ADPR Interviews

RUDY SARZO by Stacy Perry

Rudy Sarzo is a Bass player that has been in quite a few very high profile Bands over the years. He is very well known for playing alongside Kevin DuBrow in Quiet Riot, let alone being a part of Whitesnake,Monster Circus, B.O.C. and DIO, he had also worked with Ozzy Osbourne’s band where he played with the late, great Randy Rhoads.His resume also includes such bands as; Manic Eden, M.A.R.S., With Alice Cooper [he played Bass on the tune “Got A Line On you” off of the Iron Eagle soundtrack], Dudes of Wrath, The Thunderbolt [which was an AC/DC Tribute Band], he worked with Sam Kinison on the songs “Wild Thing” & “Under My Thumb” as well as being in the Alice Cooper Tribute Band “Humanary Stew”, plus doing a Tribute to Aerosmithhis interview is my pleasure to do and I hope you’re enjoying your morning thus far.

First I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me due to your hectic schedule.Over the past 20 years of your professional career, has there been any one particular Artist that you have ended up working with, that has stood out as a true musical influence to you within your childhood days that actually gave you the drive to become a musician??

After playing with Ozzy, Whitesnake and Quiet Riot Rudy thought he was at the best with what he could do until he met and began to play with Ronny James Dio. Dio to Rudy WAS and STILL IS “The Man On The Silver Mountain” to me. I had heard that song as it came through the radio and 35 years later he was playing with him.
Ronny had taught Rudy that there was Magic within everything. Music was the
magic whether it was when recording it, playing it live or just sitting and
jamming with one another as “capturing the magic” was the most important thing.Ronny was and is still his Sage, friend and shall be forever known as “The Man On The Silver Mountain”. Rudy learned a lot from Dio and for this he is grateful as Ronny James Dio not only played “music”, but he told stories within the music.Nothing he did was “just a song”.

At what age did you settle on a particular instrument to play and what drove you to choose the Bass Guitar as that staple??

Rudy first played Bass when he was in his mid teens as he went from playing Lead Guitar to the Bass guitar. He would solo without Chords on the guitar, but then [and now a day’s] plays the chords. A few musician’s that Rudy looked up to were Paul McCartney, Greg Lake and John Paul Jones.When Rudy Sarzo  would play with Ozzy on the song “Suicide Solution” he had given the tune a ‘Funk/Blues’ feel and you can hear a bit of that on the live recordings.
“I didn’t want to play ‘Just Chords’, so I gave it that Funk feel a little bit”

*A bit of laughter from both of us*

When Mr. Sarzo played down in Florida for a bit, he played R & B and had a diverse set of tools and used them as well as applying them to what he did and
still does.

How many years after practicing did you feel you were ready to offer yourself up to the music world as a Bassist and how did you end up falling into Quiet Riot as well as Ozzy Osbourne’s Band??

“I auditioned for Quiet Riot in 1977/1978 and then worked with Randy Rhoads in that band. After Randy left and went on to join Ozzy Osbourne, there came a time when a Bass player was needed and Randy had suggested me. That is when I joined Ozzy. I played on Tribute and Speak of the Devil.”It was in fact Randy’s recommendation that Rudy join Ozzy’s band and that is how he had come into the fold.

Is there a particular Genre of music that you prefer playing, as I know you’ve played with Yngwie Malmsteen, Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot and Blue Oyster Cult, just to name a few [which each have their own sounds to them]??

Diversity is what keeps him going. Rudy enjoys original music as it could take you in any direction and when it came to playing with B.O.C. [Blue Oyster Cult], there were actually Journalists that would have input on the lyrics to make them more realistic within life. This is what Mr. Sarzo considers to be good music.

There are a couple of questions thrown in from a fan and admirer of your work: Part 1 would be " Two of your “Quiet Riot” band mates, Carlos Cavazo being one of them, is now playing alongside Warren DeMartini in Ratt; have there been any talks of you playing with them as well??

