STUCK MOJO/FOZZY guitarist Rich Ward recently spoke to Blistering.com about his new solo album (released under THE DUKE banner) and his working relationship with previous label Century Media Records, among other topics. A couple of excerpts from the interview follow:
Blistering.com: This album [THE DUKE's "My Kung Fu Is Good"] has been such a long time in the making. How hard was it getting this album released?
Rich Ward: "A lot harder than I thought it would be because nobody wanted me to do this record. All the record companies wanted me to do another metal record. Some of them wanted me to front a band and just do my death metal vocal style, but I didn't want to do that. It's funny because I got a few e-mails from people saying that I sold out and for me, I could have made quadruple the cash if I just made another metal record because that's what everyone wanted from Rich Ward. They didn't want to hear anything mellow or anything that was outside of the genre where I had garnered my 'fame' and notoriety. It took a lot more time and effort than expected. Sure, I had some offers from labels that wanted to sign SICK SPEED, but they weren't the kind of offers that I wanted. To be honest, THE DUKE deal is not what I intended it to be either. It turns out I'm on a label that really wanted the band, but it's not the million-dollar deal that musicians dream of, especially after the deal I had just gotten out of with Century Media. Now, the deal with Century Media was what it was. We were on a small independent metal label, but it's not like they had the big budgets that they have now. If they had the money then, that they have now, we would have been on Ozzfest and we would have been on the radio and MTV. The sad thing about it is that, STUCK MOJO is one of the reasons that bands like SHADOWS FALL or LACUNA COIL can have those types of things now is because we made a lot of money for Century Media. It wasn't that Century Media didn't want us to have those types of things, but at the time to buy onto Ozzfest was $35,000, which is a lot of money for any independent label. After that experience I said that I wanted to sign with a label like Atlantic or Warner; a label that had big cash. I got some friends of mine here in Atlanta, DOUBLEDRIVE, they signed with MCA and got the shaft. My boy Corey Lowery was in STEREOMUD and signed to Columbia, but he got the shaft too. Even SEVENDUST, who have sold a respectable amount of records, every time I'm around them they're bitching about something that TVT didn't do or screwed them on. So I started to realize… musicians are always going to hate their labels. Musicians work hard and they want the label to do whatever it takes to meet them halfway, but the record companies are in the business of making money, they're not in business of making bands happy. Fair enough, I'm a capitalist so I can understand and respect that thought process."
Blistering.com: So even though you were offered pretty much an instant deal, you wouldn't compromise?
Rich Ward: "I wanted to make the record that I needed to make. We had a couple labels that were interested in releasing this record, but they just didn't quite get it. They would want to hook us up with producers or they'd say, 'This is great, but…' For me there was no but, because I wasn't going to play that game anymore. The guy who engineered and mixed most of this record — Shawn Grove — worked on that MATCHBOX 20 album that sold 14 million copies and he'll tell you that their A&R guy was there almost every day saying, 'I just don't hear any hit singles.' The fucker had like 5 singles that went into the Top 10! These guys don't know anything. They wait around for other people to tell them that it's great and I don't have any respect for somebody who sits in the back of the room with scorecard and saying, 'It could be so much better with an acoustic guitar part here.' I don't care for people like that and in 20 years from now I want to be able to look back and say, 'For better or for worse, this is the record that I wanted to make.' I don't need some pencil pusher sitting at the back of the room, telling me what the record needs. Now, if you're going to pay me to write for another band, then fine. I had Century Media approach me and ask about writing songs for LACUNA COIL, but it never happened because they didn't want to pay me enough money. [Laughs] They treated me like Century Media always does and as Eddie Murphy would say; their offer was a little 'light.' I can be paid to write songs for someone like LACUNA COIL and I'll sit there with the band and label and we can work on it together, but if this is my record. It's funny because the first time I heard SYSTEM OF A DOWN on the radio, I thought it was a WEIRD AL YANKOVIC song. But, they did something that was completely original and they tried something different. I guarantee if the same A&R at Atlantic had heard that song, he wouldn't have said, 'This is gonna do well at radio.' SYSTEM OF A DOWN has balls. They went out and did something completely different and it paid off. No guts no glory, right? That's why THE DUKE album is what it is. If the fans don't like it they can't blame anyone else but me. When I went into this deal with Spitfire, I had to know that they were going to do nothing for me. I know they will, but I have to go in with the mindset that they are going to do nothing for me and then I have to work hard networking, on the Internet and just make the best record I can make for the cheapest amount of money that I can."
Read Rich Ward's entire interview with Blistering.com at this location.