Interviewed by David Felix
Date: April 2nd, 2006
No, he isn’t dying of AIDS and living with his mother! No, he did not overdose, spend years in re-hab and become a “pan-handler” on the streets of New York City! And, no…
he was not abducted by aliens, taken to Atlantis and is living with Elvis, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster! As a matter of fact, former Spread Eagle front man Ray West is very much alive, happy, healthy and ready to once again take his place in the spotlight.
Over the years, the debut Spread Eagle album has just about become a classic amongst metal fans but shortly after their second release, “Open To The Public,” the band just seemed to fade away without a trace leaving many questions as to what happened not only to the band itself but its group of very talented musicians as well. This opened the door to a various array of stories, rumors and fabrications being circulated. But what really happened to lead singer Ray West, bassist Rob DeLuca, drummer Tommi Gallo and guitarist Paul DiBartolo?
After literally years of searching, ROCKEYEZ was finally able to track down Ray West who was kind enough to grant us this exclusive interview where he talks about the rise and fall of the once mighty Spread Eagle, its members, his plans for the future and finally addresses some of the rumors straight on! Here’s what he had to say…
So let's start with the most obvious question…
With all the rumors and everything that’s happened over the past ten to thirteen years, what really happened to Ray West?
I basically just dropped out after that whole deal fiasco with MCA and turned my back on the business. I don’t know if they were going to go on as a band or not and I never really cared to find out, but I just walked away. After that, I put some solo things together in the city to keep my chops up, wrote with a few people here and there but nothing really cool enough to come to fruition… you know what I mean? Now that I’m a little bit older, of course, I have ideas of what I’d like to do and that’s why I’m down here recording with this band in Florida. These are guys I grew up with so we sorta just think alike and never had the chance to record together until now. But I just fell out of Spread Eagle. One day we just stopped! I think we were in the process of writing our third record because someone else wanted to pick us up on their label, but in that process, things got in the way. Boredom, personality conflicts and just being burned out. We were signed so fast and it moved so fast that we burnt out just as fast. Plus, there was the change in the music scene… which I think we could have adapted to because our style of band was pretty much open to anything. So, we were writing heavier tunes between the second album and what we thought would be our third record and we were going in a really heavy direction. We got manipulated, of course, on the second record. It was annoying. People at the record label or whatnot were always like, “Hey guys, do you wanna sell a million records or do you want to put out a really heavy record and sell only 150,000 copies?” We would do anything back then. We were young and stupid and would just do anything and we didn’t really get smart until we decided one day to just cut our losses and split. I remember I met up with Paul one day in a bar and I was fed up so I just said, “Dude, I want out of here, what do you think?” and he said, “Yeah, me too.” From what I know, I’m sure they were still a band and there were rumors about them trying to find another singer but that never happened from what I know of. My fall out was just, basically, burn out on my management and I just couldn’t take being a “whip” anymore. Like a puppy just being kicked around. Something in my personality doesn’t really adhere to that. Call it sensitivity - call it what you want… you could even call it weakness but I was just in a really weak state and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore… so I turned my back on it. Then I got really bored. I mean I was very well behaved when I was on the road and recording as far as any kind of drug abuse goes. Drug abuse came when I was on my down time. When we were on the road we would drink, of course, have fun and turn our bus into like some sort of a disco bar but I was over it. I didn’t like the way the music bizz was running at the time and the change of atmosphere wasn’t really contusive to me having a good time.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of these rumors floating around all these years. How do you feel about that or react to them?
