The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




Mark: Hi, Ross Thanks for taking the time to speak to us this morning. How are you?



Ross: I’m fine, Sir, how are you?



Mark: Very good, thank you. One thing I have always wanted to ask you, since being a young boy, and buying “Battle Hymns” for the first time, is, where did the name come from, “Ross the Boss”?



Ross: That’s a great question! When I was growing up, I was actually a pretty good baseball player, and one day we were picking sides, and my friend goes, “Hey, man, why don’t you pick Ross, he’s the boss!!” So, that just kind of stuck with me! It’s like when The Dictators started back in the day, in 1974, we all picked different names, because we didn’t like our regular names, everyone had a nickname, and so Ross the Boss stuck, and the fact I played  the guitar a bit, didn’t hurt!!



Mark:” Death Dealer”, is a fantastic new album, I love it! Where did the name come from, it’s incredibly “Metal”!!



Ross: It just fits, that’s Sean Peck’s  creation actually, he thought of it, an unbelievable name, and the guy on the cover of the artwork looks like the death dealer for sure! And the music sounds like it



Mark: It does!! Are you pleased with the media response so far? I have seen some great reviews out there.



Ross: Yeah, I have to be honest with you, it’s an organic thing that I’m hearing, and there are some very nice compliments. I haven’t seen any bad reviews, and I think across the board, anyone who’s in to this kind of music, would love it, there’s a lot to love on this record. But, that’s me, I have been involved with this project closely, and I can’t see anything that’s not to like about it.



Mark: So, what inspired the album, because you had your Ross the Boss band a few years ago, and did a few festival dates and things like that.



Ross: It was actually a Facebook creation, Sean Peck and I are friends on Facebook, and he got in touch and said would I like to play on a couple of songs he wrote, at the time I didn’t know Sean from a hole in the head! So, that night I get off Facebook, and I look him up, and boy, this guy can sing!! So, the next night comes around, and Stu Marshall goes ‘I love your guitar playing and I love your style, you’ve been an idol to me all my life and I’m am working with Sean, I have a band called  Empires of Eden, and a band called Dungeon, so I went and looked him up, and he was unbelievable. The next night, Shaun got in touch and said “hey, man, I have a concept, I have everything worked out”. He had the name of the band; he had everything, and the names of all the guys he wanted to be in the band! And as soon as he said he had Rhino on drums I said “I’m in the band!”



Mark: That’s fantastic!! So, social media actually did some good, for a change!!



Ross: Yeah, it’s really amazing, it’s a great story!



Mark: This is a difficult question to ask, and we’ve listened to the album a good few times now, but what’s your personal favourite on there?



Ross: “Devils Mile” right now, but it changes. But, right now, it’s that one, I love the orchestration, I love the sound, I just love the song!



Mark: He really is a great vocalist; he has the sound of a young Rob Halford at times.



Ross: He does have a touch of Halford, but I get his original style, he has multiple voices and he’s fantastic!



Mark: It’s just great classic metal. You are starting a tour in July, you have a few dates lined up, are you getting a chance to rehearse?



Ross: Yes, we are all flying to the coast, at the end of next week, on the 30th, and we got all sorts of fun things, we got rehearsals, we got shows, we got photo shoots and videos, it’s going to be a great trip! We are also working on a November tour.



Mark: So, the level of excitement within the band must be quite high, for these shows?



Ross: Yeah, but you know what, we can’t believe it! Fourteen months to go from that to this!! The whole metal world is freaking out on it!!








Mark: The level of anticipation, even down here in Australia, is pretty huge!



Ross: Yeah, it’s really great, but that’s what we do, it’s the five of us, and we’ve been around, this isn’t our first project, but I can’t believe it!! I think it’s fantastic, I really do, and we are all very happy, and we can’t wait to play. I also think we are going to be playing for a long time, and if anyone thinks this is just a one off project, they are sorely mistaken, it’s not!! I know that we will have other projects, but Death Dealer is our main one right now.



Mark: That’s great news and great to hear. Having seen you back in the eighties, you were always a performer with a great amount of energy and aggression on stage, have you lost any of that over the years?



Ross: Well, I hope not, I think that as time goes by, I’m a more seasoned performer. I relish my time on stage, because, you know what, as life goes, did you know James Gandolfini died about an hour ago?



Mark; Yes, I just woke up to that news.



Ross: He was 51 years old, and life is precious, and the way that I feel, is that being on stage is an honour, and being able to play music still, is an honour, and believe me, I treat every show like it’s going to be my last show! I give 100% every time I go up on stage, people pay good money to come and see me, and my bands and so they deserve 150%!!



Mark: That’s great, so we’ll expect to see you pretty much the same as back in the day!!



Ross: Yes, the band will sound insane, on stage!!



Mark: Even though it’s a new band, you have a limited catalogue, are you going to going to be playing any of your old material?



Ross: Yes, we intend to play some of the old Manowar songs that I’ve written.



Mark: And are you looking at maybe doing shows in Europe, Asia, and possibly Australia?



Ross: Yes, we have just had confirmation of a whole stack of bookings for shows in November, in Europe, and we have a very nice deal with Japan, for the end of November or possibly sometime next year, so we hope to be swinging back to Australia on our way there!



Mark: We’ll be looking forward to that!



Ross: I can’t wait!!








Mark: Can we ask you a couple of questions about Manowar that I have mixed feelings about, and you are obviously the man I need to ask these questions to. What did you think about Battle Hymns, 2011? Have you heard it? Do you think it took anything away from the purity of the original?



