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Ross “the Boss” Friedman: “The Ramones had been like our brothers… We had been very totally different bands, however we each had the swagger and perspective”

Ross “the Boss” Friedman: “The Ramones had been like our brothers… We had been very totally different bands, however we each had the swagger and perspective”

Ross



(Picture credit score: Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

Ross “the Boss” Friedman’s muscular riffs and sturdy solos have powered not one, however two seminal New York-based bands that he co-founded: Through the Seventies, there was the proto-punk/storage rock kings the Dictators, adopted a decade later by the wildly influential energy metallic outfit Manowar. 

Nevertheless, regardless of his brawny strategy to the guitar, Friedman first obtained the six-string itch from watching a lovable pack of madcap TV mop tops.

“Oh, I beloved the Monkees,” Friedman says. “As a child, seeing them on TV was actually thrilling. That they had superb songs. I may actually relate to Final Prepare to Clarksville. What a solo! After all, I didn’t realize it was studio musicians on these first data, and it didn’t matter. The enjoying was unimaginable.”

The Monkees had been Friedman’s gateway drug into the rock ’n’ roll of the period. “The Seashore Boys, the Who, the Doorways, Jimi Hendrix and, after all, I beloved the Beatles and Stones,” he says. “It was actually an thrilling time. And for probably the most half, every band had a very unimaginable guitar participant.” 

Earlier than lengthy, he ditched his piano and violin classes and picked up the guitar. “I used to be a younger Jewish child with glasses and quick hair. I needed to change my picture, so I turned a rocker.” 

He additionally began listening to the pioneering bands of heavy metallic, itemizing Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath as important influences. “All these laborious rock teams spoke to me,” Friedman says. “After I met [bassist] Andy Shernoff, we found that we had been into the identical stuff, so we determined to make the Dictators all about our shared loves.”

With the Dictators, Friedman skilled the New York punk explosion of the early Seventies firsthand. He recollects sharing payments with the Ramones at CBGBs: “We each performed there so much – we had been most likely a 12 months forward of them. The Ramones had been like our brothers. We had been from the Bronx, they had been from Queens. We had been very totally different bands, however we each had the swagger and perspective.” 

On the entire, although, he provides low marks to a lot of the punk motion. “There wasn’t an emphasis on musicianship,” he says. “It was like, ‘Hey, I can play sloppy and it doesn’t matter.’ I used to be the other of that. I practiced whereas everyone else was partying.”

What was your first good guitar?

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“A 1963 white SG Customized. I keep in mind my father stated, ‘I’m not shopping for it for you. In order for you that guitar, you’re going to need to earn it. You’re going to need to take out a financial institution mortgage.’ He obtained me a financial institution mortgage, and imagine it or not, I paid it off. I nonetheless have that guitar, and I nonetheless use it. It’s by no means left my possession.”

In an interview you probably did some years in the past, you stated you by no means use impact pedals and also you plug straight into an amp as a result of, in your phrases, “That’s the best way an actual man performs.” Nonetheless agree?

“[Laughs] That was most likely stated once I was in Manowar. See, with Manowar, we had this factor about manliness and being huge, having a whole lot of stacks and all that. My strategy to guitar enjoying was at all times about plugging straight in. 

“The one impact I may need considered utilizing was a wah pedal, however I didn’t use one. I used to be very influenced by going to the Fillmore and seeing B.B. King and Chuck Berry, in addition to Albert and Freddie King. They’d simply stroll on stage, plug into an amp and play.”

You do use a guitar tuner although, proper?

“Oh, after all.”

Wouldn’t an actual man simply use his ears to tune?

“When you have any ears left, yeah! [Laughs]”

I learn one other interview you probably did by which you gave the impression to be taking credit score for folks enjoying octaves in solos. Do you stand by that?

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“Oh, sure, however I’ve to elaborate on that as a result of lots of people assume I claimed to invent it. I began doing octaves as a result of I used to be influenced by Wes Montgomery. He performed octaves, and I beloved listening to him. So I adopted it and used it in my solos. 

“On that first Dictators report, Go Lady Loopy! [1975], I did that so much. However it was a factor lengthy earlier than me. Method again when, most likely within the Twenties and 30s, folks had been doing it. However I believe I introduced it to my model of music. I popularized it. I saved seeing guys doing it – grunge guys within the Nineties.” 

Manowar

Manowar circa ’84: [L-R] Joey DeMaio, Ross the Boss, Eric Adams and Scott Columbus – “There’s photos of me on the market which are so embarrassing. Hey, no less than I saved my pants on,” says Friedman (Picture credit score: Fin Costello/Redferns)

You left Manowar after 9 years. How good had been issues in that band earlier than they went unhealthy?

