Warren DeMartini - Ratt, Enforcer, Plague, Aircraft, Whitesnake - Back
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' mate!

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 actually!

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 will too!

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 shelves?

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 things around!

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 they deserve?

Warren DeMartini: I didn’t hate making them as much as I hate watching them.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] all those bad hair-do’s

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 band?

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:

http://www.therattpack.com/ - Official Ratt Site
http://www.myspace.com/therattpack - Ratt MySpace Site
http://www.myspace.com/warren_demartini - Warren DeMartini MySpace Site
http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints - Inside Out 666

© Cameron Edney November 2007, June 2008 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.