Exclusive Interview: Stevie Rachelle From Tuff

By on April 11, 2013

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Tuff will make an appearance at the M3 Rock Festival in Maryland on May 4th. It will be the groups first time at the annual event, but not their first time in the Baltimore area. Tuff singer Stevie Rachelle says, “We go way back to the heyday of Hammerjacks during our early tour years. That club is as legendary as any on the East Coast and we cannot wait to play for our fans there again.”

Tuff formed in early 1985 and 2013 will be the band’s 29th year in existence. “We’re honored to still have this opportunity to play our music and I truly enjoy doing it. Crazy to think this band was an idea of mine when I was just out of high school” adds Todd ‘Chase’ Chaisson, band founder and bassist. Chase continues “We’re ready to put the METAL back into HAIR METAL again!”

The set will feature the bands global mega hit and Sirius/XM ‘Hair Nation’ #1 request “American Hairband”, MTV hit “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye” and pop anthem “All New Generation.” Other notable cuts sure to be heard at these shows are the up tempo ballad “So Many Seasons” and the heavy metal themed “Good Guys Wear Black.”

“We’re beyond excited to play for the old skool and nu skool metal fans on the East Coast. We don’t get out that way often, and we look forward to this in a big way,” adds Rachelle. “Just like the East Coast guys from Kix, Trixter or Danger Danger – they don’t get out West much, but they’ve got fans here and we’ve got fans there.”

We caught up with Stevie Rachelle to talk about Tuff’s return to the spotlight, Metal Sludge and … Shagadoo Lollipop?

What Comes Around Goes Around…Again came out last year and that helped reignite the Tuff flame. 2013 rolls around and Tuff is getting the most action it’s had in a while.

I don’t want to say I was hibernating, but there were a few projects that were taking up a lot of energy. I had two children and getting involved with Vains Of Jenna in 2005 took on a life of it’s own. Between two kids and four Swedish kids in a five-year period it was all babysitting and diapers – and then there were my kids. Nah, I’m just joking. (laughs) Managing Vains Of Jenna and becoming a dad was a lot of work. Now my kids are in grade school and Vains Of Jenna has come and gone. It’s time to do a little more Tuff. I’d love to do more fly outs and extended weekends. Fans have been asking us to come to Texas, Florida, the northwest. I’m hoping in the next couple of years we’re going to be able to do some of those runs. I lump us in with the D-list hairbands like Bang Tango, Enuff Z Nuff, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bulletboys. That’s all good by me. Those guys have done a lot of work and a lot of dates over the past decade. I commend them for that because it’s work. I’m really looking forward to this spring run for sure.

A lot of bands have flooded the market. Fans just assume the same bands are going to be at the same festivals year after year. That’s where Tuff may have an advantage. You haven’t been on the road constantly year after year.

That’s where we’re at. I won’t say this in a negative way, but there are bands that have burned themselves out. Good for them and they did it. A lot of their fans supported them.

Tell me about your touring lineup this time out.

For starters, Todd “Chase” has been back in the band for five years now. He’s the founder of Tuff. He started it with Jorge way back in ’85. Tod “T” Burr had been playing with me for the better part of a decade. He’s a worker and has a lot of pots on the stove. He’s a tech for Rick Allen, INXS, Cinderella and all these bands. He’s been so busy over the past few years that I had to find an alternative on drums. Trent Anderson has been playing with us off and on for the past three years. He’s playing drums with us this summer. We’ve had a few guitarists over the years. Now that “Chase” has relocated to Ohio he’s living in the land of Billy Morris. Billy is the King Of Cleveland. Everyone knows him there. He and “Chase” have become better friends. Now it’s, “Billy – you have work to do!” We threw Billy in the mix and now we’re using a Midwest lineup for this run of dates.

CLASSIC TUFF FLYER sharing a bill with the BulletBoys

Now that you have more time to devote to Tuff and touring does it mean we’ll hear new music soon?

Yeah. There’s a lot of different ways to look at it. Making a full production record of 10 or 12 songs just isn’t feasible. After all the time and money … I’m not going to say the industry sucks right now. You just have to deal with it and move forward. I started my own label, RLS Records, in 1994. I’m on the doorstep of 20 years of making music on my own. I’ve released almost 50 records. We were packaging VHS in the 90s and all of a sudden that stuff just hit the wall. Our Tuff debut came out in May of 1991. Our Soundscan for that year is 89,000 records. Cassettes counted for 75,000 and CDs counted for 14,000. When we did our first run cassettes were still a valued asset. When we did Fist First in 1994 we printed 1000 CDs and 1000 cassettes. They sold through evenly. We sold the first 2000 pieces out within a couple of months. We reordered 1000 of each in late summer ’94. Those CDs sold and over the course of 15 years I’ve probably reordered that half a dozen times. The second run of cassettes – the majority of them are still in my garage. Now CDs have come to a screaming halt. I used to sell dozens to hundreds of copies of all my different records every month. I’ve watched sales nosedive. To get in the studio and make a new record and package something is really risky, especially for an independent label financing it all.

Let’s just say you do one or two new tracks. I remember you talking about a song called “Shagadoo Lollipop” a couple of years ago.

“Shagadoo Lollipop” is actually completely tracked. If I had to give this song any kind of description: It’s part three of the trilogy. It’s a pop-rock song about the music industry like “All New Generation” and “American Hairband.” “Shagadoo Lollipop” covers everyone from Van Halen to Lady Gaga and everyone in between. It’s not as heavy as “All New Generation” or “American Hairband” – I like to say it’s Bruno Mars meets the Cars. I’m really stoked about it. Adam Hamilton worked on it with me in the studio and it’s going to be a single on iTunes.

Let’s talk about Metal Sludge for a minute. It’s hard to believe it will be 15 years old this year.

September 1 will be 15 years. I’ll be doing an update and see someone did an interview with us in 1999. Jesus Christ! (laughs) That’s a long time ago. When I first started this with Shawn Card it was the first ever “social network” for 80s metal/hairband fans. There was no YouTube, no MySpace, no Facebook, no Twitter. We had the site, a message board and a chatroom. People adapted their own handle and we created this network. You could be online in Phoenix and ask “Does anybody like Nitro?” and some dude from Scotland would reply and go “DUDE! I love Nitro!” Suddenly these people would become friends from the other side of the planet. Then everybody else would chime in. Metal Sludge embraces the hairband culture. That’s what we set out to do. Who could have predicted what it would do – or even the internet in general? People still have a connection to Metal Sludge.

Apr 24 “The Foundry” Cleveland, OH w/The Frodis Capers
Apr 25 “Tap House” Akron, OH w/L.A. Knights
Apr 26 “Tink’s Rock House” Marion, OH w/Nasty Action & Hollywood Red
Apr 27 “Dead Horse Cantina” Pittsburgh w/American Dog (Michael of Salty Dog)
Apr 28 “Aldo’s Lounge” Altoona, PA w/Screaming Ugly
Apr 30 “TBA” East Coast
May 1 “The Saint” Asbury Park, NJ w/Horseman 5
May 2 “Rebel Rock Bar” Philly w/Juliets Vice & American Sugar Bitch
May 3 “M3″ Hanging @ Friday Nite Show
May 4 “M3 Rock Fest” Baltimore (12:Noon) Info w/Twisted Siter & Bret Michaels
May 4 “Ding Batz” Clifton, NJ (12:Midnite) Info w/AUG, Psychoprism & Summers

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