“Superb. We had a very good report contract, and we had been capable of purchase a lot of tools. We had a wonderful expertise recording our first report at Standards Studios in Miami. All people in New York was freezing our asses off, and we had been in a swimming pool making Battle Hymns. Like most bands, we had our ups and downs, after all. 

“Report firms saved dropping us, and we’d get signed once more. We saved forging on. We signed with Atlantic and had enormous success. Combating the World [1987] and Kings of Metallic [1988] had been gold in Europe. To not say we didn’t need it to be platinum in America – after all we did. Finally, issues went away, however for some time issues had been actually good.”

Manowar undoubtedly had a glance. Have been you going for a Viking kind of factor?

“Properly, we needed to be a bit of totally different than teams like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and Saxon. They had been carrying denim and leather-based, which I believe is a good looking look, however we needed to be totally different. We figured, ‘What’s crazier and wilder than leather-based? Animal furs!’ Give it some thought. 

Our outfits began to get type of tacky. There’s photos of me on the market which are so embarrassing. Hey, no less than I saved my pants on

“At first, we had actually good outfits, however as time went on we didn’t have the cash to stick with it. We left EMI, so our outfits began to get type of tacky. There’s photos of me on the market which are so embarrassing. Hey, no less than I saved my pants on.”

Thank goodness for that.

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“[Laughs] Yeah, proper? A few years in the past, my son confirmed me this image of Manowar; it was from this report, We Are No Angels, and Joey and [singer] Eric [Adams] are in bikinis, all oiled up. I’m to the appropriate of them, however I’ve my pants on, thank God. My son took a have a look at that image and stated, ‘Dad, that’s so disturbing.’”

You’ve carried out with singer “Good-looking Dick” Manitoba within the Dictators and the band Manitoba, however the brand new lineup of the Dictators doesn’t characteristic him. 

“No, we had a fallout with Manitoba, after which I stated to Andy, ‘Why don’t we simply get the band again collectively?’ Which we did. However what occurred was, our different guitar participant, Scott Kempner, in any other case often known as Prime Ten, was identified with dementia. We had been simply horrified, however we needed to go on as a result of Scott would need us to. 

“So we obtained Keith Roth as our second guitar participant, and he’s an important singer. Then we obtained Albert Bouchard, the unique drummer of Blue Öyster Cult, and we’re simply loving it. We’re within the means of negotiating a report deal, and we now have a number of songs out. The response has been nice. We’re trying ahead to gigging.”

You continue to primarily play SGs and SG-style guitars, proper?

“I certain do. I play SGs and related fashions. I don’t use my outdated ’74 Customized; it’s an important guitar, however it’s so heavy. That’s one of many causes I began utilizing an ESP EC-1000, which is a Les Paul-style guitar. It’s actually gentle and sounds nice. I even have a customized guitar by this man in Romania, Cristian Grosus. The corporate is named Grosmann Guitars. This factor is sort of a SG on steroids. It’s an incredible guitar.”

Apart from the Dictators, you’re going to go out on a solo tour quickly.

“I believe so. Issues are nonetheless altering round so much due to Covid. We had an English competition, Nice Yarmouth, that simply postponed until subsequent 12 months. And there have been different ones that obtained postponed. However we’re hoping to start out enjoying as quickly as we will.” 

If I don’t play songs from Battle Hymns and my tunes, folks get upset. They need to hear it, they usually have the appropriate to listen to it

You play some Manowar songs in your solo present, however you don’t do something from the Dictators. Why is that?

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“No Dictators stuff, that’s proper. These two types don’t conflict on the identical stage. It’ll be the basic Manowar stuff and my stuff. Individuals need to hear these songs from me. If I don’t play songs from Battle Hymns [1982] and my tunes, folks get upset. They need to hear it, they usually have the appropriate to listen to it. They’re coming to the present they usually’re paying goddamn good cash, in order that’s the deal. I’m a folks pleaser.” 

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Joe Bosso

Joe is a contract journalist who has, over the previous few a long time, interviewed a whole lot of guitarists for Guitar World, Guitar Participant, MusicRadar and Basic Rock. He’s additionally a former editor of Guitar World, contributing author for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Data. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, however he’s nowhere close to the likes of the folks he interviews. Surprisingly, his expertise are extra suited to the drums. In the event you want a drummer in your Beatles tribute band, look him up.

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