Paul Shortino - Rough Cutt

June 6, 2005

Photo Credit:

You've been in the business for 20 years now.

Oh yeah, probably a little more than that.

What keeps you plucking away at it?

Music. That's what keeps me alive and going.

Tell me about Rough Cutt.

We came out about the same time as Quiet Riot. In fact at that time they were touring as DeBrow. Quiet Riot hadn't gotten back together actually because Randy had left the band and joined Ozzy so at that time it was Black 'N Blue, Rough Cutt, RATT, Quiet Riot. We were all playing all the same clubs. The Whisky and Troubadour. We got signed to Warner Brothers and we waited over a year to try to get Teddy Tumbleman to produce the album and we didn't get Teddy because he was working with Eric Clapton and Lindsay Buckingham on their records. We got pushed back and we were looking for a producer and we ended up using Tom Allen for the first record. He'd done Judas Priest and also Krokus' Screaming In The Night album. He did the first Rough Cutt album and unfortunately what had happened was, when the record came out, we missed the door. The PMRC took the lower side of things and started labeling records by what the outside looked like and not basically what was on the inside. Because we had a heart on the outside of the album with a knife going through it and some mechanical spider crawling on it, I guess nobody really wanted to listen to what was inside so they didn't even give it a shot even though we were on the largest tours at that time when the record came out. It was ideal. We were touring arenas but we were finding out while we were out there that our records weren't in the record stores. We were doing a big tour and if nobody can get your product, they forget about you two days after a show. We lost our A&R guy at Warner Brothers. Tom Wally moved on to Capitol and eventually went to Interscope Records and now he's back at Warner Brothers. That put a real big nail in the coffin for Rough Cutt because once you lose your A&R guy, you got nobody running around the record label making sure everything goes well even though we had really good management with Wendy Dio. We were touring with Ronnie, Accept, and Krokus and quite a few other acts. We did two big festivals. Even did some gigs with James Brown and Foreigner and some other stuff like that but unfortunately we just missed that '80s thing.

Yeah, I remember that whole PMRC thing and I thought that was such bullshit.

To think that Al Gore decided to run for president. I'm sure every heavy metal person decided not to vote for him. At least I hope they did. I surely didn't. I really didn't care for Al because of his wife doing the crap that she pulled. God knows what we would have got ourselves into with him as a president but that's politics. Basically Rough Cutt came out, we were touring, and the first lineup of Rough Cutt was Jake E. Lee who ended up getting a gig with Ozzy through Wendy Dio. Then he was replaced by Craig Goldy who joined Giuffria. Most of the guys that were in Rough Cutt were from Ratt. Matt Thorr was in Ratt and Chris Hager was in Mickey Ratt before it was Ratt and also Dave Alford, the drummer, was in Ratt. I think me and Amir were the only guys that weren't from Ratt and Craig Goldy.

Is Amir the same guy who's in Orgy?

Yeah, he is.

This is a very incestuous thing here.

It's a wild story when you think about it considering how many people are in the loop of the same bands. So many people were from San Diego except for myself and Dave Alford, the drummer. We met at a carwash and I was at that time playing with Claude Schnell who ended up playing with Ronnie Dio. I met David and he introduced me to Jake and then Jake left and Craig Goldy joined the band. Then he was with us for a while and he ended up joining Giuffria and then we got Amir to replace Craig. At the same time we got Matt Thorr and Chris Hager who were in a band called Sarge at the time. All these bands were breaking up and Ratt at that time before they got their big deal were going through bass players and Rough Cutt's bass player, Joe Christofanilli joined Ratt. Rough Cutt broke up and some of the guys went to Ratt. We lost our bass player and guitar player so we ended up combining the band Sarge with Rough Cutt and both the guys in Sarge, Matt and Chris, were in Ratt. We ended up getting them and then they found Craig and then Craig didn't work out and then they found Amir. Amir knew all of the songs already off our demos. We hadn't recorded an album because when Amir joined the band, two or three weeks after he was in the band, we got signed to Warner Brothers. We had toured Europe beforehand and they took us over there and introduced the new members to the European people and when we came back, we got signed. That was pretty much all of the history of Rough Cutt in the end. Then we were in Japan I think it was '88 and Quiet Riot had fired their singer, Kevin, and I quit Rough Cutt so they asked me if I wanted to join their band and then I ended up doing a record with Quiet Riot. They should have never ever called it Quiet Riot. They should have called it something else because it wasn't really what they were used to doing. Then the band disbanded and tried to put a band together. They just ended up joining a band called Jailhouse. Most of the guys from Rough Cutt. The song that's on this Hollywood Rocks thing is one of the last songs we ever recorded together and then we lost our deal with Warner Brothers and that was the beginning of the end.