I don’t! (Laughs) They’re stupid. It’s like people have nothing better to do than make rumors up but you know what, it’s nice to be mentioned in anything… it keeps my name alive, but it’s not the best way to hear it. I think the rumors come from me being in New York City and being seen, maybe, a little intoxicated or buzzed from whatever substance I was on, but no one ever came up and was like, “Hey Ray! How’re you feeling? Are you sick?” Actually Brian (Rademacher) sent me something last night and it was from people I use to work with down here when I was in a “Kiddie” band – at least that’s what I call it – and it was a rumor which said I was dying of AIDS, living in my mother’s house down here and that kind of thing. Those kinds of things affect me because it affects my family when they hear about things like that. But the people who know me and are my friends get on a mission to make sure those things are squashed. It’s great to have friends that love you and care enough about you to let you know what’s going on and help you through that kind of thing. I’m really sensitive and usually I can just brush things off but, if it’s like a really ridiculous rumor, of course it’s going to get to me. If someone’s going to be vicious enough to do something like that, that’s just sheer HATE! And it comes from people who never really achieved anything, I think, and it just turns to resentment. That’s how they get their “jollies” I guess. I respect everybody but if you disrespect me and can push me to a certain point, I become vicious. I’m very comfortable, I think I’m a nice person and cool enough to usually be pretty “chill” but I get rattled a bit by certain things. What really gets to me is when someone says something about me that’s not true… I really respond to that kind of shit. But I don’t go out of my way to make a nuisance of myself, ya know? Fuck it! Life is life and people are going to say what they want to say about you anyway… no matter what, good or bad. I learned that by being in the music business and just surviving. People are either going to like you, my friend, or they’re not. There’s no middle ground. If they don’t like you, they’re gonna talk shit about you and if they’re supportive, they’re gonna say nice things. But there are people out there who just hate! Since all these negative things came out, I’ve moved away from that Northeast environment to look for something different.
So... Now that I’ve moved back to Florida, I’m finding, apparently, that having a record deal is a big thing to a lot of people down here because there are a lot of bands that never get signed and never get that chance to even showcase. So that’s a big deal to a lot of people. We were allowed to open the door and step in! We didn’t go in and lounge! (Laughs)… but I was in the door. Some nice pool parties, met some really cool people and did an awful lot of partying. Partying was my second hobby. Music was my life but partying was my hobby. If there was a social event, I was there!
Tracking you down after all this time was really a challenge. All of us here had been trying so long so I was very happy when I finally was able to contact you. Is there any reason why you haven’t come out any time sooner, even against some of these rumors?
I just let it slide. Honestly, until I became computer savvy, I didn’t even know it was out there. I just let it all go, man. People can say all the shit they want but I’m here! I think that says enough. I’m here, I’m doing this interview with you, I’m very much alive and I’m very healthy. It’s 80 degrees down here today (Laughs), so life’s good! I just really, really beat myself up and just dropped out. I didn’t care what anybody said or thought anymore. I didn’t think I was needed. I came out of it so messed up and twisted that I thought everybody thought I was a complete asshole! And I think it was just the drugs that confused me and people’s behavior and head games that added to it. So, I let it eat away at me a little bit and finally just turned my back on it. But I still love music. I didn’t know why I sang, though. It took me years to figure out that I enjoy singing for singing’s sake, if that makes any sense. I use to sing because I thought that was all I could do and if you put me under pressure I would do whatever you wanted me to… but not anymore. Now I like to do things my way a little more. It takes a long time to learn that lesson … to sing because you really love it. I think when you have record deals with bands that were signed as fast as we were; you’re under pressure all the time and have people playing with your ego quite a bit. It’s a very egocentric job to have.
Singing is a funny thing, man. Guys can just plug in and whore themselves out as a guitar player to any band… a bass player can do the same and so can a drummer. Well, that might not always be true but when it comes to singing, there’s no signature until you get a vocal on there and people put a lot of pressure on that. And I’ve always had my own style; at least that’s what I’ve been told. People have tried so hard to compare me to other singers when they hear it but they can never find someone that I sound exactly like. They might find hints of this or that and that was always cool but there was a lot of pressure for people working with something they’ve never heard before. They’d be in our studio and be like, “Ray, what kind of note is that? Why’d you twist the word like that?” – My response was, “Because that’s how I talk!”
Don’t let me get long-winded on ya because I can go on for hours! (Laughs)…
No, not at all. (Laughing) Sticking with your Spread Eagle days just a little longer, do you think the way you were treated by MCA Records had a direct effect on the demise of the band?
