Patrick Fuchs - Ross The Boss - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Sunday, 21 November 2010 05:00

When the question of "who'd like to interview Ross the Boss?" was floated around URHQ I have to admit I was acting like Donkey volunteering for another whirlwind adventure with his green friend (you know the "pick me" sketch).  I mean c'mon, we are talking a guitarist who has real pedigree here someone who was not only at the forefront of the New York Punk Rock scene with his time in the awesome Dictators but also in the mighty Manowar when they were a great metal band.  These days Ross is a man very much in demand (as I was to find out) and just a few weeks ago he and his German band had released their second album, which goes by the title of 'Hailstorm'.  You can read our review of that album here

 

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After preparing a list of questions that would sink a ship I was ably prepared for my meeting with Ross "The Boss" Friedman, but then at the eleventh hour sadly Ross could not field the questions due to live dates with Albert Bouchard amongst others (see what I mean about being busy) so vocalist Patrick Fuchs stepped in to help save the day.

 

It was obviously way too late in the day to prepare anything new, so what follows is a valiant display from Patrick to help answer questions I had waited a quarter of a century to ask. So without further ado, lets get a cracking with the nattering...

 

 

RTB_Hail_PO2Hi Patrick firstly many thanks for taking the time to talk with us at Uber Rock.  I have to say that this is a bit of a surprise but it is none the less a pleasure to speak with you!  Hopefully my questions will not be too awkward to answer given they were originally written for Ross.

 

Hello there! Yeah this is Patrick Fuchs the singer in Ross The Boss - I'm very sorry, but Ross is not available at the moment; he is a very busy man, as I'm sure you're aware, but it's a great pleasure to speak to you too!! I can give you the lead vocalist's point of view on everything, and I hope that's fine for you??

 

OK, onto the interview!!  What is happening in the world of Ross The Boss (the band) right now?

 

Ross is a very busy man. He's back in New York right now playing... but just the same in my world! As well as the new record for Ross The Boss, Carsten Kettering and I have our other band Ivory Night, and that record is just coming out too. So we're all busy!!

It's a very important moment for Ross The Boss as a band now, I think... Our new album 'Hailstorm' just got released and we couldn't be more excited. We like what we achieved with the new record - it's the perfect and next logical step from 'New Metal Leader' where the band was all new, and it's a real exploration of what the four of us can do.

 

'Hailstorm' is your second album for AFM as you say. What are the feelings within the band about the album?

 

The band is really, really excited. It's always a great feeling when all the work is done and you're just waiting for the album to make its impact, but this is just half of it for us really because this band has an unusual history to it. 'Hailstorm' is one strong piece of music, a pure group effort. Everyone had been writing; everyone had been pushing everyone else to the very limits to get the strongest result possible and I really believe we achieved that. As I always say, this band was formed with a streak of luck. We were the backing band basically to Ross' first Manowar show, (where he played his classic material) in many, many years, then, before we knew it, we had done 'New Metal Leader' in 2008 and now 'Hailstorm' in 2010 and the band gets stronger and stronger every time we play.

 

I've been lucky enough to grab a few listens to the album recently and I have to say it recalls some of the early Manowar albums for certain.  Album opener 'Kingdom Arise' for example, could easily have been on 'Hail to England'.  It all sounds very strong and epic stuff ....What do you think of this?

 

Well, I don't mind the comparison either! 'Hail To England' is a real classic album. I mean, with Ross' guitar playing, it is natural that we should sound close to Manowar I think - and 'Kingdom Arise' is a real trademark song, so, yes! It sounds as 'Ross as only Ross' himself can. Ross is a very natural guitarist. No effects, no pedals, no nothing. His tone and his sound are pure and come straight from his hands. The hands of death, we call them.

But, of course, we 'three others' bring something else to the table as well, and I think that's what some people sometimes forget about Ross The Boss. We are younger, we are German, we have the same roots in some-ways, but sometimes we have a very different approach and I think it shows in the new album. I guess that's why the album sounds fresh, whilst also staying close to its roots.

 

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And what do you personally consider to be the highlights of the album?

 

Always a tough question! When writing songs, when making an album, you like all the songs; you don't put them on the album if you don't, Ha! Ha! So, it's very hard to pick out one or two...Personally, my favourite songs keep varying until you've played them all live - which we haven't actually done so far. At the moment my choice is 'Dead Man's Curve', which I hear was particularly popular there, 'Behold The Kingdom' and 'Shining Path', but it changes all the time.

 

You're definitely a very strong vocal ally to Ross, without a doubt, but how did you actually get together with him? You mentioned being the backing band for Ross at one point?