You were in This Is Spinal Tap.

Oh yeah. At that time Jake was in the band and we played at the Troubadour. All we did was run an ad in I think it was Band Magazine and some other local magazines with a picture of the band in there. Somebody from the casting people who were working on the movie ended up showing up and asking us to show up to be checked. The next day after the gig we were supposed to show up at I think it was a CoCo's Coffee Shop in Denny's and I showed up in the white leather that I wore in the thing. I said it was my own stuff and wardrobe said "well, take him. We don't even have to dress him." That's how I got the gig. I actually beat some of the other guys in the band that were trying out for the gig as well. I just got there before they did and I was dressed in white leather and they went "wow, he looks like Duke Fame." What was really weird about that is we were on the road with Krokus and Accept and we weren't even getting a line check or a sound check and they were happening to be showing This Is Spinal Tap in the hotel at that time on HBO or something. The road manager from Krokus came up to me and said "aren't you Duke Fame?" I said "yeah." He said "well, a guy that's in Krokus wanted you to come backstage and meet you and he wants your autograph." Is that funny or what. There's another incident that happened to me. Wendy Dio who was Niji Management at that time anyway and still is had their own limo service. I was picking her and I think Ronnie up at the airport using one of their limos. I showed up and they were on the same flight as REO Speedwagon and as I was waiting for luggage, the limo was right outside the luggage area and a guy came up to me and said "are you Duke Fame?" I said "yeah, I'm Duke Fame." He said "well, the guys in REO want to meet you." I was like "no way." I ended up signing autographs for them. Actually Duke Fame is supposed to be dead and out of the movie but we're going to do a Duke Fame record. It's a spoof like Spinal Tap. Duke Fame is alive and well in L.A. and I have a recording studio. When I rented the space from this company where my studio is, they called this room that my studio is in the Stupid Room so it can't get any more funnier. It gets more funny because this is the real deal. It is called the Stupid Room. Duke Fame is recording his new record in the Stupid Room in L.A. We're going to do that. That's going to be something that's going to come out in the near future and I've been working on something that's kind of a musical with this guy and it's probably going to be called "The Louisiana Lullaby". It's all about the blues and how it was started and how it came about. Then I'm doing a heavy metal record with Yngwie's drummer, Patrick Johansson and Ira Black from Vicious Rumors. I'm not sure who we're going to use on bass. We're going to do a pretty dark, heavy record.

Who were some of your musical influences when you were starting out?

Paul Rodgers, Robert Plant. Also Steve Marriott from Humble Pie. Steve Perry, Lou Gramm. I think they're all some of the greatest singers. Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner. Those guys are some of the best singers that I think ever came across rock and roll. I think they were some of the people that really laid some ground work for where we're at now. AC/DC and Bon Scott. Gosh, those are the first ones off the top of my head. Janis Joplin I always was just fascinated by. I do a real good imitation of her.

I couldn't handle her too well. I think Janis is an acquired taste or something.

Oh yeah, she's a blues woman. She could sing the blues. I think she had to be pretty wasted to do anything she did. I love Cream and I love Eric Clapton. Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd. It's all timeless music. Even The Doors. You can listen to The Doors' music today and it doesn't sound like it was recorded 30 years ago.

I thought it was cool that the remaining members got back together and started doing something.

