‘EVERYBODY TALKS SHIT AT SOME TIME IN THIS BUSINESS’
METAL SLUDGE EXCLUSIVE: Former Faster Pussycat star Eric Stacy does not waiver in the face of some tough questions
LOS ANGELES — Once among rock’s most promising upstarts as the star bass player for platinum glam act Faster Pussycat, Eric Stacy has been out of the spotlight for quite some time, but that does not mean the Californian is ready to hang it up.
Stacy re-joined Faster Pussycat on stage for a few songs this past August at Irvine Meadows, and now he is more ambitious than ever in hoping for one last run.
Through the years, Stacy has battled drug addiction and relationship problems — both personally and professionally — in addition to suffering a series of unlucky breaks that would make just about anyone believe in Murphy’s Law, but that’s all behind him now; Stacy is ready to forge a new start, and there is no time better time than right now.
Stacy and I have actually been friends since elementary school, having grown up together just a few houses apart in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles. I am among the few who still always refer to him by his given name, Eric Waxman. At any rate, we’re in our 50s now, and I felt like it was OK to ask Mr. Stacy anything. And to give the guy some credit, instead of holding back, he laid it all on the line.
METAL SLUDGE: Hey Eric Stacy, what’s the very latest?
ERIC STACY: Well, I left the music business temporarily because the business pretty much sucked, just an all-time low for over 35 years, really an all-time low. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, so I left the business, but I’m a lifer. I will live and die being a guitar player and a songwriter. I did something else for a few years, a gig that actually paid some decent money. That kept my interest for a few years, but it was nothing I ever planned on doing long-term — just for as long until the itch was strong enough to come back. One of the things that drew me back is I’m seeing good, new young bands on the horizon. I mean, before, not only did the business suck, but there weren’t any good new bands, either. But now we’ve got some new bands like the Atlanters, the Biters, Prophets of Addiction with Lesli Sanders. I just talked to Lesli, actually, and he says yeah, he loves Gerry G, and that I should do this interview!
Now, we’ve known each other a long time. I remember losing touch for the first time after you had left Faster Pussycat, but then I ran into you at the Scrap Bar in New York City that night, and you were working there. Do you remember that?
STACY: Yeah, I do remember that. I moved to New York City in 1993 and had a great time. It reminded me of the L.A. scene in the ’80s, but instead of Guns N’ Roses and the Cathouse, it was about D-Generation, who was the hot band in New York City at the time, and all these clubs like the Green Door. I had a great time at the Scrap Bar. It was a lot of fun.
I’m a year older. I guess you were like 23 when you first joined Faster Pussycat. But as I remember, by then you had been doing this for a long time already because you started out when you like 15, right?
STACY: Fourteen, actually.
The first band was called Jailbait I remember.
STACY: Yeah, that was 1978. I was already going to Starwood.
How did you get in? Wasn’t that a 21-and-over club, or 18-and-over?
STACY: Well, here is how it all started: I had been sent away to boarding school in the late ’70s, kind of a school for rich, troubled L.A. kids. One of my roommates was Mark Worchell, who actually ended up being a guitar player for Johnny Crash. Back when I first knew him, he could play Deep Purple note for note, and that impressed the shit out of me. He was like, “Go get a bass,” so I started off by learning James Taylor’s greatest hits, just learning by ear. Whenever we would head down in L.A. together, Mark and I, like for Christmas vacation, I would come down with him to the Starwood. He lived in Studio City (north of Hollywood), and we would raid his mom’s closet because this was the glam days with like Marc Bolan, then we would hitchhike over the hill through Laurel Canyon, two 14-year-olds. At the Starwod, they told us we couldn’t come in, but we were persistent, and I remember an old guy named Louis finally started letting us in by opening the side door. Mark first got the gig in Jailbait, and I would load up for him, but then the bass player left, and they said they wanted me to play. I was hoping I was good enough, so I just kept practicing with them and learning the songs, and I got the set down.
STACY: Yeah, we were really good. I think I have some old tapes. I’ve been searching high and low. It was great, like Pat Travers and April Wine, the hard rock of the day back then. We played around town. One of our last shows was in 1982, opening for Rock Candy, who had Vince Neil as the singer. In fact, the night Tommy Lee and Mick Mars came down for Vince to eventually join Motley Crue, that was the show.
You actually ended up living with Nikki Sixx. That should have been our first question, actually.
STACY: Yeah, I lived with Nikki Sixx in 1988. We were in rehab together first, and I needed a place to stay, so he asked me to move in. It was supposed to be for like two weeks, and that turned into four or five months. They were doing “Dr. Feelgood,” and we were doing “Wake Me Up When It’s Over,” and, me living with Nikki, that’s what got us the tour opening for Motley Crue, my close friendship with Nikki.
