Ross The Boss is a guitar player who is well known as a founder of one of the first bands to play punk music, The Dictators and as a co-founder of the legendary band Manowar. After many years of absence from the heavy metal scene he returns with a new heavy metal band and a new true heavy metal album in order to show who is still the New Metal Leader of the heavy sound. I had the chance to talk with him and answer me a lot of questions for his new record, for his previous bands and his one in a life time chance to work with Orson Welles.
Interview: Nick Astifidis
Rockpages.gr: Hello Ross How are you?
Ross The Boss: We are good. We had our first warm up show on Thursday.
Rockpages.gr: Are you ready for the tour?
Ross The Boss: Oh yeah, we are ready for the tour! We worked hard, we were practicing a lot... we talk about world class stuff. It's gonna be really good. Did you like the record?
Rockpages.gr: Yes, I think it's a really good one. Excellent work!
Ross The Boss: Carsten (Kettering), he liked the record (laughing)
Rockpages.gr: By the way, what do you have to say about the sticker on the front cover of the record?
Ross The Boss: That's not my decision. I didn't know that it was going to be there. Quite honestly, I believe that it is kind of obnoxious. You know, the label is a little over the top. We talked with them about it. No one have to tell to any one that what I do is good or bad. I believe that people have to make their decision themselves.
Rockpages.gr: That's true! So, why so many years of absence from the heavy metal scene?
Ross The Boss: Yes, it was a long time, but the thing is that after I left Manowar, after these six albums, I truly didn't know what to do. It was like; “who's gonna play the drums? who's gonna play the bass? who is gonna sing?”. I didn't want to drop in a new band. After I let Manowar my friends from The Dictators told me; “Ross we got this record contract and here is you check” (laughing). And that one took me on my sideman thing. You know, like playing the guitar on Manitoba's, we were touring then, we were good on the radio, on MTV...
Rockpages.gr: So after you left Manowar you just enjoyed to play the guitar?
Ross The Boss: Yeah, I did! I like to play in front of people and I actually I learned from other musicians and different styles of music. And then I got in Heyday, with The Spinatras I got a record deal. Then The Dictators started to play on '96 and all this time my son was born in '91, so this really kept me down as a father.
Rockpages.gr: So, you wanted to be a devoted father, is that right?
Ross The Boss: I wanted to be the most devoted father! It was the most important to me. The great thing is that he is ready to go in college next year and he is a fantastic athlete. But at the same time I did make a lot of record and I did a lot of touring.
Rockpages.gr: Well, let’s stay to your new album and then we will talk about your past. Is it ok with you?
Ross The Boss: No problem!
Rockpages.gr: Why did you choose the title “New Metal Leader” for your new record?
Ross The Boss: You know something? In Manowar these statements, image and vision, were everything. You know, Death tone, Shellshock, Dark Avenger, Kings Of Metal, Into Glory Ride, Kings Of Metal. All these things were great phrases and statements and visual images. So, when I thought of “New Metal Leader” it was like; “Oh my God... that's so good” (laughing), because it says so many things. It's “New”, yes it's new. Is it “Metal”? Yes it is metal and the people think that I have been the “Leader” in power metal. Yes, I have but am I “New”? No, I am not new but the record is new!
Rockpages.gr: And the band is “New”!
Ross The Boss: Yes and the band is new! They are so talented and you will see it soon.
Rockpages.gr: I remember them from the last time you came in Greece, two years ago. They were really good.
Ross The Boss: But now we are much better than then. Then it was the second or third gig we played together.
Rockpages.gr: Great then! I read that you are going to tour with Sinner!
Ross The Boss: Yes we are going to play in Barcelona, now we are in Germany and we are going to play in Spain, Italy, Germany. Holland and Switzerland. In summer we have put in Bang Your Head festival here in Germany, which is a fine festival. I believe that after this show we are gonna have a lot of show. The Floodgates will open for us for the rest of Europe! We have a really great show. I mean that we have the rock n' roll songs, we have the heavy songs, we have the epic songs and of course the Manowar classics. With that blend of music I think that the show is gonna be unbelievable. We are not gonna let anyone down. There is no solos, no down time, no bullshit. We just get on stage like a rocket from start to finish. And that is what people want to see. People pay good money and deserve it and that's what they are going to get!
Rockpages.gr: I want to believe that it's not only the money but the emotions that you give by playing on stage.
Ross The Boss: Absolutely tremendous amount of emotions! I started to cry the other night, because we played the “Immortal Son”, for the first time, which is dedicated to my son Jesse. I was thinking about it and and I was just breaking uo and I told to the crowd; “You see me crying up a little, but it is ok for a man to cry”. We are humans, we laugh, we cry... you know.
Rockpages.gr: Can you tell me how you met with the band?
