|Bruno Ravel & Steve West - Danger Danger - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Rob Lane|
|Sunday, 27 January 2013 04:00|
Pop Music can be great for many things, it should be all out fun and give you the chance to escape and feel good. It allows you to get away from worries (sounds like the Cheers Theme Tune right?) and bring a smile to your face. Of all the bands to come from the late '80s / early '90s Hard Rock genre, very few embodied and embraced the term ‘Pop Metal’ more than New York’s Danger Danger. Hot on the heels of the likes of Bon Jovi who opened up ‘Metal’ to a more mainstream audience, the song writing combination of bassist Bruno Ravel and drummer Steve West produced a hook laden monster. Even during their more ‘mature’ releases, the melodies and choruses were undeniably pop.
Almost twenty five years since the release of their self titled debut the band continue to produce top draw melodic gold, as was evident on 2009’s ‘Revolve’ album. Whilst over in the UK to headline the recent Firefest AOR Festival it was time to sit down and chat with two of the genres unsung heroes about what life was like outside of the Sunset Strip, three thousand miles away on the US East Coast.
Steve West: It was at a Cheap Trick concert around 1979 / 1980 through a mutual guitar player friend. Bruno was wearing a Trigger jacket, he looked good, and I remember thinking ‘Holy Shit! This guy is the coolest!’
Bruno Ravel: Steve was wearing a jacket that looked like something your grandfather would wear!
Steve: After the concert we chased Cheap Trick back to their hotel, hung out for a while and said we should just get together sometime and jam.
Steve: The first band we were in were called ‘Diamonds’, a Heavy Metal cover band, then we started our own band ‘Hotshot’ doing all New Wave stuff like Flock of Seagulls and Duran Duran. After that we went on to become more AOR like Night Ranger and Loverboy before breaking up and going our own ways. Bruno went on to join White Lion followed by Talas who I guess would eventually kinda turn into Danger Danger. Talas had a show booked with Bruno on bass, Al Pitrelli on guitar, Phil Naro and Jimmy Degrasso on drums which I was gonna go watch, and then all of a sudden the band fell apart. Jimmy had left to join Y&T so Bruno calls and asks if I want to be in the band?! I remember thinking that if they were gonna be playing all that Heavy Metal / Talas stuff then no way but if he wanted to get together, write some good songs and try for a record deal I was on board, so that was it, we got together. The line up was me, Bruno, Al Pitrelli and Phil Naro was our singer. The problem we had was that Phil was based in Canada and here we were in upstate New York with a gig booked just a month away. Bruno was sending him the songs but we’d not rehearsed and eventually it gets to three days before the gig and we find out Phil ain’t gonna be coming - so Bruno asks our friend Mike Pont. I was like ‘Dude, are you kidding? Cancel the show!!’ Mike comes down and he’s singing everything wrong but I was like whatever! So that was the original lineup for about three or four shows as Danger Danger!
Steve: There was no real scene for what we were doing back then - we were the outcasts. Even though stuff like Bon Jovi and Aldo Nova had just come out and there were all the bands we liked, like Loverboy and Night Ranger, that sorta rock, nobody was sounding like that from our city.
Bruno: The closest you had were just Top 40 Cover Bands, Twisted Sister or Heavy Metal.
Was Danger Danger ever a Hollywood band or did you constantly focus on the East Coast?
Bruno: I don’t think we were ever even mentioned in the whole LA scene. We probably played there only a few times, once when we opened for Alice Cooper and the second time we played a club on riverside and there was nobody there!
Steve: I will say though, weirdly, LA was always our biggest market song wise for radio play. ‘Bang Bang’ was number one on LA’s top three radio stations, more than New York, it seemed to be on every minute. I guess we just didn’t play there enough even though everyone knew the songs.
How do you feel about New York today? Does it still give you same buzz now you're older?
Bruno: It’s not the same anymore - it’s all just a big tourist thing. But, then the whole world is different now. When we were growing up it was all about cool rock clubs, seeing cool original bands you’d never seen or maybe even watching Twisted Sister do three sets of covers! I guess the LA thing was more our style of music but in New York it was a lot more urban, just real music and a real scene. Now it’s just crazy - it’s either a scene of drugs and models or you’ve got hip hop – it’s totally different today. Is New York still great? Of course it is, but it’s not the same. Times Square has become like Disneyland.
Steve: I guess New York has lost its edge.
Bruno: I think the whole world has to be honest and New York’s just a reflection of everything else that’s going on.
Steve: When we used to go see bands as kids it literally was dangerous.
Bruno: You’d be on the subway or walking down The Bowery, sixteen years old, wearing make up and high heels, looking like a chick!
Steve: I remember walking through my neighborhood wearing my heels and people were driving by laughing at me. Then you’d be walking past all these homeless shelters, drug addicts - you were genuinely scared as hell but you had to do it to get to the clubs. Today everyone wants to look like a rock star, but back then you were the outcasts, nobody thought you were cool – people just called you an ‘idiot’ or a ‘fag’! The neighborhoods where we used to hang out, where you had venues like The Great Gildersleeves, you’d nearly shit your pants just to get there!
Bruno: The Great Gildersleeves was a place for local, original rock bands. It was a combination of '70s Rock and Pop. It wasn’t just like Led Zeppelin or The Who – it had elements of that but also a Power Pop influence. They had all kinds of bands playing. Every night there’d be a different band with their own following. It was kinda like a theatre with tables and you could sit there right in front of the band and have a drink.
Steve: It was such a great place. A couple of videos were filmed there like Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock & Roll’ and I think Meat Loaf’s ‘Dead Ringer For Love’ so you can take a look and see what it was like. You could see the guys from KISS hanging out there without the make up on and they’d have beards and stuff!
Speaking of KISS, who you’ve toured with in the past, what are your thoughts on their latest album ‘Monster’?
Bruno: For me there’s two kinds of KISS – there’s the Happy KISS and then there’s the Angry KISS so when I hear an album like ‘Sonic Boom’ I consider that the ‘Happy’ version and ‘Monster’ is the ‘Angry’ version! It’s more along the lines of ‘Revenge’ whereas ‘Sonic Boom’ had more the feel of something like ‘Love Gun’. Every time I hear a new record from one of my favourite bands from back in the day my immediate reaction is to always think that it blows. But then I sit back and tell myself to take it easy, get in a good mood and try it again. That’s when you begin to hear things you can take from it and enjoy. I took my young kid to see them in New York when they were touring ‘Sonic Boom’ and it was just the best. He loves ‘Christine Sixteen’, he tells me to play it when we’re in the car and he’ll be bopping along in the back and I have to turn around to him and do the Gene line - ‘When I saw you coming outta school that day!’
Live Photos courtesy of Junko Kambara www.d2stationjapan.com