Tell us a little about him, what he was like back then? His personality.
STACY: We were actually very close for the whole time, and we lived in this big house in Hidden Hills (in the San Fernando Valley) with Karen Dumont, who was living in a third bedroom. Me and Nikki would hang out together, and he like a big brother to me. We both had lived with a grandparent for a time when we were growing up, and we just had a lot in common. We spent a lot of time jamming, me on bass and Nikki on guitar. We actually wrote songs together that are still on tape somewhere.
STACY: No, no, totally sober, but before rehab, we had actually done plenty of years of partying together, going back all the way to the 1970s at the Starwood. Plenty of years, and there were some really crazy nights at the Rainbow and Le Mondrien (hotel). Some time later he would fall off the wagon, but eventually Nikki got sober for good. I’m real proud of him.
Now, frankly, you’ve suffered a lot from drugs. That’s a big part of your reputation.
STACY: Yeah, I have. Absolutely, definitely, but I’m doing great now. It’s been three years since a successful treatment. Ocassionally I’ll have a social drink if there is an event I’m out at, but that’s it.
No more heroin?
STACY: No way, nope. When I went through treatment three years ago, it was a very serious thing, a life or death thing, so I took it very serious. There is no fucking around.
I’ve got to ask you about the project you did after Faster Pussycat called Bubble. I thought the concept was great but the CD sucked. I thought it sounded terrible. First off, do you agree?
STACY: Everyone has a right to think what they want about it, and I’m not going to sit here and debate it. I thought it was a good band but with a different sound. I understand where the the word “alternative” peeps into it, and it’s weird to say that because it was so different for Share Peterson, who was the singer from Vixen, and Brent Muscat on guitar, and we also had Bam, the drumer from Dogs D’Amour. I mean, it really was a different sound. That’s for sure. We actually sold a little product. Bam and Share were the main songwriters, and they wanted to do like a Sterophonics thing, like an Irish band called Ash. At times the influences were hard rock and alternative. We just wanted to do something different and fresh and not what people were expecting. I thought the songs were good and interesting for that time, and like I said, we did actually sell a decent amount of records in Japan. I’m proud of it.
Not to jump on you too much, Eric, but I know you and the guys in Faster Pussycat are all friends again now, but they had said some pretty harsh things about you in past Metal Sludge stories. Did it hurt your feelings?
STACY: Well, it’s kind of funny. A lot of the guys who said that stuff, they’re no longer in the lineup. At the same time, they don’t even really know me. How can you say something about someone you’ve never met before? In my opinion, that’s wrong. I mean, I understand it got pretty ugly for a while in ’93. Maybe I could have left in a better way, but I saw the writing on the wall. I just kind of left after Elektra dropped us, and I could see things were not going to be headed in a positive direction. The Seattle grunge thing came, and everyone in Faster Pussycat, each guy went in his own direction. For me, it was Aerosmith and the Stones, which is where we had first started. Over time, Brent got more into punk, and Taime got more into grunge. At the end of the last Faster Pussycat tour, we played some demos for the record execs, and it was not the direction I wanted to go, and at that point Faster Pussycat had just run its course.
STACY: Well, at this time, Kix had already been around for a while, and their guitarist, Brian Forsythe, he was like, “Hey, let’s get together and write,” so I was like, yeah, and I flew out to Baltimore and spent a week together. We had a similar direction and wrote a bunch of songs and put a band together called the Rhythm Slaves. It was a strong band with an unknown singer, and we were close to a record deal. I actually turned down a gig to play for Lenny Kravitz because I was so into this project with Brian.
Well, you always were a good bass player. That’s never been in dispute.
STACY: Oh yeah, I’m a really good bass player. I went to Berklee School of Music. I worked hard. Anyway, two weeks later after I said no to Lenny Kravitz, this new band fell apart, so I called back Lenny, and he was like, “Oh, John Paul Jones is doing it,” and I was like, “Oh, great.” After that, this was like the end of 1993, I started working with Ricky Byrd, who the guitar player for Joan Jett. His wife, her name was Carol, she was the publicist for like KISS and the Stones, and she was also doing publicity for Frampton and Ace Frehley. I had known Ace because we toured with him in the Faster Pussycat days, so I was a good acquintance of his, and at some point Ace comes up to say hi to me, and then he asks if I would like to be his new bass player. I was like, “Hell yes,” because I had grown up on Kiss, and just then Carol the publicist, she says: “No way. You’re not stealing our bass player!” She tells Ace that if he does this, she won’t be his publicist anymore. She threw this big thing about it.
