By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
live photos - Jim Hackett
On April 20, glam-metal legends Ratt will release “Infestation,” their first in CD in over a decade. The band consists of original members, Warren DeMartini-guitar, Stephen Pearcy-vocals , Bobby Blotzer-drums plus Robbie Crane –bass and Carlos Cavazo formerly of Quiet Riot on guitar. The initial response to this CD by fans and critics has been very positive. Ratt was successful in writing a CD that captures the vibe and sound of their vintage mid 80’s material. The songwriting and guitar work is top notch and the production by Michael Baskette brings out the power and intensity of this band like never before. The addition of Cavazo on guitar has brought Ratt to a new level of musicianship. The twin guitar work of DeMartini and Cavazo is on the same level as some of the greatest classic hard rock bands such as Aerosmith, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. (Take a listen to the first track “Eat Me Up Alive” to hear this yourself.)
What follows is an exclusive RockMusicStar interview with Ratt guitarist Warren DeMartini. During this interview we discuss the new CD, the addition of Carlos Cavazo to the line-up and the band’s future tour plans. For more on Ratt check out www.therattpack.com
RockMusicStar: You must be extremely pleased with the reaction to your new CD “Infestation.” Both critics and long time fans have giving it great reviews. I think it’s pretty amazing as well.
Warren DeMartini: Thanks, you can never hear that enough. When you think back to when we first signed with Roadrunner, to all the way here, it was a long road and it took up a lot of energy.
RMS: It’s pretty impressive that you were signed by a label like Roadrunner. They have a lot of great acts and one of the few labels that actually has an idea of what the fuck is going on. Did you shop a demo to them? How did they get involved?
WD: Well, what happened was we were at a layover in Dallas or Atlanta and we happen to cross paths with Tom Lipski, who at that time was putting together a new record label deal with Roadrunner. He asked us what we were doing and we had a couple of holiday shows in the L.A. area, at the House of Blues. He said he was going to be in town, so we put him on the list. It was a really good show and the rest is history.
RMS: When you starting planning for this CD, did you use material already written or did you start off fresh?
WD: Mostly, it was all written this year, other than a few specific things. Carlos Cavazo brought in something that ended up becoming the pre-chorus to “Best of Me.” This was something he had written back when he was writing for Quiet Riot’s “Metal Heath.”
RMS: Really, wow.
WD: Yeah, the pre-chorus part that happens right before the guitar solo. And the guitar part that opens the song “Last Call” was something that I wrote for the last Ratt album in 1999, which we didn’t end up using. So when we were putting together ideas for this CD, I remember this piece of music, plugged it in and it worked real well in the song.
RMS: Your guitar tone on this CD is very reminiscent to your classic 80’s tone. Was that a goal of yours, to try to capture the vibe of the classic Ratt sound?
WD: Well, the CD sounds like me and Carlos and Robby because that’s our sound. This was a fun record to make from the guitar point of view. Michael Baskette was a guitarist before he went into producing, so it was great to work with someone with a six string point of view on the production side.
RMS: Carlos Cavazo joined the band almost two years ago. He is an accomplished guitarist. You must love working with him.
WD: It’s really great. When we play live all the dual guitar parts that Robin Crosby and I did back in the day, are slamming again. We are continuing that style with Carlos now. On “Infestation” there are some tracks with some pretty exotic double leads that we really had a good time doing. It’s really been great. Carlos has fit in so well, he’s sort of cut from the same cloth, he grew up on the same music that we did. He just really fit in extremely well. And he came from an established band like ours, so he knew what to expect. He’s not a stranger to the road or a stranger to be in a big band. So, it’s really worked out well that way too. He helps create a balance.
RMS: How has your working relationship with Stephen Pearcy progressed over the years?
WD: When Stephen came back to the band in 2007; it came after a very tumultuous period. You know, we didn’t talk for five years, we communicated through lawyers. I remember one point however, when I realized that making a new CD with him was possible. When we were rehearsing for the “Best of Ratt” tour for the CD, something happened.
During the time he was out of the band, I wrote an out-tro for a song called “Lack of Communication” and that bit ended up on “Infestation” as a song called “Big Bite.” Anyways, at the end of that song we kicked in with this new part and he said “Wow!! Who came up with that.” It was at that point that I realized that we could get back to writing.
RMS: One of the songs that have everyone is talking about, is the first track from the CD, “Eat Me Up Alive.” Tell us about the origins of that song.
WD: That was one that Carlos brought in. He was responsible for most of the music on that one; I came up with a section or two. But that opening riff is Carlos Cavazo.
RMS: Really, it sounds so much like you.
WD: Well, the production facility was just heaven. We had every type of amp imaginable, in addition to our own stuff. The tone on this record was very important.
RMS: I give you a lot of credit. The band could have just lived on your past accomplishments and toured as a retro act. But instead, you worked hard and put out a great new CD. It really is one of the best of your career. Was there a lot of pressure on you when you were writing this CD?
WD: Thanks. Yes, we were aware that this CD was going to be released all around the world. We knew that we had to be very serious and careful about this opportunity and working with our new label. So in that sense …..I don’t know if pressure is the right word, but there was a consciousness that this could reach a lot of people.
RMS: You have this CD under your belt now, how are you going to promote it? What are you tour plans?
WD: Ratt is going to launch the release of “Infestation” on April 20th at the Key club. It was called Gazari’s back then, located at the end of the sunset strip and it’s the first real club that Ratt ever played. This was the club that everyone wanted to play back when a band was looking for a record contract. It’s going to be a record release party there and then we are going to play a couple of one off shows. The official “Infestation “ tour is going to start in Europe at the Sweden Rock fest on June 10th. From there we are going to do some other festivals and our own things and some special guest stuff. That’s all still being put together. That will probably go 4 or 5 weeks. The soonest that we could start in the states would be mid July.
RMS: Is there anything confirmed as of right now?
WD: Well, nothing that I can really say for the states. But, put it this way, we did a show with the Scorpions last summer in Chicago and after that we were talking with them about doing more stuff together at some point. They are going to start there farewell tour in America around that time. I can say that we are talking about doing something with them, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
For more check out www.therattpack.com