It’s an honor for us to present a Q&A with Mr. Stevie Rachelle of Tuff and the world’s greatest website Metal Sludge. As a singer, he fronted one of our favorite late 80s, early 90s bands Tuff to MTV stardom and as an interviewer/webmaster he is influential to the point that other sites won’t even admit.
Tuff has reunited for some special shows to honor the anniversary of their debut album and Stevie chatted with us about all that and more….read on…(All photos from Stevie’s personal stash)
Q: For those of us still stuck in lovely Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin let us know what Stevie is currently up to/promoting?
A. I am excited to say TUFF is coming back to the MIDWEST and playing some shows. Myself on vocals & band founder Todd “Chase” Chaisson on BASS. Also, special guest Guitarist Jack Aurora (Sister Whiskey) and Trent Anderson on Drums (Bang Tango). See dates below.
Also, we’re headed to play Brazil June 8th-13th..a few days in lovely Sao Paulo. Very excited to return there, as well as Mexico City Mexico in mid July. I look forward to a few other 4-5 day runs in other regions of the US as well. Hopefully we can sort one for Ohio/Michigan/Pittsburgh, a Texas run, possibly Florida and some others.
Q: Those who are big fans of Tuff are well aware that you are from Osh Kosh. I was told by Todd Chase that you still get up that way quite a bit but that was 100 moons ago on the promo tour for your first album…..Do you still get up this way often or do you try like hell to avoid the weather?
A: Have not been back to Wis. Since 2004 for my High School reunion. Before that it was the 2005 Metal Sludge Extravaganza tour, and previous to that was the 2001 “American Hair Band” tour. I am beyond excited to hit Wis. Minn, Ill & Iowa again!
Q: Do you think that being from the Midwest gave you an edge when the band was coming up as far as knowing what the average metal kid thinks or likes? A lot of people still say the best fans are smack dab in the middle of nowhere.
A: Being from the Midwest had nothing to do with what I do, or know. There are guys (musicians) from all parts of the world, climate and up bringing that have failed, succeeded and everything in between.
Q: Many people are also aware you guys were one of the last bands to grasp some major airplay on MTV before the grunge hit. What pisses you off more in retrospect, that more people didn’t know your following album was even better or that more people were unaware that you were one of the very best live bands of the era?
A: Nothing pisses me off man. I accept what happened, and feel very fortunate that our band (TUFF) was given the chances we were. At some point, various members of the original group decided to move away from it (the band or style) and they did what they do. I continued to do what I wanted to do. That included a few solo recordings, my CWA project, eventually Metal Sludge, skateboarding and raising kids.
MTV was a GREAT thing for me, TUFF and for many other bands.
Q: As a person who is currently wearing a TITLETOWN t-shirt I must ask…..Are you wishing you would have cashed in and resurrected your Cheeseheads With Attitude gig this past season?
A: I don’t look at it like a “cash in”. I didn’t set out to really do that the first time CWA came out. When I hatched the idea to do CWA, Green Bay was 3-1 in the start of another football season. And previous to that season (1996), myself along with many other Packer fans watched and waited, but obviously fell short of the playoffs, many times. And the Super Bowl for nearly 3 decades. The idea I had was to have fun with music, and in a way to support my favorite sports team. The Packers. Soon the idea took on some life, and 4-5 months later was a huge success. A lot of people don’t know that I called the local Wis record stores (Exclusive Company) and radio stations in Oct and November trying to get attention for it. No one really cared. But after WIXX finally played “Where the Hell is Neenah?” – everything changed over nite. Soon the song was a #1 request, and the Packers just kept on winning. It all built up as Christmas approached, soon the playoffs, and we all know what happened. It was a great feeling.
As for last season, and the Packers winning the 2011 Super Bowl –I was elated. Couldn’t be happier.
Q: Don’t worry your halfway done with the torture….We’re from Rockford and we are contractually obligated to bring up Cheap Trick in every interview. Do you have any memories or feelings you could share about the beloved….since you’re from the area you must have seen them right?
A: Of course…Saw Cheap Trick play Riverfest in Kaukauna in 1986 if my memory is correct, I was very stoked to see them.
And thought “I’d love to play that event”. Fast forward 5 years later, TUFF opened for Dokken at the same event. I was in the crowd as a teen, and now on the stage as the talent. It was awesome. I also had the pleasure to meet Robin Zander at the Playboy mansion over the years. He was a very kind man. I love Cheap Trick!
Q: Sorry, but we dig deep here and saw some of your old bands from Wisconsin on your Tuff YouTube channel…. How many bands were you in before you moved out to L.A.., what was the scene like in Wisconsin back then and did you ever play shows with a band here called Raven Bitch?
