An Interview with Stevie Rachelle of Tuff

from Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS


1. Who are your main influences and why?

I have many influences. In my
early teens I listened to a lot of skater music (skateboarding) like Devo,
The B-52s,The Clash and 999. But in the early 80s Van Halen, Motley Crue and
the heavy metal scene sucked me in and now it’s 20 years later!

2. After releasing two solo albums – what made you decide to resurrect

I auditioned for RATT and it felt good to sing some hard rock tunes.
We jammed some Aerosmith too and I’d also been singing on a ton of tribute
CDs. I felt really at home doing these songs after several years of doing
the other stuff it just was natural and the time seemed right.

3. How are the Tuff gigs going in the states at the moment – (crowd
attendance/reception/vibe etc)?

We’ve played about 20 shows so far and they
have all been a lot of fun. As for attendance it’s been hit and miss but the
reception has been great to say the least.

4. What are your future touring plans?

Hoping to get on some dates with
a few other bands this summer. Keep watching for updates!

5. Do you plan to tour as part of a package – if so, who’d be on the bill?

See above answer.

6. What bands are you seeing live/listening to at the moment?

I like a lot of everything, modern stuff like Linkin Park, Kid Rock and even Staind.
I also go some old stuff still in the CD player like Gn’R, Skid Row and Black N’ Blue.

7. What new big hair bands should we be checking out at the moment, in
your opinion (apart from Tuff that is)? Is there even any “new” big hair
bands out?

And for the record TUFF is not a “big” hair band. Just a hair
band and that’s because of our past and the fact that we still have long

(An old piccy of the original Tuff band in the 80's)

8. Will you always play the original style of big hair rock – can you
ever see the style, image and sound of the band changing at all?

The style has changed and so has the sound. But for the record I don’t sound like
Eminem, we don’t have hair cuts like Matchbox 20, we don’t wear FUBU, there
is no makeup/hairspray, no stage choreography and no we don’t have a DJ
either. Anyone who comes to a show is usually surprised and says something
like, “man you guys are way different than I thought you would be”? The
bottom line is TUFF is a hard rock band from the 80s and has evolved in a
way that is fair for our listeners.

9. What is the music scene, rock/metal scene like in your part of America?

Better than it was in the 90s but not as cool as it was in the 80s.
Then again I’m partial to the 80s as that was my time. I’m sure a lot of
Seattle bands are saying everything sucks as their hype has died down a lot
over the last few years. A taste of their own medicine. J

10. Is it easy to get quality gigs in the states at the moment?

Any gig is good, some are better than others. Getting to be on a package
with Poison or KISS would be great but those are very hard to come by and
usually involve some very “heavy politics”.

11. How did you go about releasing the track ‘American Hair Band
’ – due to its obvious connections to Metallica and Kid Rock?

With regard tocopyright – mentioned bands in the song etc.? I re-recorded everything.
There are no samples, no lifting and no use of their original masters. It’s
essentially a cover song, tribute or parody song. So I have to pay a
mechanical royalty to the artists as writers for each unit sold.

12. Are you planning to release a brand new material Tuff album
in the future or are you taking it one step at a time?

One step at a time for now. Yes I want to do a record with the new band but this summer will be
spent promoting this new song, CD and the new band in general.

Hopefully we’ll be recording over the winter months and releasing something in the spring
of 2002.

13. What’s your plans regarding your solo material?

Will you continue that with a different band – or will it be incorporated in with the
other Tuff (as a backing band, like Rod Stewart did with The Faces) and play
your solo material alongside tough material ? Or will it be a separate
entity altogether?

That project is not really doing anything. All of the
other guys are in other bands just as I am in Tuff. However the 2 solo CDs
are still for sale at and we (Tuff) even play a few of the songs
in the set here and there.

14. What is the overall attitude in the states (with regards to
the Media) to Hair bands? Is it positive or completely negative?

It is 10 times better than it was in the 90s. People have come around and realised
that just because you have a Bon Jovi CD doesn’t mean you’re a pussy. I have
a lot of respect for bands like Lit, Eve 6 and Papa Roach who have openly
admitted to growing up listening to 80s bands, going to the concerts and
sighting them as influences. These guys who go around denying the past and
running from it deserve a big fucking kick in the ass.

15. Did you know ex-G’n’R member, Gilby Clark, prior to the solo
material – how did you guys get it together as a full-on creative superforce?

