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¬ Ripper (USA) - "Horror and Rock'n'Roll... ähhh Metal!!"

Since Ripper is history now for quite a lot of years, please help us to get some more impressions and information about the band's actice days. When, where, why and by whom was the band founded? How old were you back then and in what other Bands have you played before?

Rob Graves: Ripper was created in the minds of Sadie Paine and Animal Axeman(Rippers original drummer) in the mid-70's...They went through 2 or 3 guitarists before they placed an add looking for the "right" guitarist...They had a list of requirements a mile long, down to the smallest detail of what they wanted in a guitarist...I met all of these requirements and then some...One of the lines in the add said "...if you love horror and rock-n-roll"...I called them and told them that I would audition if they would promise never to use "that" term in my hearing again...I told them, that if this all works out, it will be METAL or nothing, not "rock-n-roll"... They agreed and from that day on we were a "metal band"... This was 1980, I was 22...Before that, I would play with anyone just to keep from getting a "real job"...Rock, disco, country/western, easy listening, R&B, hell, I was even in an Elvis tribute band...Musically, I hated most of that stuff, but I'll have to admit, the Elvis gig was a lot of fun...This guy looked and sounded just like Elvis and the women would actually cry and faint during the show...What a trip...The band I was in when I auditioned for Ripper was a "party" type Van Halen kind of band, which I also hated, but like I said before, it was better than working for a living...All of the Ripper guitarists before me had lame guitars and cheesy amps...I walked in with expensive Gibsons and Marshall stacks and just blew them away...They looked as though they were auditioning Tony Iommi...

Does the bandname "Ripper" have a special meaning? Who's idea was it and why have you chosen it?

Rob Graves: Sadie Paine came up with the name long before I joined the band...I think she just thought it was a cool name...It could have been inspired by the Judas Priest song on "Sad Wings Of Destiny" but I really dont know for sure...Gene Simmons(Kiss) once told Sadie that "you chose that name because I play a Ripper(Gibson) bass"...Sorry Gene, get over yourself...Its is a powerful name for a metal band though...She was pretty original in her thinking, not one to ride on the coat tails of someone elses ideas...

What were the first days like? Was it a hard way for Ripper from a newcomer act to an established part of the metal scene? What problems and difficulties did you have to face during that progress?

Rob Graves: The first days of Ripper after I joined were fun and difficult...They had no songs when I joined, just ideas and ability...I was writing songs and lyrics continually, each one better than the next...They were blown away with my song writing ability and the fact that I could crank them out so fast...By the time we recorded our 4 song EP, I had already written and completed 4 to 5 albums worth of material...All of the established bands of the Houston music scene in those days laughed at us and thought were were a joke, they literally hated our guts...We approached everything like a hungry band trying to make it rather than a bunch of Eddie VanHalen clones trying to party and get girls...They all wanted to be big fish in a little pond and we wanted to rule the world...That was the difference between them and us...Once we started building the band and rehearsing, word got around and no one said anything anymore...Then it was all "hey, how ya doin, Ripper right ?" and I was saying, yeah mother fucker, Ripper, right...Nothing but posers and ass kissers, the lot of them...

It was a sheer pleasure seeing the scared looks on their faces as they stood in the audience with their arms folded while we blew the meat right off of their bones with a sheer wall of Metal Marshall Power...They were out there with their spandex and their teased hair and Ripper was on stage with blood, fire, bombs, smoke and a stage full of equipment just ripping the jugulars out of their throats, full of fury and power, one song after another, all original, no covers, a full 2 hour concert with theatrics and mayhem...Those assholes didnt know whether to scratch their watches or wind their asses...We just took over...

Were there any special relations between Ripper and other 80s US Metal acts? For example, have you shared the rehearsal room with some other band or organized concerts together, etc?

