Bobby Blotzer of RATT

I recently had the opportunity to interview Bobby "The Blotz" Blotzer from the 80s Glam Metal band, RATT. I had read his autobiography, Tales of a Ratt, a few weeks earlier and found it so entertaining that I HAD to get the Blotz to do a little interview for Rockin Lifestyle. Bobby was a major drumming influence when I was growing up; all I wanted to do in the 80s was bang hot chicks, play rock 'n' roll, and hang out on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. The problem was, I was living in New Jersey with my parents and was14 years old at the time; all the hot chicks were a lot older than me and wouldn't give me the time of the day!  I remember sitting in class thinking, I wanna do cool shit and be in a band like Motley Crue or RATT. Somebody get me the fuck outta here! Bobby and RATT represented a brighter and cooler future for me and tons of other kids that wanted to rebel against their parents and the masses of society. Unfortunately, the story I had imagined and what had really happened with one of my favorite bands were not the same at all.  Bobby tells a much different story then the one I had imagined in my suburban junior high classroom. He tells a story of the ups and downs of the music industry, dealing with different personalities in a successful band, and "doing what you got to do" to survive.  He was one of the most down-to-earth dudes I've ever spoken to and it was a pleasure and inspiration to do this interview with him. 

PK: Blotz, I’m stoked to be interviewing you! You and Ratt were an essential part of my upbringing – me being a child of the 80s and all. Ratt was practically the soundtrack of my teenage years. Tell us about the band’s new record, Infestation. I’ve been hearing lots of great things about it.

BB: Yeah, our record was a pretty big success this year. I just found out yesterday that we were entered into the nominations for the Grammy’s.

PK: That’s incredible considering all the ups and downs Ratt has dealt with over the years. A lot of bands never get back to that kind of musical success again – though I ain’t sayin’ no names! I read that your album reached number# 30 in the country a few months back. Is that right?

BB: Yeah, it’s Billboard’s number 30 in the States and in the top five in Japan. It’s a record that we’re all proud of.

PK: Many bands would go ape shit just to be where you guys are on the music charts. On top of that, you also released an autobiography entitled Tales of a RATT, which I must say was very entertaining. I thought it was really cool of you to write about your struggles in your personal life and in the music industry. As you were writing the book, did you have any concerns about a possible backlash from some of the people you talk about and the stories you tell about the reality of the music business and playing in a successful band?

BB: Well you know, what’s there to worry about? I didn’t want to expose or embarrass anybody. But, you know, I’m telling my story. It’s my story. It’s the truth and I have a great memory. And whether or not Stephen or Warren or anybody that I mention in the book get ruffled feathers about an issue, I have a right to freedom of speech, to tell my story. Like I said, it wasn’t about exposing anyone or a tabloid kind of thing. I mean, I could die next week and I wanted my story out there, to be known. Stephen contradicts himself by saying none of us should be out there putting out anything except music, and that the book isn’t true – , though I doubt he’s even read the book. But yet he’s going to do a book? I just sit back and go, “‘ok [whatever].”’. …

BB cont’d: Stephen is getting frustrated that he’s not getting what his demands are from this band. Somebody sent me, actually it was a radio interview that I woke up to this morning, of Stephen crying about the book and how I alienated my audience. It’s just the fact Stephen’s frustrated he doesn’t own the name “RATT,” and I am the ward of the name. I still want to treat him like a brother, but Stephen’s always been at arms’ length.

PK: I don’t think you alienated anybody. You basically told a story from your point of view. That’s what we got: your own point of view. There are a lot of stories in your book about your own personal struggles; like working with the candy vending machines, becoming a real-estate agent and steam cleaning carpets in fucked up neighborhoods. If you only wanted to make yourself look good and expose other people, you wouldn’t have put those things in your book. And I think, if anything, that’s a bigger connection to Ratt fans to put yourself out there and let them know that you guys are all human.