Oh sure because there was lack of support towards the end. It was a “cattle call,” really. You had about nine or ten bands all signed at once. Everyone from Law & Order to Jetboy to us and it was a time when labels were just grabbing a bunch of bands all at the same time. I remember Law & Order got picked up at a show that I actually saw, and then we got picked up just a few weeks later. So there are two bands within a two-mile radius. It was a showcase year! It was almost like they just threw a bunch of dice out to see what they rolled! We got signed only having about five or six tunes but we got signed out of a rehearsal studio, which was really almost unheard of. So there was a lot of momentum going. There was me teaming up with Paul and the rest of his band to do some musical demo work. I was in a separate band at the time and just came in to try and help him find a singer but we ended up just creating a “sound.” So we were like, “Maybe we should just do this!” But remember, I was joining a band with three new guys who had a different singer, were from a different town and there was a very “getting to know you” process. Also keep in mind that Paul and I were like vinegar and water… together we made one big douche-bag! (Laughs) And you know everyone loves a douche-bag! But, there were a lot of times where I’d just be sitting alone in the corner. I remember we did an interview one time and it was all about them living in Boston and I just sat in the background and didn’t say shit! (Laughs) It was a very bad interview on my part, too. I got really torn up about not saying much but the guy was a real dick anyway. (Laughs) Really ugly too… not pretty like you! (Laughs)
It seems, at the time, that Tommi (Gallo) was really the first one to go and had to be replaced with another drummer. What was the reason for that?
Tommi got bored really quick because he knew something the rest of us didn’t. He knew that when he had heard Rage Against The Machine for the first time that THAT was what was coming. So he wanted to do more things like that. He wanted more excitement in our shows and he was just really bored and plus, he didn’t like being harassed from the first record on! He was harassed, really beat up on and was broken down a little bit. I mean to ask Tommi to not play drums on a song and bring in another drummer… that’s not right! You gotta give the guy a shot! But he was messed with a lot and asked to step back, then step back in, then back, then back in again… you don’t do that to people on their first record. Yes, you do need great timing and the drummer has to be on but give the kid a shot, ya know? You don’t just do that but, apparently, that’s what was happening to a lot of bands at the time. You had drummers that weren’t playing in the studio but were playing live! I can’t give you names because that’s not cool but there was a certain person in our band who had some “producer ideas” and decided it was best to bring in different drummers to do certain things. Tommi just got fed up with it. I mean Tommi was the kind of guy who would show up one day with long hair and then the next, just to rebel, he would shave his whole head! He was just really smart like that. He’s an artist in the purest sense of the word. A great, great artist… he drew photos and was just a great guy! I haven’t spoken to him in years and it’s funny because of everybody in that band whom I would have loved to keep in touch with, the one I would have liked to the most is Tommi. I think we lost him in Florida. We came and played down here, I flew back to New York or whatever and I think he just stayed. I think he just stayed down here, got married and had all kinds of crazy adventures. People tell me stories about him! But I think he’s living back in Boston now and pursued his life as an artist. I have yet to speak with him but his daughter has actually gotten in touch with me through the “MySpace” site, but I have yet to speak with him. If anyone, I speak to Rob DeLuca and that’s it.
Obviously, as you said, you still speak with Rob. What ever happened to Paul?
Paul really turned his back on playing heavy guitar and rock. I think he was very disillusioned by the whole experience as well. I know that he was trying to do a few projects after Spread Eagle, but like I said before, Paul and I were like water and vinegar, ya know? We didn’t have the greatest of communication skills with each other. Paul had some advantages, though, that we didn’t have in the sense that his family had money. So he was able to travel to places and do things. We lost touch a lot. I mean we had seen each other in the village or something a few times, gotten high together or this and that but last I heard, he had moved into that whole yoga, “zen” thing… whatever was trendy at the time. That’s what he wanted to do. So I think he moved to India and I have never spoken to him since. I think that one time I had spoken with him and was like, “Hey man, we should get together and try to write something.” And his attitude to me was, “Well, do you have any lyrics?” As far as musicians go, if you’re a singer you’ve gotta have lyrics before you approach anybody. People don’t want to wait on you to write lyrics but I guess he just decided to change his life. But whatever he liked musically at the time was what he wanted to do. You’ll notice that our second record was a little confusing. I mean it’s a great record but there’s no cohesiveness to it… there’s no solid “note” through it and that’s because we were listening to a lot of different kinds of music. So because of a lot of people on the outside being like, “Don’t be too heavy! – Don’t be too light” we did everything from A to Z on that… thus you have a very confused record. It’s a very well recorded record… we produced our own vocals, Paul, basically, produced all the music and some egos go beat up! So I think after the second record, no one was really content with the way things went down. The hiring and firing of people, bringing in people to play other people’s parts and things like that. As a matter of fact, that happened to me on the first record. We were doing “Broken City” and management brought in another vocalist to re-do it because they didn’t think I was doing it right. Then guy they brought in listens to it and goes to try and copy it to give me a vocal to follow for what they thought was right but finally was like, “Bro, I can’t do this! No one can do this… you already did it! I don’t know what the Hell they want!” So there were some rough times back then. That record was recorded on sheer, sheer anger… and alcohol. (Laughs)
So what made you decide NOW was the time for you to start your journey once again?