Ross: You know what, the unfortunate thing with that was, if it was done with the original line-up, I could have seen it, but “Battle Hymns” is basically my record, our first band record. It didn’t make any sense to me, it didn’t add anything to it, I think it made the band look terrible, it made Manowar look…very…I don’t know!!



Mark: It’s not just me then?!!



Ross: As I just said, if the original band would have done it again, it would have been an event. I wrote most of those songs on those records, I did it tastefully, and that’s not tasteful!



Mark: What’s your relationship like these days with Mr DeMaio?



Ross: it’s rather cold at the moment!



Mark: I can imagine!!



Ross: Believe me; it’s like icy at this moment!!



Mark: So, there are no plans for any one off shows then?!!



Ross: ‘laughs”!



Mark: Sorry, I had to ask that one!! Of the six albums that you played on, which one do you look back on with most pride? Is it “Battle Hymns”, because that album to me when I was growing up was incredible!



Ross: Yes, it’s got to be Battle. It was the first record and it set a template for the band. It had Orson Welles on it, it was a genre-creating record, if you know what I mean. It delivered Power Metal, people figure it as Power Metal, and I figure it as that too.



Mark: It was, even when you look back on it, even though we didn’t know what Power metal was at the time, I listened to it a couple of days ago, and thought, wow, this is such a fantastic album! It really is up there with some of the best releases!



Ross:  It sure is! You know what, I’m proud of my era in Manowar, and I’m proud of the six records, as I am proud of everything I’ve done. I’m so proud of The Dictators, people still play the records and our memorabilia is in the Rock and Roll House of Fame. Looking back on everything I’ve done, I’m feeling good for the future.






Mark: I was actually going to ask you about The Dictators, you played the final weekend at CBGB’s, when it finally did close down, do you have any memories from those dates?



Ross: I do have memories of those dates, standing on the stage and knowing that we were the last rock and roll concert, or punk rock concert, or punk, metal rock concert or whatever they call it! It was quite an emotional night; I know Joey Ramone had already passed away, so we sang ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ which Tommy Ramone, the only surviving original member of the band, it was emotional, and I was taken aback. The place struggled for a long time, it struggled to fill up and actually make money, and unfortunately places like that have gone.



Mark: It is sad, and if they just had revenue from T shirts, that you see people wearing today, that have never even been near the place, I think they would still be going today.



Ross: Yeah, I miss the place, I really do.



Mark: Also, back in the day, there was also another Dictators connection; you played on Manitoba’s, “Wild Kingdom” record. That was a great record!



Ross: That was a great record. It was The Dictators, the same singer, drummer, same guitar player when The Dictators play, we do those songs.



Mark: What a lot of people may not know, is that you produced Anthrax’s first demo, what were those guys like back then?



Ross: Back in the day they were rookies, for sure, the band opened for Manowar. (Ross is called away).



Mark: You have been on the scene a long time, over the years, who do you think your most enduring influence has been, as a guitarist?



Ross: Oh, that’s easy to tell you! My biggest influences growing up were all the Blues guys, BB King, and people like that, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and Muddy Waters. Robert Johnson, guys like that. Tony Iommi was a big influence on me when I was growing up.



Mark: You had a Blues band a while ago, are we ever going to hear a Blues album, from Ross the Boss?



Ross: Yes, I would say that, that’s one of my things I’m looking forward to doing. I am actually writing some songs with a friend of mine, and looking forward to doing a vinyl, real traditional Blues album. I think people will be really surprised by that.



Mark: I would definitely be one of the first in the queue to buy that!



Ross: I mean really, my favourite guitarist in the whole world, is BB King, and when Metal heads ask me, how can that be? I say, you know what, he says more with three notes than any of the guys out there with three thousand notes!! He taught me, that less is more.



Mark: Great, I got to see him a few years ago, and he is still amazing at his age! What’s your take on Metal these days, compared to the eighties? Is there anyone out there doing anything new or great?



Ross: What am I thinking? I mean, I don’t know, I don’t keep up with all the bands that are coming out. I like Volbeat a lot, I like a few others too. Besides that I’m not connected to a lot of bands stuff! I am really so busy, doing what I’m doing here, I have so much to do, I kind of have to plead the 5th, when it comes to Heavy Metal bands because I don’t keep up on it!! There is just too much out there!



Mark; Yeah, there is!! When someone tells me about a new genre, I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about!!



Ross: Yeah, today I heard about Pirate Metal, and I was like what the f##k are you talking about?!!!! It’s like Viking Metal, that’s why I’m calling “Death Dealer”, Heavy Metal, that’s what it is, that’s what we play!!



Mark: Someone the other day described a band to me as Industrial Folk Metal!!!



Ross: Yeah, you couldn’t make this stuff up!!



Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album, what would it have been for you, and why?
Ross: Cream, “Disraeli Gears”, I think about that all the time, I wish I was in the studio with Felix Pappalardi, and Cream making “Disraeli Gears”.



Mark: That’s a great choice. Finally, what is the meaning of life?



Ross: Les Paul through Marshall!, that’s a good one, right?



Mark: That’s a really good one! That’s the best one I’ve ever heard!! You are a legend!! Thank you so much for spending time with us this morning, it’s been an absolute pleasure, and all the best with “Death Dealer”, we are going to catch you on the road somewhere!



Ross: Yeah, thanks, we are really looking forward to it, and as I said, we are really excited about it. I would love to meet you one day, and have a beer or a thousand!!



Mark: Sounds good, when you come over to Australia, we’ll be there. Take care, mate.




By Mark Diggins June 2013




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