ROXY BLUE – “Life Has A Way Of Scarring You, Good And Bad”
August 25, 2019, a month ago
At the tail end of the hair metal phenomenon, Memphis-based rockers Roxy Blue released their vastly underrated – and until now – only album, Want Some? It encapsulated Van Halen’s good-time California party vibe, with a sincere touch of the Tennessee blues.
Want Some? was released in 1992. That’s 27 years ago. To put that into context… in 1992, George H.W. Bush was President Of The United States, Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister of Canada. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to life in prison, the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert For AIDS Awareness was held in London, England, the Rodney King riots decimated Los Angeles, and Wayne’s World lit up the silver screen.
“It was such a whirlwind back then,” recalls Roxy Blue vocalist Todd Poole. “We were caught in a tornado – good and bad. We were young. We made that record, we got signed really quick by some of the biggest wigs in the business. We were on this wave, riding it; of course, then it got jerked out from under us. It was fun while it lasted, and we’re glad to be back.”
Roxy Blue had everything going for them. The band was signed to Geffen Records, home to Guns N’ Roses, White Zombie, and Aerosmith. Their debut album Want Some? was produced by Mike Clink, who did Appetite For Destruction and Use Your Illusion. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t right as grunge unexpectedly exploded! Nirvana and Pearl Jam killed the Sunset Strip and all the bands associated with it. After one hell of a promising start, Roxy Blue disappeared for 27 years. In 2019, they’ve resurfaced with a slightly heavier, self-titled sophomore album, now available via Frontiers Music.
“Man, it’s crazy cause we actually made, we were working on a demo for the next record,” admits Roxy Blue singer Todd Poole. “Scotty T (drummer) and I put that together. We had that going and our manager Doug Thaler (Mötley Crüe) flew in, and he really liked it a lot. But he had already been told that the label wasn’t going to push the record; this era’s over. Long story short, my lawyer was a smart man and put a clause in there; if I leave the band, pretty much everything is null and void. I had an offer from my friend Jani Lane (Warrant), he was going to Los Angeles to do a solo deal. So, I went out there and wrote some songs with him, hung out for about a month. We had some pretty cool things, but I had a meeting with my manager who said, ‘You need to reinvent yourself.’”
So, over the course of 27 years, Sid (Fletcher, guitarist) went on to be a dentist, Scotty (T, drummer) was in Nashville recording, and Josh (Weil, bassist) went on to play with Dust For Life. And, I started Saliva! Then I had a band called 7/14. I toured with my father-in-law, Jimi Jamison from Survivor; I was actually the drummer for his band. I was really busy! Roxy Blue tried to get together a few times, and it just didn’t feel right. We finally got our asses to a show with Bret Michaels (Poison) about a year and a half ago. That’s what spawned this whole new deal. We were in rehearsals and got a phone call from Nick Tieder of Frontiers, he wanted to sign us to a deal, and we took it. So here we are, 27 years later.”
Hold on, guitarist Sid Fletcher became a dentist! That’s not like painting houses or mowing lawns, it requires serious schooling. “Well, Sid and I are still friends. What happened was, when we were working on the second record; Sid and I lived together throughout all of Want Some? Before we got signed; we were inseparable. We wrote all the songs together… but we actually got rid of Sid. Maybe it wasn’t a good move at the time, but we felt like it was. We were trying to move on, we were trying to find ourselves. Before we came back to Memphis, we were in Los Angeles – during the middle of that Seattle surge – we saw it happen, we felt it happen. A lot of bands back then, including ourselves, were trying to scatter and figure out what to do to save our careers. Sid was off doing whatever. He had a girlfriend; he wasn’t there like he used to be. We got Wayne Swinny, who ended up being in Saliva with me. I think that change made Sid do an about face. A lot of people don’t realize this, but as good as Sid was on guitar, Roxy Blue is the only band Sid had ever been in, and that’s crazy!”
Now in 2019, Roxy Blue has Jeffrey Wade Caughron on guitar. “Jeff has been a friend of mine for a long time; he used to play in Every Mother’s Nightmare. Then he went on to play with Jasmine Cain for a while and ended up in Full Devil Jacket. We asked him to do a show with us… Patrick Francis from Tora Tora had Cancer, so we were doing a big benefit show. I was supposed to play acoustic, but they wanted us to play full band; we didn’t have a guitar player. I called Jeff up, I knew he was a good guitar player. He had told me before, in a joking way, ‘I know all your stuff backwards and forwards.’ He did such a great job, I asked him if he wanted to do it full time. He was over the top about it and said absolutely!”
