BOBBY BLOTZER: TAIL OF A RATT
Bobby Blotzer’s life reads like something out of the mind of a Hollywood screenwriter. Raised in a blue collar neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA, he achieved fame and fortune playing drums for Ratt in the mid-‘80s, only to find himself, and the kind of hard rock his band played, out of fashion throughout the ‘90s. During the time when boy bands and pop punk acts like Blink 182 and The Offspring ruled the Billboard charts, Blotzer figured out new ways to keep busy and make money. One of the things he did was start a small steam cleaning carpet business. Here was a guy who had headlined Madison Square Garden driving a van around Los Angeles and hustling Scotch Guard to housewives who might have had Out of the Cellar in their music collection. The music business can be cruel.
Despite the career turn of events, Blotzer pushed forward, and the musical climate finally was ready for Ratt’s brand of Sunset Strip kissed rock-n-roll. The band signed to Roadrunner Records in 2009 and recently released Infestation, one of the finest hard rock albums of the last few years – period. Even though Blotzer was busy writing and recording the record, he still found time to finish Tales of a Ratt, his newly released autobiography.
Anyone familiar with the drummer already knows that he’s never been one to hold back his feelings. If you’re looking for inside stories about Ratt and the golden age of the Sunset Strip, the book will not disappoint you. There is plenty of shit talking too. Don Dokken, Nikki Sixx, and Kevin DuBrow (the late lead singer of Quiet Riot) are among some of Blotzer’s targets. There are some grammar issues and spelling mistakes throughout the book, but that’s beside the point. The way I like to explain Tales of a Ratt to people is this: imagine sitting next to Bobby at the bar at The Rainbow, and he’s telling you stories without any kind of filter.
Metal Sucks spoke with Bobby a few days after he was arrested for DUI, though he didn’t mention it during the interview. As you’ll read below Blotzer seems a bit uneasy about the current state of Ratt. He complains about vocalist Stephen Pearcy and lead guitarist Warren DeMartini and their stubbornness. A few days after our interview, Ratt cancelled their European tour, saying that Pearcy needed to undergo hernia surgery. Hopefully Ratt can get everything worked out and get back out on the road, because Infestation is worth the hassle. Check out the interview below and make sure you also pick up Tales of a Ratt directly from Blotzer’s official website today.
How long had you wanted to write an autobiography before you actually started putting Tales of a Ratt together?
Over the years, a lot of my friends would bring the idea up to me. They tried to coax me to do it since I was always telling stories about the road and band. So I’ve thought about it through the years. I had time off in 2008 and I met a guy named Jim Clayton, who was a screenwriter. He really got me working on it. He helped me get all of this stuff in order and for it all to flow.
You have always seemed like a very hyperactive person. How tough was it to sit down and actually start writing?
Jim Clayton assembled the material together. He actually did most of the typing (laughter). But once I started thinking back about all of these stories, things just flowed. Luckily, I have a great memory and it all came out in the book. It took about a year and a half to complete the book.
Did you worry about catching any grief from some of the people you mention in the book? Did you warn some of your old friends and band mates?
Not too much. I’m telling the truth and it’s my story – my book. If people want, they can write their own book. Look, I remember when Barbara Walters came out with her autobiography a few years ago – people in her family were really pissed off. But it’s what she wanted to write about.
Did anyone in Ratt get nervous about possibly being mentioned in a negative light?
I just remember Stephen and Warren wanting to read it before I printed it. It was like they wanted to approve it. But fuck that! It’s my book [laughs]. I don’t think I really said anything that bad about them in the book. I stepped pretty softly when it came to stuff about the Ratt camp. The book wasn’t designed to embarrass people in my family. Most of shit in there is public anyway. In the end, I’m still in a business relationship with Stephen and Warren.
“Business relationship” makes it all sound kind of stiff. Is that how you look at Ratt?
Look, it’s just the truth. We have to treat this like a business. I can’t relate to someone with a sub-business mentality. It’s a day to day struggle for me. I’ve been playing in Ratt for 28 years and I still don’t have job security. There’s always some bullshit going on with us.
I’ve always been the kind of person that shows up on time and does my job. Some people that are in the band, or used to be, don’t treat Ratt with that type of respect. We have a great thing going with this new album and the public’s interest – but people take it for granted. I never have.
You called out Don Dokken on a bunch of things, including telling your ex-wife some personal stuff about you during a difficult time in your relationship. You later got Dokken, the band, taken off a co-headling tour you did with Poison. Have you heard from him since the book has been released?
No, I haven’t, but if I did see him, I would be cordial. That stuff was many moons ago. We’re not going to be close anymore, but we have a long history together. I played with him in bands when were both starting out. Years later, Ratt and Dokken got popular around the same time – so there is a long history there.
His ex-wife wanted to read the book before it came out, because she wanted to make sure I didn’t talk about their daughter negatively – which I didn’t. I’m still friendly with them, even though I don’t talk to Don.
Don sounds like a lot of work. [laughs]
You don’t even know! [laughs] But he’s always been like that.
You were very candid about your financial struggles in the ‘90s, when Ratt wasn’t as popular as you guys had been a few years earlier. It seems like your blue collar Pittsburgh upbringing really prepared you for those days. How tough was it thinking back to that time?
It’s not tough at all, because I am proud of my upbringing. I moved around a lot when I was young, and then we settled out here in Los Angeles with my late stepfather. But I’ve been out on my own since I was 16 years old. I don’t have rich parents or anything like that. I’ve been very successful in my music career, but I’m not set for life. I always have a fear of not having money. I live with that every day of my life.
I remember reading an interview with Frankie Valli and he said he still went out on the road most of the year, because he needed to make the money. Now that’s a guy that you would think would be set for life. He’s had so many hit pop songs, but there he is, hustling like he’s still in his 20s. Don’t get me wrong – I have a big beautiful house and I do OK, but I can’t sit around like I have millions and millions in the bank. We’re all out here trying to survive.
You talk about getting offers for weekend shows a few years back, and certain people in Ratt not wanting to do them.
Yeah, that was so annoying! Warren wouldn’t want to do them because he didn’t want to deal with a layover at some airport. That’s the kind of shit I deal with. He’s a rich kid, so he didn’t care about the cash as much.
You talked about getting resourceful, and going back to some of the things you did before you found fame. One of them was running your own carpet cleaning business.
Yeah, the ‘90s weren’t easy for bands like us. I had to do what I had to do. I brought in decent money doing that business. But I’d rather make my money playing music. I don’t get it when people in the band make it harder than it has to be. We went through a drawn-out lawsuit and it was such a waste of time and money. Like me, Stephen isn’t rich, so that makes it even harder to understand for me. All I ever wanted to do was just go out there and make money on the road. Warren doesn’t always have that urgency. He grew up with money. He’s a trust fund kid, but I’m not – so I have to figure out ways to make money.
Earlier in our call, you sounded very uneasy about Ratt’s current situation.
I just see some of the things that were problems coming up again. I don’t get it. I’m never not thinking about this band falling apart, because of the way Ratt operates. It’s not me, dude. It’s my 2 business partners. Even now with the album’s success, there are power struggles within the band. I just want to tell them, “Come on guys — let’s just go out there and kick ass!” But they make it more complicated.
All I have to say is that if everything falls apart again for us; I’ll just write an amendment to the book with all of this new shit. Hopefully people wake up, and get their shit together. I just want to go out there and play.