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Interview with Spread Eagle's Ray West & Rob De Luca on Nobodies Are Somebodies Podcast

Chad Vice Interview with Ray West and Rob De Luca Ray West Rob De Luca Rock Ain't Dead Spread Eagle Spread Eagle Band Subway to the Stars

Spread Eagle Band 2019


Ray West: What's up, Chad?

Chad Vice: Awesome! Nice to hear from you guys, finally, I know you guys are busy, so I won't keep you too long.

Rob De Luca: Whatever you need.

CV: Awesome! So the band originally broke up in 1995, you got back together in 2006. And you have a new album coming out now in 2019. So between 2006 and 2019, why was this year the right time to release an album from when you guys first got back together?

RD: Oh, wow.

RW: That's a good question. I think it just started off. Things just kind of fell in place. I think, Rob and I, through the years, if I may speak real quick. Through the years, we sort of kept up a lot of contact and a lot of love for the music as the band got better. with Rik [De Luca, drums] and Z [Ziv Shalev, guitar], you know, we imagined ourselves of course, writing new material. And we're all very strong. You know, they're all... Rik is a very strong writer. Z is a very strong writer. And Rob, obviously, is a great writer...

RD: And so is Ray.

RW: And, you know, so we just sort of built this momentum, between the four of us we felt like it was, you know, time to put together some ideas. And then I think the tour in [2017] in the UK did a lot for us, as far as energy and having a focus and we sort of just jumped on, I think about '17 was when we really jumped on the idea of writing. Is that right Rob?

RD: Right, and Ray and I we're always really good friends all along. So it was never, it was never like, oh, man, I don't want to fucking work with that guy. Or you know, whether it be Ray or someone else in the band. It there was never any of that within any of the four members of Spread Eagle. It's just we just didn't get to it. You know, like New York City is such a hustle. We were hustling in other bands just trying to you know, we never stopped but we stopped it was Spread, we just kept kept continuing on trying to succeed in the music business. So, but like Ray said, it was time, it felt like the time and I think the 2017 tour, which really was centered around the Heavy Metal Hall show in England. Yeah, that's what got us over there. I think that's what kickstarted it into really happening.

RW: We all got pretty passionate right about then and as far as Spread music and Rik and Z have a lot of passion, and they sort of lit a fire under our assess, too.

CV: Right, so you guys got inspired then basically and just said it's time to make new music now.

RW: Yeah, just make it happen

RD: We tried it with other people, but with Rik and Z, it's you know, they're really the right guys and they're really into it. So when you have the right guys telling you, 'let's do this', and the right guys, you know, presenting riffs, etc. It's just, you know, it just happens.

RW: It comes to fruition it's a way that everybody sort of just gets along and is sort of communicating with each other that leads to positive ideas coming out, I think

RD: Right now, I mean, Rik's already been in the band like 10, 9 years and Z like seven [years], you know? We're a solid unit.

CV: Yeah, exactly. So speaking of the other guys, speaking of the band when you guys broke up, obviously, the original members, they moved on to other things. I know Paul changed his name and Tommi left even before that, but when you got back together in 2006, did you even talk to them about maybe coming back? Or did you know 'we're gonna move on with other guys, it's just me and Ray, and we gotta keep going'?

RW: I think Rob can answer this best, because Rob was kind of in touch with Paul through the years; Tommi sort of just came out of the clouds.

RD: Do you want to talk about Tommi and then I'll talk about Paul?

RW: Yeah, yeah, what I noticed, I saw Tommi's presence on Facebook. So I guess he had a very hard time with some personal things. He was, you know, he had some personal family issues or whatever, and I won't get into that. But, it seems to me, I found him, you know, on social media everyday posting something, and he seemed like he was snapping out of it, getting back into the whole social thing. So it was great to do that. So we just reached out, but I know Rob had reached out to Tommi in the past about doing work with us, you know, but Tommi was just in a bad place. Right Rob?

RD: That's almost completely true, but I did try to reach out to Tommi for about 10 years, and he wouldn't get back to me or anyone. He just didn't want to be in touch with... going back to what I said earlier, we didn't have any problems or anything like that, at least I know I didn't, between us, you know, between each other. It's just Tommi was in a place where he was in a relationship and he didn't have social media. He didn't have a cell phone. He didn't have an email account. He was in a bubble. So, I'm in touch with his daughter, who's my god-daughter, quite a bit. And I was trying to get ahold of him throughout the years, and he just wasn't interested in getting ahold of anyone, let alone me. But as Ray said, he came out of his bubble, and he got on social media, and he contacted me, but that was just a year ago, you know, the band broke up in '95, whatever it was, '94, '95, '96. So, and yes, I was in touch with Paul DiBartolo, who changed his name to Salvador Poe, all these years, and he was not interested. But I actually asked him three times.

RW: You know, now we all correspond, which is great. You know, now I have conversations with Tommi. And I correspond with Paul, which I hadn't done in a long time. So it's nice to just have that chapter sort of closed.

CV: That's good.

RD: And I talk to Charlie, Charlie Gambetta. I talked to Charlie again who was our former manager, who was also, you know, an original member, him and Scott Calvert, we had two managers, Charlie Gambetta and Scott Calvert, rest in peace. They were like original members too, because we all envisioned it, and brainchilded-it or whatever...

