Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints
One of the greatest things about doing
what I do is that every once in a while I get the opportunity to speak
to one of my childhood heroes. For me, last week that hero came in
the form of Ratt guitarist Warren DeMartini. Like many other hard
rock fans, I grew up listening to many of the bands that originated
from along the Sunset Strip Motley Crue, L.A. Guns and of course Ratt.
During the eighties Ratt had become a household name with smash hit
albums such as 'Out Of The Cellar', 'Invasion Of Your Privacy' and
'Reach For The Sky'. The band had a reputation for their elaborate
and sometimes outrageous onstage performances, not to mention the
debauchery that was going on behind the scenes. With the birth of
MTV and the largest metal magazines in America Ratt was thrown into
the lives of millions of music lovers, helping the band forge many
top selling singles which included 'Way Cool Jr', 'I Want A Women'
and 'Round And Round'.
Guitarist Warren DeMartini is the youngest of five brothers, born
in Chicago, IL in 1963. Warren grew up in a household where music
was part of their daily lives, Warren was always destined to follow
his brother James footsteps and have a career in music. At the young
and impressionable age of seven, Warren's mother had purchased a guitar
for him. Not knowing how to actually play the guitar, Warren took
the Pete Townsend approach and smashed the guitar into a million pieces.
It wasn't until he had turned fifteen that he would once again own
his own axe. Warren had started to take lessons to learn basic musical
techniques and formed his very first band Plague.
Over the years Warren has established himself as an amazing and sought
after guitarist. Besides his work with Ratt, he has also played with
the likes of Dokken, Enforcer and the legendary Whitesnake. After
more than twenty years in the business, Ratt are finally embarking
on their first Australian tour. Sharing the stage with Ratt will be
none other than eighties hard rockers Winger also touring the land
of Oz for the very first time. Although this is not Warren's first
visit to our shores, it will surely be his most memorable Australian
experience with long-time band mates and friends. I spoke to Warren
about the bands first ever Australian tour, why it has taken so long
for the band to play here, the possibility of some brand new material
next year and much more.
It is time to go 'Round And Round' with the 'Way Cool Jr' Warren DeMartini.
Metal Fanatix: Hey Warren are ya doin'
Warren DeMartini: Hey; I’m well.
How's it goin'?
Metal Fanatix: Not too bad dude, firstly
before we start I just want to say that I have been a huge Ratt fan
for twenty years and it’s truly a pleasure to speak with you
this afternoon! It’s fantastic to finally see you guys playing
shows in Australia!
Warren DeMartini: Oh god, we are so
looking forward to it!
Metal Fanatix: What expectations do
you hold for the Australian leg of the tour, John Corabi as we all
know has been to Australia a couple of times now and there is no doubt
he has shared stories and thoughts with you all?
Warren DeMartini: I just know it’s
going to be rockin'. Some of my all-time favorite groups are from
Australia. I'm in love with the country and the surfing, it’s
going to be amazing.
Metal Fanatix: I guess the million-dollar
question is why has it taken you so long to finally play here in Australia?
Warren DeMartini: I really don’t
have a good answer for that. We leapt out in front of an agent who
was able to put it together. The potential was always there it was
just a matter of hooking up with the right people.
Metal Fanatix: You are only playing
in Sydney and Melbourne this time around. Will you have any time to
see the sites while you are here?
Warren DeMartini: Yes, there is a day
off between Sydney and Melbourne, so I am hoping to get a little something
in that day and I’m personally going to stay a day or two after
the Melbourne show and hopefully get a good look around.
Metal Fanatix: That will be great, trust
me once you star drinking our beer you won’t want to leave [laughs].
Warren DeMartini: Yeah I know, I know.
I was down there touring with another band [Whitesnake] back in 1994
and I was very sad leaving. I fell in love with the place.
Metal Fanatix: It always seems to be
the way though with most international acts. Being that we’re
so far away, it’s unfortunate that none of you really get to
spend a decent amount of time here to have a really good look around!
Warren DeMartini: Yeah, that’s
why I’m cherishing this extra day or two that I get there [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: You had a rehearsal for
the tour today, is that right?
Warren DeMartini: Yep, we just finished
Metal Fanatix: What can we expect to
see from you on this your first Australian tour?
Warren DeMartini: There was an energy
today at rehearsal that you usually don’t see. A lot of times
it’s more about getting familiar with the parts again and everybody’s
playing, but your not using all cylinders sometimes. Today was almost
like everybody had the concept in mind that we were going somewhere
special and that these gigs were going to unique. It really had an
energy about it that was exciting. If we play on this trip the way
we played today I’ll be very pleased and I think the audience
Metal Fanatix: You reunited not too
long ago and you had been apart for some time. Is there any chance
that next year we will see some brand new Ratt material hitting the
Warren DeMartini: We did three months
here in America and there was a lot of talk about after this tour
was over, that we would roll up our sleeves and start writing again.
I’ve started to set up a place to write again. It’s something
that we are going to seriously explore. I don’t want to guarantee
that there is going to be a new record in 08 but that is in the best
case scenario what we’re shooting for!
Metal Fanatix: Killer news dude! You
have grown up influenced by some of the worlds greatest rock bands
such as The Who, Kiss and of course Led Zeppelin. Do you feel you
have played a large role in influencing many of today’s hard
rock and metal acts?
Warren DeMartini: I think so. When I
do see a group from time to time, it does come up that they were transcendent
to some degree, you never know how much but I think we have passed
the baton a bit!
