Stevie Rachelle recalls what led bassist Todd “Ira Tated” Chase to leave Tuff at the end of 1991
Tuff lead vocalist Stevie Rachelle recently released the 16th instalment of his Tuff Diaries via Metal Sludge, which includes touring with Lita Ford, having to open for Sweet F.A. and bassist Todd Chase‘s exit from the band in early 1992. With respect to the latter’s exit from Tuff in early 1992, the ironic thing is that the bassist has been back in the band line-up since 2008.
The following is an excerpt (with slight edits) from the 16th instalment of the Tuff Diaries from the Metal Sludge website with Rachelle‘s views on how Chase had a problem with him. The stage is set in late fall 1991 with Tuff‘s classic line-up of Rachelle, Chase, guitarist Jorge DeSaint and drummer Michael Lean.
“So Many Seasons video draft
During the late fall while on tour there was a point when Atlantic Records was considering another single.
I don’t recall how it happened, or who decided, but it became clear the label’s idea for the next single / video was going to be for the song “So Many Seasons”.
Right out of the gate, this did NOT sit well with Todd.
I feel he reacted this way for a few reasons.
First off, it was another acoustic pop song and he wanted to show our heavier side.
After all, Atlantic kind of half-assed the original plan to release “All New Generation” first, but jumped on the ballad after it was getting some radio play.
So going right into another acoustic styled single had all of us a little annoyed.
The second reason, was because it was one of my songs.
I for the most part, wrote most of the lyrics and general melody ideas for Tuff, but in the way of music, I only contributed on 2 songs.
“I Hate Kissing You Goodbye” and “So Many Seasons”, which Todd seemed to be having the; “This is NOT the Stevie Rachelle band!” opinion again.
Truth be told, Todd was always the band’s musical leader more than anyone.
And even if Jorge brought in the riffs or basic idea for “Good Guys Wear Black”, “All New Generation” or “Ruck A Pit Bridge”, it was Todd who pretty much arranged all of our songs.
Including the two tunes I brought to the table.
Todd was the more sophisticated player for sure, and that is what you hear in songs like “Lonely Lucy”, “Spit Like This” and “Ain’t Worth A Dime”.
Atlantic had also communicated to Cindy Keefer who had directed the “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye” video.
At some point, we were forwarded a rough story-board of what the video may look like.
It went something like this…
Scene: Stevie singing in an area with trees, and leaves falling down.
Scene: Jorge playing guitar in a field, with snow on the ground.
Scene. Band plays with Stevie in the rain.
Scene: Jorge plays acoustic while Stevie walks down country road.
Scene: Stevie walks by a lake, band shot with sun setting in the distance.
And so on….
Todd saw this and was furious.
“Why is it Stevie does this and Stevie doing that, we’re a band. This isn’t the Stevie Rachelle project” was the just of Todd’s argument.
This had happened previously with Todd on numerous occasions.
After we were sent the first edits of “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye”, everyone was elated.
Except for Todd.
Todd was mad as hell, and went to great lengths to argue his point.
He took his VCR, and every time someone was in a scene in the video, Todd would tally a mark.
After freeze-framing the entire video, his final counts were in.
These were not the exact numbers, but it was something like…
Stevie is in 53 scenes, Jorge is in 36 scenes, Michael is in 22 scenes, the actor with long hair was in 19 scenes, and Todd was in 16 scenes.
Todd was especially pissed that some guy who was playing the girl’s love interest, had more shots in our video than he did.
This was a big deal, and Todd argued to everyone including our manager.
Over the course of 1991, Todd also brought it up to management, to contact magazines, like Metal Edge and Hit Parader about sharing pin-up coverage.
Todd’s argument was: “Stevie is always the pin-up, give someone else a chance.”
Of course, everyone thought this was stupid, and even Jorge and Michael were like: “Dude, he’s our fucking singer, representing our band for Christ’s sake!”
But Todd was beyond stubborn and would call our manager and demand something be done.
We even gave him examples: “Do you think Michael Anthony made this complaint in Van Halen? Or Rob Affuso does this in Skid Row?”
However it all fell on deaf ears…he wasn’t having it.
Even with the professional photographers like Hames, Zlozower, LaFerman and Weiss, they would shoot 10 rolls of the band.
Then they’d say: “Okay guys, let’s do some solo shots.”
Usually they would shoot a roll of each of the guys, and then when it came to me, (and my guess is most singers) they would take 3-4 or 5 rolls.
Todd would ask why, and complain.
Now we’re onto a possible 3rd video for Atlantic, and the rough draft has him pissed once again.
Of course we never got to do this video with an Atlantic Records budget, but this was the general temperature of Todd versus Stevie in the band.
It was becoming very noticeable to all, that Todd had an issue Stevie.”