A: I started out in a band called X-iter in 1985. That band went through a few lineup changes over a few years. Eventually I joined a Appleton based group called Talon. We were looking to change the name to Tomi Gun until we learned there was a Tommi Gunn in Chicago. That band played til the spring of 1987. I moved to LA in June 1987 and joined TUFF in early July.
I never played with Raven Bitch, but saw them in concert a few times, and LOVED that band. Great band. I even searched them on YouTube and found some cool clips. A huge shout out to the BITCH!
Q: Wikipedia fact check: Is it true that you almost never pursued music because of a possible skateboarding career and if it weren’t for Motley you might be Tony Hawk?
A: I was VERY into Skateboarding. I first moved to Florida in late 1984 to get out of the winter, and looked to skate in the warm weather. I was sponsored by Kami Kaze Skateboards and Ron Jons’ Surf Shop from Cocoa Beach Florida. But soon the Motley Crue itch took over the Powell Peralta itch. I have still retained some skating skills in my 40s. Love skateboarding, and love music both.
Q: I plan on showing my kids the greatest motion picture documentary of our times, “The Decline of Western Civilization 2” as a cautionary tale and you can’t do that since you will always be famous as the one guy in that movie who actually made it…..what are you gonna do if your kids wanna grow up to be little rockstars?
A: I would let them do whatever, almost whatever they wanted. But music is not my first choice. The industry is very hard, very – lost if you will. It’s all over the place and not very stable.
Q: At this point you are almost as famous for your more recent song “American Hair Band” as you ever were for any of my favorite Tuff songs/albums. On one hand, it obviously makes me happy cuz it rules and on the other hand it pisses me off that my wife and kid don’t know where the Ruck-A-Pit Bridge is…..did you have any idea the song would become such a staple and have you heard from any of the grunge bands you dissed OR Kid Rock?
A: Kid Rock said some very nice things about me and the song. He was quoted in a few magazines and it was ALL positive so I am stoked for that!
Never heard from anyone who got “dissed” but a lot of the 80s bands were really stoked and gave me some GREAT comments. Also, some other 80s bands complained, in a fun way that they didn’t get mentioned.
Q: You have also recently helped the entire universe by discovering the band Vains of Jenna who are my favorite band under 40 years old easily…..Those who follow that scene over in Sweden know them as legends, how did they come to your attention?
A: I saw them at the Whisky in July 2005 when they played as the 1st band of 10 on an Convention type event called CRUEFEST. I was the headliner, and showed up early to set up merchandise.
And at 5 pm they took the stage in front of about 20 people.
I loved them.
Talked to them after show. Got their motel phone number. And 72 hours later had them recording demo’s with Gilby Clarke. The rest is 6 years of history.
Q: Is getting involved with bands behind the scenes as rewarding as the fun you’ve grown accustomed to as a frontmen?
A: Yes. I felt very happy, and very proud to have helped VAINS OF JENNA do what they have. It was a group effort, and it would not have all unfolded as well as it did if it wasn’t for others as well, like Bam Margera, who was introduced to us through my friend (Photographer) Mark Weiss. Add in tons of companies who helped, like MONSTER ENERGY, CARVIN, BC RICH, Zildjian, and more.
Also, Bobby Dall & Poison giving us the chance to play main stage on the 2007 tour with Ratt. That was also a big deal, I am very thankful to all of those people who helped believe in what I believed in from the start.
Q: Do you get quite a few other hot tips that go nowhere on new bands to get behind? ….Nikki Sixx is constantly bemoaning the new rock scene and was just on his fb/twitter asking us commoners for links to “the next AC/dc, the next Zep, the next Crue”..
A: Bands hit me up all the time. They did in the 80s too. Guys gave me cassettes, or CDs, and now they email their Myspace, or Facebook and youtube links. For every 20 bands, there is 1 that is ok.
For every 100-200 bands there is one that is worth a more serious look. A few bands over the years that I saw that made a impression, eventually got recognized on their own – The Last Vegas comes to mind.
I remember seeing Josh Todd in his LA band Slamm Hound open for TUFF at FM Station when he was like 18-19, and he was GREAT then, I knew he had something. It just took a few years for it to all come together. I think the new WILDSTREET video/song for “Posion Kiss” is really good. Don’t know a lot about the band, but I dig it. Happy for them as they’ve been out there for a few years working hard.
Q: THANK YOU so much for talkin with us…..we hope you bring your show back up this way very soon, is there anything else you wanna say to your peeps in the Northern Illinois/ Southern Wisconsin area or anything else to plug?
A: Thanks. Be at the shows. I am gonna be in the area for a solid week, 6 shows in 7 days!
More info at.