STACY: Yeah, right?
This was before the cell phone days. Just think, had you just got his cell and wandered off for a bit or sent a text, your whole life could have been different, Eric.
STACY: Yeah, that’s true. If we would have had cell phones, I would have just given him a call. But we were close enough that he did ask me to join the band.
Can we talk a little more about being in Faster Pussycat back then? Do you remember it or is it all just a blur?
STACY: I remember most of it, I really do.
STACY: Not every city but a lot of ’em I would remember, places like The Living Room in Providence, Rhode Island. In August, we wanted to all get back together for the Cathouse event in Irvine; whatever had gone on before, it was all water under the bridge. We did a lot of great things together, the original band, and whatever bad that had happened, we’re all getting older now, so let’s just forget about it. I know we’re all good. The Cathouse reunion, that was actually my idea, because our first really big show together was at Irvine Meadows in 1986. We had met up (this past summer) at Lucky Strike and talked about it, about me and Greg Steele and Brent Muscat all getting up there again at Irvine Meadows, and Taime was like, “Let’s do it.” So that was the genesis of it, and to get back to the point: Whatever was said in the past, this is the rock and roll business, and people talk shit. I am not concerned. I am all good with those guys. I am fine. I’m great with everybody. Everybody talks shit at some time in this business, but Faster Pussycat, I call these guys my brothers, and honestly I love and care for all of them very much no matter what ever happened in the past.
Oh, and back to Nikki Sixx again. You said there were no drugs during this time but what about the sex?
STACY: Oh, that we did do. We never stopped doing that, and plus our senses were up. So yeah, we had lot of fun, going to the Rainbow and meeting girls. Nikki had a lot of money, so at the end of the night, a lot times we would each have a girl and go the Hyatt on Sunset and get adjoining suites.
Well, it was more convenient than driving all the way back to the Valley.
STACY: Yeah, a shorter drive. We had a lot of fun.
What about Vince Neil. Did you get along well with him, too?
STACY: I always got along with the guys in Motley Crue, I think, because even before we had gone on tour with them, like I said I had been good friends with Nikki, so they showed me respect. Vince was always very nice and would always buy me a drink.
STACY: Oh, he is a lot of fun. One thing that was kind of cool about living with Nikki was that in 1988 on Christmas morning, I still have pictures of me and Tommy and Heather Locklear and Brandi Brandt on the couch together with the Christmas tree. It was a lot of fun. When we went on tour with them later on, I was close to Nikki, so sometimes we would be together on their tour bus or hanging on the Motley plane. I spent a lot of time with the Motley Crue guys, hopping around on their Lear jet.
In some ways, you must feel like you’ve lived the life of 10 men.
STACY: I know exactly what you mean. I do feel that way. It’s funny. People ask me all the time, why don’t you write a book? I was in Faster Pussycat, and cats are supposed to have nine lives, I think I’ve used up eight of ’em. I guess I have just one left.
Let me test your memory: We lived a few houses apart growing up on Encino Avenue. Do you remember smoking bong hits with me and Jon Adler in your backyard?
STACY: Of course I do.
You used to use those bar-b-que matches, the big long ones in the box that costs like five dollars — which was a lot back then. You were always worried your dad would get mad because all the matches would be missing.
STACY: I remember that, too!
STACY: You’re right. Absolutely. I used to hang with all those guys at the Starwood, Randy Rhodes and Kevin DuBrow. Nobody knew who they were yet in 1978, when Van Halen first came out.
Do you remember Quaaludes?
STACY: I certainly do. We did ’em like every night. There was a black guy named Len who worked the parking lot at the Starwood.
Now wait a minute. When you’re there, and you’re just 14, 15 years old, were you fucking chicks?
STACY: Fuck yeah, and I wouldn’t even lie about my age. The funny thing is, I would go to the Starwood at 14, and a lot of girls just didn’t care. One was an extra on the TV show “Charlie’s Angels.” Real pretty. She got a kick out of it, getting off on young boys, but actually I never gave her my age, I don’t think. Next thing I know, I’m in her Jaguar going out to her house in Malibu. Some of these girls, when I was 14 I might have said I was 17, but for the most part they didn’t care. The DJ at the Starwood, I got her sister pregnant when I was only 16.
It’s a good thing you didn’t tell her how rich your dad was.
STACY: Yeah, I know. Totally. Sometimes I would even bring some of the girls back home to Encino, but my dad had a rule about no girls in the house. But we had like a 39-foot motor home in the driveway, so I would bring ’em in there, and then on Sunday morning he would bust me and all hell would break loose!
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org