You can get all of the details and timelines from the 16th instalment of the Tuff Diaries from the Metal Sludge website but Sleaze Roxx will jump ahead to the moment where Tuff have one show left on their tour with Lita Ford in November and December 1991 where Ford ended up leaving mid-way through given that she was sick.
“There was only one show to go on that tour as well.
Okay, so we play Denver, and it’s now Friday (day-time) December 6th and we’re in the van.
We’re meaning… me, Michael, Todd, Jorge and our tour manager Richie.
Richie is driving and we’re headed to Salt Lake City in Utah.
Tonight, we are going to play at a club called “Rafter’s”.
Today is another long drive, 521 miles…and give or take…that’s another 10 hours.
But two days ago, we drove 541 miles (Omaha to Denver) on an off-day.
Today, is not an off-day, as we have a gig tonight.
Matter of fact, we have sound-check at 5:00PM.
Which thinking back, that means we were up, and in the van, by like 7:00AM.
After playing last night (Denver) and going to bed, at what, 3:00AM?
So, everyone, band and crew, are going on fumes.
In the last three days, we have driven over 1,000 miles.
Our road-crew (Dennis, Todd, Jamie & George) are in the Ryder Truck and would usually leave a few hours ahead of us, to ensure arriving on time to load-in and set up.
The band, and our road manager are in our van.
So, we’re driving on Interstate 80 West and I decide to confront Jorge.
You see our merchandise guy (also named George) had a birthday the other day, and Jorge offered him some cocaine to celebrate.
George was a good Canadian kid, who didn’t party at all.
But Jorge and some of the guys were teasing him, and made the lines of coke into a G.
You are reading that correctly, they literally made the letter G, out of cocaine on a mirror.
Then they held up the plate, with the G made of cocaine and were like: “C’mon dude, try it.”
And truth is, I know Jorge was mostly kidding.
Even if George wanted to, Jorge would have likely backed off the offer, especially after realizing another nose would be snorting his coke.
Either way, they taunted him and it embarrassed him.
I asked Jorge why he did this, and told him it was lame, and to not do it again.
Jorge was always very irritated, more so, or as equally as Todd was.
Remember, Todd’s alias in the tour book is “Ira Tated”
So I am busting Jorge’s balls on this cocaine incident and the discussion gets heated.
It pretty much turned into an argument.
Richie our tour manger is driving, Michael is riding shotgun.
I am in the first row behind the front driver/passenger seats.
Jorge is directly behind me, and Todd is in the next row behind Jorge.
I am essentially berating Jorge, and he was half-asleep as was Todd.
The last thing either of them wanted to hear, for hours on end, was me bitching.
But, I was relentless and didn’t let up.
This was both a good and a horrible trait of mine.
If I put my mind to something, it’s on… that goes for most anything.
So in a quick review, we’re in the middle of a 500+ mile drive, after two days earlier, we did the same.
No one has had more than three hours of sleep and nerves are frayed.
Adding, we’ve done 25 shows in a little over a month, with a 2 week break after losing all of gear and doing almost 50 shows the previous two months.
We had been in each other’s faces for over four years, and in the last 18 months it was literally daily.
Remember, pretty much everyone moved out of the band apartment in the previous few years, as we were all needing a break from each other anyway.
Or maybe, they just needed a break from me.
Oh well, leave it up to me, to pick this exact time to have a band meeting / argument.
I am riding Jorge about his actions, and at some point Jorge made some snide remark that I didn’t like.
I snapped, and whipped around, grabbed his leather jacket collar and pulled him towards me.
Before I could finish my vicious verbal spew into Jorge’s smoke-breath face, Todd grabbed my arm.
Chase was basically grabbing my arm to keep me away from Jorge.
Now I turn my anger and attention towards Todd, “Take your hand off my arm or I will ….”
As my teeth are gritting tighter and my death stare is looking right through him.
By this point, all in a matter of 5 seconds, it’s me, Jorge and Todd all in scuffle.
Richie behind the wheel going 70 mph, turns around: “Rachelle, knock it off!”
Now the van is swerving and there are 3 of us in a half-assed fight, Richie is driving but trying to intervene.
Who knows what Michael was thinking, but no doubt he wasn’t happy.
As quick as it started, it ended.
No punches thrown, but some intense grabbing, shoving and threatening.
It was only words.
But harsh words, and I will admit some very angry words.
Threats of bodily harm that poured out of my mouth like a well-rehearsed stage rap.
Mind you, this was going into our 5th year together as a band.
And, we had never really fought.
There was never a real punch, or kick, or choke hold or on top of the other scenario.
At least not between us four.
I did man-handle a few shit-talkers in the clubs over the years, and even a roadie caught my wrath.
