Ross the Boss: Pandemic Is ‘Allowing for a Much More Creative Process’
Ross the Boss was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program. Ross has kept busy in 2020 with his Ross the Boss band, issuing their latest album, Born of Fire.
The guitarist has also had a storied history both as a member of the pioneering punk outfit The Dictators as well as playing with power metal icons Manowar. Jackie spoke with the musician about his evolution through heavy music styles and his place in rock history, the development of his Ross the Boss band and also got his take on how the music connection has changed with audiences as a result of the current pandemic. Check out the chat in full below.
From punk to metal, you’ve had your fingers literally on the evolution of heavy aggressive music. What stays consistent through all iterations of your music?
I would say my approach to playing the guitar, my attack – you know – I modify myself a little different when I’m playing in The Dictators than I do when I’m doing full-on heavy metal like the Ross the Boss band or like I did in Manowar.
Over the last several years Ross the Boss, the band, has gotten a great response for its live shows. What’s unique about the musical interaction between you and the members of your band?
It stems from the talent level of the lineup, I think we have perhaps the greatest bass player in music today, Mike Lepond. You currently might know him from Symphony X. He’s incredible, and an amazing songwriter, and an arranger in his own right. We have one of the greatest drummers, Steve Bolognese, who lives in L.A. and Marc (Lopes) of course on lead vocals. He’s extremely inventive and energetic on stage and he’s one of the best frontmen in the game right now. So, I think that the chemistry of the band and the maturity level the last two years that led to this record has really upped our game and the results are a tremendous record.
There’s a new Death Dealer album ready for release and also one from Ross the Boss. Being such a prolific songwriter what designates which band is best suited for a particular musical idea?
I don’t know. When we went to record Born of Fire, if the songs were ahead of us and if I actually have the material, those are the songs that get used. As far as Death Dealer goes, I’m not the only songwriter in the band nor am I in Ross the Boss on the last record. So, I have help. I have the great Stu Marshall, he’s from Australia, great songwriter, great guitar player so Death Dealer is more of a co-songwriting thing. It has been for three albums and the Ross the Boss thing on this last album was everybody chipped in.
You’re part of “Six String Salute,” a virtual concert event to benefit live music crews who have been economically affected by the pandemic. Although traditional live events would be preferable, what is the unexpected benefit of making a virtual connection with people?
Well, I would think that we’re all at home whether we like it or not. We’re all at home in our studios and we have a lot of energy, all of us, and a lot of passion and aggression that can’t come out in our touring because we haven’t been able to. I think music is benefitting, it’s allowing for a much more creative process in front of our computers. That’s the only way we’re getting it out. We much would rather be playing, of course, for all our fans around the world but we have to do this thing. So we put our hearts and soul into everything we’re doing online. I think from what I’m seeing from all the other bands and all the other artists, it’s fantastic.
Between The Dictators and Manowar, there’s an important lineage of influence you’ve had on other musicians. How important is it to you to have successfully paid it forward?
You know something, when I was doing it I had no idea that I was actually doing something like that. The Dictators were one year before The Ramones. One year before all the other punk bands starting, a lot before that. We were the first band to put out an album like The Dictators’ Go Girl Crazy, which is now being hailed as the greatest American punk record. Uncut magazine said that and it’s getting the props it deserves now.
As far as Manowar, the first record, Battle Hymns, came out in 1982 and there was no description on what we were doing. Yet Jonny Z from Megaforce Records, he founded Anthrax and Metallica, he said: “Manowar is the first power metal band.” Power Metal – where would American punk be without The Dictators? Where would Power Metal be without Manowar? You tell me.
Thanks to Ross the Boss for the interview. His latest album, Born of Fire, was released this spring and can be found here. Keep up with Ross via his website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and stream his music via Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.
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