Heart of Steel: Interviews

Stevie Rachelle / VocalsTuff's Stevie Rachelle

Interview by Keith McDonald

Tuff was one of the bands that never got its just due. They did have a big radio and MTV hit with 'I Hate Kissing You Goodbye' but nothing ever materialized after that. You can blame Seattle and Nirvana or the fact that the major label didn't give the needed promotion to get the ball rolling. No matter what, Tuff just never hit Platinum status and fell into oblivion soon after. Yet Stevie has kept the name alive and quite busy releasing albums and DVDs. I recently had the opportunity to speak with him and get the lowdown on his band. You can check out the website at www.TuffCDs.com.

Tell me about the DVD's that you have coming out.

There are 4 newly released DVDs and they are available at www.TuffCds.com
Tuff "What comes around...goes around-The Videos" 1991/2004
Tuff "Religious Fix-The Making of Videos" 1995/2004
Tuff "Decade of Distant Memories-85-95" 1996/2004
Tuff "Rock N' Rarities" issued 2004

These DVDs can be purchased each for $20.00 or the entire TUFF DVD 4-Pack is only $ 75.00. Please take a click on over to www.TuffCds.com to find out more.

I've also included the press release regarding these DVDs...

It's 2004 and with technology moving along what better time than now, to add TUFF to your growing collection of DVDs. But don't add just one - add all four. That's right; RLS Records & TUFF are issuing all three of their original Home Videos on DVD and a new piece to make it an even four pack. There is a theme with each DVD and with over 6 hours of footage you can't go wrong when choosing these digitally enhanced clips. The newly added menu section and graphics are out of this world with sound bites, flyer collages, rare pictures and more. No more re-winding or fast forwarding to get to your favorite video, backstage clip or section of choice. These DVDs can be purchased each for $ 20.00 or the entire TUFF DVD 4-Pack is only $ 75.00. Please take a click on over to Http://www.Tuffcds.com to find out more.

{Selection # DVD61332} TUFF "What comes around goes around" - The Videos. This DVD includes videos for the following songs: "The All New Generation", "So Many Seasons", "Ruck-A-Pit Bridge", "Lonely Lucy", "Spit Like This", & the #3 Dial MTV request "I Hate Kissing You Goodbye." There is also a bonus video for "Down on Sinner Street" which was originally recorded by the band in early 1989. This DVD also includes various outtakes and footage from the bands first ever-major label (Atlantic/Titanium) supported tour of the US & the UK during 1991. Running Time: 60 Minutes.

{Selection # DVD61432} TUFF "Religious Fix" - The Making of... This DVD includes videos for the following songs: "Tied To the Bells", "Better Off Dead" & "In Dogs We Trust." This DVD shows in great detail how the band spent the summer of 1994 self financing & filming a trilogy of videos for their self released (RLS Records) "Fist First" EP. That EP became a full length and was re-released as "Religious Fix" after 3 additional tracks and a new major label (BMG//Mausoleum) was added. This DVD as a whole is very much-like the Guns n' Roses release entitled "Making F**king Videos." See for yourself how the band made use of a closet crawl space, their backyard pool, and a sprinkler system to make these high quality clips. Running Time: 60 Minutes.

{Selection # DVD61532} TUFF "Decade of Distant Memories" - 85-95. This DVD includes videos for the following songs: "I Like What I See", "Makes Me Sick", "The All New Generation -Live", "Tied To The Bells - Live", "God Bless This Mess - Live", "Spit Like This - Live", & "In Dogs We Trust - Live." This DVD will show you in great detail some of the highest and lowest points of the bands exciting career. It's packed full of killer footage of the band on the road, in the studio, backstage and behind closed doors. This DVD will show you about the good times, and the bad. It's a reality filled look at what a band really goes through daily while out on tour. Running Time: 120 Minutes.

{Selection # DVD61632} TUFF "Rock n' Rarities." This DVD is packed full of over two dozen rare TUFF performances. You will be taken to gigs from the mid 80s thru the mid 90s and into some of the worlds most famous Hollywood clubs like Gazzarris, The Whisky-A-Go-Go, & The Troubadour. TUFF will also take you on tour with them when they played in Minnesota, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin & more. See TUFF perform the b-sides from their releases like: "Wake Me Up", "Simon Says", "Follow The Loser", & "Disaster." Also see TUFF perform rare demo cuts like: "Put Out Or Get Out", "Don't Complain", "Money Talks", "What Comes Around Goes Around", & "Bang-Bang." You'll even see TUFF cover their favorites like Ratt, Metalica, Ted Nugent, & Black Sabbath. Running Time: 120 Minutes.