RW: Many hours in the studios, many hours discussing band names and concepts and attitudes and all that kind of stuff.

RD: Yeah. And our manager who passed away, Scott Calvert, our original manager, former manager who passed away, he directed the Guns N' Roses 'Live at the Ritz' concert film, he didn't Just work on it; he was the director of it. He was in charge of that whole project.

RW: So we've all come full circle of communication. And you know, we all are in communication and dig talking to each other. It's great that we're in each other's lives. We're just not doing music together.

CV: Right. They're not in the band, they've heard what you're doing, [and] they like what you're doing. They know what you are doing and they support it and everything?

RW: I would, I would hope so. I haven't heard that. We haven't...

RD: [The album] It's only been out a couple of days [laughs]

RW: Yeah. We haven't reached out to the guys. You know, I'm happy just to be in correspondence with them.

CV: Yeah, that's all that matters. The friendship is all that matters in the end.

RW: Yeah, and let me just add, you know, we were, we had a very intense life experience together. You know, and a lot of times travelling in a small tube on wheels, and when you have that kind of experience, you know, you get PTSD and all that stuff together. So, we'll have that in common I guess [laughs]

RD: When you're that young, you know, you're just trying to figure out so many things; I was still trying to figure out so many things like, you know, just starting to grow up and I didn't even grow up until 10 years after Spread Eagle, mentally [laughs]. It was intense.

RW: It stunted our growth [laughs]. Emotionally, we were stunted.

CV: [Laughs] Well, the music still sounds great. So something is working!

RD: Thank you. Appreciate that.

CV: No problem man! Talk to me about Frontiers [Records]. I know that's a label that a lot of bands from the 80s and 90s go to. Did they have an attractive deal? Did they tell you, when it came to the album, did they want you to just make a Spread Eagle album [and did they] have a lot of influence on it, or just [say] go for it, basically?

RD: They just wanted me to make a record like the debut, is the only thing they told me. They wanted it to somewhat resemble the debut. And I think that was...they mentioned Spotify numbers. I'm not sure if that's the real reason. I don't know if it was artistic or sales reasons. But that's the only thing they pretty much said, and after that I was just like, run with it, you know?

CV: Did you appreciate when they said that? Or did you have another goal in mind? Or did you think you could even get back in that headspace? Because it's different [now] than 1990, so you're not, like you said, you're not the same person, so you can't really repeat the past

RD: [To Ray] Well Ray, you told me you didn't want to scream all the time. And I totally appreciate that. Because if you told me, I want you to play on the G string of your bass, you know, for most of this record, I'd be like, 'What the fuck?', you know, so, you are in control of your instrument. And, your instrument [Ray's voice], in my opinion has grown immensely. So, you told me that so [Ray] why don't you run with that one?

RW: Well, I definitely didn't, you know, I didn't want to repeat mistakes of the past. When I did the first record, with my part in it, I honestly was, you know, I was like a wild animal. No control of what I did. They tried to direct me as best they could, but they basically just turned me loose. And I would go, you know, on 100 miles an hour, every time which would be just a lot of high end screaming and falsetto, screaming, and you know, as you mature, your voice evolves. So I think I'm much happier with the sound of my voice now. I wish THIS was our first record. But you know, this is it. You know what I mean? So yeah, this is our best effort of what we are now as far as musicians, I feel like my voice has evolved in a certain way where this is my natural singing. So I like to use screams now as, you know, as exclamation points. You know what I mean? I'm really grateful for the very kind things people have said, because I was very... I did have some hesitation like, oh, man, you know, that first record, my voice was really high up there. And Rob was like 'just be yourself, just be yourself' And it'll come through. So...

RD: I think we got lucky with that. Yeah, I think it came out great. And I think we had a lot of fun in the studio. I think Ray's voice sounds better than ever. And, you know, I know what Ray means but you're never gonna, you know, when [Ray] said, 'I wish this was our first record', but this is what it is because you've sung your whole life now. That's really tough to get out of a 20 year old kid, a life's work of your instrument, you know, just like knowing your instrument that well, I mean, Freddie Mercury had it. We're not Freddie Mercury, but Ray's incredible

RW: [Laughs] I'll take that, yea. It was nice to go into it kind of like, to have a handle on it. I know what I sound like, now I can really deliver some things that me and Rob can work, easily and peacefully and just stress free and have fun.

CV: Right.

RD: Yeah, and then getting back to your question. So there was, so Ray was on board and Ray was clear with what he wanted to do, and I was like, that's cool. So I figured, you know, it's not going to, it could never sound exactly like the debut, even if we wanted it to. But then I got in the headspace of what we were feeling back then. What was our aggression or attitude, things like that. So I tried to dial into that. And I think, you know, I really love what we have. I really love it. I think it's got a lot of that original spirit. It's a very wide record. It's a very deep record. That's actually what I meant.

RW: Yeah, I think all the all the songs thread together nicely. They sound like one band, even though we all have different experiences in this, in the stream of things. We've got a good energy on it. I think we captured, you know, a sort of a naivety from back in the day, but where we are, it's the energy that we felt for this stuff. We still have a lot of heart for this music, to just start writing it, and being creative in general. So it's nice to get it on file and have it like enough to capture it. It's a great feeling.