“Years ago in the mid 1990’s we did speak about working together, but nothing ever occurred.”

The second question that they would like to have answered is: Back in the 1980’s it was much easier to be heard by the industry and to get signed, Other than Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians/bands??

“Stay in your own town as coming out to L.A. isn’t worth the trip.”

*Small laugh*

“The way to do things now a days is online. The more hits you have on a page for your band, the more networking you do….this is how people come to you. They will find you.”

I would like to head back to the “Bass” talk due to you having your own line of Peavey Cirrus Basses. I noticed that they come in 4, 5 and 6 string. Which do you prefer to play [or is it depending on the Artist you are playing with at the time due to the separate songs]??

Which Bass [string wise] Rudy likes to play is dependent on what type of music he is playing. An example would be playing a 4 String for Rock and Roll music, but a 5 String when he was playing with Whitesnake. When it comes to the 6 string, he will record with one, but not use one live.

When I was watching VH1’s Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, I was automatically drawn in due to the way you handle helping out the members that you had chosen to create your ‘Band’. What advice do you give to the Campers when they are having trouble with concentrating on their instruments [or singing]??

Rudy had asked me if I sang in the shower. I answered “yes”. He said that basically that is what you need to do when you sing in front of people. Whether you are playing guitar or singing [as the guitar strings would be your vocal chords],you need to be relaxed and not focused on everyone around you.

“Just pretend you are in the shower, alone, and as you are relaxed with singing to yourself, you will be expressing yourself. Enjoy what you are doing and there will be no stress".It helps to do this or just like a guitar string your vocal chords would ‘break’ if you try too hard. This is how some of the ‘campers’ were doing things, they would try too hard and lose their voice or get nervous and play too hard. When Rudy’s ‘Band’ was playing ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’, they were hiding behind the sound, but when they went unplugged, they were able to give the song a new twist and make it their own. That is what music should be about….”The magic and making a song your own”.

The last question I have for you today is What brought you into teaching at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp??

“I would teach at Randy Rhoads mother’s school in L.A. and I firmly believe in the statement of THOSE WHO CARE, SHARE.”

*A laugh prior to this statement below*

“If the guy who figured out how to create fire would of never told anyone, then….well…..”

Rudy enjoys teaching and always has, just as Randy Rhoads used to teach also.

“Music isn’t competitive. It’s a marathon in which you pass on the baton to others so they can take it even further.”

Rudy is to this day a fan of music within different genres as well as enjoys hearing Artists that still inspire him and continues to make him a better Bass player.

I would like to thank you, once more, for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with me today and if there is anything else you would like your fans to know about upcoming events or some advice to give to the Artists out there??

“Bring out your inner rock star and reach it to unleash it as well as being your personal best 24/7….THAT is what a true Rock Star is.”

You can watch VH1’s Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp [beginning on Friday, November 5, 2010] from the first episode on VH2 beginning at MIDNIGHT.

© 11-4- 2010 Stacy Perry

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Steve Ratchen Interviewed by Jude Misura from ADPR 1-26-2011

 

With amazing melodic sounds, Alchemy X has been around since the late 1990’s and Steve Ratchen is the man who has been a part of it since the beginning. Jude, from ADPR had the pleasure to sit down and have an internet interview with this close, personal friend of his which is in the band as well as other projects that Mr. Ratchen is working on.

JM: I would first like to start out this interview with inquiring about the gear you like to use as well as what you play threw?

SR:First of all Jude, let me take this opportunity to thank Stacy, yourself and ADPR for the opportunity to talk to you today and bring some needed publicity to the various bands/projects I'm involved in, it's greatly appreciated!What I have been using; Re heads, I've also been using the Hartke 3500 series since the late 90's, generally through 2 Hartke VX410 cabs, though when I need that little extra push, ala Spinal Tap, I do have 2 additional VX410's!Why should I hoard my tinnitus?

 *Some short laughs* 


JM: Do you Endorse Conklin basses?

