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Monday, May 10, 2010

The Headbangers 2003 Interview Sessions: Ricky Parent

Of all the interviews I did in 2003, my brief time spent with the late Ricky Parent probably strikes a chord with me as much as the interview I did with Kevin Dubrow the same year. As both men are no longer with us, holding the interview tapes with these voices in my hands leaves a feeling not so much macabre as it is a feeling of fortune I was able to spend time with Parent and Dubrow before they took off for the next life.

Ricky Parent was well-loved by the metal community, principally as the drummer for Enuff Z'nuff, but Parent was also a part of Vince Neil, Alice Cooper and War and Peace's stables. In talking to a handful of Ricky's friends after his passing, I got the impression the man carried a beautiful soul and an aura few of us are blessed with.

As you'll read, my interview with Ricky is very short, but you'll have to consider it was done while Ricky was fighting cancer. In fact, this was done while he was in the hospital in-between chemo treatments. We had to reschedule once because Ricky was too sick to speak, and honestly, I could tell he was fighting hard to keep his words straight once we finally got together. I told Ricky we could postpone it again or simply push it off until he got better. My optimism was one thing, but circumstance overruled.

Ricky insisted we do this at least he got too weak and sleepy to carry on. After 12 minutes, we'd agreed to pick up where we started at another date. Sadly, sometimes the hardest fighters lose. If the next life is just, Ricky Parent should be laying down tom rolls next to John Bonham. A posthumous thank you, Ricky, for your incredible nobility in doing this with me. Your spirit is inspirational and I still think long and hard upon this day--now with fondness.

Ray Van Horn, Jr.: You joined Enuff Z’Nuff after they’d hit their high mark in the eighties and they’d fallen from the mainstream.

Ricky Parent: It was in 1992. The dates are always listed different, but that’s when I joined.

RVH: Good to know. What interested you in joining the band at this stage in their career?

RP: Actually, I’ve always been into that style of music, everything from Sabbath and Zeppelin, that core of music, and also The Beatles, all that kind of stuff. I was also into the more progressive stuff, but I always came back to the melodic Beatles kind of stuff. I was playing in War and Peace with Jeff Pilson (formerly of Dokken) over in California, and I remember going to see Enuff Z’Nuff a couple of times once they’d come through town and I heard a couple of tunes and thought they were a really good band. I think Jeff went and got one of their CDs and I was like, ‘This sounds really good, the songs are great!’ “Mothers Eyes,” (from the 1991 Strength album) songs like that. I then started doing some demo work around town and I was playing with Phil Soussan, who was doing some demo work with Vince Neil, for that first solo record. He said he was looking for a drummer and Phil put in a word for me to play with him. I’d be there every day and we’d go into the studio and record some tunes and one day he wanted to see Vikki Foxx (playing with Enuff Z’Nuff), who was at The Rainbow and said ‘That’s the guy I want to get,’ so he set about getting him. So I said ‘If he’s going to be going for that, I’ve always loved Enuff Z’Nuff, I’d love to fucking check that out!’ That was pretty much it.

RVH: Right.

RP: Vikki went and did that and he was trying to play both bands; he was telling Chip (Z’Nuff, bassist) that he was still in Enuff Z’Nuff and meanwhile I’m telling Phil, and he’s like ‘Oh, no, he’s in the band! We’re going to Japan, we’re doing the MTV Awards.’ Meanwhile he (Vikki) told Chip he’s still in Enuff Z’Nuff, so he’s basically trying to keep them from getting another drummer to see if things would pan out with Vince and if it didn’t he could always go back to the band. So Chip was like ‘Whatever, I know what’s going on,’ so they started calling around looking for another drummer, they even had the guy with the Nelson brothers. He was just calling around asking people ‘How’s this person?’ and how I was as a player. He called Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records and all of these different people. I got a lot of positive feedback and then I was talking to their manager a lot and Chip pretty much every day. He said ‘Come on down, we’ll have you fly out and see how everything goes.’ I remember he sent me a bunch of stuff to learn! (laughs) I had all the records to learn, everything down to demo shit, like a hundred tunes, and I was like ‘What do you want me to learn?’ (laughs) So I went out one weekend and Foxx got wind of me coming out there and so then he was like ‘Hey, man, I want another shot at being back in the band,’ so Chip and the manager called and said ‘Hey, look, we’ve got to give him another shot, he’s the original drummer.’ I was all bummed all week learning these fucking tunes and I understood. Eventually he split from Vince Neil and he didn’t show up for rehearsal (with Enuff Z’Nuff).

RVH: Yowzers!

RP" So I flew in and jammed with them and I looked up and heard ‘You’ve got the gig!’

RVH: I caught you guys a couple years later playing with the Bulletboys, and I was impressed how energetic everyone was, particularly for the mid-nineties, so let’s go to this point in time. It looked like a fun time to be a part of it, for you especially.

RP: Oh yeah, it’s a no-brainer that I don’t really have to think about where I’m playing and I can pretty much do what I want; I could be blowing shots all over the place like I’m Neal Peart or something. I like stuff like that too, but not in this context. As far as it being fun, it’s a little different now--obviously right now with this fucking situation, with me being sick--but Derek (Frigo, guitarist, deceased) wasn’t in the band so it was a depressing thing and Donnie (Vie, vocalist/guitarist) being in the band at the moment. When we were together, we were having a good time, but before Donnie left it started getting a little tired, started getting beat-up because it started to become a little like work. The fun was starting to come out of it. We had to get back to the fun thing, and we ended up going up to this cabin in Wisconsin, writing some tunes, get back to being a band. When it starts to become too much for us, it starts wearing on you, you start thinking about the money, everything. The money takes over and you lose credibility and that’s all you’re thinking about. It’s a tough business, man.

(c) Ray Van Horn, Jr.

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