“Jeff adds a lot to the new sound. He’s a cool guy to be around, and that’s important for us. You get older, and you’re into it for a different reason. I don’t think anybody’s looking to be, quote unquote, a rock star. In the early days, we were all out to be rock stars. Then that became kind of over-rated, as it is. We just want to have fun and make good music together. We’re fortunate enough that Frontiers has given us a canvas to do that. To be able to get back out there and make new music – one thing about us is, we didn’t want to do a one-off. We’re looking for phase two. That’s why the (self-titled) record doesn’t sound like Want Some? I’ve never been one to make a record twice.”
“But, 27 years later, there’s a lot more to write about. I think life has a way of scarring you, in a good way and a bad way. You soak up so much… we, as a band, didn’t try to make a different record; we just did what we felt. To me, it’s a good stepping-stone for the next one. I just want to keep going. I don’t mean to sound… I’m very proud of what we did in the past. We, as a band, were very fortunate, to get what we got back then. I felt like, if we had written a record like that, it would be like trying to please a handful of people. Trust me, our fans from back then have been nothing but awesome to us. But I felt like we needed to expand. I think the new record might give us some wings. Also, like I said before, Sid and I did a lot of that writing; so, we don’t have that same writing team doing that. Who knows what that would have been like? We’re just growing… but we’ve got a few things that have a little touch of the old stuff.”
The album cover for the new, self-titled Roxy Blue release is pretty simple, utilizing the same logo from the ‘90s, bold and emblazoned. “Well, I actually had some titles… I came up with all kinds of stuff. It turned out that Scotty and I were talking; we ought to do self-titled. Everything we’ve had has a tag on it. The more I thought about it, I just want people to see. We haven’t been around in 27 years; let’s just put Roxy Blue really big on the front. Let the music do the talking. Frontiers thought it lacked colour, but I stuck to my guns. I had a gut feeling, and I went with it. We decided to stay simple on this. When you open the CD, it's got a lot of live photos in colour, hopefully that’ll pop. My big deal on that is, it goes back to my first album I ever owned, KISS – Alive. I remember sitting in my bedroom for hours, listening to that record and just staring at all the pictures; and dreaming about where I was going to be in life as a musician. Maybe somebody else will do the same.”
The overall sound on the new Roxy Blue album is rougher and tougher; that being said, the flashback song is undoubtedly “Collide”, as it keeps the power ballad alive. “I’m so glad you said that,” exclaims Todd. “Everybody in the band loves ‘Collide’. That’s the song we actually did an acoustic version of for Japan. We’re looking to do a video for that song. Not to sound corny or anything, but that song is basically love at first sight. That’s the true meaning.”
“How Does It Feel” is another standout track. It’s so different from the rest of the album, in a way that should appeal to current-day FM rock radio, without ringing the sell-out alarm bells. “It’s weird cause, I kept going back to that song. Frontiers really liked that song! They pushed for us to get that song out. That song… being able to be yourself… I know in my life, you get a full day in, you’ve been beat down… it fits in so many ways. Everybody goes through lows, and you pick yourself up – people are always the best when they’re by themselves. You’re only your true self when you’re by yourself. That’s who you really are. It makes you feel good to not have any worries, sitting back with a beer, you’re relaxing, and you get that really good feeling. You don’t have the pressures; even if it’s only for five minutes. That escape you get. That song meant a lot to me, and Frontiers fell in love with it.”
For those aching to see Roxy Blue live, fear not as extensive tour plans are in the works. “We are in the midst of getting a new agent; we want to play live! We want to play as much as possible. We got into playing music because we wanted to play music in front of people. That’s why we started playing in a band in the first place. And I don’t think it should ever change. I love making records, it’s cool; but playing live is where it’s at. Like I told the guys, if we’re not going to play live, then there’s no reason to make a record. We have to play live.”
“You know, me and Anthony Corder from Tora Tora were talking recently and it’s just so much harder now, because it’s so much on you. It’s all self-promotion… it makes you stronger, but there’s a lot of work involved. Back in the day, everybody did the work for you; here’s your schedule. Cool, let’s go do it. But it makes you appreciate it a little bit more now because you’re doing the groundwork. It’s hard. You don’t have that tour support like you used to. When you’re in your early and mid-20s, you get on a bus to tour The United States, with not a worry or care in the world. Then you get older, and I still want to tour a lot, but I’d really like to get on that plane and do a fly-out. But Roxy Blue is definitely all about the live show. We’re all excited about playing as much as we can. We’re only on this Earth for a certain amount of time, so we might as well bring it while we can.”
(Photos by: Steve Roberts)