CV: Exactly.

RW: And Rob is very, very detail orientated. So it's like, you know, I'm in there swinging for the fences, and it's nice to have that kind of guide, you know what I mean?

RD: Yeah, we work together well, and we trust each other. After all these, you know, 29 years of working together. I totally trust Ray, I know he's gonna come in prepared. I know he's gonna, if he doesn't like something, I really have to consider why he doesn't like it because his instincts are great. And if he has a suggestion about the things I'm doing on bass or whatever, then I always take that into account. Because, you know, if you can't trust someone you've been working with for 29 years, who can you trust?

RW: Brutally honest and loving at the same time [laughs]

CV: So you guys kind of get along [just] OK, is that what you're saying? That's good. [Laughs]

RD: Yeah man, we really do. We're very 'live and let live'; we room together on the road. And it's effortless. I'm sure at some point we may have a little spat, but it hasn't happened, you know, in 28 years [laughs]

RW: It would be more over a food choice than a musical choice, maybe

RD: Maybe, yeah, maybe [laughs]

RW: I can see that. And Rik and Z room together because, they bounce off the walls with each other [laughs]


CV: Talking about your voice Ray, you mentioned your voice on the debut album, I mean, those screens, they're out of control, they make the album but it's not something you could obviously keep up [for] the rest of your life. And with this album, from the songs I heard, you can tell it's Ray, you know, when you're hearing this, this is Spread Eagle, this has a sound. It's still there. And you're not going for the big screams, but you don't have to; If you want to hear big screams, [then] go back to the debut, [because] you're gonna hear it in spades.

RW: Yeah, man. I mean, people that, just people have been really kind so far. So I think that people [who] just want to hear that kind of thing are going to be not the happiest folks in the world...

RD: But there's still a lot of screaming on there, so I wouldn't [want to] make it seem to the listener that it's a completely different animal; it's matured.

RW: Yeah, I think, screams in their place, right? I think to the real Spread fan, you know, and our friends and family know, to grow with us is important. So we got lucky with that.

CV: Exactly. I just wanted to say, because of your voice, Ray, I know the band, they got together before [you]; I think you were the last member to join the band, right?

RD: Yes, you mean of the original band?

CV: Yeah, back before you got signed, the debut, and everything, you guys found Ray, how did you know; you heard him sing? How did you know he was the guy? [Was it] just based on the way he delivered and how he sounded?

RD: Yes, absolutely.

RW: [To Rob:] The demo, remember the demo?

RD: Yeah. I mean, Paul moved to New York, we lived in Boston, Paul moved to New York following his girlfriend who enrolled at New York University. And he joined Ray's band in New York City. That didn't work out because there were two guitar players and Paul didn't want to play with another guitar player. Maybe there were other reasons also. So, then we kind of got right from his band. And, Tommi and I moved down because Tommi and I and Paul had been playing together for years. And then... Ray, you could talk more about what happened after that

RW: What it was, was Charlie [Gambetta, former manager]. Charlie was managing me, and Scott [Calvert] was managing Paul, Rob, and Tommi, so he wanted to get us all together. But Charlie's idea was, well, you know, Paul and those guys need a singer on their demo, so they can go find a singer. And I said, 'Well, okay, I'll go over and track, you know, when I have time', and he's like 'get your ass over there now!' [laughs]

RD: [Laughs] I didn't know that's how they tricked you into doing it, I didn't know that.

RW: Yeah, I was being very lazy. Charlie yelled at me 'you motherfucker, don't be lazy, get over there' [laughs]. So I said, 'Okay', so I went over there, I think we tracked like, a song called 'Gunfire'. Rob had scratched, scratch lyrics out. So we would retool those real quick one night, it had to be like around two, three in the morning. And we got a scratch and they were all like, I think Paul said, [the] vocal sounds like the way my guitar is, or something like that...

RD: Yeah, like his Marshall. He said it sounds like my Marshall.

RW: Yeah. So we had this moment where we like, looked at each other, you know? And they're like 'this sounds like a band'; 'you're right, It does!'. And at the same time we said that, the guitar player in the band that I was in happened to be walking by, and even he was like, 'Wow, I guess that's it'. I'm like, 'Yeah, I guess that's it'. [Both laugh]

CV: This sounds right. It sounds the way it should be.

RW: And we, at that point we were in Spread Eagle, you know?

CV: Nice!

RW: It just happened; the sound came first

CV: Now speaking of the name, the sound came first, and then you got everything together and then the name. I want to ask you about Spread Eagle, obviously the name [gets] attention. But when you guys got the name, did the record company ever try to get you to change it, or do something different because of the name? Or were you always good with Spread Eagle?

RW: No. No, it went with everything we were doing. I think we had a sit down, like a naming session, we needed to come up with a name right now, right away. And I don't know who came up with it, it might have been Scott...

RD: Scott Calvert actually came up with it. Yeah.

CV: Nice.

RD: We couldn't think of a name, Ray. We couldn't think of a name, and we had the song 'Spread Eagle' written and Scott mentioned it, and that was it.

RW: It's wild and it was crazy, and no one's sounded just crazy enough to work, so we went with it.

