Well, my friends do I have some good news for you. The Dictators are recording again and will annihilate the world on tour in '98. If you know your music you'll know that Ross "the Boss" Funicello was a founding radical of the Dictators and was doing the punk metal scene in the early '70s on the left coast while the Ramones started to work on the right coast. I mean before Clash, before the Sex Pistols and the Dead Boys. Shakin' Street was a home for a while. Then he spent some very rewarding years ('82-'88) in MANOWAR shredding all the way. I love this guy.
Q&A: Ross the Boss
RB: Sheila, how are you?
SR: It's so good to hear from you. Thanks for making time for me.
RB: For you, anything anytime. I love your voice, you sound so sexy.
SR: I have the fondest memories of Winterland and the '70s rocking out
to the Dictators. In fact I interviewed you in the seats stage right on
a night you played with the Nuns and the Ramones
RB: You were there? Those were some of the best of times.
SR: Two dollar nights at Winterland so much fun.
RB: Rock and roll has undergone some great changes. I think that American radio led to the demise of the genre because it's so categorized today. That killed it off in the '80s and MTV hasn't helped helped much.
SR: I think the new kids who don't know how it was aren't bothered a
RB: You know rock and roll is here to stay. These day it's getting a shot in the arm with groups like the Wallflowers who just won a Grammy. It takes different shapes along the way like grunge. I think it's good and healthy.
SR: If you're not heavy metal, you're not my friend. (A famous quote
from Ross back when)
RB: Oh, yeah? I haven't heard that one before.
SR: We have been through periods..you were the seminal band of the
'70s. You had an album out before the Ramones.
RB: Absolutely. I think the only bands that beat us was Kiss and the Dolls.
SR: You had a really good ride with the Dictators. Was there any way to
keep that going, in retrospect?
RB: I'll tell you off the record, that we haven't stopped. We've toured Europe for the past three years and we'll be releasing a new record this year and tour.
SR: I knew that but wanted to find out if there's something simmering
RB: I'm doing an interview about the Spinatras and getting ready to perform with the Dictators in Boston on May 2. I'm managing these two bands together.
SR: Actually, I read an interview from Andy and he left it open for
this to happen.
RB: This is one happening band. Our crowd hasn't left us.
SR: Can we talk a minute about the Mabuhay Gardens? All this punk stuff
(at first) didn't bring anything metal to me.
RB: I'm a heavy metal fan. I idolize Black Sabbath, Jimmy Page and Hendrix but I also idolized Iggy Pop. I have both sides in me.
SR: I still do, but if you remember I had an interview show on KSJO and
Howie Klein had his punk show following mine. We used to fight verbally
on-air just to shake things up. How about that Klein? He's a big shot
over at Reprise.
RB: It was so similar then and now. It's just the 'tude that defines it.
SR: Are you up with so many old bands surfacing again although they
didn't come here on every album. Europe is the biggest market going now.
RB: People come out and see those bands but don't get out to see the new ones. I refuse to go away. I'm keep playing and making records. I'm playing with that old guitar of mine and keep telling me that I'm one of the best guitarists, ever. You keep getting better. I keep getting better and all the bands I work with are getting better.
SR: How close are the Spinatras to getting signed? This band can play
and I'd say punk/pop metal if anyone asked me about that band.
RB: I'm telling you very close. I can't talk about it yet. I'm writing heavier now and the next batch will be even better. The new album is going to be a combination of the new stuff and the four songs on the cassette.
SR: Now Ross you've gotta let me talk about this. I did an Internet
search on "the dictators." I came up with 13, 768, 376 entries.
RB: Just using those words. Are people still writing about it?
SR: Yep, there are some diehards who have their own stuff up there.
RB: We're going to do an official site and it's going to happen I'm telling you. We've put out two singles on each European tour. Last year we did "I Am Right" and this year "Who'll Save Rock And Roll" and "Savage Beast." Things are looking great to me. I'm going over to Andy's house tonight and give him the agreement between our financier for the record. Then I'm meeting my agent/manager of the Spinatras and practice tonight. I got it going on.
SR: Honey, things really do become clearer the older you get.
RB: You're so right. Everything is so crystallized now. We didn't realize back then what we had or what we were doing. Over the years with MANOWAR and we've kept getting better.
SR: They're still putting out good albums. I interviewed Eric recently.
RB: That's right. They went biker. The other thing wasn't working.
SR: Did you always live the lifestyle of each band you worked in?
RB: I live my own lifestyle. I think the public image of each band was there, but I've always done my own thing. I'm more like the guy...I'm not the warlord, but I'm pretty crazy. Did we sleep together?
SR: No, we didn't. At least I don't remember. I live the metal thing.
I'm out there with all my metal buttons, flashing pins and my denim. I
have great memories of throwing popcorn at the Mabuhay.
RB: I remember those days too. We were starving and that's all we ate for a while. I'm haven't stopped what I do and I very fortunate. I'm looking forward to the future with the Spinatras. It's a tremendous outlet for me for that side of my playing. I think this band is going to be really big and the labels we're talking with seem to agree.
SR: Outstanding. I'm happy to see that you haven't lost your sense of
humor and that's the important part of this business.
RB: Oh, yeah, I'm a sarcastic bastard. I have fun doing what I do so if I didn't derive any fun, then I'd kill yourself.
SR: That's what I read in the bio.
