Here on "Behind The Tracks and Behind The Stacks" we explore a release whether it be a single , e.p or a full length lp. We want the background prior to the recording , who were the major shifters and players at the time and well anything else connected.
#1 "The Biz Suxx"by WRATHCHILD with Rocky Shades
Rocky Shades (Vocals) Lance Rokkitt (Guitars)
Eddie Star (Drums) Marc Angel (Bass)
First up on "Behind The Stacks Behind The Tracks " is non other than the god father of Glam Metal and all round cool guy Mr. Rocky Shades of the mighty WRATHCHILD! He joins us today to discuss all and everything about the bands second opus "The Biz Suxx" and a bit more besides!
The man , the myth , the legend in action at Nottingham "Mardi Gras" club 1986
Hi Rocky thanks for your time. I want to concentrate on "The Biz Suxx" for this section of the website , but lets get some background leading up to that record. After you released and toured "Stakk Attakk" the band was really on a high , what with RCA America showing interest in the band , the video you shot for T.V (Later released on VHS and DVD as "War Machine") and all the press you had. What songs did you record and was it just for RCA America or was it for them and Heavy Metal Records and where musically were you aiming for with those tracks?
Above The press advert that showed RCA America's interest in the band was serious but how far it could have gone we will never know!
Rocky Shades ; The RCA America interest was such that they wanted to re-record Stakk Attakk but Heavy Metal Records stopped them dead. The demo for RCA America featured songs we never got to record but part played live , this came before "Bizz Suxx". Nobody has a copy of the badly rushed 10 track demo. The songs on it were , "give It All You Got" , "Blood On The Blade" , "Knock You Out" , "Hoodlum" , "She's No Angel" , "Christina" , "Can't Stop Me Now" , "Boys Get Ready" and "Rebel Running Wild". Musically we would have been Motley Crue......heavy anthems about sex and partying....with money behind us our stage shows would have been explosive and much more dangerous! The tenth track I've just remembered was called "Girls All Out To Get You". Only "Hoodlum" was played live at "Mardi Gras" club in Notts in Decemeber 86. And of course "She's No Angel" which survived to feature on "The Bizz Suxx".
As ever the wonderful Wrathchild Fan Club kept us abreast (ahem) with all the Wrath news we could handle!
Such as shame that those recordings haven't surfaced but we live in hope! So with Heavy Metal Records putting a stop to the RCA America deal it must have seemed that all the bands hard work had all been in vain , that must have been crushing for you all. Did you or Heavy Metal Records try to move forward at this point?
R.S ; I started rehearsing with the punk band "Discharge" .Rocky far right
We (Wrathchild) were all drawn back to each other eventually and "The Biz Suxx" was the reward. We toured to promote "The Biz Suxx" but the legal toll virtually wiped out our coffers so we couldn't advance or progress. The manager of Heavy Metal Records recently admitted to me he fucked up fucking us up coz we could have earned him a fortune! But he was young and making a point. A real expensive pissing contest.
Yes such a shame , really it was because you were right up there and with the right handling and cash , life could have been a lot different for all concerned. When you did get back together was the Heavy Metal Records deal still there or did you renegotiate with Heavy Metal Records?
R.S ; "Deliruim" was a contractual obligation album....the deal just was what it was and we never made up with Heavy Metal Records while both "The bIz Suxx" and "Deliruim" came and went. No new deal was struck we just limped along hoping something would happen but all that happened was we turned on each other......rock brothers who would have stood back to back and fought the world reduced to snidey pot shots at each other with the blame gun.
Yes it sounds like the fault is firmly at the door of the label (Heavy Metal Records) because for us , the fans , we couldn't get enough and you like all great bands seemed like a gang. It is so sad that it all happened , but as an aside I do hope time can heal some wounds and can once again bring you all back together and bring some harmony to the whole situation. But if we could get back to better times , how much of the material was in used older stuff and what was newly written for "The Biz Suxx"
R.S ; Although we do all hate each other. Only one song was old and unused and that was "She's No Angel". All the others were written for it and it was my idea to bring in female backing vox. The album was written on the road so tracks were played live before and recording was done. I remember playing "She's No Angel" , "O.K. U.K." and "New Sensation" before recording the album. Written on the road and honed in the rehearsal room.