 SR: Yes, since 1999 I have been using a Groove Tools 7-string Sidewinder. Since then Bill Conklin and Mike Apperson over at Conklin Guitars have just finished building my signature model, which is a 14 string (7 string but octave on 5 strings, and doubled on the high C & F) called, aptly enough, the SR-14.  These guys are quite simply the finest luthiers in the business and make some of the most aesthetically beautiful yet functional instruments you'll find anywhere.You can check them out, as well as my artist profile here at:

 http://www.conklinguitars.com/artists_steve_ratchen.html


JM: What led you to a 7 string bass? You have a pretty unorthodox style in vein ala Guitarist Albert King as you play a right handed bass lefty. How has that helped develop you style? What Pickups do you use?

 SR: Well, this all germinates with left-handed guitars and basses being ridiculously expensive when i was a teenager just starting to teach myself, so out of practicality I had to learn on right-handed instruments, and by the time I could readily afford a left-handed bass, I was far too comfortable playing right-handed basses upside down!The Conklins are outfitted with Bartolini pick-ups, which have worked wonderfully for me these last dozen or so years! Stylistically, it almost certain that it had a huge impact on me as a writer quite simply, there are runs, notes, physical places on the instrument that are easier for me to reach or are more intuitive because of my truncated way of playing, and I suppose this melds perfectly with my penchant for writing impossible time signatures!

JM: You have been/are a member of some pretty well known bands in the NJ music scene. Can you give a detailed background on each project?

SR: Sure. Since 1996, I've been the principle song writer, bassist and keyboardist for prog metal band Alchemy X, that's probably the band I'm most well known for. For years we rather chafed at being critically compared to Dream Theater, but I still see us as being closer to bands like A Perfect Circle, Defyance, the Tea Party, etc.. It was and is an incredible compliment.  I've always liked to think of us as the quintessential "thinking person's" prog-metal band, but I think we reached a cross-roads somewhere between the first and second album where we became less interested in showing off our technical prowess and more interested in telling compelling stories.In any event, the "new" AX album, (and I say that because it's been 90% completed for a few years now) incorporates a lot of those elements from "A Delicate Balance" and "11:59:59" but I think is another progression for us artistically, at least I hope it is!  I know people are getting a bit impatient for its release, and so are we, believe me! You can keep up with all things AX related either at www.myspace.com/alchemyx or the brand new (will hopefully be up and running by the time people read this) www.alchemy-x.net ,But we're all involved in so many things, which brings me to The Wizards of Winter. When I moved to Hunterdon County in Western NJ a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to become very close friends with Scott and Sharon Kelly, they'd both played with progressive band Contrarian and had long wanted to put together a Christmas/Classical ensemble, much in the TSO style, and I was instantly excited at the prospect. We put the Wizards together, and just completed our first tour and the experience was nothing short of incredible!  To play in a 12 person group, with so many multi-talented people was quite an epiphany for me personally, the attention to detail, the snow/fog/haze machines, the formal dress while running around the stage like Iron Maiden as well as the terrific response from our audiences, it was so much hard work but so very rewarding!Working with a veritable who's-who was a blast as well! My friend of 20+ years (and former drummer for Metal bands like Sneak Attack and Dog Eat Dog) Mark Mari joined us, as did former prog-metal guitarist Mike Hollis (Cyrcle IX) and vocalist Michael Clayton Moore (Contrarian and countless other projects, the man is an absolutely phenomenal singer and front man), but the two things that make this project extremely important to me are the very close friendships I've developed with so many of the people in this band as they've really become like extended family to me.That and the fact the Wizards donate proceeds from every performance to charitable causes and endeavors, we were able to bring tangible help to food pantries, children's hospitals and homeless shelters this past season as (and that's really what it's all about) Scott, Mike and I have begun writing an opera for the Wizards which we hope to have ready to perform (along with TSO standards) this coming season. For more info/pics/videos, please check out the band at www.thewizardsofwinter.com Finally, I was quite honored to join the NJ speed/thrash metal band Division 1.1 just a few weeks ago as their vocalist, Rob Middleton contacted me and after hearing their material, I was quite engaged and interested, in many ways the songs on their soon to be released record really reminded me of Vyndykator (a speed/thrash metal band I played with and released the "Heaven Sent from Hell" album with several years ago for any of your readers who might remember, this band featured Bob Mitchell on vocals and my old friend Rob Oriani (RIP) on guitar). Stylistically, we're talking Overkill meets Anthrax with perhaps some Pantera which makes it very aggressive, yet precision metal, certainly something old-school "classic/true" metal fans should appreciate!  Rob's vocals are even a little reminiscent of Bob Mitchell/Graham Bonnet/Udo/Bobby Blitz. In any event, they'd been auditioning replacements for their original bassist for quite some time, and again, I was quite humbled that they asked me to fill that vacancy. They are just a terrific bunch of guys who are as gracious and down-to-earth as they are talented, they've really gone out of their way to make me feel at home and we're preparing for a string of shows to support this soon-to-be-released material! Finally, you can keep up with this great new (well, new to me!) band by checking out www.division1point1.com

