There are those who claim to be True, and try quite hard to prove it, and those who do not have to, simply because it is their natural state. Because musicians like Ross "The Boss" Friedman are the definition of ‘being True’ and this is proven by the live shows and the music he is putting out. With “Born Of Fire” soon to be released, and with ROSS THE BOSS storming the North US with “Hail To England”, METAL KAOZ got the chance to talk with him about the new album and the band’s future plans. Have a look below what was discussed. Hails!
Hello Ross and welcome to METAL KAOZ! It’s truly great to have you tonight with us! So, let’s start right away; how’s the tour going so far?
You know, I’ve got to tell you, for North America, it’s been good, it’s been better than I thought it would be. I mean, I can’t complain about it. Canada has been fantastic. Toronto the other night was insane! There was body surfing, it was insane – I mean, it was the way it should be. But the band is building, the band’s reputation is building, speaking for itself. You know, the fact that we’ve performed in so many huge festivals is insane - “you better come see this band”, you know. The fact that I’m doing the old MANOWAR stuff it’s cool, but the fact is that the new record’s out, it’s coming out March 06 and it’s by far the best thing we’ve done, and it’s an incredible record and it’s got tremendous potential. We were working very hard and I think it’s all gonna pay off. I mean, North America was hard, it was never easy, because Metal here is dead shit. It was a dead shit for many years here and now it’s coming back and people started coming out to the shows.
Yeah, but at the same time, the crowd here is scattered. It’s not easy to bring everyone in one festival here, or whatever.
Yes, it’s not, you’re right. But who knows? Tonight it’s a Super Bowl night and Super Bowl night in America is the worst night to play live, but who knows what’s gonna happen?
To be honest, we have no fricking idea about Super Bowl, we’re Europeans.
I know you don’t, but my agent is one of the most powerful agents in the world and they’re like “just go there and take the money, it doesn’t matter” – but we’re gonna play our arses off. I mean, come on, we’re practicing new songs from the new record and the MANOWAR stuff is gonna be like this now [showing the scale going down].
Now, you’re coming into one of my questions; I understand this and I was listening to the new album today and you’re right.
Oh, did you hear it?
Yes, and I like that it’s almost Thrash-y, it’s heavier.
Some of it.
You have two albums with this lineup but at the same time, the MANOWAR stuff, since MANOWAR are gone which is something that will happen very soon, right?
I dunno. They say they’re not but obviously suddenly it’s the ‘Final Battle’, and then it’s not the ‘Final Battle’ which is full of shit. I mean, they’re full of shit, so it doesn’t matter.
Be that as it may, I have never heard “Bridge Of Death” live, so what will happen to these songs?
You’re gonna hear it tonight. We’re gonna play them, and we play them with reverence and we play them the way it should be, the way I recorded them and you’re gonna hear them.
I was talking about the comparison you did between the MANOWAR stuff and the ROSS THE BOSS stuff in terms of what you’re gonna play live more from now on.
It’s gonna be more ROSS THE BOSS stuff from now on because I think we are better. I think the new record is for the future of Heavy Metal. I mean, MANOWAR, my six records can never be duplicated. Let’s face facts; they can never be duplicated. It was a time, from 1982 to 1988, that those records are immortal, I mean, no other band can play that like we did, and they’re great songs; “The Secret Of Steel”, and you know. I understand that the implications of those records but at the same time the future of Heavy Metal has to be on, we have to move it forward and I think “Born Of Fire” is so powerful with the production [interrupting himself] you know, Bart Gabriel said it was like standing in front of a jet-engine (laughs) and when I hear “it’s too Heavy for Heavy Metal”, I mean, don’t tell me that.
Who said that?
I am just making this up, thinking of what I am going to be hearing. This record has all the elements of Power Metal - you heard “Maiden Of Shadows”, right? Isn’t that the greatest thing you’ve heard in a while? [mouthing the main riff] You have to love that record! “Godkiller” and “Demon’s Holiday”, it’s not just Thrash; Thrash would be “Denied By The Cross” and “Born Of Fire” but “Glory To The Slain” is more like in the MOTÖRHEAD vein. So, alright, there’s a little Thrash influence there, because our drummer and our singer really love it, but that’s ok. But we embrace Power Metal – Power Metal is what we play. Can I veer off the course? I invented it! I can do whatever the fuck I want with it (laughs)!
Absolutely, and this is where I was getting; you shouldn’t be confined by a genre or a specific style. You can do it, but it would be boring.
Of course! Wouldn’t it be boring if I had orchestrated twelve songs in my record? I mean, I have one – I didn’t want the same shit over and over again. I’ve never repeated myself as a songwriter.
And you shouldn’t.
I can’t; in all my solo records, even in my MANOWAR records, I was never repeated.
So, you talked about the orchestrations and “Maiden Of Shadows”, so you got there involved SYMPHONY X’s Michael Romeo and Stu Marshall who wrote the song.
That’s right, my DEATH DEALER boy.
Did you “steal” the song from him?
