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Interview: Ross The Boss Talks Manowar And True Metal

Interview: Ross The Boss Talks Manowar And True Metal

Fluffy / Wednesday 9th October, 2019 12:15PM

Legendary Manowar and Dictators co-founder Ross The Boss aka Ross Friedman's mastery of six-string weapons of destruction has taken him to many and varied corners of the earth. He's hitting Aotearoa with band this spring for a trio of devastating live events, playing Manowar's trailblazing 1984 album Hail To England in its entirety – hailed by Rolling Stone as one of The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time – plus a fistful of classics by the famously loud, "death to false metal" proclaiming unit and some Ross The Boss anthems too. Ahead of his visit to our shores, Ross got on the blower with UTR’s roving reporter Fluffy to chat about his custom guitar, creating an onstage "wall of voodoo" and being loud as hell...

Ross The Boss

Friday 15th November - Whammy Bar, Auckland
Saturday 16th November - San Fran, Wellington
Sunday 17th November - Club Tavern, Christchurch

Tickets available HERE via UTR – VIP options are available

Fluffy: You're heading our way in the not too distant future. Have you been to New Zealand before?

Ross The Boss: Yes, I have been to New Zealand with The Dictators before. I think it was around 2004 or 2005.

You’ll be playing the classic Manowar album Hail To England in its entirety, is that right?

Yes, we’re going to be doing Hail To England in its entirety, except ‘Black Arrows’ which has a bass solo that I never really liked, haha. We’re gonna do some Manowar classics and Ross The Boss songs from my record that came out last April [By Blood Sworn].

Was there anything in particular that made you want to tour Hail To England?

It’s the 35th anniversary, we figured “ahh, let’s do it,” y'know? I’ve been seeing that a lot of bands have been doing that. I go “well, why don't we just do a 35th anniversary kind of thing? It’ll separate us from what we did last year.” So we’re really looking forward to doing it.


What’s your band’s lineup like on this tour?

The band is the same band that came last year, to Australia. We have Steve Bolognese on drums, whose a fierce, great, great hitter. Great finesse, beautiful drummer. We have Mike LePond, on bass, probably the best bass player in the world. A combination of Geezer Butler, John Entwistle, Jack Bruce and Lemmy. He’s an unbelievable musician and Marc Lopes, lead singer who is incredible. So the band is ready to go.

Awesome. I understand that Manowar broke the record for “world’s loudest band” on three separate occasions.

Oh yes, we’re in the Guiness Book Of World Records for being the loudest band in the world. It’s for real, it wasn’t just the PA. It was our “wall of voodoo” we called it and it was all on.

A wall of voodoo?

That's what we called our equipment. We couldn’t do it now. We’re loud. It’s fucking loud, louder than fuck, but not like Manowar did it. Manowar was just too overwhelming. Plaster would drop from the ceiling. Back in the day I had 6, JCM 100s, boosted to 110 and then I had a spare, so I had like 7 up there. The original setup was 12 4x12 bottoms, 3 high, 4 across. Joey [DeMaio, Manowar bassist] had 32 15 inch speakers and 24 12 inch speakers.

That’s a lot. That’s ridiculous.

It was ridiculous and it worked. And it was louder then fuck and clear! It wasn’t distorted. Those were back in the day my friend.

You stated you'll bring "the message of True Metal to our Immortal Metal Armies.” What to you does that mean? What is true metal in your mind?

Well, its the true metal from our hearts. It's hard to say that. That’s a good question because what is metal? A lot of people say if it’s not Iron Maiden it’s not metal, if it’s not Motorhead it’s not metal, if it’s not Manowar it’s not metal, if it’s not Metallica it’s not metal. I would say that this music is true metal, it’s true to the heart and true to the soul.


You recently played a collaborative set with Judas Priest’s former guitarist K.K. Downing at Bloodstock Open Air. Could you tell us a little about how that came to be?

We had a friend that was friends with him, so we just said “we’re playing Bloodstock, why don't you invite K.K. down for a beer? Y'know, come back stage, hang out, just be around us if he would like,” because he lived around there and then it got to be like “oh, how about you ask him if he’d like to play with us”. Then it got to be like “yeah ok, alright then.” We kept talking to him and negotiating and negotiating and finally he said yes. There you have it, we did four songs on stage with K.K. Downing at the end of our set.

Do you have a go-to guitar at the moment?

I have my new Ross The Boss Grosmann model that was made totally for me, a custom made guitar. Of course, I’ve got lots of other guitars but that one is really peach.

Cool man, how did you go about getting a signature guitar made? What sort of woods is it made out of?

Well they came to me. I designed it with Christian Grosmann, great designer. It's made of maple and ebony. Really fine wood. When I was in Romania, he showed me the piece of wood that he was gonna use and it was beautiful. The strings go through the body, 24 frets, two truss rods, carbon fill truss rods, graphtech nuts, locking tuners, amazing, amazing guitar. It’s like a Maserati or a Ferrari in my hands. There are two of them being made for two fans right now.


I saw a recent video for you playing at Wacken Open Air, how was that experience?

Oh my god, 90,000 people. I was given the global heavy metal ambassador award, for the whole of heavy metal history on stage. It was a great day for me, one of the best days of my life.

What does that entail?

Well, I guess I represent heavy metal to a lot of people. They trust me, they trust my character. They trust how nice I am to the fans, how kind and generous and unselfish I am, willing to give my time, willing to promote heavy metal. I guess that’s what it is.

Do you make a concerted effort to hang out with fans after shows?

Yeah, when I have time and I'm in the right spots and stuff. That’s how it works.


You’re a character that’s been heavily involved in the music scene for many of years and involved in a number of groups, Manowar and the Dictators as you said. Do you think that this upcoming tour is about bringing you as a solo artist into the knowledge of the wider heavy metal fandom?

Yeah, it basically is. What’s been going on with the band. Even though Manowar is a big band, not everyone knows about Manowar. People are discovering us on the basis of our musicianship, on the basis of our live shows, on the basis of the excitement that we’re composing. For some people Manowar stuff is secondary, it’s the band, it’s the greatness of the band itself which is selling itself.

I'm curious about your group Brain Surgeons with Albert Bouchard who is the original drummer from Blue Oyster Cult. Could you tell us a little about that?

Ahh yeah well, The Dictators were managed by the same manager as the Blue Oyster Cult so I was really good friends with Albert. When given the chance to play with Albert, I jumped at it, I said “Albert, let me join your band” and he said “no problem bro, no problem.”


Is there anything you’d like to mention to New Zealand audiences before you arrive here?

Just tell ‘em were coming, it’s going to be fantastic, it’s even going to be better than last time and we’re so looking forward to meeting everybody. Tell all your friends, don’t miss the band, don’t miss the tour, it’s going to be really exciting, heavy metal rock action – guaranteed.


You can catch Ross The Boss at Auckland's Whammy Bar on Friday 15th November, Wellington's San Fran on Saturday 16th November and Christchurch's Club Tavern on Sunday 17th November. For more details, and to score tickets head over HERE.

Links
ross-the-boss.com

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