You know what? I just started liking myself again a couple of years ago. (Laughs) Something in me wants to do it again. I wouldn’t say I would go through the same routine and a record deal really isn’t all that important to me. Singing and getting out in front of people again is more important to me. Whether it takes some new tunes or doing some of the old ones to get out there, I wanna play. I get off on singing in front of people and I still have the energy to do it and that makes me happy. I don’t think being the coolest person is to do it for ego’s sake. I need it just because I need to do it… just because it’s been really tough on me not being able to perform. I had done some stand up comedy and enjoyed that; I did some theater after Spread Eagle and REALLY enjoyed that! I’m a performer more than I am a lyricist or anything else but I’ve been through enough now that I’ve been able to write some things. The band that I have now is a labor of love for like the past four or five years. I’ve played a few shows, maybe three or four times, for people who don’t know who I am down here and they’re like “Whoa! What the fuck is that?!?” (Laughs) But the love of friends, the support of friends and now this whole “MySpace” thing has just changed my life completely. I hear from people I haven’t heard from in twenty years! And YOU guys have just been sweet hearts being like, “Ray, we gotta get you out there again!” My girl’s the same way and so is her best friend, etc… but whenever people hear the music I’ve done in the past, they can’t understand why I’m not doing anything. But like I said, I really thought I came out of it pretty messed up in the head but apparently I wasn’t that bad and was a decent person to deal with. So they want to see what I’ve got left.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired or motivated you to start writing or performing again?
Mostly, it would probably be the woman I am married to now, my beautiful wife Maria. Other than that, I don’t know. It was everything around me and just hearing music – the change in music, the different scene, the different tuning. And I’m always like, “Wow! I really needed that years ago!” If I had known people were tuning in “B” and that’s what it was, I’d have been on that a while back. It just hits you, man! You lose your passion for so long and don’t want to do shit! You don’t want to give people eye contact, say “hello” on the street… none of that, man. But I moved back home to Florida where I had done my first gigs and seeing bands, old friends and people who still remember me really helped snap me out of it. I just want to get out there and get my chops going again… I wanna get out just to play. Now I know you hear every musician say that, “they just wanna play,” but I took it for granted for so long because I played fast. I got a room, I got a deal… I was playing! I had a great time, mind you. Even when I had a shitty time I had a great time! (Laughs) So I really can’t give you a “who” or “why,” it’s just something that burns inside ya.
One of the first steps you’ve taken was creating a “MySpace” site. Who gave you that idea?
A friend of mine, Ray Freeman Jr., who actually does tour managing for quite a few bands and is a really, really close friend gave me the idea. He’s always been busting my balls for me to get my shit together and has just constantly been a positive influence. He goes on the road with King’s X, Lynch Mob and keeps bands like that going. To watch someone like him just keep going and going and going at it is just so tenacious. So he was like, “Ray, man… you really need to do something. I’m gonna create you a MySpace and see who likes it and see how Spread Eagle hits and you take it from there.” I know Rob’s up there too with his band Of Earth that he has up in New York. So we talk on the phone quite a bit now. I can’t say that we’re ever going to do anything as far as getting the band back together but I’m definitely going to get out there.
In addition to your own, there is also a Spread Eagle MySpace site. Was that his idea too?
Yeah, he’s probably one of the biggest Spread Eagle fans that I have ever known. He did it just to keep it up… to keep the name out there. He doesn’t want it to die out. We didn’t have that bad a rep, ya know? We weren’t a “pussy hair-band” – We threw it down pretty good! We could have gone heavier and done a third record but before that happened, it just fizzled out.
Well, as I’ve said to you before, I’ve never forgotten you or the band and there’re a lot of people out there who remember you as well. I don’t think there’s one person I’ve ever talked to about you guys who doesn’t remember Spread Eagle.