CV: Right? It's attention grabbing, it's different. You had to stand out at that time between everything else that was going on.

RW: And Actually, at the time, in California, KNAC, I think [that] thier program director was like, 'that name is sexist'. And she didn't want to touch us you know? And then when we went out there, we got to, actually she got to know us, and she was like...we're a crazy group of guys, but, 'you guys are nice!' [Laughs]

CV: Yeah! [Laughs] Not what I imagined of 'Spread Eagle'!

RW: She's like, you know, we'll play you guys anyway. You're not sexist like I thought you were [laughs]. No, It was funny.

CV: Because I could see radio kind of turning that off, and saying [that] they don't want to play it or the or the labels saying well, we['ve] got to change it, we can't play it at radio, that kind of thing.

RD: Well, it's Spread Eagle, it has no gender. So you know, I think that's looking at it a little strange.

RW: I always said it was a wide open concept [laughs]

CV: I think you actually said that, Ray, on Headbanger's Ball [MTV episode, 1990] with Riki, I think you actually said that it's an open concept so it kind of carries through...

RW: That's it, it's true. Open to the public!

CV: Oh, great album! My first time [introduction to] you guys! Well, let's talk about that in a minute, but I wanted to ask you, I dug back for a little bit to listen to one of your old interviews you did with, I guess Meltdown [WRIF Radio] 10 years ago, I guess it was now, that you and Rob did...

RW: Oh, wow

CV: Yeah, it was a while ago because I want to kind of get a feel of what like hasn't already been asked or what you don't want to you know hear over and over kind of thing. So I kind of wanted to dig back plus I'm interested in what you're saying, because I'm a fan of the band, first and foremost, but I wanted to said something, Ray actually on there about your showcase for the label, where you guys basically just took to the little performing area or the stage, and kind of just ran out at the label guys, the executives or whoever was there, you kind of just took the stage and ran at them...

RW: Yeah, we were in... [name of studio, inaudible]

CV: The reason I asked is because in the in the 'Scratch Like a Cat' [music] video, basically that's how it starts after the bass goes, then after you guys take to the song you guys run at the camera is that based on what you did the showcase, or is that something you guys did live anyway, or is that just the band?

RW: That's just us being us; we were a very attacking band [laughs]

RD: I think that it's all of the above, like 'Scratch' was always our first song, we included it in showcases

RW: It was like a very aggressive mentality...

RD: Do you remember this, Ray? So Ray, I was just getting to know him, because the band was only together for a few months when we got signed. So I [had] just met Ray. And you know, we did the original demo and booked some shows, and we started getting offers from record labels, and then we got an offer, so we went into the studio...

RW: So it's all first because, number one, when we got signed, we got signed from our rehearsal space. We didn't do a showcase where we went and booked at S.I.R., we didn't go to Sanctuary or Limelight or any of that; they came to our rehearsals.

CV: Right, right.

RW: We would sit them down when they came in, there would be a couple [of] chairs that were in the back of the room. And we would get right in your face, like an inch from your face, and just irritate the shit out of you, until you gave us the response we wanted [laughs]

RD: [To Ray] Yeah, I remember you had gone to Puerto Rico or Mexico with your girlfriend, and brought back that [Bacardi] 151 Rum. And we had it in this, you know, loho studios, we had this wonderful idea of what it was. It was about a 15 x 15 room in a basement, in a dirty basement in New York City, back when New York was a very dirty place. And Ray got back from, where was it Ray? Puerto Rico?

RW: I think it was [in] Puerto Rico with the 151 Rum, yeah, with the big ol' bottle of 151.

RD: So we would take we would take when we were doing the showcase, we would all take a shot of that, like just a swig off the bottle, and 151, it like, burns your esophagus. And there was a guy named Mike Baum. And he went on to be successful in the music business. But at the time, he was an A&R guy for like... I'm not sure what label he was at, because all of a sudden, when word got out, labels were coming down every day wanting to see us. And just on the second day, we got an offer from MCA. But then then everyone started hearing about it, it turned into like a feeding frenzy. All these labels came down. And as Ray said, we would just sit them basically on the ground in this little tiny room and just run at them. And I had that guy Mike, right? You remember this, Ray? I had him pinned up against the wall with my bass. We were playing 'Scratch' {Like A Cat]...

RW: [Laughs]

RD: And he was, he had it in his chest, the headstock of the bass up against his chest, and he was pinned up against the wall, and he later told someone [that] he was afraid for his life [laughs]

CV: [Laughs] That's when you know you've got something good!

RW: You see, and they know, Rob's a rock'n'roll gentlemen, obviously.

CV: Yes

RW: He's awesome, I remember that very well now! [laughs] It was a really raw experience. Because you're like, you're young and hungry, and we were working our asses off. We had a lot of forward momentum going on.

CV: It showed in the video, it showed in the debut song, [and] like all the songs on that album [they] sound like they're just, you know, that they were like freight trains ready to go, like they're just always on, that whole album is always on

RW: Thank you, yeah, there's just an intensity that always gets ratcheted up with us.

CV: Yeah, for sure.

RW: That's just a natural occurrence of things.

