Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy’s fourth original solo album, Smash, will be released January 27 via Frontiers Music Srl. We recently caught up with Pearcy to talk about the new record and all things Ratt N’ Roll. During our conversation we also did a track-by-track rundown of the new songs, which you can read below.
“It took long enough to finish the new record and it is well worth the patience taken, giving every song as much attention as the next,” comments Pearcy. “Erik Ferentinos (lead guitars, co-writer), Greg D’ Angelo (drums), Matt Thorne (bass, keyboards) and myself didn’t settle on any first, second or third takes. We let some songs grow if needed, then go back and complete it. We’re very happy with the outcome, that we were able to experiment and grow with the new songs.”
Pearcy paid particular detail to the lyrics on Smash and is doing something of a rarity for this release: “There will be a lyric sheet. It’s only the second time in my entire career and the last time that I’ll do it,” he adds. “The record really needs a lyric sheet because of the subject matter. People might be surprised that I have other thoughts besides the three P’s.” (Ed. note – Just in case you’re not familiar, the three Ps are: pussy, party, and paycheck. Not necessarily in that order.)
Track 1: I Know I’m Crazy
All I See Is In Black And White, Close My Eyes And Turn Off The Lights.
“I Know I’m Crazy” is about unfinished business with someone. I write sometimes about relationships that aren’t necessarily mine. I want people who could be going through something similar to be able to relate. Theoretically this person could be dealing with a spirit or a dark entity. Anyone can relate but it’s not directed to a specific person. It’s a little creepy. We worked hard to make sure it was going to be good and get some attention.
Track 2: Ten Miles Wide
I’m Screamin’ Through The Stratosphere, At The Speed Of Light.
We’re getting ready to do a video for “Ten Miles Wide” in hopes of having it done in time for the record release. Man, Erik must have been channeling Robbin Crosby when he wrote this one because it sounds just like a Robbin riff. Erik actually mentioned it first and I was like, “Ya think?” I wanted these songs to be like how I wrote the Ratt EP and Out Of The Cellar. I wanted that lyrical breathing room and we achieved it.
Track 3: Shut Down Baby
I Met A Girl With Diamonds In Her Hair.
“Shut Down Baby” was the first song we tracked on the new sessions with Frontiers. It came so easy and those vocal tracks are the first and second vocal takes. That was it. We never had to go back to it. We’d say, “What does it need?” Nothin’. It came out just right. Just because you add a bunch of layers onto something doesn’t make it better. I really like these lyrics. There’s a lot involved in this song.
Track 4: Dead Roses
Yeah I’ve Always Had This Feeling. Double-Crossing Stupid Man.
I think people will get what “Dead Roses” is about. If you rub me the wrong way I’ll pull a Taylor Swift and write a song about you. That song is an address to somebody – could be anybody. I was maybe thinking about a couple of people that really get on my nerves.
Track 5: Lollipop
What Flavors Do I Got? A Little Just Ain’t Enough.
There’s some interesting subject matter on Smash but there’s still a little tongue-in-cheek going on. I got to have a little fun with a couple of songs and “Lollipop” is one of them.
Track 6: Hit Me With A Bullet
I’m A Machine Gun Power Pack. I’ve Got Scopes For Eyes.
“Hit Me With A Bullet” is a fun song. You’re gonna need an old western dictionary to figure out some of those words. There’s a lot of old western slang in there that the cowboys used. It’s really tongue-in-cheek in cowboy talk.
Track 7: Rain
Don’t Ever Think That You’ve Had Enough. Life Can Be Hard. Life Can Be Tough.
“Rain” is a song I wrote about my daughter. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Bring it on me, I’ll take the pain. I’ll make things better. Don’t trust. What you think is not really what it is. Anybody could address it to their own children or loved ones. Nobody wants to see their kid in pain because of somebody else. They will need to go to somebody for some kind of release and that’s what that song is about.
Track 8: Want Too Much
Welcome To The City, What A Pity. You’re So Pretty, Take My Hand.
“Want Too Much” musically is kinda like Ratt meets Vertex. It just fit the bill. The song is about this person who wants too much and ends up a vagabond and winds up dead. It’s about how you go about getting and wanting something. If you want something and give up yourself to get it, the outcome is not going to be good. This town will prostitute you out.
Track 9: What Do Ya Think
What Do Ya Think Went Wrong? Why Do You Drive Me Crazy?
We really like “What Do Ya Think.” We recorded an acoustic version for the record that will be a b-side for Japan. That song was written to be played acoustically live. On tour we may take a break from our electric set and do a couple of acoustic tunes. It’s a different kind of light and shade. That song is about two people that aren’t supposed to be together at that time. Maybe someone wants to trip around or too much is expected out of them. One person only sees negative around them and all the other person wants to do is dance the night away. They want to be a happy person and there’s all this negativity from the other side. I think it’s about somebody questioning themselves. Another time, another place, everything will be OK.
Track 10: Jamie
The Way You Look Right Through Me, You Turn The Night Into Day.
“Jamie” is just a name I needed to fit the subject matter. People ask me, “Who’s Jamie?” I don’t know – it could be you, someone you know, a male, a female. It’s about meeting someone and having a connection and never getting the call back.
Track 11: I Can’t Take It
And You Think You’ve Got A Rock N’ Roll Lover. Go Find Another Sucker.
Beau Hill really set the standard to the material I was going to present with “I Can’t Take It.” It was originally written for my Sucker Punch solo record that eventually turned into Smash and I pushed those songs aside except for “I Can’t Take It.” In that song there’s a lyric that says “Smash” and I thought, “There’s something going on here.” So I decided to call the new record Smash. That’s obviously a relationship song, somebody saying “I’m tired of this shit.” End of story.
Track 12: Passion Infinity
Where Do We Go? No One Can See. No One Has Eyes.
Something like “Passion Infinity” is way different and I had to really dig into the brain for something like this. It’s talking about what’s happening to the children and how nobody wants to open their eyes and ears. Everybody wants to look ahead and they don’t want to see what’s up, down, good and bad. Let the evil in you meet the evil in me. Put me on your level and let’s go at it. It’s about an ongoing struggle and questioning everything around us.
Track 13: Summers End
Seems Like Yesterday’s My Only Friend. And I Wonder Why I Deserve To Cry Again.
I love “Summers End.” We knew that song had to really get some attention. I wanted to end the record with this song because it says so much. Will I see you again? Will I hear you screaming out my name? Will I feel you again? Don’t let people tell you everything negative. It’s going to be OK. The end of summer is like moving on to a new beginning. This song is really moody and has a cool, ghostly groove to it. It’s about two people deciding together that if you go through this with me, I’ll go through it with you and then it never happens. I do a weird little celtic rant on the end that’s kinda cool.
Pearcy points out, “Explaining these songs doesn’t really give you meaning – everybody has to make their own assessment of what I say. These songs could be about you or someone you know. They could be your answer or they could be your question. That’s how I want these songs to present themselves. Look at all the songs and put the puzzle together. It will all make sense.”