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According to a recent press release: “The highly anticipated debut album from Riot Act, the band initially formed by former ‘classic era’ Riot members Rick Ventura and Lou Kouvaris, is titled Closer To The Flame, which is sure to please fans of the late 70s, early 80s era of Riot as well as fans of classic hard rock everywhere. The album also comes with a 12 track bonus CD of classic 1979-1981 Riot tracks recut. These recordings feature the final ever recordings of Lou Kouvaris, who tragically passed away of Covid 19 in early 2020. The deluxe double album set will be released April 1 on Global Rock Records. Riot Act features former Riot guitarist Rick Ventura, talented lead vocalist Don Chaffin, Paul Ranieri on bass and Claudio Galinski on drums.  Ventura was a member of the classic lineup of Riot from 1979-1984.” We get guitarist Rick on the phone to discuss new music, touring, and much more…

Toddstar: Rick, thanks for taking time out for us. I appreciate it. So, let’s talk about what’s going on in your world. Riot Act is still out there doing what they do in one incarnation or another. You’ve been doing this for a while now. What can you tell us about new music that longtime fans and new fans might not get on the stuff you’ve just recently released?

Rick: Well, the new album Closer To The Flame is basically the same type of music I’ve always been into which is pretty much hard driving, high energy rock and roll. And that’s what the band’s about, and that’s what Riot was always about, and that’s what I’ve always been about. So this album reflects that. I think fans will dig it, all the Riot and the new fans into hard driving rock and roll.

Toddstar: I thought you were being very ambitious and not in a bad way. You don’t see anybody putting out twenty-two tracks. Hell, you don’t see most people putting out ten tracks anymore let alone twenty-two on a release.

Rick: Yeah, it was quite ambitious.

Toddstar: Looking back at the process, putting together Closer To The Flame, how has the process changed for you from way back when to this release here? COVID aside and shutdowns and not being able to be side by side with everybody, how did the process change for you on this project as it from when it was earlier on?

Rick: Well, I know you mentioned COVID beside that, but that was a major thing because those conditions are very unusual. But as far as recording those albums, were recorded before the digital age. And the only difference with this process are things more streamlined. It’s easier to do things and songs are recorded easier. But the process, it’s still basically the same, getting together and structuring songs, and laying down parts and listening back and hoping that you’re happy with them.

Toddstar: The way the music industry has changed over the years, again, we talked about the obvious changes that have been implemented due to COVID, but the budgets aren’t there anymore, the tour budgets aren’t there, the advances aren’t there, things like that. How much has that hindered your drive or your desire to do this?

Rick: Yeah, it’s discouraging. I mean, it’s so amazing when the iPod came out and music was free and it was like, “Oh wow, this, this is great.” And then the record company stood by and watched everything take over and they did nothing. And now anyone with a computer and few programs, they’re their own artists and record company.

Toddstar: Another part of it, you’ve been doing this a long time, longer than most. You started up with Riot, I think in late seventies, 1978. Looking back on the young Rick that grabbed his guitar and jumped in the circus back then, what piece of advice would you give yourself then knowing what you know now about the music industry and being in a band?

Rick: Well, yeah, we were young when we started, and you tend to sign your life away just to get a recording deal or get anyone behind you. So companies try to change your direction at times. So, I mean, now if you’re an artist, you have the opportunities to play what you want to play, record what you want to play and do things on your own terms to some extent. But I guess, always be true to what you believe and what you want to get out there.

Toddstar: Top to bottom, this is a great album. There are songs that stand out to me and linger in my memory after I’ve gone through and listened to the tracks, is one of them is a direct pullback from the straight in your face rock and roll. I love “Almost There.” There’s something about that track that it grabs me every time I listen through. It’s still new and fresh and you’re close to it, but are there songs here that you just know will stand the test of time and will stand up alongside all the classics from the Riot repertoire?

Rick: Interesting. I guess time will tell. Yeah, there’s some good songs I think that’ll rival some of the Riot stuff, I think. Yeah, I think “Wanted” is a good tune. “Almost There” is a good tune. Yeah, we’ll see as time will tell and the fans will tell. We’re getting good reaction to it so that’s pretty cool.

Toddstar: That was going to be my next thing. The public’s been able to absorb this a little over a couple of months ago. It went out the beginning of April. What’s been the general feedback? I mean, are people yearning for new music or you still get those die-hards and say, “No, no, play the old stuff”?

Rick: I don’t know. We’re going on tour end of August. August 22nd we’re going to England, and we’ll find out there when we do a mixture of old and new. We haven’t played the new album. We haven’t toured. Nothing’s been happening because tours were kind of any tour that came about was shut down due to COVID. So, this would be our first time out there playing. And we’ll do a collection of both, and we’ll throw some of the new songs in there and mix them in there and hope you get a good reaction to them.

Toddstar : You mentioned England. Is there any talk about bringing a tour stateside and driving it home, so to speak?

Rick: Oh, sure, sure. We have tour in the works in September and October. We’ll be all over the states actually. If you check out, that’ll show you the tour dates and everything that we’re up to. Yeah, so we’re excited about playing the states. It’s been a long time.