JM: To me you have a Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) & Michael Anthony (Van Halen/Chickenfoot) kind of feel, allowing yourself to lay down the groove and step into the spotlight from time to time. Who are your influences and Who pushes you in your songwriting?

SR: Thanks Jude, that's a very nice compliment!  Harris has been an influence for a long time, both in terms of songwriting and stage persona, but I'd probably be remiss if I didn't list Geddy Lee as my overriding influence as a player/writer. I realize, because of my playing style, and obvious oddities (the Conklin, which is the 14 string Bass that I have endorsed as the SR-14 is physically huge and weighs about 35 lbs) I'm probably always going to be a focal point on stage, that and of course the fact that I tend to play the instrument as a lead instrument (ala John Entwistle or Les Claypool) rather than a support one, but the Michael Anthony point is well taken, there's a very fine line between playing melodic counterpoint or echoing guitar riffs and destroying the integrity of the song, so I do try to have my fun (and really, I couldn't play the instrument in the background so to speak, it's just not in me *small laugh*) but maintain some kind of solid rhythm with the percussion, (even if it is a Geddy & Neil Peart type of thing going on!) as the older I've gotten, the more I think I've matured as a writer and player where being able to "build" the song, so to speak, is quite a bit more satisfying that shamelessly soloing over every measure!
Just for our own edification, we actually tried to write material with the focus being commercial but I don't have to tell you the results were disastrous! I think that little experiment lasted about 10 minutes.

M: well that's not really who you guys are

SR: No, I’d say that's an understatement! *Small Laugh*,
we probably wouldn’t know what to do if mainstream audiences liked us!

JM: If you would dumb it down (the music) for the sake of sales it wouldn’t be right in my opinion.

SR: No, and as I mentioned, even if we got tempted to sell out, it's just not in our DNA!

JM: A lot of the music is like a strand of DNA....very complex.

SR: Very well put and so much thought and care does go into it, but I’ve got to tell you, it's the same way for D1.1 and the Wizards. Scott, Mike Hollis (formerly of prog metal band Cyrcle IX) and I have begun writing an opera for this coming season’s Wizards tour and of course, it'll probably end up sounding more
like Helloween than anything TSO has ever released!

JM: Looking forward with as busy musically as you are. What do you have on the horizon? New AX....Wizards tour 2011....new release from Division 1.1?

SR: All of the above!

JM: Nice. What about for those people that do NOT know TSO is pretty much Savatage?

 
SR: We’re all big Savatage fans as we did Hall of the Mountain King, Believe and Gutter Ballet at several shows this past season.


JM: Nice. I saw Wizards, I believe a few shows in the tour, and I was in awe at the technical ability and the tightness as a unit.

SR: Thanks Jude, that's right, which was before you moved to Ohio. We were still working out the kinks at that point, but since then we added a decent amount of stuff.