See, to me here that’s great. It’s really humbling and I would absolutely love to give people something back and just put it out there one more time. Just go around once to the people and places that matter. I mean if people really want it, then they should get one more shot at hearing it at least. And done right, ya know!?! (Laughs) Because when you go out there the first time, you’re just shooting through the breeze. I think now that I’m more mature I know my voice a little bit better and you might find it a little more solid… even heavier. The music I’m doing now is tuned a little heavier so it’s comparable to the music that’s out there today.
Now you put up two of your new songs on your MySpace site, “Novacaine” and “Stolen.” Tell me about them…
Those were both written really quickly with the band I have down here. What happened was, I was doing some gigs in New York and a friend of mine came to visit me from down here and was like, “Ray, I’ve got some tunes you might really like. It would just involve you flying down here every once in a while.” So I flew down and did a first demo… just as a goof, really. But we sat in a room and wrote these songs and they were written so fast that you just knew there was something to that. When writing becomes easy, it just sets off something inside you and makes you realize “Wow! This is really cool!” So those were actually part of a fifteen-song set, but as MySpace was created, Ray (Freeman Jr.) put them up so people could hear what I was doing now. The demo that’s up there is actually three years old. So what we’re doing now is, taking “Novacaine” and “Stolen” and re-recording them so that they’re heavier and more up to date. What you have up there is a demo. What we’re doing is a quality recording… something you can pop into a CD player now and from top to bottom it’ll have great, great sound. It’ll be full, complete… the vocals will be right in your face, and you’ll be able to hear every little bit of the music. We’re trying to make a finished product out of it. We’ll probably do like four songs. Those two and a couple of others you haven’t heard before but I’m not going to put those up for download because I don’t want it out there too much… if possible. At least not yet! But I’ve got nothing but positive feedback from those two songs so far and this is really the first time in my life that I’ve ever gotten positive feedback on two consecutive tunes! (Laughs) So I’m excited about it. I would like to record something and be really proud of it. I don’t like to do anything half-way. Don’t get me wrong, the first record was great but you had four wild kids in there just doing what they had to do. The second record we tried to do things in a more mature way but there were just too many chefs at the pot. But now I’m doing something that I’m really, really proud of.
How difficult was it to get back in the groove as far as your writing and recording goes?
As far as recording, not so much because as long as I’m warmed up I’m pretty comfortable with it. For me, it’s a confidence issue and a passion issue. They’re two different animals, there’s singing live and there’s recording. Recording is like standing naked in front of a thousand people! - Because you can pick every little thing apart. Singing live you can get away with murder (Laughs)… as long as no one has heard the record. If they’ve heard the record, they’ll want to hear the record live. There’re two kinds of listeners, I think, as well… people that want to hear the record live exactly the way it’s done and people that just wanna see a live band that ROCKS! And they don’t care how it sounds; they just want to rock their brains out!
So tell me about your band… you said they were childhood friends of yours?
Yeah, when I was down here in Florida I grew up around the bass player. We were always in the same scene although he was in other bands at the time, but after I went up to New York, he became, sort of, a “musician’s musician” around these parts. His name is Miguel Gonzalez and he’s just a great, great bass player. He has his own little studio and, of course, he plays bass for a few different bands because that’s what you do down here to make money. He produces bands as well… probably no one you’ve ever heard of but the local bands come in, record in his studio and he works with them as well. He’s just one of those guys I can really write with. He’s a great musician, songwriter… he’s got a great set of ears and he’s an accomplished guitar player as well which is great because you can sit with one guy in the studio who knows all the bass and guitar parts -then all you need is a drummer and you can write tunes that way! But Miguel is a very smart, smart musician and I’m very proud to be working with him and have him as a friend.
What about your drummer?
I got this guy, Joey Garriga… hits like an ANIMAL! There’re a lot of drummers in the world, but this guy’s got soul and he’s cool and he’s very hungry. So with him and Miguel, you’ve got one of the best rhythm sections in all of Florida. A lot of people want to work with them but I’m just lucky enough to have them as friends and to do some tunes with.
What about live? Do you have a steady guitar player?
