In 1980 Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman co-founded true metal purists Manowar along with bassist Joey DeMaio. New Yorker Friedman has also played punk with the Dictators and hard rock with Shakin’ Street, among others. “I’ve been a professional musician since 1974 and made thirty records,” the guitarist says proudly. Classic Rock spoke to him about what to expect from his upcoming seven-date solo tour of the UK and Ireland that has been dubbed the Discipline Of Steel.
Following in the footsteps of Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy and Randy Rhoads you were recently inducted into the Hall Of Heavy Metal History. Sounds like a good night?
Yeah, I was honoured and surprised. So many artists will never get the respect they deserve for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, so it’s great that they finally have a real home.
Your latest band’s drummer is Kenny ‘Rhino’ Earl, who was your bandmate in Manowar.
After we had gone down a storm at the Keep It True festival [in Germany], I got one hell of a shock when my last line-up suddenly told me: ‘We can’t tour’.
What was preventing them?
Oh my God, they had all sorts of completely stupid reasons. These are young guys living at their parents’ houses, they’ve no mortgages. I asked the question again: “What do you mean, you can’t tour?” One of them told me: “I don’t wanna leave my pet lizard!” So I replaced them all. Rhino was the first guy I called. He’s the best drummer I know, of course, and he was ready to go.
Getting Symphony X bassist Mike LePond in as well is quite a coup.
Yeah. And my new singer, Marc Lopes, is fantastic. He has a great image, an awesome range and he loves touring. Together they’re world class. These guys live to play music. And that’s great. I want warriors and not worriers.
Only a former Manowar member would promise: “On this tour we are going to devastate every audience, every night, without mercy!”
[Straight faced] Well, that’s our goal. Why bring everyone halfway across the globe to be half-arsed? We’re going for the throat. Believe me, it will be a kick-ass experience.
Will the set-list include material by Shakin’ Street and The Dictators? And maybe some Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom?
No. It will be a Manowar show, with maybe one of my own songs. Nothing from The Dictators – that’s a band in its own right.
Presumably the new band you have now will play on your forthcoming third album. What can you tell us about it?
I’m currently recording a Manowar tune – I can’t say which one – for digital release to support this tour. I’ve got a title for the album but right now I’m not ready to divulge it. I’d love it to come out this year – I’d love it to come out tomorrow – but I won’t put out shit just for the sake of it. These days one bad record can sink you.
Later this year your former bandmates Manowar will sign off with a farewell tour called The Final Battle. Are you likely to be involved in an way?
No. And c’mon, if you believe that they’re retiring then the Pope is Jewish. I don’t buy that. We’ve seen the Scorpions retire, we’ve seen Judas Priest retire. I think it’s just another ploy to get everyone to pay their ninety Euros – yet more money-grabbing from Manowar.
The tour ends in Milton Keynes on April 6.