 
JM: Amazing stuff man

SR: Like Beethoven and Mozart stuff that TSO did on Night Castle and Beethoven's last night thanks!

JM: That’s killer

SR: It was so much fun to play, probably because it was quite challenging. Remember, none of us had ever played in such an ambitious endeavor. Scott and Michael Clayon Moore played with a prog band called Contrarian, Mark Mari, our drummer and a
close friend of mine for over 20 years played in Sneak Attack, Dog Eat Dog and other thrash metal bands.

JM: Well if the human brain does the same thing repeatedly it doesn't really grow.

SR: That's correct, the synapses stagnate and you tend to atrophy musically or intellectually speaking.

JM:What is your opinion on Pro Tools? Do you think it helps?

SR: Oh without a doubt

JM: Which kind of touches on your previous statement.

SR: Makes the whole process incredibly easier especially if you write 10 minute songs like I do!


JM: True.

SR: There’s a thousand different weird time signature changes!

JM: I was backstage at the Mushroomhead show and told Pig Benis (‘Shroom bassist) about your 7 and 14 strings and his jaw dropped.


SR: When I first started, I recorded some demos using reel-to-reel! If you made a mistake 8 minutes into a 10 minute song, too bad! You were S.O.L. and had to start over or find a practical place to punch in. Yeah, he was probably thinking "Who'd be crazy enough to carry that 35 lb monster around"? *Laugh*

JM: Wow, there has been a big change in technology, he was like I use 4 maybe 5....Holy Shit 14!!!!!

SR: Yeah, now all I have to do is learn how to play it!


JM: With how well you did on 7 it's only a matter of time.


SR: Thanks Jude, I'm trying! Most of my friends would say I'm trying very hard, which I am. Too bad I’m not getting paid. *laugh*

JM: If it were about getting paid there would be no music EVER.
Too many people think about dollar signs and not the MUSIC which is what it should be about (in my opinion).

SR: I know that all too well! *small laugh*. One of these days, I
hope to be a ‘thousand-aire’, but that might be a bit too ambitious.

JM: You're a great dude, killer musician and a hell of a friend.

SR: Thanks man, right back at you! Can I shamelessly plug the 3 band sites?

JM: Go for it.


SR: Ok, thanks, Please check us out at the following links

www.myspace.com/alchemyx

www.thewizardsofwinter.com

www.division1point1.com

Alchemy X is getting a new site; it'll be:

www.alchemy-x.net

JM: Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview.

SR: Thanks so much for having me man, again, I appreciate the time and consideration and hopefully it'll be an interesting read!

*Small laugh*


JM: I will do my best....technically this is going to be the first interview from me.

SR: For you with ADPR?

JM: I completely forgot to take my camera out when I interviewed Dave “Gravy” from Mushroomhead for ADPR and Genre.


SR: Ok, well, if you need any pictures let me know I've got a handful of me where I don't look horrible. * Slight laugh*.

JM: Any with your basses and gear would be appreciated.


SR: Absolutely. I shall send them to your email and please also let Stacy know that I thank her too.

On a side note; I was listening to the music that Tom Haumann
wrote for Stacy’s Story (which is in multiple parts), Death Took My Heart (Part 1 ‘The Metal Opera’) and noticed that there is not a vocal line yet, why is that?

JM: He just got in touch with a female singer. He's going to be doing all of her ‘story parts’ for Death Took My Heart as well as some lyrics she wrote entitled "Love is the Slowest form of Suicide".

SR: I read those lyrics and I found them simply awesome I wish I had thought of that title. The one she came up with is absolutely jaw dropping beautiful.

JM: Flesh Asylum is the best I think (as my work goes in my opinion), but Stacy is an award winning poet.

SR: I wish I had known her before she commissioned Tom Haumann to do it! I would've loved to write an album with that title. I like Flesh Asylum too.


JM: Thank you, once more, for taking time out to speak with me and I shall get this posted and let you know when it is up.




 

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