BB: That’s absolutely part of the story. When we broke up I still had to take care of my family. If I had to mow lawns to take care of my family, I’d do it. I’ve done a lot of different things for work before Ratt. Obviously I bought that flower shop and I didn’t know anything about the flower business. That was something my ex-wife-wife took care of and I took out the money to buy it. That was one of our family businesses.

PK: Tales of a RATT also seems like a wakeup call for young people who want to enter the music industry. It seems like a recurring theme in every rock ‘n’ roller’s autobiography: no matter how much money you make, you better save some for when times change, because they always will. No matter how much is coming in, how great things seem to be, you have to ultimately treat it like a business. I think that a lot of times creative types don’t like to think of the business aspect and tend to look at it as if they are selling out. The reality of it is that it is a business.

BB: I wish I had the knowledge I have now back then because we thought we had our thumb on the pulse, but we didn’t. We were just so happy to be earning a living that we weren’t really keeping our eyes on the ball. We did a lot of spending in our band that, now looking back now, it would have been nice to have really delegated instead of being delegated to. What we were doing, what we were spending, how we were spending it. Hindsight is always 20/20.

PK: As a kid, I was always inspired by your drumming. I learned how to play “Lay it Down” in 8th grade and it actually helped me get chicks, though I wasn’t literally “laying it down.” You’ve always been a really creative drummer with a strong groove. A lot of drummers from that era had good groove but you always had a nice pocket and you had interesting parts as well.

BB: Thank you, I appreciate that compliment, that’s nice. That comes from being schooled on music like Motown, The Beatles, 60s stuff; music where the drummer’s job is to have a great groove and play the song – not just about highlighting myself. It’s about highlighting the song that we were playing. Groove and respect the song.

PK: Right. There were a lot of drummers during that time period that did groove, but were boring as shit. Sometimes you would play some technical fills and parts, but it always fit within the song – like You’re in Love. The end of that song is just so explosive with the crazy drum parts but they don’t get in the way. That’s one of the cool things about your drumming style, you fit the song, groove and make sure everything fits in the pocket without fucking up the jam; tasteful drumming without losing personality.

BB: Thanks man. I appreciate the kind words. I’m just doing my job man. I’m doing the best I can and that’s all anybody can do.

PK: After reading your book and sensing your frustration with the business side of things in Ratt, it reminds me of how fucking silly all this is. Most bands don’t get this kind of opportunity or another “shot” at success again. When Grunge hit in the early 90s, it was like the “housing market crash” for Metal. Finally, after all these years, Ratt is back again, and even better – - with Stephen on vocals! We’ve seen in the past, Ratt has to work as a unit, much like Motley Crue, or there is no band.

BB: The problem is that there are no leaders in this band. It’s all Indians and no chiefs. It’s not like we have a Nikki Sixx or a band leader who is business-worthy, in my opinion, – that who could lead this band. That’s the frustration. But we make good music, we perform well. I don’t know man, the problem – the why, the this, the that – I think it’s a reverse thing on certain levels for some people. For some people, the more successes they have coming in, the more they tend to go the other way, rather than embrace it. They run the other way. And then you have an element that, the more things start becoming successful, the more the ego starts rearing its head. They kind of sabotage it because of ego. It’s hard to get business done now.

PK: It kind of sucks for the fans, because what Ratt does is provide enjoyment, entertainment, and a musical contribution to the world. It’s something special that most bands just dream about.

BB: You sound like a reasonable person and that’s the key word: – being reasonable. If people aren’t reasonable, there’s a problem.

PK: Give us an update of what else you’ve been working on. Your book is out and the stories were really compelling. I’d almost encourage you to do motivational speaking regarding all of the things you’ve been through and the lessons you’ve learned. You seemed to have learned a lot.