CV: So speaking of the 'Scratch' video, and of course the other video [that] you did which I love from the album, [it was] 'Switchblade Serenade'; for 'Scratch Like a Cat', obviously, I know the lyrics have been edited I guess so it could play on MTV, but the whole song, I think, for [the] 'Switchblade' [music video] it was re-recorded and it sounds totally different from the album. Is that the case, and why?

RD: Yes.

RW: I was always against that, but they all [MTV] went and did it anyway.

CV: It was good, but it just was different. I was like, 'Oh', and you notice it right away

RW: I think they wanted more chorus...

RD: They wanted another chorus, and I think back then, it was still making two inch tape and cutting and maybe they even tried it and it didn't sound good, and maybe they didn't want to risk ruining the original tape, to try to edit that in. So, we just went in and did another version. But Ray, answer this: it's all the original guitars, guitars and vocals, right?

RW: I think so...I don't think it's a resync, I think was just an edit... I think we actually went and cut...

RD: No, no, It's a different version.

CV: The playing sounds different for, I think Ray uses some, like, different phrasings a little bit, little minor things; I've heard both, because I like the song a lot, so I play it a lot. I know there's a bit of difference; definitely you can hear it for sure.

RW: I'm going to have to go back and listen [laughs]

CV: It's good. It's like us are doing it live or something, but in the studio, and it's just another version.

RW: Yeah, the demo always has more energy than, I'm sure it was...I think the demo has the most intensity, and I think Rob has a version of it somewhere, I believe.

RD: I actually do!

RW: But yeah, I think if you do something like the second or third time, it gets, you know, a little bit, it looses it's edge every time you do it. I think that's fair to say.


CV: Another prominent thing in the videos is that, I know [with] Paul, his guitar always has the word 'SEX' scratched into it, was that his idea, and come you, Rob, didn't put anything on your bass?

RD: [Laughs] I think he was just an addict [laughs].

RW: He was a sex addict, man [laughs]

CV: [Laughs] That's pretty self explanatory right there, that's perfect. It sticks out, because it's one of the first things you see, it's always a close up to the guitars, like the bass, and then [to] Paul's guitar, and then it goes into Ray singing, and that's how it usually starts.

RD: The editing is really great. Our manager Scott Calvert, rest in peace, he also did our videos. So, you know, he was really one of MTV's top directors. Like, you know, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, you know, the biggest video, Mariah Carey and P. Diddy and all that stuff.

CV: Wow! Nice...

RD: So he did a great job on those videos

CV: For sure. They look really big and in your face, yeah.

RW: Let me add, If you see, I believe it's the 'Good Vibrations' video.

RD: By who?

RW: Marky Mark. [Mark Wahlberg]

RD: Oh yea, he did that!

RW: It's the same template video template as our 'Switchblade' video, it's black and white...

CV: Oh! Yes..

RW: You'll see.

CV: I never even picked up on that. Well, it's been a long time [that] I've probably watched [the] 'Switchblade' [video] before I've watched Marky Mark [videos] for a long time, but I'll have to go back and look [at it], that sounds about right, that's cool.

RW: A little knowledge for you.

CV: No, I appreciate that! Rob, nothing in your bass, [did you want to] scratch anything into your bass?

RD: I have the original bass from that video about two feet from me right now. I have my name painted on the headstock, and N.Y.C. painted on the guard. It's still there, maybe a little more beat up than it used to be. It's a black Fender Jazz.

CV: So I know we talked about Tommi earlier, I know you mentioned what he's doing now. But he left before you guys went in to do [second album] 'Open to the Public' right? Did he leave, like during the tour, I thought I [had] read stories about him not really even playing as much on the debut; what was Tommi's involvement in the band and it's entirety?

RD: Oh yeah, he played on the debut, absolutely.

RW: Tommi got, you know, somewhere we lost Tommi in Florida. I don't remember exactly the year but he was just 'I'm out of here'. [Laughs]

CV: [Laughs] Okay.

RD: Probably about '92, '93.

RW: I think he stayed with someone, you know, somebody he met in Florida. I think it was after our last show or something like that. Tommi just had, you know, Tommi was a really forward thinking cat, you know, he was just wanted to do more, you know? High energy human being; great soul. Funny. Tommi could have been a comedian a stand up comic easily.

CV: Nice.

RD: He could have been a lot of things, he was very talented with everything he did.

CV: And he did the artwork on your [debut] album, right?

RW: Yeah, great Illustrator, great painter, great artist.

RD: He did the artwork, but we hired another guy to do the actual painting.

CV: Okay, the actual spread eagle [that was] coming down on the first album [front cover]?

RD & RW: Yeah

RW: That's all Tommi's design.

RD: It was designed by Tommi, but we had someone else paint it who was... it needed to be like, more with... more color. Tommi wasn't working with actual paints yet. But he does now. He does [it] every day now. But he was just sketching, you know, he was just a great artist back then, without really any medium other than a pencil, you know?

RW: And [he was] always a very forward thinking person, as far as, you know, thinking outside the box when we were listening to particular kinds of music; Tommi would, he's the one who turned me on to [the band]Rage Against the Machine, that's the kind of person he was to me. I mean, he was always fishing for new music, and I think he just got frustrated at the end.