We have guitar players for hire down here. We actually haven’t played live for almost three years! I mean once in a while we’d get excited. People would be coming up to us and saying, “Hey man, if you put that tape together we’ll do this or that…” But I had never take the initiative to say “Let’s do this tape!” and just get out there and hand it to people. I didn’t realize I had people I could do that to! That’s how I felt. I didn’t think there was anybody in the business that would actually remember me and want to take a tape from me. But I hear different! There’re people who say, “Hey Ray, if you’ve got something please give it to us and maybe we can help you.” I’ve had a bad, bad trust issue with the music business itself. But I’ve let go of that shit. I’m happy if anyone’s willing to help me at all. I take it very serious, I take my friendships very serious and I take trust EXTREMELY serious. I guess this is the wrong business to be in. But we did some gigs when we first put this project together… it was called Element of Dysfunction and we did it with this one particular guitar player who moved to L.A. but man, those shows just kicked ass! When you get people together who really just click like we did and you know that this guy’s backing you up over here and this guy’s doing his thing, it’s like driving a Ferrari! (Laughs) You don’t have to worry about anything…and I LOVE driving a Ferrari!
When do you think you’ll be hitting the stage again?
As soon as this tape is finished! I imagine there are some show case things suppose to happen so whatever we can do over the summer… we should be out there. I’ve got some things cooking…
How many songs do you have written already?
We have about an album’s worth of material but we’re only going to lay down about four for the demo. Once that’s done, we’ll probably just re-tool songs because we have a lot of songs written that we really haven’t finished. All they need is to be taken to the workshop, so to speak. Put the new chassis on and this and that, but we have about an album’s worth of material right now.
When you’ve played live, have you ever done any of the old Spread Eagle tunes?
I haven’t had a chance to and I haven’t felt like doing them until recently. But no matter what happens, I’m going to put together a band with some guys that I like down here and just play! See where I can book myself and if I have to fly to New York to do something, I’ll do something there. I’ve got some friends in Texas as well who are always like, “If you come down here, I’ll book ya!” It’s just a matter of finances. My money’s gone into some financial endeavors so for me to pull money out of things I have to be very careful.
I didn’t leave with any money, so I’ve made my own in my own ways and set that aside so that if something happens where I had to leave for a few months or something, I’m cool. I’m not rich but my heart is rich! (Laughs) My life is rich!
Do you have a name for your new project or are you just going under Ray West?
Ray West for now, but there is another name in the works. I’d rather not mention that right now, though, until I’m sure everybody is cool about it.
When do you think the demo will be ready?
I would give it about a month. Only because it’s Miguel’s studio so we don’t have to pay for the time but we still have to allot time for the other bands working there and he also has another band of his own so, we get in there when we can.
What do you feel is the biggest difference between your music back then and your music now?
I think I’m really openly singing with my voice from top to bottom now. I’m using everything. I think my voice has become more mature and sounds fuller. I use to be the “scream machine” and had a lot of high end in my voice but I’ve managed to get some low end and some baritone. The tuning’s lower which gives you a lot more room to sing as well. That’s what I love about a lot of bands today… that low tuning creates a sound that’s just so, so beautiful and dark. I like The Deftones, P.O.D., Foo Fighters… bands like that. But then again, I love Barry White and Stevie Wonder! Right now though, we’re doing this and I like the music heavy, aggressive… but also melodic. In fact the tunes that you’ve heard on MySpace are quite moody but now they’re going to sound a lot heavier. More drum heavy, the vocals are going to be up front more and heavier guitars – a WALL of fucking guitars!
What are your plans as far as shopping the demo?
I’m gonna give it to whoever can really help. I’ve already spoken with a few people… yourself included. I think they’ve got some ideas of some people down here already, which is the reason we’re doing this. I haven’t really had a chance yet to reach out to old friends, though. I didn’t know if it was cool to do that but finally I was just like, “Fuck it, man!” I’ll get the demo out there and see what they can do with it.
Do you think shopping your style of music will be easier or more difficult nowadays?
I think it’ll be more difficult because there’re a million tapes out there. Then I hear bands like H.I.M. on the radio and I’m like, “Wow… that sounds like The Cult!” And they got shopped and they got put out there so I think if you still can look like you’re in your youth, do what you can to stay in shape, you can still work it and people want to see you live, then put it out yourself, man! Shopping’s great! If someone goes shopping and wants to buy it then great! And if it hits that one person that can do something with it, I’m all for it. I’m not going to hit the street – because there is no street here in Florida! (Laughs) So I have to trust other people and if someone really believes in the tape that much, then it’s worth doing it. But I’d like to shop it seriously because financially it would be a good thing to do. I don’t know if someone would just take it for distribution or decide to pick it up but, you never know.
