Ever wondered what inspired and drove the passion behind the Melodic Hard Rock bands we love? Ever lost an afternoon pondering what the scene was like back when music hit hard and the party scene hit harder after every gig? Then welcome to the first installment of Eonian Records’ All Access, where we take you behind the music of the bands on the Eonian roster to discover why they picked up an instrument in the first place and what kept the flame burning along the way. First up is Ralph Longo, guitarist and founding member of Rattleshake.
What age were you when you first got introduced to music?
It was about 4th grade.
…and why did you choose the instrument you did?
I wanted to play the lead guitar because I dug it!
Who were some of your main personal influences in taking up music?
Ronnie Montrose and some older teenagers in the neighborhood listening to cool Rock!
And who was your main famous musical influence?
Kiss and Montrose
Who is your favorite band of all time?
What are your top five favorite music releases of all time?
Van Halen I, II and Fair Warning, Kiss Alive, and John Mayer Live.
What is the best concert you have ever been to and why?
Van Halen - again - in 1979! I camped outside the arena when I was 16 or 17, had a sleeping bag, Doritos and soda. I got front row, met Eddie and got backstage passes for the next time they were in town! He also hung out with us for a bit and signed two of my pictures that I had of him.
When was Rattleshake formed and how did you guys meet?
The band was formed in 1990. We, that’s guitarist Mark Freseman, bassist Bryan Lujan and I, grabbed Steve Fletcher (drummer) and Don McBee (vocalist) from other bands in the local club scene. We dug em, and we got em!
Are there other bands you have played in and were any of them signed to, or close to being signed to a label?
Mad Anthony was so very close it was sickening. Capitol seemed to be the closest…
What do you think prevented this from happening?
We were too much like Aerosmith, Guns, etc. and that worked against us.
Tell us about the music scene where your bands first began to play. Was it a vibrant, happening scene and who were some of the other bands that you played with and hung out with?
We grew up playing the Bay Area club scene – it was AMAZING! The scene was SO ALIVE – everybody was out to have fun. We hung out with Flame, Murder Bay, Babylon AD and many more! The best part was the people, they loved us and we loved them. It was so much fun it was unreal – we all partied with ferocious spirit.
Are there any particular shows that you’ve played which really stick out in your mind?
Our shows were amazing and our first show was SO oversold that the fire marshals showed up! They threatened to shut the Niles Station club down if they let anyone else in the joint. It was amazingly cool!
And what is the venue or club you played which holds a special place in your heart and why?
Unsurprisingly we loved Niles Station a lot. The owner became a great friend and many other bands were also very good buds of ours. We liked and hung with Flame, Murder Bay and Babylon AD.
Which headline acts that you opened for impressed you the most?
We headlined more often than not but I always liked opening for Y&T. They were good people with minimal egos.
Did you play the Sunset Strip?
Yes, many times. At the Whiskey a go-go and the Roxy.
What publication primarily covered the music scene you were part of?
And like LA and KNAC in L.A., were there radio stations that covered and supported the local rock scene?
KOME 98.5, & KSJO 92.3.
What kind/make of guitar did you prefer to play back in the 80s and have you stuck with the same brand through the years?
I played a Gibson Explorer and I had two very early models of the Randy Rhoads Jackson. I now play Fender Strat’s.
Success and fame has always been a fickle thing, so who do you think was the most underrated band of the era?
Y&T without a doubt!
…and who was the most overrated?
And who was your favorite band to come out of the 80s hard rock and metal scene?
Finally, if you knew then what you know now, what, if anything, would you have done differently when you were playing back in the day?
Write music for yourself, not for the record companies.