Metal Fanatix: Warren, when you play
somewhere like Australia for the very first time, how do you work
out a set list that is for fans of all eras. I mean there will be
fans who want to here the earliest stuff and the hits. You will get
fans wanting to hear some obscure tracks also! How do you come up
with a set list that suits all fans of the band and keeps you guys
satisfied onstage performing them?
Warren DeMartini: It’s something
that we fine tune over and over. This set we fine tuned over sixty
shows in America. It’s not going to be identical to that set
list but the basic sequence is something that we have been honing
for three months. You put certain songs next to each other and when
if feels right you leave it and if it doesn’t then you move
Metal Fanatix: It wasn’t too long
ago that ‘Videos From The Cellar, The Atlantic Years’
was released on DVD, what comes to mind when you look back over all
those old eighties videos?
Warren DeMartini: Oh, just how much
of a good time it was and it still is really. They’re just a
reminder of why we continue to do it.
Metal Fanatix: Many bands have openly
stated that they hate making video clips but as we all know it’s
an necessary evil in this business, and still is one of the best promotional
tools around. Do you think it’s a good idea to spend as much
money these days on videos when they clearly don’t get the airplay
Warren DeMartini: I didn’t hate
making them as much as I hate watching them.
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] all those bad
Warren DeMartini: [Laughs] yeah that’s
the hard part for me [laughs]. It was a necessary evil for that time.
We were so focused on what we were doing musically that it was always
an adventure with each one. We were following our noses, sometimes
it would work to our benefit, and of course some times it just doesn’t.
Metal Fanatix: When you look back over
all these years, especially watching the old videos, is it safe to
assume there are days when you just say to yourself… fuck I
can’t believe I’m still here to talk about it.
Warren DeMartini: Yeah, it’s true.
We really appreciate that we are able to continue visiting places
like Sydney and Melbourne. It’s just amazing.
Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have
shared the stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring
with the most and can you share a funny story from the tour?
Warren DeMartini: In 1984 we did fifteen
to twenty shows with Ozzy Osbourne, and that was just an incredible
experience. Prior to that we had never played in arenas and it was
something that we always wanted to do. Ozzy was extremely funny, he
was very aware that it was a new experience for us and made us feel
welcome and wanted. There was camaraderie about it. Oh, funny stories
with Ozzy… there was never any pretending with him!
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]
Warren DeMartini: Everything we had
read about the craziness surrounding Ozzy, next thing we were around
it. He was as crazy as he was made out to be. The amount of partying
that was going on was just over the top. I couldn’t do it again.
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] been there,
done that, survived it once that’s enough!
Warren DeMartini: [Laughs] yeah, you
have to be at the height of the kind of abuse you can do to yourself.
It only happens in your twenties.
Metal Fanatix: Well I would imagine
twenty years on, up there onstage giving it your all, it would be
insane to do it under those same circumstances.
Warren DeMartini: Oh no, you still want
to have a good time, but it’s all about the pace! “Oh
we’ve got three in a row this week, okay” [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Warren, what
is the craziest rumor that you have heard about yourself and or the
Warren DeMartini: Oh god, craziest rumor…
that would be a good question for Bob actually. I have drawn a blank
on that one!
Metal Fanatix: See, that is what happens
when there’s too much partying [laughs].
Warren DeMartini: I know [laughs]. We’re
takin' this whole thing on the road again, and I’m the last
guy to pack. I always have a million things flying around in my mind.
I suppose it’s not really anything too interesting or exciting
but there were always rumors that we were breaking up or getting back
together and joining other bands.
Metal Fanatix: This year Australian
audiences have been treated to seeing bands such as Ratt, Winger,
Tesla, Testament, and Exodus for the very first time. The scene here
is thriving beyond anything I can remember in past years. Is the scene
still thriving over there in the states?
Warren DeMartini: Yes it is. We just
did a tour here in the states with Poison and that was an incredible
success. We were playing outdoor places almost the whole tour and
it went extremely well. They did a big festival in Oklahoma for the
first time that went beyond there expectations and it’s something
they are hoping to do every year now based on the attendance of this
show. It’s called Rocklahoma and it went unbelievably well.
Is it something we can count on every year? I don’t know, but
it really shows that rock touring is alive and well in the states
at the moment.
Metal Fanatix: Mate, what are your thoughts
on downloading music and file sharing? Do you think it hurts an artists
like yourself or do you see it as a great way to get your music out
to so many more across the globe!
Warren DeMartini: It’s an amazing
way to get your stuff out there. I don’t think that industry
has adjusted to it, because it is so powerful and so new still. Record
shops here and companies are changing almost hourly. I think it’s
incredible, the speed is amazing. Radiohead put there latest Cd up
on the website and you can pay for it if you want or you can download
it for free.
Metal Fanatix: Yeah, I had heard about
that. It’s really amazing isn’t it. I think over the next
year or two we may see a lot more bands following that suit.
Warren DeMartini: It’s something
that we are definitely looking at. Hopefully in the next six months
we will have some new work to put out there.
Metal Fanatix: Mate there is so much
I would have loved to chat about but we are running out of time. I
want to thank you again for taking the time out this afternoon to
speak with us and I wish you all the best down here on the Australian
tour. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Warren DeMartini: It took a long time,
bet we finally pulled it off and we’re on the way! We are looking
forward to it and we hope that everyone else is too.
To keep up with all the latest on Warren and
Ratt head to the following websites:
- Official Ratt Site
- Ratt MySpace Site
- Warren DeMartini MySpace Site
- Inside Out 666
© Cameron Edney November 2007, June 2008 Not to be re-printed
in any form without written permission.