Aside from the two songs on MySpace, what’s the response been like to your new material?
So far it’s been very positive which is great. I enjoy that! Before it was always like, “Yeah, you guys are cool but I don’t like this.” or “I don’t like that.” But this is music I really love because it’s melodic and yet it’s heavy and I don’t have to scream at the top of my lungs all the time… even though there’s a lot of aggression in me still and a lot of angst left over and more still yet to come. I’ve changed a lot so henceforth my musical taste, the way I put it out there and the way I sing has changed quite a bit – but there’s still some “Ray-Ray” in there!
Through all of your experiences over the past decade, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned?
Oh wow… to be honest. Be really, really honest because if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it and definitely listen to people. Don’t think you know everything and also, listen to everything! I listen to every possible thing I can get my hands on but, for me, the main thing is to listen, be patient and don’t beat up on myself so much. I’m just tired of that… I beat myself into the ground, man. I’d rather just go lay on a beach in Hawaii or something. (Laughs) Now as far as music goes, I do it for fun. If something comes of it, that’s great! I know a lot of people out there are still living the lifestyle, still grinding it on the road, living out of a suitcase; eight to a hotel room… ten to a bus and God bless ‘em, man! But if I can get anything out of it, I’ll take it. I just wanna put out something really good that I’m really proud or and if people dig it… that’s great. If they don’t… I’LL FUCKIN’ KILL ‘EM! (Laughs)
What would you most like to accomplish over the next year?
I would like to stay healthy for another year… because every year above ground is a good year! (Laughs) – I know I’ve told you that. I’d like to get this demo done, get it picked up and get myself on the road for some secure dates. I don’t wanna go on the road for 300 days out of the year, but I would like to get a record out, have people acknowledge it and do some shows for it. I’m not gonna ask for too much. I know there’s not a lot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow. I would just like to put it out there, be shown a little respect, be liked and appreciated. There’s a lot for everybody and I think people are going to like it. You can’t make everybody happy all the time and I would like to be a bit more calm... so if I got this done, I think I would be able to let go a lot of demons I still have.
What are you most looking forward to?
Just enjoying my life and not being so critical of myself all the time. I’m trying to take more chances… I’ve become very safe in my life. So I’m looking to take a little more of a risk and by doing that I’m recording a new CD, putting it out there with someone and taking the risk of shopping it. But I really just wanna live, bro. I want to be a very happy, comfortable person but I want to be happy with myself more than anything.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
That I was a very cool and decent person to hang out with and to know and that I gave it everything! When people meet me, I want them not to hate me! (Laughs) I want people to know I was a cool guy, ya know? That I was easy going, laid-back and that I tried really hard. Never tried to fake it and I did the best with what I had.
So in conclusion…
That was a vicious muther-fucker, man! (Both Laugh)
As I said before, there are a lot of people out there who still remember you, still love you and are going to be very thrilled to hear you’ll be out there again. What would you like to say to them?
I’d just like to thank them all for their support and their kind words because it really humbles me. I put a lot of faith in people… and I hope they really like what I’ve got coming out now and I would just like to thank them all for letting me back in! Also, for writing and for caring enough… and for setting a fire under my ass! Because I just dropped out of life and I didn’t think anybody gave a damn at all… but I was wrong. People have woken me up and I’ve made some really good friendships and they’re just proving that. I’m a stand-up person. If I say I’m gonna be somewhere, I’ll be there! If I say I’m gonna rock your brains out, bring some beer! (Laughs)
Thank you again, Ray, for taking the time to do this and I, for one, am absolutely thrilled you’re back!
Thank YOU, man! You guys are the best!
Please don’t forget to check out Ray’s myspace site and his new tunes. They’re well worth a listen!
On behalf of myself, Brian, Mark, and the rest of the ROCKEYEZ staff, we would all just like to welcome Ray West back into the spotlight where he belongs. We’re all looking forward to your future endeavors and I, for one, am very happy to hear all the rumors squashed once and for all. Ray West… not only a very talented singer, song writer and musician but a class act from head to toe as well. Also, one of the nicest and coolest people I have ever had the pleasure of interviewing and someone I am proud to call… a friend. Welcome back Ray!