CV: Yeah, I got you. So, [1993's] 'Open to the Public' is where I was first turned on to you guys that's first album that I owned and then I worked backwards to the debut. So I've always been fascinated about Open to The Public. It was released in '93. Things were changing. Obviously, the band was changing. It was different sounds than the debut. Can you talk to me about, I guess, your direction, or what you had in mind for that album?

RW: Um, well I think, Rob, I feel like I'm talking a lot. [laughs].

RD: No, no, go for it!

CV: [To Ray] You gotta rest your voice, you're the singer, man! [laughs]. You gotta take it easy.

RW: Yeah, right.

RD: I've been talking a lot too Ray, it's cool.

RW: Rob's always great, he always gives me the floor. I think, with the first album, there was a certain intensity and high energy to it. And I think when we just got to the point on the second record, we were trying to find identities to keep it going. And we kind of got, you know, we kind of got trapped, we had a lot of A.D.D, you know, we would hear a particular band and be like,' Oh, that's cool. Bring that into the mix'. And we just didn't have a focus. You know, it's a very unfocused record. It's a great record. I love the songs...
RD: Musically, it's stunning.

CV: Oh yeah, for sure!

RW: Yeah, it's searching for like, searching for an identity, I think that record is... I hope that makes sense, but it's searching for an identity.
RD: I think that's the only thing that's wrong with it. That it doesn't sound as focused as the first record, but musically, it's just absolutely stunning.

RW: We were given the question, do you guys want to make, you know, a million-something dollars and sell so many units or do you want to sell, you know, a hundred thousand units? And we're like... I was happy to do anything at the time. But, you know, you people start hanging carrots in front of your face, and you're like, you can't think straight anymore. So I was, you know, I was enamored by the whole idea of writing a hit. And, at the time that the business was changing when a hit became something else.

CV: Yeah. Did MCA [former record label], did they say that they had a hit on the album, or did they even try to push any of the songs out? I don't remember a specific single, because obviously it was before my time, but...

RW: I don't know what a 'hit' really is. I think it's something as melodic and catchy to me can be a hit, it can be anything.

CV: [A song] like 'Faith', did they try to push something like 'Faith'?

RW: Yeah, 'Faith', I think even 'Shine' is a hit. I think it's a really cool, different song. And some of that stuff on that record is timeless. Yeah, you really couldn't fit us into a category or a bubble. So it became a big deal. And MCA did not know what to do with us. So, at that time was either cookie cutter rock and roll, or grunge, you know, right. So they didn't know what to do with Spread Eagle anymore, because we were just... we were very musical. I think it's a great band, [a] very talented band and a very musical band. And at that particular time, that just wasn't happening.

RD: I agree with everything Ray said.

CV: Yeah, me too. I mean, the start of the [Open to The Public] album, that has that little intro [before 'Devil's Road'] and at the end of the album [after 'Preacher Man'], it has that little guitar intro, even those little things, those little sound bites that you have on the album just kind of change the whole sound, it's a total different [style] but it's the same it you know, it's Spread Eagle from the sound, the voice, the way it's played, but there's so many different musical things going on there. It's definitely another step up, or step away. I don't wanna say 'up' like it's better than the debut, but it's a good step, [like] keep going, like in a progression.

RW: Yeah, and musically, it's, you know, they're very gifted musicians, and it shows on the record. So probably in the business at that time, it just wasn't what everybody wanted to work with.

CV: Right, I got you. So is that one of the reasons why you guys originally disbanded in 1995? Was there one specific thing? Or did you guys just get tired of trying to make it, or what was what was the one factor that kind of broke you guys up?

RW: The thing was, you know, the one thing that was great about the band, we all loved to play. So I believe it just became with me, I got frustrated with the decisions being made around the band. And Paul and I had grown apart somewhat creatively. And we just weren't seeing... we weren't on the same page anymore. And, you know, when you can't change the landscape of things, all you can do is just, you know, put your cards on the table. And that's it, you know? I guess I just doubled down on the fact that everything would be great. Leave it alone for a while, and we'd all get back together some years later, but it took 27! [laughs]. I just, you know, me and Rob really never sat down and hashed things out back then, why we made the decisions we did. Just sometimes, you know, it's best to just leave the table.

RD: You know, I don't think we needed to talk about it. I think we needed some time to figure out what the hell happened to us. It was a whirlwind. We were so cool one minute and honestly, the next minute we were the most uncool thing walking the earth, it's just a process that as a young man when you put years into a project, and it was your life, like Spread Eagle was our identities, like it was everything we were. I was 'Rob from Spread Eagle'. Ray was 'Ray from Spread Eagle'; more than Rob De Luca and Ray West, you know, like everyone knew us as Rob from Spread Eagle, Ray from Spread Eagle. So when all of a sudden, when all of a sudden you're like a leper, you know, it takes time to figure out what the hell happened to us, so I think we needed to just take a break.

RW: [It was] bad timing and good timing all together, we just went on our own separate life journeys which was, I think, the safest thing to do. And it made us better people. God knows what would've happened at that point. [laughs].

CV: Before you guys broke up, did you guys go on one final tour for the album, or was it just, that was the album and [then] you ended it there?

RD: You mean, did we tour the second album at all?

CV: Yeah, did you tour it at all?