Well obviously you work very well under pressure! Yes talking of live , you mentioned that you played "Boys Get Ready" at the Mardi Gras in Nottingham in 86. I remember those gigs and in 1987 at the same venue you played "Boy Get Ready" again along with "Rip Time" also. When did the three track demo get recorded ("Rip Time" , "Noo Sensation" and "R.O.C.K. Machine") and was that to shop to other labels or just to document the music and move on?
R.S ; I think that three track demo was recorded in 86 and it was just for our use to see how the new sound leaning sounded to outsiders. Because we did that 3 track demo none of the tracks were included on the RCA America demo. To be honest the three track demo was a means to keep our interest as a band as it was so hopeless a situation we found ourselves in we needed to something to focus on.
Yes I thought so but it is killer! "Rip Time" is a classic , did it just not make the cut as you had so many newies?
R.S ; It was a bone of contention our self declared leader wanted to record all new stuff for the RCA America demo...I thought Rip Time and R.O.C.K. Machine were our best of the later tracks....and was outvoted by the others because Stan (Marc Angel) had that way with the others. If I ever get my version of Wrathchild together I would include "Rip Time" and "R.O.C.K. Machine" in the set.
The Biz Suxx era wrathchild. left to right Eddie Star , Lance Rokkitt , Rocky and Marc Angel.
So it was a clearing of the decks , I can understand that but , a great song is a great song no matter who it was written for . By the way I would LOVE to see another Rocky version of Wrathchild! Back to "The Bizz Suxx" what made you choose producer Guy Bidmead (who had worked with Motorhead , Exciter , Warefare ,Gene Lvs Jezebel etc...) was that a label decision?
R.S ; I think it was coz we'd never heard of him before ..in fairness he did a fine job
Yes he did for sure! Was he a producer in the full sense of the word , helping with arrangements etc.. or was he shall we say just a studio guy?
R.S ; He was a hands on guy (pun intended) he suggested loads of stuff most of it Stan turned down but the bits that got through were well good
O.k cool , the record does still sound fresh , new and a quality product so he did his job well. Was he into the female backing singers that you wanted? They worked a treat on "Ring My Bell" that was classic Wrathchild. What else did he suggest? Was it re-arranging songs or just nipping and tucking of the material?
R.S ; He rearranged stuff , he included sound effects and ad libs like on "Ring My Bell" with the girl and the phone slamming down which I said was crap coz it sounded like a toilet seat slamming , also robotic Lance voice on "Holliganz" etc... The only problem with the female backing singers was they were a big distraction ...me and Lance kept them entertained if you catch my drift!
HAHA! The real reason for the backing singers revealed he exclusively on suitsandtheplatformboots.com ha ha !
Ok if we could now do a kind of track by track of the record and you just let me know what comes to mind?
So let's start with the title track "The Biz Suxx". A nice little nod of the head to Mott The Hoople . I don't doubt they were an influence but were they a major one?
R.S ; I was a very big Mott fan and I did try to do a sort of Ian Hunter vocal , the song title and album title were my doing , there was even a touch of Hanoi Rocks to that song. "Millionaire" was mostly written by Lance , old school glam. "Hooked" was originally called "Hooked On A Girl Who's Bad" my favourite kind of sleaze very rhythmic. "Wild Wild Honey" is the Wrath metal direction I wanted to go.. lyrics by Zodiac Mindwarp and White Zombie influenced. "Ring My Bell" co written by Stan and me he put most of it together and I added bits like the second verse. Stan used to start with a chorus and usually one verse.. I would then do other verses and pre chorus. Sometimes his chorus became one chorus and I added another chorus.
"Stikky Fingerz" and "She's No Angel" are my favourites anything about those two tracks?
R.S ; "She's No Angel" was the only surviour from the RCA America tape but this version was slightly different , Stan wrote most of "She's No Angel" he had a verse pattern and a chorus....originally the names of the kids in the song were not Sammy and Suzie but something else....can't remember of the top of my head but I changed the bloke's name to Sammy after Sammy Curr from the "Trick or Treat" film. "Stikky Fingerz" was a jigsaw , the song hadn't got a name until I started singing the ad lib at the end , then we all agreed what a great song title it would make. "Stikky Fingerz" , "New Sensation" and "Hooked" were staple live songs well before the album recording.
Yes I remember them well , what about "O.K. U.K."?
R.S ; "O.K. U.K." came slightly later but again well before album recording. It was total Lance tune with my lyrics as was "Holliganz".
..And lastly "Nukklear Rokket"?