Rob Graves: In the beginning, because of our reputation, no other rock bands in the area would book with us...We couldnt even secure an opening spot on anyone elses bill...We were forced to get the bookings and headline our own concerts...After awhile other bands were at least willing to open for us because of our growing popularity, it suddenly became cool to be associated with Ripper, even if they hated us...Justice was served on their hatred for us because our fans would just crucify our opening acts...Everything from untying their shoes, to unplugging their stomp boxes, to unmerciful heckling and finally a drowning chorus of boos after their songs...There were alot of pending appearances with acts more established than ourselves that always seemed to fall through for one reason or another, with Dokken, Twisted Sister and Ted Nugent, to name a few...

What were your first recording? The only album I've heard so far is "And the dead shall rise", but I've also heard about a demo tape. Were there songs on it, which were not on the LP? If yes, what were the titles? And, was it the only Demo released by Ripper, or have you had more Demos?

Rob Graves: We only released 1 demo, a 4 song EP, which ended up being side 1 of the album...The only other legitimate Ripper release was when "Death Awaits You" appeared on Metal Blades, "Metal Massacre 8"...If there was anything else, or any live bootlegs, we never knew about them...

In 1986 you released your only offical release: the "And the dead shall rise" LP. It came out via Iron Works. What was it like to release an own vinyl album? Are you still proud of it?

Rob Graves: It was bittersweet...I mean, we were proud of the release, but that whole album was actually a band financed demo...We recorded that for less than 2K...Iron Works was just willing to release what we had already paid for...What we intended to use to get a record deal actually became our debut release...I would have prefered to have spent alot more time and money on the project...We were turned down by every record label you can think of, their sentiments being much like those of the bands that used to hate us...

But yes, I am still very proud of that album...The songs were good even if the production was not perfect...Even Bill Aucoin, the famous manager of Kiss said that he could not take a risk on a band with our image...

How have you got your deal with Iron Works? And what do you think about their work? Where they a good label for Ripper or a bad one?

Rob Graves: Iron Works was the only label at that time willing to sign us...They were always unavailable for comment, and we never received a penny in record royalties...It was as though we had no record deal, so we never darkened their doorstep again...They never even told us that they were going to release picture discs and special color vinyl pressings, and now I hear that they have released that album on CD...

What about the songs? Which ones were your faves? Why?

Rob Graves: I love all of the songs on that album, with perhaps "Sinister Minister" being my favorite...In my opinion, that song contains my best singing, screaming and guitar playing, a song that was a blast to record and perform live...My 2nd fovorite would probably be "Halloween" for similar reasons...

The LP came out not only in ordinary black vinyl, but also in golden vinyl and as picture disc. Do you know how many copies of each edition where pressed?

Rob Graves: I have no idea how many of those were pressed, released or sold...As I said, we were kept in the dark and informed of nothing concerning record sales...I do know that there were enough released and sold for us to become known in Europe, especially in Germany...I learned of the picture disc and other vinyl pressings on your website...

Nowadays, your LP is quite rare. People pay prices from 50 Dollars (black vinyl) up to 250 Dollars (golden vinyl) for it. What does it feel like when you see, that even more than 15 years after the release, people are still so curious about Ripper that they pay such high amounts of money for a copy of your album?

Rob Graves: I'll tell you, words cant express the happiness and gratitude that I feel knowing that there are people out there who love and appreciate our work, especially after more than 15 years have gone by...The price that the product demands is astounding because I had no idea it was in such demand, or that it was even out there to be had...I learn something new every day about the "Ripper/Europe" relationship...I wish I was there to enjoy it with you...For now I guess I'll have to admire and dream from afar...Please let it be known how much I appreciate it all, especially to the German fans..

Now let's come to another point... Ripper had a great Horror image. Who's idea was this? Where have you gained inspiration for this? And was this image present from the first day on, or have you started with this later?

