Ross The Boss - Ross The Boss

Ross The Boss - Ross The Boss

There is a reason why they call 'True Metal' true; it is all about being straightforward and dedicated 100% to this music. Fans have created this genre with their dedication but it was also because of a certain breed of musician who are inspiring us to do so with their music and, most importantly, with their attitude. One of this guys is Ross The Boss who has been serving this scene since the '80s when he was in MANOWAR. Now, Ross has his own band, ROSS THE BOSS, but the deal is still the same; play Heavy Metal straight from the heat and always play it on ten! METAL KAOZ had the privilege to talk to this gentleman and here is what was discussed.

Ross The Boss - Ross The Boss

Hello, Ross and welcome to METAL KAOZ! First of all, how has the whole experience playing a setlist full of MANOWAR songs?
Well, it’s the music that I invented and the music that I help to create. It’s nice to play the way I wanted to play it. You know, in the spirit that it should be played - no extra bullshit or a VAT tax added to the music. It’s stripped down, it’s cool, it’s Rock ‘n Roll, it’s brutal; in a word it’s cool, you know.

So, you have a couple of dates here in the US, I guess, and then you’ll go back to Europe.
On the 12th (April), we’ll start touring again.

Are you gonna still do the MANOWAR setlist?
Yeah, for now, until we’ll have start putting in the new songs from the new record.

Right, do you see yourself redoing this one sometime in the future, with a most probably different setlist?
No. People are expecting to see the MANOWAR classic stuff from me, and we’ll do the best of it. Until our first record is out and established, we can play maybe 2-3 songs.

How did it feel when MANOWAR called it a day?
First of all, I don’t believe anything they say; I would say that it’s probably a good idea because they were totally out of musical ideas; because if they had new ides, you’d hear them.

When I was younger, we’re talking about why “Ross The Boss left MANOWAR” – but before saying anything, let me say my story. We didn’t have the internet back in the day, so we were thinking “we know why he left; MANOWAR became too simple and the songwriting took a dive, so he didn’t want to be a part of it”. So, what’s the real story?
No, it wasn’t that; the real truth of the matter is that they asked me to leave the band. Joey asked me to leave the band and pretty much wanted total control of the group and that’s what he wanted.

But the songwriting did take a dive after your leaving.
I think so, yeah.

Playing all these songs now, do you have good memories?
Oh yeah, absolutely. There are some sweet memories; you know, all the heavy-lifting was done by me, during my era, and you know, when I left, the band got bigger in Europe. Of course I have good memories of the whole thing.

And I love that you’re playing songs from “Gloves Of Metal”; it’s one of the albums I didn’t hear songs from MANOWAR live.
(laughs) That’s a glory ride, man! You’re gonna have a good time tonight with us, I tell you that.

So, how much do you feel have you changed since 1984 up to now?
I’m just the same guy I’ve always been, I approach music the same, I’m a little more less-trusting in things (laughs), I’m more “show me and prove to me that you can do something” kind of guy, but I’m still the same guy that feels the same way about music. There is a magic to it; it’s the way I hit the stage, it’s the way I play every night. To me, it’s an honor to play, it’s always been.

And let me add here that we don’t hear this type of answer from new bands.
Yeah, and it’s a shame because they shouldn’t take things for granted.

Exactly! So, you have “By Blood Sworn” coming out on April 20th, and last question about MANOWAR; you have recorded “Blood Of My Enemies” and you have some bonus tracks too, so are these with Marc on vocals?
Marc has done all the vocals; we did “Blood Of My Enemies” last year just as some kind of teaser, and then we did the three songs as bonuses on the new record, “Each Dawn I Die”, “The Oath” and “Hail And Kill”, for the digipak, and so basically we have ten new originals and four re-recordings.

But not for the vinyl, right?
On the vinyl there is only ten, you can’t fit that many songs, you know.

Ok, so the band has a new lineup, so how much were Mike and Marc involved in the music-making?
They were incredibly involved; I mean, we started writing the record around July, after we came off the road, and Mike really helped me with the riffs, you know, organizing the riffs and adding bits and pieces, and Mike added two songs to the whole thing, Marc added one song from his LET US PREY guys, “We Are The Night”, so the rest seven of them I wrote them. Marc was totally amazing when it comes to the singing, came to writing lyrics, came to the choruses, the amazing things you’ll hear on the record. So, I think everybody’s gonna be really, really happy with this record.

So, you knew his voice when you’re writing the songs, because he has more of a harsher voice…
Yes, he has a more brutal voice than let’s say Eric Adams does, but then Marc points kind of a lot of Eric’s screams; they were kind of brutal. So, when you’ll listen to it, it’s like amazing.