RB: Since the business is so f**ked up why do it? It's so disgusting that you want to kill yourself at times.
SR: I'm still having my on/off days. Do I want to do this? The answer
RB: Do what you like to do and you will please other people but you have to make yourself happy first.
SR: There's no money yet but I believe it will happen.
RB: What is this for...highway666?
SR: Remember Tambre' Bryant from the Mab days, well she's my partner on
the highway. We do the hard rock/hard core stuff. Tracy Barnes at
hardradio is going to use it as well.
RB: Great, please give them my regards.
SR: I will.
RB: It's a small business we work in.
SR: Dirk Dirksen ran the Mab along with Denise Duhne' and Tambre.
RB: In '91 we went to the Mab and there was no one there.
SR: The scene is long gone. The biz killed the biz.
RB: When I was in Shakin' Street after the Dictators we played Day on the Green. Those were great days.
SR: I was there. I never missed one of those shows. I went home early
when Fleetwood Mac played but that was because the rain had soaked
through my underwear.
RB: We had a good time. I can't stop. What am I going to..all of a sudden become a lawyer? Mr. Suit and tie. I'm real creative and I've got a lot of energy. When I look into the mirror I like what I see.
SR: Of the four bands you've played in which one has given you the most
RB: I gotta tell you on a laughing, goofing, frolicking way it was the Dictators. We still carry on. Manatoba is unbelievable. On a sexual level it was MANOWAR. It was a constant stream of nubiles.
SR: What's your favorite guitar?
RB: I'll tell ya, I always go back to the white SG custom that I played in the Dictators. It has three pickups. You saw the black Les Paul, but the white SG is the one I played on for"Girl Crazy" and "Battle Hymns."
SR: What's the best song you've written so far?
RB: That would be "Secret Of Steel" or "Gloves Of Metal" or the song "Manowar." I wrote "Dark Avenger" with Orson Wells and I thought that was a great song. On a pure artistic level, I think it was "Secret Of Steel."
SR: Is the Rhino compilation ever going to happen?
RB: For the Dictators, yes. If it isn't with the Rhino folks it'll come out on Legacy/Sony or we could release them ourselves.
SR: Now give me a straight answer because I don't want to do anything
you don't want me to. Talk Dictators or not.
RB: You can tell people.
SR: I'm so excited about these projects.
RB: Our singer in the Spinatras is Brian Corley and he'sonly 25 years old.
SR: In the bio pic you and Brian look like twins. If you had that little
RB: That's cool. I'm going to tell him that.
SR: Thanks for not cutting your hair.
RB: It's not as long as the MANOWAR days, but I didn't sell out.
SR: What else should we be talking about?
RB: I'm basically kicking ass and taking names. I'm killin' and I'm playing better than I've ever played. It brings me a lot of joy.
SR: I know, any bands out there that you really love listening to?
RB: Yes. I absolutely love the Foo Fighters. I think they're the best band in the world right now. Dave Grohl is a funkin' genius. If there's a hard rock genius that man is it. He's brilliant.
SR: I love all kinds of music. I can't stand it when people don't get
it. You can love all music and still be cool.
RB: Yes, you can as I have. There are a lot of books in the library.
SR: I don't care too much about perfect playing. It's the song and
RB: You're right the song is the most important and certainly the Ramones proved that.
SR: God bless the Ramones. I'm sorry they had to split up but I'm sure
they'll be back in several bands.
RB: You might see them. We're close to Joey and Andy has written a lot of songs for them.
SR: I didn't know that.
RB: You might see them again, but not for awhile though. They're the most dysfunctional band I've ever seen in my life.
SR: Still. I talked with Johnny about stopping and he told me he just
made up his mind that it was over. End of subject. When I asked if he
band has agreed to this he informed me he hadn't discusses it with them.
RB: They said the same thing on Howard Stern's show. They can't take each other. I guess if the Dictators had stayed together like them, I think we could have been hating each other like that to.
SR: Sure, now you've grown up. A lot of bands see how stupid it was to
quit a good band because of their ego and wanting to be the big star.
RB: We have so much energy and ferocious compassion for what we do. There are so many good songs and we're playing three times a week. . . writing this riff and that riff. We've never done that before. This record is going to be awesome. I'm just so excited.
SR: So am I.
RB: This record is going to set us up for the next 25 years I'm telling you now. There's a live album in the works. The Dictators are the true inheritors. The true NY band left.
SR: The word here is seminal.
RB: We'll be out there in your neighborhood. Boston on May 2 and then to the Middle East. The Spinatras are going to be out there too. I live the music and I have a six year-old son who's the light of my life.
SR: We're doing it. Sandy Pearlmanand Howie Klein are doing it. "f**k
'Em If They Can't Take A Joke" vintage '81 Dictators. I bet a lot of
people don't know to credit you with that colloquialism
SR: I'm so glad to be back in touch with you. Thanks for your vibe and
your music. I'll march with you anyday. I'm gonna buy a new leather
jacket and get in the parade.
RB: You got it.
SR: Another first for the Dictators..leather jackets and levi jeans.
RB: That's true. You've got it.
SR: I love the Saxon's "Denim And Leather" ... it will keep us
together. I'm interviewing Biff later this week. I'll find you because I
need my '98 hug,
RB: I do. I like that song. I won't admit to it but I like it. You'll get a big hug, I promise.