Tuff On Their First Australian Tour For Glam Fest

Glam rock band Tuff are just perfect for Glam Fest 2023 and no doubt will flex plenty of muscle. Formed from humble beginnings in 1985 in Phoenix, Arizona by guitarist Jorge Manos (DeSaint), bassist Todd “Chase” Chaisson with Stevie Rachelle joining in 1987. Fans heading to Glam Fest should be excited as they are here for their first Australian tour and will be playing all the hits and most of their classic album What Comes Around Goes Around. Hi Fi Way talks to Stevie Rachelle about playing Glam Fest and also reflects on the hey day of the Sunset Strip.

Days away from Glam Fest, how much are you looking forward to it?
Totally thrilled, I’ve been there once previously playing in Sydney and Melbourne in 2007 and that was just me playing with The Deadthings with Julez. His band were my backing band, those two shows were a great time and I’m thrilled to come back. I’m stoked that I get to play with my band, Todd “Chase” Chaisson, original co-founder who hired me in to the band will be his first time in Australia. Our guitarist Billy Morris has never been to Australia before. They are super excited and I’m excited not only to play Melbourne and Sydney but obviously Adelaide and Brisbane. Then the fact we are involved in a package like this with a bunch of bands and I’m familiar with everyone, Faster, Tuff and Floyd we’re all from the Sunset Strip. We’re all cut in the same market. I know Chip from Enuff since the beginning when they came out from Chicago. I’m curious to get there, curious to see what the reaction is, what the turn ups will be like? What’s the buzz is? Are people excited? (Huge! These shows will be sold out].

I saw a lot of comments online with people saying why isn’t this band playing? How come that band isn’t playing? How come you are not coming to Perth? How come you are not doing this? How come it is on a Wednesday? Then I see the comments from the people in the United States and they’re saying bring that package to New Jersey, bring it to Atlanta. The thing that I say is, man, you got to support what comes to your neighbourhood. No matter what you do, not everyone is going to be happy. Like you said all these bands together are flying to the other side of the planet to play together, not one show or two shows but four shows in four major cities shout out to Silverback Touring because putting something like this together for one or two bands is really complicated as there are a lot of moving parts. Taking six bands to the other side of the planet and putting it all together takes a lot of work on everyone’s part. I’m thrilled that people are excited, hopefully they’ll come out and enjoy it. If this does well I can imagine there will be a Glam Fest part two with six other bands.

We’re grateful that these bands are touring on a bill like this as otherwise it may not be possible to tour given the current climate.
One hundred percent, we have to travel by plane each day as there is not enough time to drive to the gigs, I’d love to play Perth and go to New Zealand as well, people are saying you’re already there why don’t you fly over? It’s not real quick! It doesn’t work like that. I get that in New Jersey where someone seventy five miles away in a different city of New York and it’s like why don’t you come here? I don’t know! the promoter in the other city booked us, paid the guarantee and put us in a hotel. There’s a lot of moving parts. For each band individually, with Tuff, Todd lives in Cleveland Ohio, I live in Los Angeles, our drummer “T” lives in Phoenix, so when we do shows like Monsters Of Rock Cruise that usually launches from Miami, Florida. I fly three thousand miles, T flies twenty seven thousand miles, Todd and Billy fly eighteen hundred miles from Cleveland, we meet at a hotel, say hello, have a pizza, get on a ship and do it. For this, Todd and Billy will fly two thousand five hundred miles, T will drive out six hours by car, Friday and Saturday we rehearse, Sunday we’ll all go to LAX and get on the same flight as Pretty Boy Floyd. They’re all kind of scattered to and not living in the same city. Everyone is all over the place so to get everyone in to those silver tubes in the sky, fifteen hours to the other side of the planet in the lower hemisphere, south of the Pacific Rim and get us all on stage within a couple of hours of each other is a lot of moving parts. I have no doubt that we are going to put on a good show, the people who don’t go will be bummed after the fact hearing how kick arse it was.

First Australian tour is exciting and keeping the fans appeased, has there been lots of requests from fans to tour here?
Yeah, the only thing that gets challenging sometimes, a lot of people are like are you going to play this or that and how long is your set. We are playing for forty five minutes and there’s nine to ten bands every day with some locals, some Australian nationals Sisters Doll and Catalano. Then Tuff is the first of the internationals coming in followed by Pretty Boy Floyd, Enuff Z’Nuff, Eclipse, Wednesday and then Faster. Our forty five minute set will be mid way through the show, don’t show up at 8.30pm or 9pm, if you do you will miss half the bands. Try to get there early when doors open because there are great local bands, some great national Australian bands, once our set is done it is next band up. We have to keep to the time-frames, everything has to be on time and I hope everyone gets their baby sitters in line and gets sorted. I know there is a holiday that week, no excuses!

