Some say rock n’ roll is dead and some know it never ever died. Nearly 30 years later, the legendary Hollywood club known as The Cathouse is about ready to put on a festival with one hell of a lineup. August 15th, Riki Rachtman is going to transform the Irvine Meadows in Orange County, CA into a Cathouse for one day. If you love metal, this is the place to be…just like the original club was. Many bands have had the pleasure of playing at The Cathouse from its opening day in 1986 until it closed in 1993, and with this up and coming heavy metal explosion planned, what better way to give newer bands the opportunity to be a part of the action than to hold a Battle Of The Bands where two acts are chosen to play with the all star line-up that includes Sebastian Bach, Gilby Clarke, Extreme, Faster Pussycat, Tracii Guns, Tom Keifer and more.
Battle Of The Bands was held on July 14th at the world famous Whisky A Go-Go on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, CA. There were 13 rock and metal bands chosen to perform, which brought out talent from different areas. Kicking the night off with local bands like Molly Vamp and Raven’s Cry, there was no doubt that this night would be filled with some serious contenders for the two open spots to perform at the Cathouse Live festival next month. While the crowd started small due to the early start of the contest, the fans who were there undoubtedly protruded their support in a big way and by the end of the evening, the house filled up with more and more fans.
Third up was Madysin Hatter, a solo rock artist hailing all the way from New Jersey. With an infusion of 70’s rock and 80’s hair metal, Hatter took no prisoners in a sequined shorts jumpsuit and proved that women can rock out just as hard as the men. A singer/songwriter, Hatter also manages her own career including booking gigs, social media, marketing, promotions and any task that comes her way. Hatter’s powerhouse vocals transcend to limitless heights. Not only was she on Broadway as a child, but Hatter also lived here in Los Angeles for a while where she received her BA in Musical Theatre at UCLA, so it is no wonder she has the perfect combination of vocals, stage presence and the ability to engage anyone who sets eyes and ears on her. Opening for names like Buckcherry, (sold out show at Whisky A Go-Go for their 50th Anniversary celebration) she has also played with Faster Pussycat, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, BulletBoys, Jack Russell’s Great White and more. Despite living over 2,500 miles away from Hollywood, she frequently flies back and forth to play gigs at various L.A. venues. Her original songs It’s All Good, Lose My Mind, Black Velvet Snakebite, Jukebox Jive and Never Knew had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hands. Hatter has just finished recording, mixing and mastering her new full length album titled Lose My Mind, due to come out soon for which she is currently label shopping. Inspired by the Disney classic Alice In Wonderland, Hatter tells us how she was drawn to the tale and the characters but also has a funny story to add to the mix of how she came up with her stage name. “I’m obsessed with Aerosmith and one time I was at a show but I was all the way in the back. I waited until they came back out to do an encore and ran all the way to the front where a nice couple let me squeeze in next to them in front row. I had this grew vintage fedora hat on and as they started playing Back In The Saddle and Steven Tyler crossed the stage to where I was standing. He grabbed the hat off of my head and wore it for the entire song. Then rather than simply throwing it back to me, he came back over and placed it back on my head. It was then that the name Mad Hatter jumped out at me specifically, plus I had a few people tell me that was a very fitting name for my energy and music.”
(Oddly enough, when we were notified by Ms. Hatter that she was interested in having us cover her set for the Battle Of The Bands, the email was received during the Mad T Party show at Disneyland California Adventure. Once again, the universe has aligned.)
LA Story, 10 To Midnite, Scarlet Vice and The Hard Way took their turns as the crowd grew in size and energy. The Hard Way frontman Eric Jeffreys quickly commanded the stage and the band produced a high voltage level of rock that heavily escalated the evening and it kept going from there. As Bakersfield, CA band The Aviators took the stage and opened with Led Zeppelin’s Rock n’ Roll it was crystal clear that they were going to be one of the top picks for the Cathouse Live event next month. With their psychedelic yet modern sound, it is no surprise that the masses went wild. Local band Stonebreed offered some rock your face off music, whiskey shots and free merchandise to females in the audience who volunteered to go on stage with them and dance. They sure knew how to work the crowd and were a blast to watch. Rok Hollywood, Faith & Bullets and Swamphammer continued to rock the evening, and Kelly Maglia performed to a full house in theatrical costumes and featured some pole dancing which ended the night on a high note. Finally, Rachtman came onstage and announced the two bands that would be performing at The Cathouse Live festival next month to be The Aviators and Swamphammer. While he wished he could have provided spots for a few others, we can only be happy that we weren’t in his shoes when it came to picking only two.