Tuff 2001 Press Shot

What happened with Titanium Records? Did their downfall affect Tuff's career?

Titanium was an Indie Label thru Atlantic. Basically the money and main support is supplied by the Atlantic Records Label and staff. Once they pull the plug, then Titanium (was) nearly helpless. Having a major label deal and support is usually a good thing for any band, and it was for Tuff too. But, in the end, it wasn't about Tuff, or the label, it was about Seattle and a HUGE change for the whole industry. So, in the end Tuff, Badlands, Titanium Records, Trixter, Mechanic Records, and dozens of other major label bands thru similar Indie Labels were killed off!



Are all of the Tuff albums available? What's in the catalog?

Yes all 7 Tuff releases & my 2 Solo CDs are available at www.TuffCds.com

Tuff "What comes around...goes around" Atlantic/Titanium 1991
Tuff "Religious Fix" BMG/Mausoleum 1995
Tuff "Live in the the U.K." RLS Records 2003
Tuff "The History of Tuff" includes "American Hair Band" RLS Records 2001
Tuff "Fist First" RLS Records 1994
Tuff "Decade of Disrespect" RLS Records 1996
Tuff "Regurgitation" RLS Records 1997-Re-issued 2000
Rachelle, Stevie "Since Sixty Six" RLS Records 2000
Rachelle, Stevie "Who the Hell am I?" RLS Records 1998



How much touring do you do these days?

I do a few Tuff dates here and there but not like I used to. I did a tour of the UK in the fall of 2002 and had other dates in Europe last fall that got cancelled at the last minute. I also have a cover band called Motley Priest that plays around a few gigs a month. Every other year or so my Football group (CWA) ends up playing at a Packers game in San Diego, Phoenix or back in Wisconsin. I'm hoping this summer and fall that Tuff will be able to do some dates again as well.



Do you still speak with any former members? What are they up to?

I talk to all of the guys. Michael is in the food business. Todd has been working in the communications end of business and had been doing some music as well. Jorge recently moved back to LA from Florida after having lived there again since 1996.



Is there a new studio album on the horizon?

Not sure, you never know. Things happen out of blue for no reason at all sometimes. I hope so, that would rock!



Who is in your band now?

I've been playing with drummer Tod "T" Burr in Tuff since 2001. Ironically he was the drummer in Todd Chase's last project Substance D for 10 years. Jamie Fonte has been playing bass for the last few years and he was in the band during 1994-95 as well. As for guitar players I've done shows with a bunch of guys over the last few years. Darrell Roberts who went on to join W.A.S.P., Michael Thomas who went onto join Beautiful Creatures and then Ashba. I also did a show with John Corabi and Keri Kelli played a few shows too.



How much did the 'hair-band' stigma hurt?

Who cares? It might have 'hurt' in some ways, but it 'helped' in even more ways. I am not ashamed to have been in Tuff, a hairband from the 80s. But I am ashamed of the fellow musicians who run from it. I have a personal issue with Bret Michaels of Poison but salute them 100% for sticking to their guns and doing what they do best. On the [other] hand I have no issue with Sebastian Bach personally, but think he's a real moron when he loses his marbles over his name or the Skid Row name being affiliated with the 80s or hairbands.

Tuff 1988

How did Tuff start?

Todd & Jorge started this band in Phoenix in 1984 or 85. I wasn't involved until 1987 so as for the actual start I can't tell all.



How hard was it to get signed?

Not easy, but then again nothing ever is. In looking back getting signed didn't and still doesn't mean shit. It's like getting invited to compete in the X-Games. There are 99 other guys (bands) to compete with, and if you place 37th out of 100 no one really cares. If you get a trophy and place in the top 10, then it means more. Either way, Tuff placing wherever we did still means something to me and always will. Tuff was signed 3 different times, to 3 different labels, but some of the best times we ever had were before the record deals came along.



How much has the LA scene changed since the heyday?

Drastically. There are still some of the same clubs, magazines, and companies but it's just not what it once was. I would compare the 80s Glam scene on the Sunset Strip to that of the disco Studio 54 scene in NYC. After the downfall it just wasn't the same anymore.



Any interesting stories you'd like to share about the Strip?

Yeah, there will be endless tell all tales in my book one day. In the meantime you can go visit www.Metalsludge.com as I am contributing to their column called ROAD SLUDGE. It's true-life stories about what happened for Tuff on the road and how it really is. I've sent in a few already and will be sending more. There is also a great story by Jizzy Pearl.



Anything you'd like to plug/promote?

Yeah everything at www.TuffCds.com



What lies ahead for Tuff?

Wait and see, the future is good!

Thanks, Stevie Rachelle / TUFF / RLS Records