Ross The Boss: This is the most unbelievable story. The first guy that called me was Oliver (Weinsheimer), many years ago. He got this band called majesty and he wanted me to play on Dawnrider. So, then I did the Earthshaker festival with Manowar. After that, Oliver called me and told me; “Hey Ross, you only played two songs, it's not enough! People wanted two hours! ”. You know everyone here respects the old Manowar because because that's what they want and want to here. I said ok, but I didn't have a band. So he said me “You are not gonna believe it, I have just got this tape from some guys called Men Of War”. So, he sent me the trial and it was Blood Of My Enemies and it was amazing. I went like “Am I listening me?”. This guys are great and the singer is fantastic and it turned out that they are schooled musicians. They have a band called “Ivory Night” and they have records and touring but they did Men Of War like a kind of respect thing. And they did Manowar shows maybe for fun.
Carsten: Totally fun, we wanted to bring the Manowar music to the fans where Manowar not touring.
Ross The Boss: So, they sent me the tape and in two days we rehearsed and we played in Keep It True festival, where we had a great show. From there we got the offers to go to Italy, Greece. But then I said to myself that it is time to make original music. So, we played on the seconf Keep It True when one of the bands dropped out and then we got into studio and wrote down two songs. Those two songs where I Got The Right and We Will Kill. Then I said to Patrick that I wanted to make original music as a band and to play Manowar cover songs. He said ok and after a week or two he sent me the lyrics and I had been amazed. So, we sent the tape to Oliver and after two years and a couple of months the album is ready.
Rockpages.gr: From what I know the album is going really great and in Germany is was in place 99 in the charts.
Ross The Boss: Yes it is going very well. It is selling, it is good on charts which is very well to hear about. You know, it's great!
Rockpages.gr: So, tell me which of the songs is your favorite?
Ross The Boss: “Immortal Son” is amazing, unbelievable. You know, Carsten is a fantastic song writer. He has done amazing job to the bonus track One By One and he did most of Immortal Son. You are gonna listen to many of his songs soon. The Ivory Knight record is realy great. He is fantastic.
Rockpages.gr: What about the song Matador?
Ross The Boss: I do love Matador with the Spanish guitar. No one have ever done that, so that's good! I also love Blood Of Knives. I believe that generally is really great record!
Rockpages.gr: May the Gods Be With You has a different style. It has a more rock n' roll feeling!
Ross The Boss: Yeah, it is a different style. It is an up positive mood song and we dedicated to one of our fans that died.
Rockpages.gr: The album is really great and it is going very well! Is there anyone from your other bands that called you to congratulate you for that?
Ross The Boss: My brothers from The Dictators were very supportive. We played in Spain a month ago. It was a very big tour. But I haven't heard a word from Manowar, which is strange...
Rockpages.gr: Nothing? Not even an email?
Ross The Boss: Nothing at all. The silence is deafening!
Rockpages.gr: So, should I guess that you don't have the best relations?
Ross The Boss: No, we have no problems. I think that the problem is that Joey doesn't like that sticker, doesn't like my logo and doesn't like that I am playing around now... but it doesn't matter.
Rockpages.gr: OK. So tell me now, why you chose to have the video clip of Blood Of Knives in black & white?
Ross The Boss: We look better than we really look (laughing). It is a good concept with nice mood.
Rockpages.gr: So, let’s talk about your past bands! First band The Dictators, how it was this era of your life?
Ross The Boss: I was very young, I had my first record when I was 18 in NYC. It was great! Then, in 1974, was three bands in the City to have record contract. The New York Dolls, The Dictators and the band called KISS. Then in '75 Ramones came out.
Rockpages.gr: So, were The Dictators the first punk band?
Ross The Boss: Someone said it punk, but not the same punk as Sex Pistols or Clash. The Dictators were bad cars, girls, surfing, beer and partying. That's what we were about! I think that The Dolls were first. Well, I think so, I don't remember.
Rockpages.gr: And after The Dictators you went to France to join with Shakin' Street. Is that right?
Ross The Boss: Yes, our manager Sandy Pearlman managed The Dictators but he managed and the Blue Öyster Cult. The problem was that the Shakin' Street's guitarist was a junky so they kicked him out of the band. So, Sandy suggested me to Fabienne (Shine), because then The Dictators were stopping for a while after their third record. So, they called me up, I said ok as I didn't have anything else to do. I went to France, I played, I blew their heads off and I was in the band!
Rockpages.gr: It was a really quick decision to move in France!
Ross The Boss: Yeah, it was cool! I met a lot of nice people. And then we went on tour to support Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult (Black n' Blue tour), then we went to England to support Black Sabbath and then I met Joey DeMaio.
Rockpages.gr: “In the backstage room you heard the sound...” (laughing)
Ross The Boss: That's right! Everyone knows! (laughing)
Rockpages.gr: And from that point starts your career with Manowar. How it was the early years with Manowar?