Yeah, it was cool. Actually I like Queen too. I thought Freddy Mercury had a great voice. I did a tribute thing. I did "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions" on a tribute thing for Queen with a bunch of my favorite singers on it. I like Dave Meniketti from Y&T. I think he's a good singer.

Yeah, I notice you do a lot of tribute CDs. That's pretty cool.

Yeah, that was a thing that Cleopatra was doing and it seemed like everybody was calling everybody. I just did an AC/DC one and a Jeff Beck one and a Stevie Ray Vaughn one and the Queen one and also Rod Stewart.

That must be a lot of fun to do though.

Oh yeah, they're fun to do if you get to do a killer song. Right now I'm in the middle of recording all these people for this thing I've been doing for the last five years. It's called Rock 4 Christmas and it's for kids that don't get Christmas. Last year it was Vanilla Fudge with Carmine Appice and also Mark Farner from Grand Funk Railroad, Blue Oyster Cult, Rick Derringer. A lot of people from a different era getting together. I've been doing this for the last five years and this year we're doing it again. We're releasing a DVD and we did "Happy Christmas The War's Over" and I had a bunch of kids come in and sing. Howard Leese from Heart was directing the kids and Ira Black from Vicious Rumours wrote a track for the record called "Rock 4 Christmas" and they're going to do something similar to the stars thing that Ronnie Dio and everybody did with a million guitar players and a whole bunch of different singers.

I think it's cool when people get together to do shit to benefit kids. Your kids are your future.

Oh yeah, poor little people. They come out in this world and they don't even know what's going on. They really don't. Some are lucky that the parents get to choose them. Some kids aren't so lucky to get to choose their parents because there are a lot of kids that don't have what they need in life. They're hungry. In this country I don't think anyone should go hungry.

I don't think people should go without food or good health care.

I don't think people should go without a place to live.

I know. That's ridiculous.

It really is. There has gotten too much government into this system to some extent where they're just wasting bread. Even Schwarzenegger here in California, he didn't take a salary when he became governor. He doesn't need it. The state's broke anyway. There's a guy who has got bread and wants to try to change things around in this state. He's fighting an uphill battle.

It's very difficult to be an honest politician.

I don't think there are any.

It's difficult to even resemble some kind of an honest politician and if you actually try and do that, you're going to find yourself hitting a brick wall. Shit, politicians have been assassinated for even doing something halfway honest.

No doubt. I think OPEC is running the world anyway. It's amazing that we're in cyberspace, we've been on the moon, we've been around the whole world, and we've taken things even into another galaxy to find out what stuff is going on. We've been on Mars but we're still running on fossil fuel. What is up with that? We wouldn't even be in the Middle East if they got that together. In the '70s I stood in line for gas. You would think in 34 years or even just 30 years, they would have done some changes. We've got bigger vehicles than we did back then.

In my opinion Exxon and Mobil should accept the fact that fossil fuel made them their money and now it's time for them to collect their money and move on to something else. They don't want to do that.

It's starting to cross over slowly. I honestly know it would be a big mess if they swapped over immediately because it would put too many people out of work. It would be crazy but in the last 30 years you would think that they would have slowly got it together. We've got ethanol. Look at hemp. Hemp does everything. Not only gets you stoned but it makes better clothes, better paper than wood. All the old books that were printed in the old days were printed from hemp. The paper is not as brittle. It's softer. There's hemp in our dollar bills. I don't understand why they haven't jumped on that.

It's probably a part of their fake war on drugs which is a bunch of bullshit.


Shit, the drug industry is so lucrative.

We have a pill for everything. We have a pill for migraines. If you have after effects, they give you a pill for the after effects. For acid reflux. They don't really solve the problem, they just give you a bunch of options to deal with. We're pretty much a bunch of guinea pigs, wouldn't you think?

Yeah, my father is Choctaw and he does not like chemical pharmaceutical drugs as he calls them. To him, that's just masking the symptoms. I'm my father's daughter. I go back to his people's herbal remedies and use them. I get better a hell of a lot faster.