BB: I don’t know if that’s my calling, but I’m working on another book right now which is going to be an interactive book with fans, for people like yourself who liked the book, that have questions. The running title right now is “Things That YOU Need to Know,” which is going to involve people sending me their picture and their questions and then I’ll publish their question, their picture and where they are from, and I’m going to answer them honestly. That’s the next project. I’ve also got a reality show that’s about to start shooting, which I really can’t talk about at this point right now, with five other well- known musicians. And I’m getting into some other things too outside of that, just to keep busy,; keep income coming in, my brain stimulated and see what happens with Ratt and our break. We don’t really know what’s next. The record company’s going to exercise an option here for another record. We are going to have to start writing a lot. I’m already planning on doing a [self] record here in the next 45 days with backlog material that I have – working with Jeff Pilson (formerly of Dokken, now with Foreigner).

PK: Jeff Pilson fucking rules.

BB: Yeah he’s great. He’s my neighbor and one of my best friends. He’s an amazing musician and a great person. And Also, I’m producing a female artist that I’ll be talking about as soon as we finish inking the deal.

PK: So you’ve been plugging away and keeping yourself busy in between Ratt involvement.

BB: Yeah, definitely. I leave this weekend for a convention which where I’ll be autographing and signing books, drumsticks, 8x 10s and getting the chance to meet the fans one on one.

PK: Are you doing any drums clinics?

BB: I’m not interested in that now. Some of the people that do clinics really have it down to a science. I think I’ve done one in my entire career and it was with a handful of guys that were incredible. They are teachers, I’m not a teacher.

PK: Based on what I’ve read in your book, you seem more like a teacher of life.

BB: If you can learn life from my trials and tribulations, well then yeah.

PK: Since Ratt is on hiatus right now, when are you dudes going to tour again?

BB: Probably a couple months, take the rest of this year off. There’s been talks about doing Australia, Japan, Korea, the Pacific Rim in February – - we’ll see. Now it’s time for Stephen to play with his solo toy , go out there, do what he does. I don’t know what Warren is doing. I hear he’s doing a couple shows with Dee Snyder’s Christmas shows or something.

PK: In your book you mention your rocky relationship with former Ratt bassist, Juan Croucier – do you guys speak anymore?

BB: No. We tried. You read the book, so you know the whole story. What has it been now…, like 25 years since Juan has been a performing musician? He’s like “left the building” forever. He had his chance to come back and left.

PK: Man, some of those Don Dokken stories in your book were funny as hell. I laughed my ass off when you described Don as “Methuselah” when you first met him!

BB: {laughs} The funny thing is, is that he is going to be involved in this show that I’m working on so that is going to make for an interesting spot.

PK: Are you guys cool?

BB: I mean look, we’re brothers that don’t really hang out. We had a falling out in ’98 and it’s never come back. But you know, he’s aware of the book. He hasn’t said anything to me, I mean what can could you say? Am I lying? I mean, anybody, show me in the book where that’s not true. Show me. I’m always a phone call away. They can’t because what I put in there is the truth. Not to expose or embarrass you, but when I’m telling the story of my life, I can’t leave certain things out that are key components. Good, bad or ugly, these are the seeds of the movie… I’m not going to rewrite the movie because you don’t like the portrayal of your role. And that’s the way I feel about it.

PK: Until I had read your book, I had no idea that you played drums on Stick to Your Guns and two other tracks on Dokken’s first album. As a kid, I’d think, “Why does Mick Brown sound so different on these songs? Did he all of a sudden decide to play cooler shit or something?” Don’t get me wrong, I liked Mick’s austere drumming style- it just wasn’t as appealing to a young fourteen- year- old at the time. I was into Tommy Aldridge, Bonham, and Alex Van Halen back then. It was interesting to find out that you had played on those tracks. It kind of solved the mystery for me after all these years.

BB: I think Mick’s a great drummer. I used to love watching him play with Xciter. He’d be spinning his sticks and was a fuckin’ bigger- than- life rock star when we were really young, like 17 or 18. He’s a few years older than me.

PK: Blotz, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! It was good rappin' to ya. Maybe I'll see you at NAMM in January.

BB: Yeah, dude, I'll probably be there for my sponsors. Thanks for the interview.

*To pick up an autographed copy of Bobby's new book, click here!

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