‘NON­STOP’ Af­ter near ex­ter­mi­na­tion, Ratt is back in the lab, com­ing to Easton’s OneCen­treSquare

The Morning Call - - GO GUIDE -

SEPT. 13, 2019

Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, rock band Ratt helped establish a Los Angeles mu­sic scene that be­came known as “hair metal” be­cause of the pur­vey­ors’ teased coif­fure and scream­ing gui­tars, count­ing groups such as Möt­ley Crüe among them.

In that era, Ratt pro­duced five gold and platinum al­bums and gold hits such as “Round and

Round” and “Lay It Down.” But the years have not been kind to that scene. “Hair metal” be­came al­most a deroga­tory term, bands stopped get­ting air­play, and even Crüe re­tired.

Ratt hasn’t had a hit in nearly 30 years. It has split and re­formed a cou­ple of times and even had an in­fes­ta­tion of com­pet­ing Ratt bands.

More re­cently, singer Stephen Pearcy, 63, had knee prob­lems that af­fected shows.

But it looks like Ratt again is, as its big­gest al­bum pro­claimed in 1984, “Out of the Cel­lar.”

Pearcy says he’s healthy and the re­u­nited band, which also in­cludes clas­sic-lineup bassist/ backup singer Juan Croucier, is work­ing on new ma­te­rial. And with 1980s mu­sic again in vogue, Pearcy thinks Ratt is back in the race.

The band plays at Easton’s OneCen­treSquare on Fri­day.

“We just keep kick­ing ass,” Pearcy says in a phone call from his Los Angeles home. “We’re do­ing re­ally well out there and I’m get­ting healthier and that’s all that mat­ters right now.”

Pearcy says he is writ­ing new mu­sic — for the first time in years with Croucier, and even with new gui­tarist Jor­dan Ziff.

The singer de­scribes the new mu­sic as some­thing be­tween the band’s 1983 self-ti­tled de­but EP and the triple-platinum “Out of the Cel­lar.”

“A lit­tle tougher, you know?” the singer says. “We had a ten­dency [at the band’s peak] to be too

RATT

melod­i­cal or some­thing. And we’re go­ing to prob­a­bly see even more straight-for­ward” mu­sic.

But he says that mu­sic won’t be part of the set at OneCen­treSquare.

“We’ve been re­hears­ing some other stuff that we’re go­ing to throw out there soon enough, but right now, we’re just kick­ing all the hits,” he says. “I mean, it’s non­stop — ‘Wanted Man,’ [‘I’m] In­sane,’ [‘You Think You’re] Tough,’

‘Slip of the Lip,’ ‘Round [and Round’] of course, ‘Back for More,’ ‘Lay It Down,’ ‘You’re in Love.’ Go­ing down the hits — any­thing that was a video — you know?”

That melodic sound is what made Ratt fa­mous. “Out of the Cel­lar” pro­duced three Top 40 hits: “Back for More” and “Wanted Man,” as well as the gold “Round and Round.”

Pearcy says the band had no idea how well that disc would con­nect when the band was mak­ing it.

“We knew we had good songs, and that’s all we knew,” he says. He says that when pro­ducer Beau Hill heard

“Round and Round” — the first song the band recorded for “Out of the Cel­lar” — it “re­ally wasn’t all to­gether yet — we were do­ing it live, but it re­ally didn’t sound like it.

“We hap­pened to just hit on all cylin­ders. We had good songs, we were a good live band. You know, we’d go up against any­body. We had no com­pe­ti­tion — our com­pe­ti­tion was our­selves. We didn’t go up against Mot­ley or any­body back in the day.

“It was like, ‘Hey, we’re on our own; we’re do­ing our own thing.’ You know, we want to be pi­rates [a ref­er­ence to the band’s ap­pear­ance] — we don’t want to be heavy metal peo­ple,” he says with a laugh. “And in every which way, it turned out good. But the mu­sic? It just came to­gether, you know? That’s all I can say.”

Ratt fol­lowed the de­but disc with three more platinum al­bums (its sopho­more disc, “In­va­sion of Your Pri­vacy,” went dou­ble-platinum and had the gold “Lay It Down”). An ac­com­pa­ny­ing home video, “Ratt: The Video,” be­cause the first to sell gold in the United States and even­tu­ally sold platinum.

But as hair metal fell out of fa­vor, the band’s for­tunes waned. Af­ter its 1990 al­bum “De­t­o­na­tor” went only gold, the band re­leased only one more al­bum in the next 20 years.