But with the band, that didn’t happen.
We finished the full day’s drive and arrived at “Rafter’s” in Salt Lake City.
Sound-check as usual, and then the club fed us.
Michael, Todd and Jorge sat at a table together.
I sat by myself.
Everyone was mad at me, and I knew it.
I was absolutely in the wrong.
Not for bitching about the cocaine incident, but the way I handled it.
Bringing it up on a 500+ mile drive between gigs, was not needed.
Pushing Jorge to breaking point, which then made me break as well, was not necessary.
And regardless of no real violence, I was intimidating.
I had been in fights before, with other guys in clubs, and hurt them pretty bad.
So, Todd had a genuine concern that my rage might lead to doing this to the band.
Which I never did, but it was my words, I assume, that put a fear into his mind.
Going back some years, I did have a pretty gnarly physical fight with Todd’s brother, Kenny Chaisson of Keel.
That didn’t end well for Kenny, as he ended up going to the hospital, not me.
Either way, the band was pissed at me and we played the final show of the tour.
The following day, Saturday December 7th 1991, we drove the 700 miles home to Los Angeles.
It had been a long year, a good year, and a great year but sadly, it ended pretty badly.
Do I take all the blame for the way this tour, or year ended – no I don’t.
But I will take some of it.
The way 1991 ended, was a buildup of everything that came before it.
We all played a part in what happened, the good, the bad and the ugly.
We had so many highs in 1991, and some really bad lows too.
Similarly, we had the same in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990.
It was mid-December and Michael suggested everyone just relax.
Spend time with our girlfriends, our family and friends for the holidays.
Exactly one year earlier, on December 27th 1990, we loaded into the studio to begin recording our debut album for Atlantic Records.
Since that day, we released “What Comes Around Goes Around”, had a #3 video on MTV and had been played on the radio all over the nation.
We also appeared in hundreds of magazines, played upwards of 100 shows and had our way with more girls than we all could remember.
Now that year has passed us by, and our future is questionable.
The plan was to get together after the New Year.
Todd vs: Stevie, final round
Over the next few weeks, Jorge and I talked on the phone, and all was well.
Michael and I had talked and he was okay with everything too.
Todd however, well I didn’t talk to Todd, but the word was – he wasn’t budging.
He was still pissed and it didn’t matter how anyone else felt.
The funny thing is, the argument / fight was between Jorge and I.
Todd wasn’t really part of it, until he grabbed my arm to try and defuse the situation.
At which point I explained in detail what his demise would be if he didn’t let go.
Who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s a bully or a jerk, well… that’s all subjective.
Jorge, Michael and I were all moving forward like any other day.
Whatever had presented itself good or bad from 1991 – we put it in the rear-view mirror.
But Todd wasn’t buying in this time.
Todd then started a little in-house campaign to fire me from the band.
He offered up ideas as to who could replace me, and suggested Shawn Crosby from Jones Street should sing for Tuff.
Todd told our manager Brian Kushner, to tell Atlantic Records, “We’re replacing Stevie.”
Pretty much everyone involved told Todd in a nice way, “You’re fucking crazy. That’s not going to happen.”
When it became clear that Todd’s idea to kick me out wasn’t going anywhere, he gave Michael and Jorge an ultimatum: “Either we fire Stevie or I will quit.”
Both Michael and Jorge said: “We’re not firing Stevie, but we don’t want you to quit either.”
They (Michael, Jorge and Brian) had spent several weeks talking to Todd and trying to explain why this wasn’t going to work.
In the end, there was no changing Todd’s mind, and he quit the band.
Todd started this band with Jorge by most accounts, on New Year’s Eve of 1984.
From some random garage in Phoenix to this point, Todd had given seven years to Tuff.
But he was done, and wanted no part of it going forward.
Todd was also the one in the band who had taken to heavier music in a big way.
As the last few years unfolded, Todd’s favorite band became Pantera and he listened to mostly heavier stuff.
He also was the first to think our look, hair style, or most of the related was gay or lame.
There is no doubt we looked a bit goofy in the beginning, but we like most bands, had graduated past the full-on glam look, sound and presentation.
We weren’t Metallica but we were not the same band in late 1991 that we were in 1987 or 1988 either.
I think most bands went through a phase in the late 80’s or early 90’s, where they got harder, darker, dirtier and dropped the glossy stuff.
The days of spandex, bleach, glitter and bedazzled jackets were long gone.
But Tuff for the most part, was not ready to shave our heads, wear dreadlocks or dress like the road crew.
While Tuff was mostly on the same path as a lot of bands, it didn’t matter, Todd officially left the group.
Stay tuned as we turn the calendar to 1992.
What happens with Atlantic Records?
Who will be the replacement bassist?”