a result of a cocaine overdose. Pearcy did not and does not wish to join either Crosby or Dubrow.

“I was functioning … I functioned no matter what, but when Robbin went down I changed,” Pearcy said. “It used to be about [girls], parties and paychecks. Now, it’s about the paycheck.”

It’s also about longevity. Since founding his own record label, Top Fuel Records in 1995, the iron-lunged Pearcy has worked on building a foundation for the day when he has to hang up his microphone.

But no rocker knows when it’s time to quit.

“I’ve wondered that. We’ll find out,” Pearcy said. “That’s why I started the label thing in ’95. I wanted to make my own destiny after the fact. We’ll see what goes around and around.”

Courtesy of www.wjbf.com