 

Thanks a lot, I really appreciate that John.... Ross wouldn't have told me this, I guess? Ha! Ha! No... Singing is a passion, a must. I have always felt the urge and desire to sing. I am nothing but thankful that my path has crossed Ross' path. We make a great team, I think.

But to answer your question; yes! The three Germans - Carsten Kettering (bass), Matze "The German Hammer" Mayer (drums) and I - used to be in a tribute band called Men Of War, and we were lucky enough and possibly an obvious choice as we'd been doing it for some time alongside Ivory Night, to help Ross back in 2006, when Oli Weinsheimer needed a band for Ross to play with on the Keep It True Festival. Oli is The Lord Of Metal, a friend of the band from our hometown.... The world is a small place from time to time... no? We were just in the right place at the right time. We did the show; Ross asked us to record with him, and it's gone from there!!"  Did I mention that Ivory Night are just about to release our new album 'The Healing' on November 15th via Aaargh records? Yes, I think so. It's quite a different style, more of a modern approach. Very catchy.

 

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Yes, the rest of the band; Carsten Kettering on bass and Matthias Mayer on drums, do make for a mighty rhythmic backbone for the self proclaimed Heavy Metal Leader....

 

Well, personally, I think the 'New Metal Leader' can be anyone, not just Ross himself or anyone of the band. It relates to all of us, as the band! And it's a pretty provocative album title, isn't it?"

You are right, though to mention those guys!! Carsten and Matze are like siamese rhythm-twins. They have known each other since their school days and have learnt all they know together right from day one. You can hear that! They are the perfect match for this kind of music. It's in their blood.

 

ManowarAnd of course Ross' former Manowar colleague Scott Columbus joined you for the recent set of summer gigs you did? How did that all come about?

 

Again, I think that was a very natural thing. Ross and Scott have been buddies since their Manowar days and since Scott had already been out of Manowar for some years, without the public really knowing about it, it was like a "meet, talk and play" kind of thing. There was no pressure, it was just a lovely chance for both of them to re-build something between them. It was a cool experience for all of us. Just imagine our small home town, Kaiserslautern in Germany, a pretty good, not shabby, rehearsal room and two very well-known Metal legends? Along with three very hopeful aspirants of course! Ha! Ha! It was wonderful fun! It's been a real pleasure for me and Scott is a good guy; he knows a lot about music, way more than just playing the drums.

 

Okay now this is where I was going to dig deep into my memory banks and ask Ross some questions around his career so if you're OK with this I'll ask you to give me your view on some of these.

 

Yeah that's fine

 

I think it was probably Shakin' Street's 'Solid As A Rock' album where I first discovered Ross The Boss, all the way back in 1980...What was that all about, I mean a lad from New York joining a French "Punk" band was hardly what you'd have expected after the Dictators?

 

Well, I'm sorry to say, I can't tell you much about Ross' time with Shakin' Street; my knowledge ends shortly after the Dictators! When I first found out we'd be getting together I went and read a lot of Ross' history and he's told me a lot of wonderful stories about that era, but it's always best to let Ross one day tell you those stories.

 

Isn't he still involved with Shakin' Street though (they played Sweden Rock in 2008 didn't they)?

 

Yeah, they did Sweden Rock, that's correct! What a great occasion having Shakin' Street back! Whenever Shakin' Street is set to play major shows or do an album, such as now if I'm correct, Ross likes to join them. They're on pretty good terms - it's just a matter of time! Ross The Boss is Ross' main priority, I know, but he knows some really, really good musicians as well.

 

Manowar_Battle_HymnsThen, of course, came Manowar, and the rather splendid 'Battle Hymns' album, which entered our lives in 1982; what do you think are Ross' fondest memories of that time?

 

You know, I think we all have really fond memories of that time! It was what Rock 'n' Roll was all about, that time! When Ross met this certain guy named Joey DeMaio (who was bass tech. on Black Sabbath's 'Heaven And Hell' tour where Shakin' Street were supporting), there must have been something special in the air? It was none other than Ronnie James Dio himself who was building bridges back in those days: He introduced Joey to Ross and Ross tells the story that they just clicked right away. They wrote songs straight away, had Eric join as vocalist and did a demo with Carl Canedy of the Rods. The rest is history - real music history. Back then, Rock 'n 'Roll was still Rock 'n' Roll. And musicians were still treated like musicians: girls, a pool and a house in Florida - no wonder the album was that great....

 

And Ross, of course, recorded some truly metallic anthems during his time in the band! What, if anything, do you think he would he have changed (with the benefit of hindsight) that might have meant he'd still be playing with Messers Adams and DeMaio today?

 

Well, Ross usually answers this question by saying that everything happens for a reason and that there is no time for regrets; and I must admit, I think he's right. His time in the band was perfect for as long as it was. Maybe even, meant to be? It lasted six immortal albums and that's what counts really! Six albums stuffed with songs I still love, no matter how many times I have heard them or sung them live myself.