On July 15th, Screamer Magazine attended the official Press Release event at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Blvd, just a short distance from the Whisky A Go Go. Fresh off of the excitement from the previous night, we joined Riki Rachtman, Gilby Clarke, Nuno Bettencourt, Taime Downe among others who will be performing at the Cathouse Live: All-Star Jam next month. As everyone gathered in front of the billboard for the event, Rachtman started talking about the history of The Cathouse when he and Taime Downe who were roommates at the time, decided to start an underground dance club where rockers could go and hangout. There were no cameras allowed so it made sense that a lot of well known musicians would want to spend time there. “No one wanted to play at The Cathouse at first but then all of a sudden, Guns ‘n Roses, Faster Pussycat and others wanted to play. Back in the day we just wanted to meet girls and get free drinks so what better way to make that happen then to open our own spot. We had no idea it would take off the way it did. Partnering up with Live Nation for the Cathouse Live event gives us the opportunity to make it a really big show and although it may sound a bit cliche, we just want everyone to have fun.” As we sit down to chat with him for a moment, Rachtman mentions that since next year will be the 30th Anniversary of The Cathouse, it is quite possibly they will do another festival. “It is a dream of mine to get on a tour bus with my friends and just go from place to place” Rachtman says. “Perhaps we will do it in other cities, like a tour. I thought for sure we would have sold out by now but if we can do it here in L.A., we can do it anywhere.” We asked if he would hold local Battle Of The Bands to play in their hometown if they do hold the festival in various cities and he tells us “that could work, might be a great idea to do that.”
One of the most anticipated and admired guitar players, Gilby Clarke sits with us and exudes with excitement about how happy he is to be a part of this whole thing. “Just been touring with my solo band and I have a new band called Kings of Chaos which was formed with Matt Sorum and Duff McKagan from Guns ‘n Roses. We have a lot of guests like Slash, Steven Tyler, Nuno Bettencourt as well as others come up and we have just sort of an all star jam. As for The Cathouse, we needed a rock n’ roll place back then. It was mostly disco and house music but The Cathouse was a community, a place to hang out, to let our hair up. We rode our motorcycles and parked out front and half the time we would spend a good portion of the night outside talking about our bikes. When you showed up, you never really knew who would be playing. Alice In Chains is the one that stood out to me, it had to be one of the greatest shows there. I really hope that Cathouse Live brings the same feeling. We need rock to come back to where it should be. Rock is an underground genre and we don’t have the outlets like we had before. We really need the younger kids to become involved. There are a lot of great young musicians out there, I just hope that they can bring their friends and their families out and bring rock n’ roll back to mainstream.” Clarke has no doubt that rock n’ roll will break through again. Aside from the new band with his ex-Guns ‘n Roses bandmates, Clarke loves to collaborate with other artists and try different things. “I have been working with a country artist named Mark Mackay who is actually a rock fan but he plays country music.” Mackay is a recent graduate from Musicians Institute along with one of our writers. Mackay was the key performer during the graduation ceremony but Clarke didn’t have any hand in that performance. “Country these days is just rock with a twang. We just make sure we stay true to his style.” Clarke swears by the mantra that you are what you are and you are good at your craft whether it be guitar, vocals or anything else so spending hours and hours developing your craft is a wise investment. “We will be playing the Fillmore on July 29th but we are really excited to bring back to life the nostalgic debauchery of The Cathouse.
Fresh off touring with Extreme, Nuno Bettencourt is also looking forward to the festival. “We just finished doing the 25th Anniversary of the Pornograffiti album tour. It is always fun to see how the different fans react to us from places like Chile or Argentina, they are very passionate fans.” Bettencourt goes on to mention that he has started a new project called Atlantis Entertainment where we can find the next Bob Dylan or Bono. A little different approach vs The Voice or American Idol, provide an outlet for those artists they would normally not have. “Been doing a lot of writing too. Was fun to write for and play with Rihanna. I had a great time as she gave me the freedom to play how I wanted so I played hard and it came out great.” Bettencourt goes into detail about Extreme’s famous single More Than Words which took less than 30 minutes for them to write, and they weren’t surprised with its immediate success either. “The song took its’ own life and just went from there.” Bettencourt expresses his concern for newer artists. “There are so many talented new artists out there and I feel bad they won’t get the money they need like we did or bands in the earlier years. Perhaps if Cathouse becomes a big thing again it could open doors for new artists to use.
Lastly, we met up with Rachtman’s partner in crime, Taime Downe, who is frontman for the band Faster Pussycat and helped get the Cathouse off the ground. Being roommates with Rachtman and just wanting to have a place to go where they could meet girls and be surrounded by music and free drinks, it seemed like a no brainer. All these years later and Taime is still going strong touring with Cinderella and coming up with new ideas for Faster Pussycat. When asked if he thought he would have had such longevity in the business, he responded “I never expected to even be alive this long with the lifestyle I have lived.” Perhaps rocking out all of his life is the hidden secret to youth. “I just look forward to playing with all of these guys and even if just for one day, The Cathouse is back to life and I am ready to play this festival.”
This is just the high voltage treatment the music industry needs to revive the metal/rock we all grew up listening to and opening doors for newer musicians to carry on the legacies. One can only imagine all of the debauchery, fun, headbanging, dancing, yelling out lyrics, and whatever else the moment brings will be the start of a new generation of festivals and put rock n’ roll back into the mainstream spotlight where it belongs.
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