Pearcy left the group in 1992 and formed a series of far less suc­cess­ful bands. Ratt, with­out gui­tarist Rob­bin Crosby (who later died of a drug over­dose) and Croucier, re­u­nited in 1997 and in 1999 re­leased an al­bum, “Ratt,” that had more of a tra­di­tional blues­rock ap­proach and barely broke Bill­board’s Top 200.

Pearcy again left in 2000, and toured with a new band as “Ratt fea­tur­ing Stephen Pearcy” be­fore a court ruled he could not use the name. Then in 2007, the band again re­u­nited, and in 2010 re­leased its fi­nal disc, “In­fes­ta­tion,” which broke the Top 30.

But the band split yet again and had two tour­ing ver­sions — one led by clas­sic lineup drum­mer Bobby Blotzer, and the other by Pearcy and Croucier — be­fore a court ruled the name be­longed to the lat­ter.

“That’s way over,” Pearcy says of the bat­tle for the band’s name. “We hands down just took care of that. And it was ter­ri­ble, be­cause he brought the in­tegrity down of our group so bad. … I don’t know where he thought there was any sub­stance there, but you now, it’s over and done and we move on.”

Join­ing Pearcy and Croucier in the new Ratt lineup are gui­tarists Ziff and Chris San­der, and former Black ‘N Blue drum­mer Pete Holmes (“He’s just thun­der­ous,” Pearcy says. “Crazy. So we’re happy with the lineup right now.”)

Ratt re­sumed tour­ing in 2018, but was de­railed by knee prob­lems that left Pearcy un­able to move well, or even stand, on stage, and saw him some­times over­com­ing pain with too much al­co­hol.

“My one knee was to­tally blown out and I couldn’t deal with it,” he says. “That got all bet­ter a year-and-a-half ago, and then my left knee blew out, which hap­pens. And I was in so much pain out there, and I just got a lit­tle too tweaked one night or two nights.

“And then I went, ‘I’m go­ing in to get this done. I can’t be out here beat­ing my­self up and hav­ing sh-tty shows.’ And what all I had to do, I’m gonna need knee surgery. But it’s so dif­fi­cult. Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand.”

Pearcy says he’s still is not 100 per­cent. The band is play­ing just once a week un­til he’s en­tirely healed.

“I just have to be very care­ful and

that’s it,” he says. But that hasn’t stopped the band from work­ing on new mu­sic.

“We still do what we do,” he says.

“It’s just that nowa­days, it’s a mat­ter of how to get it done faster — just get it done prop­erly. You know, and not re­ally waste a year. It would be great if we could get a record out there, and get a few songs and an al­bum, and take it from there.”

Pearcy re­leased six solo discs, the lat­est of which was last year’s “View to a Thrill.”

“We weren’t pre­pared to go in and do Ratt mu­sic” at that time, Pearcy says. “I mean, any­thing I write can be con­strued as Ratt mu­sic. It’s just the way it is — the way I write.” He says his solo band gui­tarist, Eric Fer­enti­nos, “gives me a full ton of mu­sic. Then it be­comes a whole dif­fer­ent game for me. Any­thing goes — key­boards; heavy, heavy metal stuff; and then some other things. ‘View to a Thrill’ is prob­a­bly the best solo record I’ve done.”

The same is true of the songs for the new disc, he says.

“But it’s go­ing to be as Ratt as pos­si­ble,” he says with a laugh. “You don’t for­get the schematic of Ratt mu­sic.”

Plus, Pearcy’s voice still is iden­ti­fi­able as it was in the 1980s. But asked how he has kept his voice in tact af­ter these years, he laugh­ingly says, “by abus­ing it.”

“I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s just a sound — I just have a cer­tain sound,” he says. “I don’t do ex­er­cises, I don’t, you know [sings scales]. I pretty much just have a cig­a­rette, cof­fee. I mean, the best ther­apy for me to get my voice ready is to laugh, to talk. You know, that’s my vo­cal ex­er­cise.

“You know, you clean up a bit and you fig­ure out how you’re ac­tu­ally do­ing things 35 years later, you know? So that’s im­por­tant, too.”

Morn­ing Call Le­high Val­ley Mu­sic re­porter and colum­nist John J. Moser can be reached at 610-820-6722 or [email protected]

TKO CO.

Stephen Pearcy, lead singer of Ratt.

GETTY

The band Ratt, shown here in the 1980s, plays Easton’s OneCen­treSquare on Fri­day.

JOE SCHAEFFER

Ratt, with singer Stephen Pearcy (cen­ter), will play Easton’s OneCen­treSquare on Fri­day.

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