RD: Yeah, yeah we did a little touring, but we did a lot of weekend warrior stuff. [To Ray] Remember we were getting in like... vans and going to Cleveland and Florida. We went to Florida a few times. That's how we lost Tommi.

RW: Yeah. That was it! [laughs]

RD: Yeah [laughs]. We were doing more weekend warrior stuff up to New England where we were really popular, over to Chicago, so then one time we went to Florida, and Tommi just said 'you know, I'm done'. He stayed there with a girl.

RW: The van was one person lighter coming home [laughs]

RD: So Ray finally had room to stretch out and lay down. [laughs]

RW: I'll take that space [laughs]

CV: [Laughs] Got to take care of your singer, man, he's gotta sound good!

RD: [Repeats Ray's words] "I'll take that space" [laughs]

RW: We got beat up pretty good by the business.

RD: Yeah, yeah, we really did.

RW: There was a lot of, you know, when the labels were making bad decisions around you, it's a feeling that you can't describe to anybody unless you've been through it. You're very helpless. And you just got to make the most of life right then and there. Either leave with your balls, or leave them on the table.

CV: Exactly. Can I ask you about MCA, because they're not...I guess they're kind of like, they didn't know what to do with rock bands. They were kind of... that wasn't really their forte on the label. They kind of just, they kind of fumbled a lot of their bands when they had rock bands [on their talent roster]. Is that kind of how you see them?

RW: Ummm, yeah, you know, a lot of bad decision making. I think when we got signed, there was a new rock department, so it's like, they had bands like The Who or Tom Petty, and all that back then. But they tried to revamp that; [if] you sign like 10 bands, and you throw them all on the table to see what gives. And they didn't really know... they weren't very well organized, I should say.

RD: Yeah. Yeah. They were a huge rock label. And then they became like an urban label. Just before us, they decided to become also, you know, to strengthen their rock department. And as Ray said they signed a ton of bands, and they weren't really sure how to do it yet. And that's when our albums were released.

RW: Yeah, I can even remember the climate of that because, we'd gone to the MCA convention; they had a lot of money. You know, we knew they had a lot of money because we saw a lot of money. But, we went to the convention one year in San Diego or something like that. And of all the artists that played, we were like... they put us on at 10 in the morning when nobody was really around. Everyone else would float around like, Bell Biv Divoe, whatever, you had Jody Watley, you know? The country, country [music]. So we're just kicking ass, and they just didn't know what to do with the rock and roll stuff.

CV: And here's Spread Eagle, and it's like, one of these things just doesn't quite fit.

RW: We're singing on the lawn. You know, they call it "Spread Eagle on the Lawn" at 10am, to like, just the label people. It's the most hilarious thing, man.

RD: And then we were so wasted [laughs]

RW: Oh my god. [Laughs]. They put us up in the Ritz Carlton. On Dana Point off the cliffs. Where we have, like, mints on our pillows and stuff.

RD: Yeah, I took off because my sister was getting married. So after the show, drank some beers, and then I had to get out of there. You guys stayed.

RW: Me and Tommi and Paul. We are running around in our underwear in a five star Ritz Carlton. And I think Tommi finally got naked at like one in the morning, yeah he did. He ran around the hotel naked. I don't know man, that's all I remember [laughs]

RD: So needless to say, the next week in the office, at the MCA office, we were the talk of the convention [laughs].

CV: Yeah. All good [things], I'm sure. [laughs]

RW: Oh my God... [laughs].

RD: I don't know. It was what it was! [Laughs]

RW: [To Rob] But it was Vince Gill right? The big country guy?

RD: Yeah; I said earlier it was Randy Black but I meant Randy Travis, but it was Vince Gill.

RW: Yeah, but you know they all sound alike [laughs].

RD: Vince Gill is incredible though, oh my God!

RW: So they have these meetings where they discuss what singles they are gonna release you know? So Vince is playing to, you know, after we play at 10 in the morning, he's playing to like, thousands of people, and all the MCA gloss, and he's up there going [in a country accent] "And here's my new single, it's about my ex-wife, it's called 'Back on the Bitch'" [laughs]. And we lost our minds, man!

RD: [Laughs] that was funny.

RW: Vince Gill knows who we are man! [laughs]

CV: Is that what that song [from the debut album] is about? I've always wondered the meaning of that song.

RD: No, no it's about alcoholism.

CV: Oh, okay, wow! [That song is]one of the examples Ray, of your voice that just goes out of control, like I don't know how many takes you did on that, but that's like, that's one of the perfect examples of your voice back then, and how it could just be out of control.

RW: Yeah, man.

CV: Like controlled chaos.

RW: I might have to jump guys.

CV: No problem. I'm almost done anyway.

RW: Okay, cool.

CV: I just wanted to ask you basically about the setlist today, we talked about the songs, we talked about the change in style, the voice. What songs are in your setlist? I've never seen the show yet, so what's in your setlist and how do you kind of change it to fit your vocal I guess if you need to

RW: Okay well, the boys tune down a little bit, we... Spread live is heavier than it's records, we've always had that element; back in the day, we played with Pantera, we'll play with the best of them, we weren't afraid to play with anybody, so we can get in there; we still put on ' Broken City'; 'Back on the Bitch' is in the set. We always do Switchblade [Serenade]. We just do... maybe like we'll tune down a half a step or something, you know?