Ross The Boss: They were glorious, you know. I think we were creating something new, something that hadn't been before. I think we were pioneers in this genre of music that no one known how to label it yet. It was exciting, we did some very crazy stuff. We definitely stepped up the pace for all the others that would come after us. We rote a lot of things that no one wrote before, we said things that no one said before. We acted the way we felt. We had our first six albums and it was glorious. Every one sounding different from the other.
Rockpages.gr: Can you share with us some of your best moments with Manowar?
Ros The Boss: I have to say our first show in England. We finally got over with the obstacles of the music business Every show we played was ground breaking, because there was no one like this. Many guys tried to copy it but they couldn't.
Rockpages.gr: I wanna ask you a question that I will ways wanted to ask to a Manowar member. How it was to work with Orson Welles?
Ross The Boss: Oh yes, that was one of my crowning moments of my career, I would say. He was a legend growing up, the hottest starlet in Hollywood, he was such a genius. When we had the record contract we had the song “Dark Avenger”, that I wrote with Joey and we needed THIS voice just to make the song. The guy from our record company called his manager in Las Vegas and when he agreed we were like “What, HE will do it?”. I have to tell you that we didn't expect to say yes, but it was really great. Then we sent him the text and the lyrics of “Dark Avenger”. (small pause...) I got to tell you, when he walked out from his limousine on 57 str. NYC, women in with diamonds and coats were stopping and acting like teenage girls, with this guy. His voice was so powerful, we gave him the text and he loved it! He was a really good guy. He gave his voice for Dark Avenger and Defender. He did actually introduced the band which use it until today. He was unbelievable, this guy was like from another planet.
Rockpages.gr: So, the years passed, Kings Of Metal released and you left the band?
Ross The Boss: Actually I was kinda “fired”. Joey wanted just to say that I wanted to play blues music. But this is not the truth...
Rockpages.gr: Did you have something like a fight before Joey “fire” you?
Ross The Boss: No, we were disagreeing about things for the band. It was like a marriage that didn't go well and we have to get divorced. Joey felt that Manowar would be better without me. Ahhhh, I don't think that, but who knows?
Rockpages.gr: Maybe he wanted to change the music style of the band.
Ross The Boss: Yeah, maybe he wanted to play total Power.
Rockpages.gr: After your divorce with Manowar, you hit the stage with them on Earthshaker. How did you feel with that?
Ross The Boss: It was an emotional week. There was many people from Greece, Russia, Israel, America, England, Ireland. It was fantastic. It was an extremely good event but there was not enough time playing the old songs with the old members. There was too much talking I think, but that's fine. We got those two songs which was great.
Rockpages.gr: On the DVD the cameras were stuck on you and Donnie Hamzik.
Ross The Boss: Oh yeah! Donnie plays so fantastic. I think he stole the show actually, he is so good.
Rockpages.gr: Well, at this point I would like to tell me what do you have to say to people who insist to compare the voice of Patrick Fuchs with Eric Adams'?
Ross The Boss: Manowar is Manowar, RTB is RTB. They are oranges we are apples. We are both good, they both trying it. Patrick is just getting better and better. He is a young man that has talent and he is at the beginning of his career. “New Metal Leader” is a start for him and I guarantee you that until the next record is gonna be a step or two or three up from where he is now. He sings fantastic on this record.
Carsten Kettering: He is the best metal singer in Germany right now.
Ross The Boss: I agree with that. Listen, judging from his show on Thursday night, he was really impressive. So,I would say Eric is THE God, but Patrick is weapon that is coming and everyone is about to see it. I know he is coming up in the shadow of Eric because he was in my past band, but just give him a little time. He is gonna be a force in metal. After this tour you gonna see what people will say. He is a tremendous guy, great singer, guitar player, song writer, he plays keyboards. He is a talented young man.
Rockpages.gr: Well, you live in America and your band is in Germany. Tell me, is the distance a big obstacle for the band?
Ross The Boss: No problem. I come here and we are recording in the studio where we do really great work. The things are progressing as they should progress. Everyday something great happens that we are really excited about. You know, this could be a song, an e-mail or a good review.
Rockpages.gr: What do you think about nowadays Heavy Metal music?
Ross The Boss: To be honest with you, I am not very schooled in the Heavy Metal of today. I think my band have a better knowledge of the Heavy Metal scene today. I really don't know a lot about the new bands. I see them in covers of the magazines. The future is good, you know. There are a lot of good bands out there. I like a band called “Volbeat”. I like the old stuff, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. It's a great scene. You can see anybody now!
Rockpages.gr: How it happens to be guest on Wotans' album “Epos”?
Ross The Boss: Those guys are great. I met them at Keep It True. They wanted me to play and I played. I always say yes, I can never say no, that's my problem! But it was an honor to play with them. They are great musicians. They really love the true metal and so I did the piano (Mother Forest) and guitar (Spartacus).