R.S ; Ah "Nuke" ....Stan came up with the verse and chorus..I added a second verse and a third which didn't quite work so I repeated verse one again. The middle eight is mine as were the ad libs.
A big single for you for sure , in hindsight do you wish the video that you shot with Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden vocalist) was a little too comedy and maybe harmed the single or did you want that angle as not to look po-faced like lots of the American stuff at the time?
Behind the scenes of the "Nukklear Rokket" video shot left to right cameraman Marc Angel , Bruce Dickinson , Eddie Star & Rocky
R.S ; It was Bruce's idea and I thought it was great...and you know us we are tongue in cheek so we wanted slapstick and rock pantomime fools. We were described in someone's rock book as pantomime fools and I though that was true to us
Yes I loved the video I just wondered of your thoughts today almost 30 years later. So the album seemed to do really well do you know how many copies you sold or any other details of its success on paper and did you get any offers from elsewhere at the time due to its success?
R.S; We never found out sales figures , we got no offers because the name "Wrathchild" was synonymous with trouble after all our legal shit ....we were too unstable to handle apparently. Jimmy lea of Slade heard our RCA America demo as he was potential producer and he told us it wasn't hooky enough. Which is why "The Biz Suxx" became ultra hooky.
Once again Heavy Metal Records at the centre of the chaos. Jim Lea wow! that could have been very interesting! However , him saying its not hooky enough made the record better ,so he kind of produced it without knowing it! Did you see and money from the lp and single sales or was it just through the touring? I remember you played everywhere on that tour and most ( if not all ) the shows were packed houses because of all the work you had done before leading up to that point and as you mentioned earlier that was the reward for you all.
R.S. ; Due to the legal money vacuum cleaner we didn't see any of the money from the sales , the only reward we got was knowing our fans were getting value for money live , we were on "constant recoup funds" contract for recording and promotion which means you seem to always owe money to the record label.
Just bad luck really but the tour must have been fun! lol!!
R.S.; Hell yeah when we were all friends we had a ball....most people throw a party , we WERE the party!
Totally and that was a massive part of Wrathchild the fun , the party and the hot nasty females! But after the dust settles it must be the songs that stand up and for me nearly 30 years on its still trashy , catchy and sleazy as it was in 1988. I think it is due to you having those important 70's glam influences and not just the Van Halen American vibe and that for me was what set you apart from all the others then and still now! So Rocky what are your thoughts on "The Biz Suxx" nearly 30 years later?
R.S.; I was heavily influence by 70's glam but Van Halen is still my favourite band along side S.A.H.B. (Sensational Alex Harvey Band) . I still play "Biz" now and it's pure class and better production than "Stakk Attakk" ....I just get angry when I hear Stan singing and playing coz he ruined so much and I'll never forgive him and neither will the others (Lance and Eddie).
Yes Van Halen along with the 70's is the best mix for sure , for me anyway but one without the other is a little too one dimensional. So overall not all bad thoughts just a little negativity about the time but on the whole still a positive time , yes?
R,S, ; Yes . Musically I'm a very complex person I listen so much it all influences me as an artist. I love music like the "Blues Brothers" , "Downchild Blues Band" , classic Blues , classic Soul , some Motown classics , some 60's stuff and wild stuff like Ted Nugent And Dave Lee Roth...
It's all a melting pot and what materializes is unique to each artist and that is the whole joy of music. So let's bring it back to present day what's on the horizon for Mr. Rocky Wreckless Shades?
R.S ; "Wildside Riot" ( Rocky's current band , if you are reading this , then I assume you have the awesome "No Second Take" cd .iI not go grab it, IT is killer! ) will be back after Oz finishes his chemotheraphy , I'm doing gigs with my son as "Barclay Blues Brothers" and working on gigs and recording with "the Handsome Beasts" just enjoying life shared between my lovely girlfriend Julie and my video games.
Oz in chemo we didn't know that best wishes to him! Only best wishes from here to you and yours Rocky thanks again for your time and onward and upward for you all. LOVE ON YA!
R.S.; Back at you my friend and maybe our paths cross soon. It's been a real pleasure anything else you want to ask later feel free man.
Heavy Metal Records have released "The Biz Suxx" many times but this was the last cd issue with a picture on the inlay of "Stakk Attakk" image??? Record companies what can you do?????
Interview conducted march 2018.
Photographs from suitsandtheplatformboots vaults.