RD: But to answer your question, we haven't adjusted...if you're thinking like 'oh Ray doesn't want to scream, we take all these songs out now', there isn't any song that's off the table; we do songs just according to their popularity and how much we like them. So we do... half the set is the debut album, half the set is Open to The Public [songs]. So, Ray still does live all the screaming and stuff, but we're gonna have to work the third album into the setlist now of course. But we do 'Suzi Suicide' we do 'Scratch Like a Cat', we were doing 'Back on the Bitch' from 1990 until our last tour; that might go now that we have to consider what songs to take out, and what new ones to put in. But all the screaming ones are in there. 'King of the Dogs', it's all in there.

RW: I still sink my teeth into this stuff, but I mean, we don't really change things up that much, I guess I'm just a little more aware of the guys tuning sometimes. Where we place things in the set, that has a lot to do with it, I like to get warmed up on certain songs. You know, crazy dumb singer shit [laughs].

CV: It works!

RW: It's all on my mood. Oh my god, you know, maybe I got the wrong shoes on or something, and I can't sing 'Scratch'...[laughs]

CV: There's gonna be an intensity there when you sing 'Back On The Bitch' if you don't have the right shoes on, you're going to go for it; it's gonna be hard and heavy [laughs].

RW: Yeah man, and socks, unmatched socks, the right shirt!

CV: Ray, do you have to go right now? Or can I give you one more question?

RW: One more question, go ahead.

CV: Okay. So this is kind of a silly question, but I wanted to leave it for the end; basically, I wanted to ask you guys, what it was like to be signed by THE Bruce Dickenson, you know, that Bruce Dickenson? [SNL skit reference]

RD: So do you know which, do you really know who Bruce Dickenson is?

CV: Yes.

RW: Yeah, more cowbell, he wants more cowbell!

CV: Yeah, more cowbell!

RW: You know, Bruce is fine, he was just... when we met him, he just had this, like, this caretaker kind of thing. You know, you met him and you're like, 'I love this guy'.

RD: Yeah, I liked Bruce a lot too.

RW: I can't really put into words, but something, when you're playing your heart out and someone's looking at you, not like everybody else looks at you. Like they see something even though you don't see it, you know? He meant well, I think he really meant well. And he meant to take care of us, he just got caught up in a lot of label shit. And probably people not helping him out, or whatever. But he was a good guy.

RD: I have to agree with Ray, he was a good guy.

RW: Really creative. And positive feedback, always positive feedback; he never was like, if he didn't like something, he wouldn't be like, 'that's shit'. It give you a sense of like, you know, 'at least you tried'. He wouldn't put you down; he made you feel good about yourself.

CV: Right, that's awesome.

RW: He took all the phone calls, all of my bitching sessions about management. I would, you know, [he would say] 'come talk to me'. You know, it's six o'clock at night and I'm running up to the MCA offices, bitching and moaning. He's cool like that.

CV: Yeah, you could confide in him, you could lean on him, and you would have his support.

RW: Yeah, man. I mean, until he couldn't give it anymore, you know?

CV: Right, I got you. So it's really true then that Riki [Rachtman, former host of MTV's Headbanger's Ball] and MTV, they really thought it was the other Bruce [Iron Maiden lead singer]. They actually had a whole list of questions for you guys that they had to throw out in that interview, because it was the wrong guy. didn't really look [laughs]

RW: Yeah [laughs] I don't think they got the look on my face. I was just like, what the hell is this, man? Riki, he made it up to us, because we went to L.A. a lot after that, and he always felt bad. So he was like, you know...

CV: Go to the Cathouse [Riki and Faster Pussycat singer Taime Downe's club in L.A.] for free...

RW: Visit the Cathouse and get us gigs and stuff like that.

CV: There you go. Yeah, that was cool. I thought, I saw that, and I was like, that's kind of fun. That's too bad, but be more prepared MTV [laughs].

RW: He turned out to be a really cool dude, I really like Riki.

CV: Yeah, that was a really good show [Headbanger's Ball on MTV]

RD: Yeah, it was.

CV: Awesome. I appreciate you guys doing this and taking time out of your schedule. Do you guys just want to quickly tell me what you guys are doing and where you are going to be?

RD: We're going to start touring around November, and we're going to tour into, through the year. I mean, whatever we can, into the year into 2020, and go all the way up to our next record with Frontiers.

RW: There's gonna be no schedules and we'll make it work, period.

CV: Awesome. Man, I'm so glad you guys are back and making the music, and I'm actually able to get into it and be a part of it when it's actually happening. So, rather than hear about it later, I'm glad you guys are back together!

RD: Thank you, Chad.

RW: You get to buy the first round!

CV: Yeah, I will. [Laughs]

RW & RD: [Laughs]

CV: Awesome, guys, I appreciate it again.

RW: You got it Chad, thank you!

RD: Thanks for having us. Bye guys!

Pick up the new album by Spread Eagle "Subway to the Stars" here on Frontiers Records SRL:
Buy Spread Eagle Subway to the Stars album on Frontiers Records

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  • Pam Bettcher on

    Great interview! CV was very thorough in his research about the band. He asked great questions and I got answers to things I was wondering about, too.


    Cool interview….Big Spread Eagle fan here!

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