Portions of the interview aired on Hard, Heavy & Hair Show number HHH320 along with Ray West’s music and tons of other great Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and Hair Band music and information. Listen to the podcast version of that show and read the show notes here.
Video Interview: Ray West (Spread Eagle)
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One night in 1990, at the pinnacle of 80s Hard Rock and Glam, the safety of the suburbs was shattered with the switchblade screech of Paul DiBartolo’s guitar and Ray West’s back alley wailing that sounded like gunshots and screams on a Brooklyn summer night. Spread Eagle had broken out of New York and brought the raw, grimy feel of America’s largest, most dangerous city with them.
Their record company didn’t know what to do with them, but their debut album consistently ranks up with Appetite for Destruction, Skid Row, and Too Fast For Love as among the greatest Glam and 80s Metal debut records with tracks like “Switchblade Serenade,” “Scratch Like a Cat,” “Hot Sex,” “Through These Eyes” and “Suzy Suicide.” Their sophomore album, Open to the Public, was released at the nadir of 80s Metal and the apex of Grunge, prompting the band to call it quits.
26 years later, in 2019, they released their third album, Subway to the Stars, proving that you can take the Metal boys out of New York, but not the New York Metal out of the boys.
The minute my conversation with Spread Eagle lead vocalist Ray West started, we both felt like we’d been friends for years already. We talked about the history of Spread Eagle, Subway to the Stars, the new album the guys are working on, how their record label didn’t know what to do with them, Ray’s sobriety, and some truly sage advice for the current generation of Rock musicians.
- Ray West’s career before Spread Eagle
- The founding of Spread Eagle
- A&R reps coming to them
- The debut album
- Quitting Spread Eagle
- Drugs and getting sober
- Becoming Ray Fucking West
- On track to Subway to the Stars
- Subway to the Stars and COVID
- The 80s transitioning into the 90s
- New York Street Metal
- A rat in the Spread Eagle soundboard
- Stepping in poo… and it squeals
- Boston and New York
- Rock N’ Roll has changed
- What really happens backstage now
- Ray’s sobriety
- His solo album
- Teaching at School of Rock
- Ray’s advice to the next generation of rockers
- The business of being in a band
- Split sheets
- The one thing every band needs for it to work
- “The business doesn’t want assholes any more.”
- The business/fun relationship
- Ray’s unexpected reaction to the day they signed their first record deal
- The Music Cemetery of America
- Guns N’ Roses blazing a trail
- The silliness of the 80s
- Getting real
- Spread Eagle was caught between the grey area and the grey area
- The band girls could bring home to their mothers
- “I got to go to the party for a little while.”
- Backing tracks
- The Book of Rock 101
- Keeping their edge
- Spread Eagle’s first road gig New York, NY to Portland, OR