Toddstar: Are there any cities that stand out in your mind as just the place that always seems to welcome and is a good fit for Riot Act?

Rick: Yeah, San Antonio, Texas is always good. Cleveland. Those cities stand out. Dallas. Yeah, get some really good shows in those areas. There’s a lot of great cities. When we used to tour, we’d hit all the major cities and we always got great response.

Toddstar: I look forward to an opportunity at some point to see you live because it’s one band through my time I’ve never been able to see you perform on stage.

Rick: All right. Yeah. Hopefully we’ll be playing in your area and we can hook up.

Toddstar: I’ll be checking those tour dates out. Speaking of tour dates, when you think back, Rick, and this is two-fold, who are those bands that Riot went out on the road with where you feel you learned something from, if it was just the nuances of the stage to how to handle yourself on and off stage? And what bands out there do you hope to be able to impart that same knowledge to? Are there any tour mates that you have coming up that you just know need some of that experience that you’ve got?

Rick: Well, when we were touring with Black Sabbath, I remember one time we were hanging out in Geezer Butler’s hotel room with Bill Ward, and he was giving us advice. He was telling us how Sabbath was screwed over by management many times and all the struggles they went through. And they were really, really helpful and gave us some insight of what we were up against. And you get to see how pros really work on the road, so it taught us a lot.

Toddstar: Everything said, Rick, what’s next? I mean, you’ve been doing this a long time. What are you still trying to prove to yourself and the masses that you don’t think you’ve quite achieved yet?

Rick: Wow. I don’t think any part feels like they’ve achieved the ultimate, unless you’re say someone like Paul McCartney, maybe. But there’s always a drive, at least in me, to keep going forward and coming out with new stuff. We’re going to work on a new album probably right after the tour and I have a lot of ideas. It’s what keeps you going, the spirit that’s in you and playing music and trying new stuff out. That’s what it’s all about.

Toddstar: What is it about overseas that kind of drew you there for your first foray back into the touring world? Was it just that was the offer or did you just feel a pull to hit overseas?

Rick: Well England was always a great place for Riot back in the early days. The whole new wave of British metal started there and we were one of the bands that were associated with it. So every time we toured there, we just had some great, great shows and it was just fitting that we go back there and start it back there. And I love England. All the bands I grew up with all came from England so we just thought we’d go there.

Toddstar: Awesome. Is there any nervousness, is there any fear? Tt’s been a couple of years plus since you have been on stage. Is there fear that muscle memory won’t be there to just rip through those leads like you used to, or the stage moves will be there, or do you think it’s so ingrained in who you are at this point that it’s just going to be what it is?

Rick: Oh, it’s going to be what it is. It’s not an issue at all. Once you hit the stage, everything is there. Whatever problems or injuries or everything, once you hit the stage, it’s just like old times. Yeah, so I’m looking forward to it.

Toddstar: Hearing the energy and the excitement in your voice when you talk about it, I mean, is that one of your favorite parts of this process? Is it the writing and the recording? Is it the live? What is it that really drives you from day to day to say, “Yep, I’m going to keep being a musician”?

Rick: Well, both actually, but live, it’s all about that. It’s just getting out there and play. It’s a release of energy and it’s always great to connect with the audience. And I think most musicians live to perform. But studio, it’s a whole different ball game. It can be tedious at times, but I guess the release is playing live from all that work you put in. That’s the rewarding part of it.

Toddstar: That’s a great way to look at it. Rick, you mentioned that all your idols and the bands that you grew up on and cut your teeth with come from England. And I’m sure along the way you’ve met some of your idols. But what’s it like for you when somebody approaches you and mentions that you’re one of their influences and that you are the reason that they play a certain way or pick a big guitar? What’s that like for you as a performer?

Rick: It feels good. The times it happened to me, I remember playing Texas a few years back and this was before Riot Act. I was at a club and meeting people, and this is San Antonio, in fact. And there were people coming up to me and goes, “I learned to play guitar listening to you.” And I was just like, wow. That’s really, really surprising. It felt nice that you influenced somebody to pick up an instrument so that’s a great feeling.

Toddstar: Awesome. Well, parting question before we cut you loose, Rick, if you don’t mind. Going back through the history of time, taking Riot and Riot Act’s work out of the mixing bowl, what album meant enough to you and still influences you to this day where you wish you would’ve been part of the creation, whether it was writing, just sitting there watching the magic happen, what album is influential to you to that point?

Rick: Oh yeah okay, just wanted to clarify that. Wow. There’s so many key albums. I mean, going back to The Beatles records or Led Zeppelin I. Yeah. That’s probably made a very big mark on me hearing that record.

Toddstar: Fair enough. If you’re going to have one, that’s a good one to have.

Rick: Yeah. Just the energy and sound of that. It was just a very new experience. Really opened the doors.

Toddstar: Absolutely. Well, listen Rick, I appreciate you taking the time out. I hope more people get out there and figure out what Closer To The Flame is all about. They can find it on all their download sites and can find all the stuff at We wish you well with the album.

Rick: Thanks Todd. It was a pleasure talking with you.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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