Interview with Stevie Rachelle; January 2004

Stevie Rachelle's a veteran. Whether singing solo, in Tuff, or with CWA, he's always stuck to his guns concerning his musical style. I had a chance to speak with Rachelle concerning his history as well as current musical endeavors and found him to be rather candid about all topics discussed.

Q1. How ya' doing? Have a fun holiday season?

A1. Good, always! Look for all of the Tuff home videos on DVD coming soon @ http://www.tuffcds.com

Q2. What currently is holding your musical attention? Solo projects, Tuff, or CWA?

A2. All 3 and then some. Tuff is a part of me and I will never let it go. Never. It's like a family to me. I embrace all of my work past, present and future. Sure I like some parts, songs, or memories better than others, but either way it's all still relative to me. Fortunately for me, it's also still relevant to many music fans as well.

Q3. When I first saw the video for I Hate Kissing You Goodbye, I honestly thought you were Bret Michaels. Was this intentional and, in retrospect, would you have changed anything about this?

A3. Thank you and I'll take that as a compliment. And no I wouldn't change a thing, except for a few more million copies sold. That would be a good change. I guess I could have been compared to Meatloaf or Lemmy Kilmeister had I looked like them too, no disrespect to them, but Bret was known for his looks as well as talent. There is no shame here in having some physical attributes. As for it being intentional, it was no more than Bret being compared to DLR when Poison came out. And if you have some memory, DLR was compared to Jim Dandy when Van Halen broke big. If you look at childhood pictures of Bret and myself, you'll see 2 young guys from the Midwest with a similar look. Bret grew up listening to Van Halen and it was Motley Crue that kicked him in the ass to head west. It was the same for me, only Poison kicked me in the ass to make that same move.

Q4. Keeping with the earlier question, I Hate Kissing You Goodbye was one of the last hair/glam videos to make it on MTV before Nirvana hit. Do you feel any animosity as a result? Also, what do you think was responsible for killing the scene?

A4. Rehashing this question for years is very old to me. I really liked Nirvana when I heard them, but they obviously had a significant negative impact on the future of my band & the hair era as a whole. Grunge, the Seattle scene and the industry killed the era no doubt. However, Rap, MTV & the industry again, are currently responsible for killing even more. Rock n' roll as a whole has been dragged thru the mud for a while now; hopefully it will make a surge and give us some respect again.

Q5. Tuff stuck with their sound in the mid 90's while many of their contemporaries went more alternative. What was your opinion with the seeming quickness of other bands to alter their music and style to meet whatever was popular at the time?

A5. My opinion is, to each his own. Everyone has a choice and so do I. I prefer to be proud of and embrace what I have done; others are shamed by their past and try to hide from it as well. Yet, some of these very individuals are still accepting a paycheck for the very thing they are most ashamed of. It kind of contradicts itself in my eyes.

Q6. Please compare and contrast working as an independent artist with being on a major label.

A6. Being on a major label is a little bit dreamy for sure. They (the label) will take the band out to fancy places to eat and foot the bill (wink-wink), orchestrate limo pick ups and VIP entrance to select 'in crowd' current events & they'll even let you sit in their conference room all day using their phones to call anyone you want globally. This all helps to make you feel important and creates the illusion of success to most who sign a deal. They'll also let you raid the product (CDs/DVDs) closet and go home with hundreds of dollars (retail) worth of music. In reality these pieces cost them about a quarter each. So, if you take home 100 CDs, they really only gave you $25.00 worth. They (the whole label, publishing company, writers, photographers, fellow musicians, producers, & more) will all blow massive amounts of smoke up your ass and make you feel like your going to be the next big thing. Because if you are 'the next big thing' (1 out of every several hundred groups signed) you can bet your ass that they want in on some % of that 'big thing.' Little do you know the band who comes in on Tuesday gets the same treatment you got on Monday. They make you feel special but your usually no more important to them than the choice of a dinner menu. In reality, those very same people will shun you like a leper the day after your MAJOR label deal goes away. Indy labels are definitely different. They wont give you 100 CDs & they wont pay for too many (if at all) fancy lunches. Other than that, it's the same smoke and your ass in the end.

Q7. These days, how important is the Internet for a band's publicity? How much do you depend on publication in webzines and such and what would be your ideal webzine, were you to publish one?