So, when you’re searching for a singer, did you have in mind a specific style that you wanted from the guy that would take the spot?
After the ‘Keep It True’ thing [in 2016], and after Mike Cotoia and those guys didn’t want to tour, I said “guys, I’ve got to go on the road, I’ve got to do this”, and the kids said “I don’t wanna tour”, so I said “I love you, guys, but you’re fired”, so I can’t have that. I needed a singer and Marc had opened for us a couple of times and my best friend John had him in his band, doing some ACCEPT covers, and I saw that he has an amazing range and he looked great, and his attitude was great, and his passion for Heavy Metal was great, and I said “that’s the kind of guy I want”. Because I needed a guy with stage presence and not a guy [interrupting himself] – I mean, Mike Cotoia was great but he had zero idea as a kid, he is a great kid but I mean, Marc was the whole package.

I guess this is another thing common in young bands, and I don’t want to sound like an old geezer, but they don’t believe that you should put the work, go out and play. And to me, Metal was born on stage and should be played that way.
You know, we’re old dogs and we expect to play a lot, and Marc played last year six shows in a row, one day off, and then seven shows in a row, and when I saw the tour, I thought “is he gonna be able to do this?”, because the other guys couldn’t do it, Eric Adams couldn’t do it. And he did it; he is perfect, he warms up, he takes care of himself, no booze, no smoking, taking care of his voice. You’ll see him, he is amazing. And he has totally mastered of the MANOWAR stuff. Totally.

Did Mike use his 8-string bass for all the songs?
Yup, you’ll see it. Not on all the songs; he used it on the ballad, “Faith Of The Fallen”, and he uses it of course on “Battle Hymns” and “Hatred”.

Awesome! I was intrigued by the song “Lilith” and, to be honest, the solo and the mid-tempo parts reminded me a bit of the “Gloves Of Metal” days; what is this about?
To me, that’s a real epic; it’s dark and gloomy yet there is an uprising in the middle sections that are very pleasing to us. So, I’m just happy with the way it came out. And the mid-tempo,  yes, is a bit SABBATH-y, you know.

This US tour is named as ‘Part 1’, so does this mean that ‘Part 2’ will follow, for the US?
Well, honestly, we’re gonna have to have a better package of Heavy Metal bands together if we wanna do it, because it’s not strong enough for me. The way the tour goes for the United States is with more well-known bands.

So, are you thinking of bringing more European bands with you?
I don’t know what it’s gonna be; we have to figure something out if we wanna do it. Because it’s just not enough. I mean, Canada was fantastic for us, Detroit was great, but a lot of spots are just dead. It’s not because of the band; even when MANOWAR comes around, ten people will show up. You’d never think that.

Last year, I was at ‘Keep It True’, and there you can see the difference, in the audience I mean. I don’t know why this is happening, I have no answer about that. I don’t think there are die-hard-followers here, or maybe they’re going for the big names, I really don’t know.
You know, MANOWAR were never toured the America enough back in the day and that was Joey’s mistake. I told him “we’ve got to get out there”. Well, the buzz was on before METALLICA, before bands like SLAYER, and I said “we’ve got to go out and play”. And the answer was “no, we can’t play without all of our equipment”. We could have couple of tracks and move the equipment around; what’s the big deal? We could have made a zillion new fans, playing every town we could get our hands on.

I have nothing to add on that. When the tour cycle will start supporting the new ROSS THE BOSS album?
April 20th, when the whole thing comes out, we’ll see what’s gonna happen in the North East in North America here, but we’ll see.

Any update from DEATH DEALER? Is this an active band?
Yeah, we’ll do our third record; as a matter of fact, I have Steve Bolognese in the band from DEATH DEALER, the drummer, and then we’ll go down to Australia at the end of April and then Stu Marshall’s new band, NIGHT LEGION, is gonna open the shows. So, we’re gonna have three DEATH DEALER guys there.

And THE DICTATORS have disbanded, right?
Yes, there is nothing there, unless the four of us would come back together.

So, right now, your focus is on the ROSS THE BOSS band.
Yes, I think we have a big future, the whole thing is great. Even if you’ve never heard of the band, or you’ve never called of the band called MANOWAR, and you came to see us, you should be blown out of your chairs.

Is there any “Battle Hymns” twist on the cover artwork of the new album? I’m seeing the eagle on the back, for example.
Well, the eagle has been my symbol in all my stuff, and here it rises as phoenix and that’s the artistic concept of the whole thing.

Got it. That’s from me, Ross, unless you have something else to add.
Thank you for the interview, man.