 

Dictators_Manifest_DestinyHaving also been involved in the first raft of NYC Punk Rock via his time with The Dictators, its always puzzled me why Ross chose to take a more Heavy Metal route with his subsequent career? Can you help put me out of my misery and explain why you think he took this route?

 

I know what you are talking about actually, and a lot of interviewers often ask this question! But, we have always found it funny that Ross has his Manowar fans and his Dictators fans and quite frequently, they are simply not aware of the other band he is famous for! I don't know why he took the decisions he took....Ross is just Ross, and he plays in whatever band and plays whatever he feels has to be played. It makes no big difference if the band is more Punk or more Metal. I mean, when you listen to HIS playing on Dictators albums and then on Manowar albums, you can definitely hear that it is Ross playing - and that's it!"

Believe me, there hasn't been any sort of plan. Ross always says that he wanted to play with as many people as possible to push his ability and increase his technique; it was just the natural flow, meeting musicians worth playing with... It's like when we met, there was no plan either. It just clicked and continues to do so.

 

And speaking of the Dictators, is that still a going concern?  After all its 9 years now since 'DFFD' and our lives are always a lot emptier without them.

 

I agree!! They were and still are, one hell of a band! They have never stopped actually!! They played a couple of shows in Spain back in 2008 and I believe it was a real blast; but I agree: Ross, Andy, Manitoba, Scott, J.P, we want a new album.

 

Finally, for the old school questions; where did the nickname of Ross The Boss originate?

 

As far as I know, it came about through baseball, which is quite a topic of Ross' life.

 

New_Metal_LeaderOK. Back to the here and now and the Bloodstock show you did in the UK this summer. It appeared to be a resounding success; what plans if any do you have for a return?

 

Ahhh! Thank you so much! We LOVED the Bloodstock experience! It was by far one of the finest concerts we have played so far and for sure one of the best-organized ones! No sucking up here, I mean it!"

We love the UK; I have always wanted to play there, so if it's up to me, we will be back VERY soon. No plans for touring at the moment; it all depends on the album sales. So everybody: Get the album by buying it! That's the only way to keep the record companies alive. And without them there will be no tour support and no chance for bands to play shows. Basically, the better it sells, the more shows the company will let us play.

 

Would you like to give your fans a little bit of Ross The Boss trivia or an exclusive that no one else knows right now?

 

Ha! Ha!!! OK; here's one for you! Something nobody else knows? In fact, this is one thing even Ross doesn't know. When we recorded 'Matador' for the first album 'New Metal Leader', there is this line in the song "...and leave the gate alive"? Right?" Well, when we did the harmony vocals, I sang "...and leave the gay alive" on all the tracks but the main one!

Do you believe it? Check it out! It's there!"

 

Ross_SoloAnd, finally then, just to finish off with a little bit of fun. I'd like you to think about the ideal super-group you could be a part of.  Tell me who would be in it and why and also what you'd call that group. (We did this with Jesse Malin recently and it threw up a twenty odd minute discussion because he and Todd Youth couldn't stop adding members to their super-group...so good luck).

 

Ha! Ha! OK... here we go: Vocals by Ronnie James Dio and Freddie Mercury; guitars by Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and Randy Rhoads; bass by Trevor Bolder (Uriah Heep) and drums by Cozy Powell (ex-Rainbow, ex-Black Sabbath, etc.). So, we're talking two vocalists here, two Powell's (who are not related!) and only two band members who are still alive: Andy and Trevor. Might be a cool band? All of them are just my all time favourites, I guess. I wouldn't join in, I'd just want to watch them play.

 

And with that we'd like to once again thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Uber Rock and answering my slightly more Ross orientated questions so ably.  We'll hopefully catch up with you sometime soon here in the UK, so until then we wish you and the gang every success with 'Hailstorm'...

 

Thanks a lot for the interview - I really enjoyed it; there's been a load of cool and enjoyable questions! Thanks for your support! I really hope we will meet in the UK soon! Take care, all the best.

 

So there you have it Uber Rockers, Ros the Boss almost ticked off my interview list, but not quite yet. I have to thank Patrick for being such a great interviewee and for allowing the almost interview within and interview scenario regarding one of his band members to take place, which he really didn't have to do so. But there again that's the fun of doing this, and it makes the discussion all the more exciting.

 

For anyone who hasn't already heard the second album from Ross The Boss then check out the video preview below to the lead track to the album 'Kingdoms Arise', then get out to your record shop and pick up a copy of 'Hailstorm' on AFM Records.

 

http://www.ross-the-boss.net/news.html