A7. The Internet can have a great impact, providing you know what to do with it. If you have a good product of any sort, it's up to you to promote it. It doesn't matter if K-Mart, Wal-Mart & Shopko all carry your item. If your item is a piece of dog shit and cost $ 20.00 each, chances are not many people will buy it. However, if you have nude photos of Britney Spears with a donkeys nuts in her mouth and it cost .99 cents to see it, chances are you'll make some money.

Q8. As an artist, do you feel that the RIAA represents you and your endeavors?

A8. Sounds like a political question. Yes & no.

Q9. What's your opinion of mainstream music over the last ten years?

A9. It's been good, bad & ugly. For me - the Good = Kid Rock, Puddle of Mud, Foo Fighters, Backstreet Boys, Shania Twain, & Murderdolls. The Bad = N-Sync, Jessica Simpson, Andrew WK & 50 Cent. The Ugly = Bubba Sparxx, O-town, Evanscense, Metallica, & Staind.

Q10. The CWA project seemingly came out of nowhere and was huge. Please describe how this came together.

A10. I'm obviously into music, but have also been a huge sports fan and avid Packer fan since a child. I came up with an idea to do 'theme' songs about the Packers & Wisconsin in general. I then wrote, recorded it, released it, and many true Cheeseheads embraced it in a big way. Since 1996 I have released 4 CDs and a home video on VHS as well. My combined sales of CWA would be certified Multi-Platinum in many countries. Go Pack!

Q11. When you write for solo efforts, do you approach it in a different manner than writing for a band situation? Please discuss.

A11. I write several ways for all of my projects. Some songs start out as a lyric or title only. While some others start off as a simple riff or a 3-4 chord chorus. Some of these songs are crafted in minutes and some sit and get re-worked over years. I feel I'm a better lyricist than a musical player, so with that said I have been more than happy to share credits, or even sing other writers songs. In other words, I like to co-write with a good musical player and arranger, and take the song & sound lyrically where I want.

Q12. Here's a series of either/or questions. Please feel free to drop in explanations wherever you see fit.

A. Comes around or Goes around?

Comes because it rhymes with cums.

B. Christmas in Wisconsin or California?

Wisconsin for the snow, I guess?

C. Thunder and Mud or Decline of Western Civilization Part II?

Decline, Thunder was fairly ridiculous.

D. American Idol or Barney?

American Idol, Simon tells it like it is.

E. Hair Weave or Shaved Head?

Neither. Baseball hat or a head band for me.

F. Hard Rock or Pop Metal?

Hard rock.

G. James Lofton or Sterling Sharpe?

James Lofton, even though he was accused of rape!

Q13. California's had a smoking ban in restaurants and bars for several years and now it seems to be gaining strength in other parts of the country. What's your opinion on this?

A13. Great idea. I'm a non-smoker and have been my whole life.

Q14. You're a veteran of the scene. What bands did you see on a club level and were sure they were going to be huge and weren't?

A14. Brunette was great, they turned into Hardline. Vain was great too. I saw Broken Toys when we played in St. Louis with them. We (Tuff) thought they were great as well and told them they HAD to find their way to LA and showcase. They did, got signed and changed their name to King of the Hill. Also saw Pariah when we played Texas. Sims (RIP) was a super nice guy and I thought they were good as well. All of these bands got signed to major label deals but nobody got huge. Too bad for all of us, but hey there isn't enough room at the top for everyone right?

Q15. What five CDs have been getting the most spins in your stereo of late?

A15. David Alan Coe, Metal Shop, Lita Ford "Hits", Black n' Blue "ST" and Foothooker. Any new bands you think our readers should be keeping an eye out for? To go against the grain, NOT The Darkness. Too much hype and the label will likely forget about them as fast as they signed them. Providing they don't sell 3 million copies or more. I'm betting they wont!

Q16. In your best description, please define a Jizzy.

A16. Singer of many bands, survivor, smarter than most, hot better half.

Q17. In this section, please promote any shows, materials, projects that you'd like.

A17. Recent CD release by RLS include: Tuff "Live in the UK", Jim Gillette/NITRO "Proud to be Loud" (re-issue), CWA "Greatest Slices of..." and don't forget Tuff "The History of Tuff" featuring the smash hit "American Hair Band" as heard on XM Radio and 80s Heavy Metal Hair Shows Nationwide. All are @ http://www.tuffcds.com

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.

You're very welcome, Stevie Rachelle / TUFF

Interviewed by Lycan Davis

Visit Stevie's Website