They have a book out there about things they don't want you to know about that can cure you. There's a book out there. It's all about your diet. There are old remedies that you can rub on for arthritis and everything else and headaches and all kinds of stuff. It's unbelievable. I'm going to buy this book. I'm going to try to find it anyway. What's amazing is that we as taxpayers pay the government or the drug companies so much money to do drug research and then we have to pay more. I saw a thing last night, I think it was on 60 Minutes. We pay in America more than anybody else in the world for the same drugs.

You can get the exact same shit cheaper in Canada.

Europe has a thing where they take the drug and they put a different label on it. It's basically the same drug but what they do is they put a generic label on it. Even though it isn't generic. This is just a middleman company. All they do is take the drugs out of one box and put a tag on them and put them in another box. They say it can work here. In fact one of the huge guys from Pfizer drug company was basically in front of the Senate saying "look, we can do this and then people in America can get the drugs they need for a decent price. Not for what they pay for them." We're taking it in the shorts big time. Weíve gotten so far from rock and roll havenít we? We could vent about how much we would like to change our screwed up world. Still, itís completely out of our fucking control.

We have some good ideas.

Yeah, we do. Itís just that nobodyís listening.

Isnít that always the problem? Getting back to rock and roll, you have a song on the Hollywood Rocks box set. How did you get hooked up with that?

Well, itís really weird. Amir did that. Amir had a copy of that song and he knows Brian from Cleopatra Records really well. They were doing that book thing. Itís so weird. My wife went on to buy that book because a fan showed up and I had to sign one so she wanted to get the book. I just bought the book from Cleopatra and then when I found out they were putting the song out that I didnít even know about, I guess Amir talked to me about it and I forgot about it. CRS, I canít remember shit. I called Cleopatra Records and said whatís up? Whatís up with the record? Whatís going on here? They said ďoh well, Amir gave us permission to do this. We wanted you guys to perform.Ē I said ďreally? Well nobody told me about it.Ē This is all fucking new to me. To make a long story endless, I agreed to show up and do the thing so thatís how that happened.

You are just out of the loop, dude.

Oh yeah, totally out of the loop. I know that we had that song. I didnít know that they were going to release it.

Well now you know.

Oh yeah, Iím going to be at the party too which will be fun. I was thinking about calling them because all of the guys canít make it to the performance and do one myself. Just do one song or whatever. Then I thought about it and having to tote my guitar around and worry about where itís at, I figured Iíd just show up.

Yeah, show up and drink the beer.

Exactly, and see people I hadnít seen in years.

Every single person that was ever in Ratt. I guess you and a friend of yours produce artists for your label?

Yeah, we have a little label called Music Works. A friend of mine, Jay T. Garrett and actually we released a record of this band we produced and the kid was on One Life To Live and they sounded like a young U2 and Nickleback. They were on the charts. We spent a lot of money getting them on the charts and they broke up. If you go on our website you can hear some of the tracks. Itís kind of cool stuff. After spending a year working on somebodyís record and now itís like ďnow what do I do with it?Ē We pressed a bunch and sold some and gave a bunch to the troops of all our CDs and then we got some more buys. People wanted to buy the CD because of other troops probably hearing some of the stuff. We did a thing with KLOS where Panasonic was donating CD players and they were asking artists and people to donate CDs so we gave them 1500 and we gave them 500 of a blues record that I did and then the Sacred Place record and we gave them 500 of each Level record. Then we also did a Paul Shortino freedom song and itís red, white, and blue. Itís for the troops and whatever money we get out of it we can give towards the troops. Thatís kind of cool. Itís like an Allman Brothers kind of vibe. Itís that old southern rock jamming forever.

What tickles me is that youíre on a record label that had The Partridge Family on it. Your first professional recording was as one half of the duo of Paul And JoJo.

Yeah, that was with Snuff Garrett. He produced Sonny and Cher. I was 16 or 17 years old then and I got this record deal. It was actually with CoCo Dolan, Mickey Dolanís sister. We had a single on Bell Records. Thatís the record company that Lobo was on and Vicky Lawrence came out with a song and that was the same label that I was on. I got fucked. Canít tell you any other way. I got really screwed.