Any hints to the set list?
I’m going to guess there is six to eight hundred people each night and maybe a dozen have seen us before whether they came to the States, saw us in Europe or on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise. Eighty to ninety percent have never seen us before. We’re going to play the songs that you are going to expect off the first record The All New Generation, Good Guys Wear Black, I Hate Kissing You Good-Bye, So Many Seasons and Ruck A Pit Bridge. Off the second album God Bless This Mess, In Dogs We Trust and we’ll probably throw one in from the hey day, we have a compilation called The Glam Years which are the demos we did at Sound City at Sunset Sounds in 1988-89. Some of the songs some will recognise are Summertime Goodbye, Down On Sinner Street, we’ll throw one of those in. Sinner Street is a song we wrote about the Sunset Strip, “down on Sinners Street, that’s where a lot of sinning was happening”. We’ll close the show with the new millennium rock ‘n roll anthem for eighties hair bands The American Hair Band which came out in 200, that’s off The History Of Tuff. We’ve got music from four different releases but half the set will be from What Comes Around Goes Around, our debut, our stand out record that people know.

When you reflect on your career what stories from the Sunset Strip stick out for you?
It is crazy to think that this summer it will be thirty six years since I moved hereto audition for the band. I’m originally from Wisconsin, so I flew here trying to find this band Tuff that was looking for a singer, I heard about it through some friends, obviously this before the internet. So, I flew out and met the band, I remember I auditioned, got the gig and Michael booked us opening for Warrant at The Roxy. We were on the Strip handing out flyers, this is in July of ’87, there was guy standing out the front of Gazzarri’s and there was a whole bunch of people standing around him talking to him. They were congratulating him on the new record or what was about to come out. I didn’t know who it was, I just remember he had a really deep voice and I asked the guys who is that?

That’s Axl from Guns ‘n Roses and he was talking about Appetite For Destruction to which at that point was about to come out. Some local people had heard the advance, what is crazy to think that guy standing out there, this is a local band, five long haired dirt bags – Slash, Duff, Axl, Steven and Izzy were playing The Troubadour to two hundred people, playing clubs to less, opening up for Poison, hanging out at The Whiskey and Gazzarri’s and now they are one of the most iconic rock bands in the history of the world. It just goes to show that Axl is from Indiana, Izzy is from Indiana, Duff is from Seattle, as crazy as it is and my dreams and my goals and aspirations fell much further short than the distance that Guns ‘n Roses went to or Motley Crue or Poison but at some point those guys were just normal guys. They were just twenty year old guys with a guitar, bass and a drum set, it’s like hey I’m in a band, here is my flyer, come and see us. That is what happened with Tuff, I’m from Wisconsin, and those guys are from Phoenix.and we started flyering saying this is our band, come and see us, we’re playing with Warrant. We opened up for the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Leatherwolf, Ezo, Dokken, Bulletboys, Dangerous Toys… anybody and everybody! We just wanted to play our music. Eventually we put our foot down and made our mark. That mark led us to Glam Fest in Australia.

It is crazy to think it has been four decades since we were all standing in our bedrooms looking in the mirror with our guitars or our bass on watching MTV saying one day that is going to be me. Getting the chance to fly to Australia to play is a huge deal and it started on that Strip, that set of sidewalks that Motley Crue walked, Ratt walked, David Lee Roth and Van Halen walked… Christ even Jim Morrison and The Doors were on that same street.

Are there any plans to celebrate the band’s fortieth anniversary?
That will be 2027, the fortieth anniversary since I joined. In reality this band was formed on New Year’s Eve of 84-85. Todd and Jorge were eighteen years old, they were playing around in Phoenix, which had its own metal scene. Todd comes from a family of bassists, three brothers who all got signed and came to LA at some point to chase dreams and play music.When Todd and Jorge and eventually Michael formed this band they wanted to be like Van Halen. They liked Motley Crue, Ratt and Judas Priest, I liked all the same stuff. Being in Wisconsin I had never met them, just playing the local scene and local clubs in Milwaukee, Maddison, Green Bay but every time a concert came to town whether it was Kiss, Dokken, Ozzy, WASP, you name it, I went to it. I became immersed in rock ‘n roll wanting to be this rock man front singer. A couple years later I find myself in Hollywood, I knew at some point I would have to go there, that’s where everyone was from. Every band that I was reading about started out playing the Strip – Van Halen, Motley, Ratt, Black ‘n Blue… all those bands were coming from here. I said to myself at some point I have to go there, little did I know what was waiting for me.

It will forty years since 1985 that I first stood on the stage, that will be forty years for Tuff. As far as anything spectacular probably not, maybe a compilation record of mixed songs, maybe a cool t-shirt or some cool merchandise. We are not big enough like a Metallica or a Motley Crue to do something to extravagant to celebrate the forty years. It is crazy to think that every couple of years there is another decade that clicks off or another anniversary… here we are!

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch Tuff at Glam Fest on the following dates, tickets from Silverback Touring

%d bloggers like this: