Guitarist extraordinaire Ralph Santolla (SEBASTIAN BACH, ex-DEATH, ICED EARTH) recently spoke to FourteenG.net about his influences, his experiences in the music industry and the recent SEBASTIAN BACH European tour, among other topics. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
FourteenG.net: Like legendary greats as DEATH, CONTROL DENIED, EYEWITNESS, and MILLENIUM as well ICED EARTH. Whom would you like to work with in the future?
Ralph: "Well, I've got a project called, EX CATHEDRA that is in the beginning of the writing stages. It's me, Mike Amott from ARCH ENEMY, Steve DiGiorgio from DEATH and TESTAMENT, and Gene Hoglan from DEATH/TESTAMENT/STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and a singer that I can't talk about right this minute but it's somebody that most people know who he is. That is something that I'm really, really looking forward to! It's my main creative focus right now like the thing I am most excited about. . . I worship Mike Amott. He's a great guy, I've been friends with him since back then too because DEATH toured with CARCASS and I just love the stuff he writes and his guitar playing. So I am really, really looking forward to that! These are all people that I would like to do something with in the future that I just have to wait and see what happens. I would like to work with Ronnie James Dio though."
FourteenG.net: Well how are things going with Sebastian [Bach]?
Ralph: "It's complicated I'd say! Doing that gig has aspects to it that are really fun but it has a lot of things that are not very much fun either. They don't…I mean… they are not put together or run ultra-efficiently or professionally, I'd have to say. Things are done in sort of a haphazard manner. That gig to be honest with you is just something I look at as a five-man gig and I'll play his gigs with him and things like that, there are friends of mine in the band, and that's fine.
"When we went on tour in Europe in December, it was one of the most unorganized things I've ever been involved with. But at the same time, it was also one of the most fun experiences I've ever had. Me and Steve DiGiorgio laughed every day so much that we had face cramps all the time. We just realized from the first day that things were going to be a bit sketchy as far as how well the thing was put together. Instead of fighting it, we decided to have fun and we had the best time ever!"
FourteenG.net: That is, and speaking of your health, how is that going?
Ralph: "[Pauses] Well you know I have a problem with my jaw, it's like a degenerative thing where my jawbone is slowly eroding away."
FourteenG.net: Oh wow, sorry to hear that.
Ralph: "Yeah, it's bad! I don't know what I'm going to do right now because I don't have insurance and I just don't know. I have to have all these surgeries and I have no idea what's gonna happen, so I really can't say. But, that's also another reason why I slowed down on the partying and started exercising a lot is because that thing is affecting my health over all. It's affecting my heart, my kidneys, everything. Since I can't do anything about the specific problem right now, at least my overall health is improving because I'm exercising."
FourteenG.net: No time better than the present. Was the condition worsened from years of partying?
Ralph: "No, no, no, part of it is from smoking cigarettes and the other part is just bad luck. I've got this thing, I'm not going to die from it, you know but I am going to have to do something about it eventually. It's on the left side of my face, it's like an 1/8 of an inch from eating into my sinus cavity. Now that is when it starts to get dangerous as far as your overall well-being and stuff. You just have to figure something out."
FourteenG.net: When did this start? How did you notice it?
Ralph: "I got a toothache when I was at Sebastian's house one time and I'd only ever had one other toothache in my life, I got beat up by bouncers one time at a bar and they broke one of my teeth in half in Norway."
FourteenG.net: Oh no!
Ralph: "The dude running the tech room from TNT had a studio and all of a sudden I got this toothache and…since I'm not used to it, I went to a dentist and they did these x-rays and stuff and they said it's not your teeth. You have a serious problem and you need to go to somebody in Florida where you live so I did… [Voice trails off] That was that!"
FourteenG.net: Speaking of which, there were talks of a benefit show for you, what happened? Are there any more talks, plans?
Ralph: "The problem with that, Sebastian's tour manager said that he would set it up, just give him the phone numbers to people involved, this, and that… He never does it. I don't know how to set something up like that and to be honest with you I'm not really comfortable asking people for help or anything. All I know is that the guy hasn't done what he said he was going to do.
"I also don't feel, not out of any sort of spite or anything, but I don't feel like I could definitely have something like that and set it up with Sebastian to play at it and for him to actually do it. Not because his attitude would be, [voice drops] 'Fuck you! I'm not doing it!' It's just that the way everything is with him, nothing is dependable, everything changes constantly. One thing is planned and confirmed then things just don't happen the way they are supposed to, not really dependable I guess.
"I am going to be talking to somebody else from a really big band today, that I don't want to say yet. He's one of my buddies and he called me right before this interview with you. He asked me about it; now if they wanted to play, they by far would be a big enough draw by themselves. So I don't know what's going to happen, we'll just have to wait and see."
Read the entire interview at this location.
To help pay for Santolla's medical bills, you can make a donation via his official web site at RalphSantolla.com.