My solo band did a gig with his and I also sang on some of my
tribute CDs at his studio. I asked him to do a few songs with me and when
his schedule permitted we got together and cranked out these tunes.

16. What’s the story behind your involvement with the Exception
Glam band, Alex ‘Skunk’ Michael’s Shameless – how did the whole project come
together – are future gigs releases planned?

Alexx contacted me through Eric Singer and then we recorded some of
the Shameless record at Gilbys studio. Alexx asked me to sing on the second
CD a year later and then I went to Germany and Holland with Bruce Kullick
and toured with Shameless. It was a lot of fun and I’d love to do it again.

17. What’s your view of big hair bands who totally change their
style to fit into a current fashionable musical bandwagon style – explain
why you have your opinion also?

I’m not sure who your talking about but it’s hard to point fingers.

No matter what you do there are always a few who are
not happy. Everyone needs to do what they want and if the people like it
great if not let them go find something else that makes their day.

18. What’s radio like overall – i.e F.M. or A.M, are the rock
stations any good – or do many bands playing proper authentic big hair or
melodic rock rely on internet radio? Which stations do you strongly
recommend – what are their web-site addresses – who play rock of this

I live in LA and the rest of the country is very different. The
Midwest is still spinning 80s stuff but some other areas are not. KNAC.COM
is a great online source for hard rock, both new and old.

19. How do you go about getting airplay – do you have to pay
them to play it or do you simply send them a copy of the album(s)? Are
there different rules and regulations regarding play-lists etc – or do the
majority of Rock DJ’s simply play whatever they want?

It’s a gamble. You can
easily spend several hundred dollars sending out free CDs to a few hundred
radio stations and you might not even get a spin. But then again, you might
get lucky. It’s like Las Vegas. Paying DJs is not in the budget for most
indy label situations. That’s for the big shots, I’m not a big shot.

20. Who have you seen recently who’s really impressed you?

On MTV, I like Sum 41, Linkin Park and Uncle Craker. As for VH1 stuff, I still
like seeing a GN’R video or old Crue and Pantera was played on the Rock Show
recently, I love that band. Live club gigs, I just saw the Angel City
Outlaws with Bobby Blotzer, Kerri Kelly, Robbie Crane and John Corabi. It’s
a side project/cover band but I’ve always loved Corabi’s voice. He sounds
killer and was the first singer I saw play in LA back in 1987.

21. State your preference and why?

Britney Spears or Britny Fox
!?!?!?! Britny Fox for music and Britney Spears for entertainment.

22. If you were featured on Celebrity Death Match – who would
your opponent be?

Pamela Anderson, I have a few things I still want to do with her.

23. What humours stories do you have to tell during your time in
the rock and roll biz and who have they involved?

Jorge DeSaint spilling black cherry soda on Gene Simmons’ white carpet while TUFF was co-writing
songs with him at his house.

24. Have you heard or seen the new version of Guns ‘N’ Roses –
what are they like – any good?

No idea other than people said it sounded really good.

25. What are your all time favourite top five albums?

These are
my rock choice only, Motley Crue / Shout at the Devil, Skid Row / st, Van
Halen / 1984, Ratt / st, Guns N’ Roses / Appetite for Destruction

26. Who would you most like to work with?

DLR (David Lee Roth) or Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue)

27. Do bands get much stick for having long hair – now the
spikey punk look of Blink 182, Green Day etc has become so boringly popular?

Maybe we do, I don’t care what people say!

28. Do the young kids in the states have much respect for proper
rock bands who can actually sing or play without the need to wear baggy
trousers and insist on a noisy, angry, pretentious bad attititude?

Kids follow trends, I guess we can’t blame them as they will accept and become
attached to what they are given. If MTV dropped all of their current
rotation and went with all 80s hard rock long haired bands, I guarantee that
the malls of America will be full of Axl, Sebastian and long haired leather
kids within a year or two.

29. Are bands like Limp Bizkit or Blink 182 as big in the States as they are here?

Yes, probably bigger.

30. Can you see the current so called nu-metal, punk, hardcore
thing dying out – has it had its day yet? What is happening that’s just
around the corner? Can you see Hair rock getting as popular again as it did
in the 80’s and early 90’s, before the Grunge scene fucked everything up?

I see a resurge of 80s and hard rock but it won’t be the same as it was in 1988.

Thanks again, Stevie Rachelle