We LOOKED like we were having FUN up there, and the audience picked up on that and fed it back to us. And despite coming from playing six nights a week back in Jersey, Drummer Mark Edwards taught me a lot about what really made a rhythm section click solid and we worked on it on a daily basis in rehearsal. But, despite all the hard work musically, I began to find myself constantly becoming the brunt of jokes by other jealous band members on the scene about my Angel-looking hairstyle, and not appreciated for my solid, in-the-pocket playing style. While STEELER’s music was not complex rocket science, you did need to be on top of your game musically which I was, rising to the occasion with every performance. Somehow, that became overlooked.
As for SIN, that was where I began to evolve and blossom from crawling to hitting the ground running. I was finally in my element and in complete creative control of my own band, comprising of 4-fifths of us being from NY; I had the fallout members from the Mongol Horde band ALIEN join me in a reformed version of SIN, and we eventually became known as ‘a peoples’ band’. So much so, that in a public music magazine poll, SIN was voted the top-drawing Metal Rock band of the 1984 Los Angeles music scene over Keel, Stryper and Odin, and that meant a LOT. SIN had a completely different attitude compared to the rest of the L.A. bands who tried to emulate us but lacked the NY attitude that the other bands lacked and we became known for. We co-headlined a show with Stryper and supported Keel and the fans went nuts for us. All the hard work was paying off. Although everyone in the band brought something great to the table, I had to refine and fine-tune it thru my vision and the end result made the fans and the club owners and the promoters very happy. SIN headlined almost every show and sold-out venues everywhere. So, to answer the question, I’d have to say it is a toss-up between STEELER and SIN that I feel most tied to. Recording and performing with SURGICAL STEEL was fun, but not as rewarding overall as SIN.
Rock Legend News: What was your approach to the music played during the 80’s?
Rik Fox: Interesting arrangements from the earlier late 1970’s where sometimes the bass followed the guitar lines…As the 80’s progressed, lots of interesting hook-oriented songs with a simple grooving bass line at the bottom of it all. So it was apparent that one had to write in a similar vein to catch the audience’s ear. Lyrically, all my songs tell a story and as direct influences I cite Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and STARZ’s Michael Lee Smith, both true wizard wordsmiths. I LOVED Ronnie James Dio’s writing style as well. But I believe in the essential ‘formula’ rock pattern, great intro hook, and then get to the point. Have a rocking great chorus and a simple but to the point melodic solo, nothing overly complicated. For a successful song to stay on everyone’s minds, in my opinion, the guitarists’ solos should properly underscore what the song is saying and not use each and every song as a personal showcase for showing off. Bottom line: it’s about the SONG. A good team-player guitarist can underscore the song and still show what they can do without overdoing it. A great, tight rhythm section keeps the groove flowing. As long as your singer doesn’t suffer from ‘LSD’ (lead singer disease) which can ruin a band by the singer believing that they are above the team-player core value, then you’ll have a successful band who writes great songs and collaborating is the way to go. Big egos are what ruins a bands’ success.
Rock Legend News: Rik, can you reveal anything that has been kept hush or tell us any secrets about the 80’s?
Rik Fox: Oh boy, could I! (laughing)…I plan on talking about that topic in my book I’m writing. I can speak from personal experience on how fake and plastic a lot of the L.A. music scene has sometimes been. And, of course, once I talk about it, I seem to make enemies because the guilty parties hate it when you shed some light on their dark corner of what they’d rather you keep quiet about and not expose them. Remember that song by The O’Jays? “They smilin’ in your face, all the time they wanna take your place, the backstabbers...”
While most players seem pretty cool, some walk around with egos that need some trimming down and they don’t like feeling like they have to compete with you if your name is more popular than theirs. Some are envious, some jealous, and some are intimidated by you. People talk behind your back and say the most outrageous things about you, and then when they meet you, they have a completely different impression as compared to how you were described to them. Since I left the music scene a few decades ago, I slipped down in popularity, and others have come up in their own and have seemed to established themselves in such positions that they will hold on to at all costs, even if it means openly attacking whatever you’ve achieved in order to keep you from trying to re-enter the scene again.
Currently at the time of this interview, I’ve been experiencing just that. Despite concrete documentation and proof as having been an original founding member of WASP, I have been dismissed and discredited just because Blackie Lawless won’t own up to it and tell the truth about it. Now he’s got minions who believe it like gospel scripture. Since he’s in a much better political position to be believed because his track record is longer and better than mine, he censors that truth. So, like Jim Jones, ultimately, there are blind fools out there who swallow Blackie’s Kool-Ade and believe the lies. Now, if and when I get back to a better level of success, then, much of the BS will to melt away (or make even more controversy) because then, my side of my personal experiences will seem that much more believable.
Rik Fox: Truly a learning curve experience for sure. As I stated above, Ron is the consummate professional performer and front man. In looking back, I believe STEELER was always Ron’s band and Ron’s vision, there’s no doubting that. Like myself, he was / is a man with a vision. Sometimes if or when that vision strays from the course you have in mind, for whatever reason(s), then you feel the need to readjust and alter your course to get it back on track. As he has stated, when Ron saw what the L.A. music scene was like and what his original line-up was up against, he felt the need to improvise, adapt and overcome. That’s a given.
It just so happened that I had an ad running in a local music magazine and that fate would have it that my ad caught Ron’s eyes, thank God. It was kismet and fortuitous. KISS drummer, the late Eric Carr and I were hanging out and had seen STEELER at The Roxy a few months before and were blown away by them. Ironically, it was Ron Keel who called me and we met and talked. Apparently he liked our meeting and gave me a demo to learn and said to learn the songs and come back and we’ll see what happens. Obviously history bears out that I not only got the gig, I recorded the STEELER debut album as well. I joined as the new bassist for STEELER in December of 1982, eleven months after I was let go from WASP, and had auditioned for RATT, and rehearsed for awhile with both WARLORD and HELLION.
That’s quite a hefty comeback, ha, ha, ha…When STEELER played at The Roxy supporting VANDENBERG, Nikki Sixx came backstage (with Blackie Lawless in tow) to congratulate me and wish me well and success. We took an infamous photo of that moment and Blackie pushed his way into the photo. As for Yngwie, well, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since we both pounded the boards together. It seems that from day one, there was always a condescending and arrogant attitude there and it was only a matter of time before the opportunity presented itself for him to jump ship and leave, which he did to join ALKATRAZZ. Yngwie and Ron were always butting heads over how Ron’s songs were arranged. Drummer Mark Edwards and I could only look on in jaw-dropping disbelief, watching these two arguing and Yngwie literally insulting Ron to his face about how the songs were ‘too simple and couldn’t they be arranged to be more interesting to him to play’. As soon as the album was completed and we did a few more shows, the straw seemed about to break the camel’s back and again, I never saw it coming, but after the last show with the album line-up, I was told that the band was going to ‘restructure itself’ again and that since Yngwie left, that it was time for them to find another bassist to replace me. I have no idea how this was a sound decision, (and years later Mark Edwards told
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