Rob Graves: The person behind the concept of the image was definately Sadie...I mean, we were all inspired by the images in horror movies and Kiss growing up, but it was me who joined Rippers identity, for it had long been established before I came along...Kiss wore grease paint and played rock-n-roll...Ripper wore latex prosthetics and played heavy metal...The similarities end there...We were musically inspired by Sabbath, Priest, Maiden and Accept, to name a few...It was crude at first, but it improved as we went on...We eventually had 2 full-time make-up artists working for us...We had to make plaster casts of our faces and create our individual character looks on the plaster images of our own faces...This application was done with clay...After this step, molds were made from those and thats where our onstage appearance was born...The facial pieces were in constant production...One application was only good for the length of a photo shoot or a concert...It was very uncomfortable but it looked cool and our fans liked it...We went through alot of trouble to look as scary as we sounded...Our entourage consisted of a manager, a booking agent, 6 roadies, 2 make-up artists, 2 licenced pyrotechnicians and various other visual effects people...We had our own truck, filled with equipment, but we hired our soundman and his PA system...All of our performance earnings were divided by the manager among all of these crew members and that was it...We were getting 2K per show and these were just club dates that seated around 500 people per venue...

What about Ripper's live shows? Have you often played live? With what other bands have you shared the stage? And have there ever been any live recordings/bootlegs from your Gigs?

Rob Graves: We headlined all of our own shows and we never had the oppertunity to share the stage with anyone known...If there are any live bootleg recordings out there, Im not aware of them...Id like to hear one though, if one does exist, because we kicked ass live...If you heard us live, then you heard the "real" us...

What about the visual aspect? Have you made the Horror image a part of your live shows? Did you e.g. have special clothings, stage decoration, etc?

Rob Graves: Our live shows included everything I mentioned earlier and then some...We had a huge airbrushed backdrop, chemical foggers, flash pods, concushion mortars, bones, blood, spider webs, fire, a wall of Marshalls, all live and in color through a concert PA system...Our clothing was the same as we appear on the album...

Your lyrics were very obscure and eerie, too... according to you, what role and importance do they have? Are they as important as the music itself?

Rob Graves: The lyrics are very important...Especially when a song is created around them...But no less inportant when lyrics are applied to a completed piece of music...The content sets the mood and tone of the whole compisition, especially when you believe in what you do...The lyrics are just another extension of you...If you are just writing lyrics to fill the void, the fans will know it...They expect a good effort, and I feel that we gave them that...Ive heard some artists say that they never listen to their own music...Thats just not true...Every artist tries to create music that they would enjoy listening to also...

Why and when have Ripper splitted?

Rob Graves: My time in Ripper was from 1980 to 1990...Youll never know how difficult it was to keep Ripper going...Each time a member was fired, or left on their own, that person was nearly impossible to replace...During my tenure we went through 4 drummers and 3 other guitarists...Sadie and I were the only constants in that 10 year period...It was a major undertaking to expose every poser and wanna-be to find the real deal...Simply finding one that could do it was hard enough, but he had to believe or he was passed over...

We had finally made it out of Texas and were living and rehearsing in California where we were being courted by a record label or two...We were on pretty good terms with Metal Blade Records and on the virge of signing a new deal with them...Had that happened, we probably would have survived...Before we could secure the deal, Sadie and I were on our own again...After 10 years of this, that was the final straw...I had carried Ripper on my back long enough...We moved back to Texas and started the search for members all over again, and after many more disappointments, we disbanded...

What have the members done after Ripper? Have you and the other guys continued to make music? If so, in what bands?

Rob Graves: I can only speak for myself in that reguard...I have since lost all track and contact with the other members...I have no idea if they are dead or alive but I hope they are all doing well...The last I heard, Sadie was married and living in Houston...I have no idea about J.D. or Johnny(Death)...I have continued to write and I have 2 different directions I can move in at this point...I can either do a Rob Graves solo project and record and release the songs that were intended to be on Rippers future albums or I can focus on the new music Ive been writing for the last few years...I can assure you, one or the other will be happening soon...

Are you still into contact with any of the other Ripper members? Or have your ways parted after the split?

Rob Graves: As for Sadie and I, we were so burnt out on the whole thing that we went our seperate ways and lost all contact...