I donít think anyone can be in the music industry without having to bend over without Vaseline.

It was really weird. I really dug that I did this thing. It was kind of cool. I felt like a rock and roll star. A pop star basically. It came out and it actually hit on the charts at #22 so then they dropped me for Vicky Lawrence. I got dropped for ďThe Night The Lights Went Out In GeorgiaĒ. I think my uncle still has the 45. Iíd like to get it from him. One of the songs was called ďFollow MeĒ and the other song was called ďWhat Would You Do Without MusicĒ on the other side. I thought I had made the big time. It went real quick.

It was the fastest rise and fall to and from fame.

Itís funny that you bring that up. Nobody in a good interview has brought that up. That is funny. Nobody in my whole career since then has even brought that up. That is whatís tripping me out.

Leave it to me.

Yeah, Iíll never forget this interview.

Thatís the whole point. I donít want people to forget me.

No, I wonít forget you.

Any other thoughts or comments?

I pretty much gave you a real quick synopsis of the whole mess. The whole history of who got in and out and out and in. Itís funny. We did a gig in Lansing, MI and before we got there we did this interview. Dave the drummer was from Louisiana and talked with a real heavy accent and he wasnít allowed to do any more interviews because he had screwed up one before. I told him he could go on ahead and do this guy in Michigan. This guy in Michigan who was doing the interview with Dave was a real jerk. Itís what everybody told me. I said ďthatís cool, you can deal with this guy.Ē I would have gladly done it but he was determined to do this interview. To make a long story endless, I let him do the interview. The guy asked him who the best looking guy in the band is and he couldnít just say just anyone. He said ďwell we all got nice hair.Ē I could have killed him for that. We were on the Dio tour and we got to Lansing, MI and people introduced us as ďthe band from L.A. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Hair Cutt.Ē Hair Cutt was on our dressing room door at every gig for the next two or three weeks. That was the last interview he was allowed to do. ďWe all got nice hair.Ē I still have that interview.

One of the things I miss about the '80s is that it was a period in time where guys actually cared about how they looked. They wanted to appeal to women.

That and it seemed like from the early '70s, there was fashion with rock and roll. You had disco and then rock and roll came back and then that came back and brought rock and roll back. Then you had the '80s trip where you knew who musicians were. Now you can't tell who is a fucking musician. You've got a fucking guy who walks down the street looking like he works a day gig. Back then, you knew the guys that were walking around. Motley Crue is making a big comeback. They took up where KISS left off but you could tell when you went into the Rainbow or just walking down Hollywood Boulevard. These people were rock and roll people.

They dressed the part.

They dressed the part. They had a look about themselves. They had an image. I think Nirvana and that whole grunge thing threw images out the door.

That was an image in itself.

It seemed like all the '80s guys jumped on it. You had Jani Lane going from all light, "she's my cherry pie" trying to get a little dark. What happened was, it seemed like the '80s music was really cool and heavy for a while and then it became all punk rock. It got really bubble gum. How nice is your hair and how cute do you look. Doesn't matter how good you sing or play. It seemed like the industry was flooding everybody with metal that wasn't metal. To me metal is Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. They were the metal guys. Led Zeppelin were the first metal guys. Then you had Winger. They had some good songs though. I can't put then down in any way about it. It just seemed like the whole thing got commercialized and then it needed something bombastic like Nirvana and that whole grunge scene to change everything around. It actually turned the whole music scene in a whole spin. Unfortunately it seems like people don't seem to be very loyal like in the old days. People are real fickle now. All the people who buy Christina Aguilera stuff or Britney Spears or Backstreet Boys. How fast can we put this crap together and get it out there? It's quantity not quality. I think we've gone back to the bands that like in the '60s with the R&B bands like The Temptations except they're not as good. Back then at least you had soul in their voices. With these people it's vocal gymnastics. I can't handle it. It's not anything that I call singing anymore.

And you have to make it sound good.

Oh yeah, that's the irony of it. You can make somebody bad sound good. That's scary.

Paul Shortino