No, he gave it to me! Because after this record, I was like “alright, it’s been two years since that and we’ve got to do another record”. I have to do another record now? I was like scared. It was the first time in my life I was like, “I can’t do it”. But I have a band that’s fully supportive and they said “we’re with you, man – let’s do it”, so I had a few riffs, four or five, and Michael LePond had stuff, and Marc [Lopes] from LET US PREY, and so we pulled it together. And our first record with Steve [Bolognese] on drums; he’s an absolutely fantastic drummer. So, we called together the record and to me, it’s our strongest record ever. I mean, I can’t find where anyone could fault. Track “Godkiller” could have been on any MANOWAR record, and “Maiden Of Shadows”, Joey would probably pay me a million dollars for that song (laughs).
I loved “Undying”.
“Undying” is amazing! It’s a timeless song, I’m so proud of that. “The Blackest Heart”, “Waking The Moon”? Come on! I think this record is one of the greatest records. I think people will come to know that this is just a milestone record, I really do. I’m not copying anyone in my life. I don’t listen to anyone, I don’t copy anyone, I don’t need to hear it – I’m just honored to play music in my life.
So, do you see the history of ROSS THE BOSS is in two eras? Because you have the first one two albums with different lineup.
Yes, that was my German band. Those guys I was just like feeling it out. I mean, those guys are great guys and we had a great [interrupting himself] I think the first record is awesome! I think “Hailstorm” and “Dead Man’s Curve” and such songs as that – is a very fine record.
But now there’s a separation – not only timewise, but lineup-wise. Now the band is totally, I would say, different because you have…
[interrupting] It’s totally American (laughs).
You have a different type of energy.
Yeah. In “By Blood Sworn”, there’s my nephew playing drums, I wanted Rhino but he’s completely fucked off, so I had my nephew to play, right before ‘Wacken’ of course, so now we have the lineup stabilized. And I think you hear it.
You did the production, right?
Seeb Levermann from ORDEN OGAN did.
Oh, because in the press release you’re listed as the producer.
I’m the producer, the executive producer, but Seeb did it, and he’s a genius. He’s like up there with Andy Sneap in his production. He’s got a good hi-hat sound.
He managed to capture the energy of this ROSS THE BOSS band.
Well, we captured it ourselves. We just gave it to him, I mean, our basic tracks sound fantastic. My friend CJ Sciøscia in Chateau Bow Wow in New Jersey we had great sounds. My guitar sounds, the acoustic sounds, my drums sound fantastic. Mike LePond’s bass sounds were tremendous before he mixed it.
Did Mike use the 8-string bass?
Yes, he did.
Will be lucky to see him play it live tonight?
You’ll see it on “Bridge Of Death” and “Battle Hymns” and he plays with his fingers, he doesn’t play with a pick.
Oh my goodness! That’s impressive!
I could spend the whole interview on Mike LePond. To me, he is the greatest bass player in the world. To me, he is Geezer Butler, John Entwistle, Geddy Lee and Jack Brucein one bass player.
And he’s so low-profile.
Low-profile, the sweetest, I mean, he is [interrupting himself] I can’t even tell you how amazing the guy is and talented. If it wasn’t for him, this record wouldn’t have been existed because he organized the demo, he was like “do this or that”, he took my parts and arranged them.
So, after this tour where you’re playing “Hail To England”, when will you start to support “Born Of Fire” onstage?
We’re starting it now. We’re gonna play some new songs tonight. We have to be ready for Europe. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to practice so the gigs are the practice (laughs). But it’s good though.
Is there any other out of the six MANOWAR albums that you’d like to play live entirely? Or after this, it’s done?
I don’t think it would ever be done because those records are so prolific. I mean, I could play “Kings Of Metal”, “Hail And Kill”, “Mountains”, “Warlords” – I could play a lot of songs that I’m not playing now. “Secret Of Steel” we’ve done. I am not sure about doing another album in its entirety because they are not as prolific as “Hail To England”.
Earlier today, I spoke to Sean Peck and I asked him about the DEATH DEALER album, and he said that you’re in search of a label.
We are, but he put it out by Cargo Steel, he put it out by himself but we have a lot of interest for that.
Ok, because I was surprised he said that because DEATH DEALER is listed in the Cargo Steel Records’ site. So you’re searching for a label.
Yeah, I think we’ll find one. We have already a bunch of labels to choose from.
So, after signing a deal the album is ready to go?
It’s all done.
You should consider bringing DEATH DEALER, ROSS THE BOSS, CAGE, all in one package (laughs).
Yeah, I know. It could be like a ‘Ross Fest’.
Have you chosen the songs from the upcoming album to use in your setlist?
Tonight it will be “Denied By The Cross”, maybe “Glory To The Slain”, and maybe we’ll try “Born Of Fire”tonight.
After this tour, are you planning to return to the US and do an entire tour for “Born Of Fire”?
Yes, that’s a good question. We plan on doing the European tour – it will be the whole month of April with BURNING WITCHES and ASOMVEL – and then hopefully if we have enough interest and enough momentum, we’ll do a second leg of the US tour.
Ok, Ross, thank you very much for your time! See you onstage in a couple of hours!
Great! Take care, guys!