So yes, our ways have parted...I wish them well...

What plans do you have for the future? Will you form a new Band and release new material somehow in the future?

Rob Graves: As we speak, I am sitting on a goldmine of new original material...I love the music and Im very excited about it...I feel that it will go over well and I cant wait to record and release it...From 1990 to 1997, I got out of music...Now that Im back, I find that I havent lost a step...Im actually a better player than I was before...The time off was very theraputic...

Life is good...

Since the Original LP is quite hard to get, what do you think about a rerelease?

Rob Graves: A re-release would be cool and Id like to do it...I would just like to be the one in control of it this time...Im thinking of starting my own label and if I do, I will re-release the Ripper album myself...That way, it will go where it needs to go and I will know about it...I wont have to worry because I wont burn myself...

If there would ever be a rerelease, how important were bonus gimmicks like extra tracks, gatefold sleeve, clored vinyl, new artwork or things like this for you?

Rob Graves: All of those things are cool, but I dont think Id do that until the initial run of the album was over...I would make the collectors editions very special, colored vinyl, picture discs, different covers, etc...But the production of these items would be numbered and limited and they would not be over priced...Those lucky enough to obtain them shouldnt have to pay a fortune for them...

I guess you're still a part of the Metal scene, aren't you? Do you still buy records and visit concerts?

Rob Graves: Im not a part of the scene as far as collecting and going to concerts, but then again I never was...I mostly write, rehearse and record...I am as dedicated to the new stuff as I was to Ripper...I'll just try not to repeat the things that ended up derailing Ripper...I still have my favorites but I only buy what I have to have...

What about the Metal scene in your area? Can you name us some promising newcomers, which are worth to check out?

Rob Graves: To me, the most promising are the bands that are already well established...I dont know of any new metal bands making a splash, to me, the new bands coming out these days seem to have lost the art for killer double-bass drummers and lead guitar...Everyone seems to be drop-tuning and grunging about...Maybe Im just a throwback to the old days...Im sure though, that there are some out there who are carrying on in the fine metal tradition of the past...

All I can say is that Id rather listen to Yngwie Malmsteen than Creed any day...I miss the metallic precision and virtuosity of the big name metal from my day...As long as Metallica, Anthrax, Priest and Slayer have a say, there will always be true metal out there...I know there has to be more out there than just those...Im just a little out of the loop...

Please give me some Top 5 lists of your...

...current favorite music albums:

Rob Graves:
1st...Balls To The Wall/Accept(1984)
2nd...British Steel/Judas Priest(1980)
3rd...Bridge Of Sighs/Robin Trower(1974)
4th...Among The Living/Anthrax(1985)
5th...Master Of Puppets/Metallica(1985)
6th...The Dungeons Are Calling/Savatage(1985)
7th...Rising Force/Yngwie Malmsteen(1984)
8th...Spreading The Disease/Anthrax(1984)
9th...Ride The Lightning/Metallica(1984)
10th..Stained Class/Judas Priest(1978)
11th..Heaven And Hell/Black Sabbath(19
12th..Black Sabbath/Black Sabbath(1969)

...all time favorte Horror movies:

Rob Graves:
2nd...Salems Lot(1979)
3rd...The Howling(1980)


...all time favorits Horror Monsters:

Rob Graves:
1st...Mr. Barlow(Salems Lot)
2nd...The Monster(Frankenstein)
3rd...Angus Scrimm(Phantasm)
4th...Werewolves(The Howling)

So, that's it! Thank you very very much for the interview! It was so cool for me! Now the last words belong to you!

Rob Graves: Thank you Tobi for your kindness and generousity...Has beens like me dont get many chances to tell their story, let alone to knowledgable and sincere people like you...Like I always say, its better to be a "has been" than a "never was"...I almost made it. hell, maybe I still will...

Homepage: (Band)
Email: (Band)

Fragen: 2002 by Tobi
Antworten: 2002 by Rob Graves