The Mankato Free Press
---- — With its traditional lineup intact for the first time in more than a decade, RATT performs tonight at the Vetter Stone Amphitheater at Riverfront Park.
After a complicated and legally onerous dispute between members left the influential heavy metal band in bifurcated disarray for much of the 1990s, the group once synonymous with Sunset Strip excess has returned to the form it displayed during the halcyon days of sold-out arenas and certified radio hits.
"We're playing really good together," said drummer Bobby Blotzer, who self-published a tell-all autobiography of his time in RATT in 2010. "Especially with (Juan Croucier) back, there's definitely been a spike in our sound. It's undeniable when you see our lineup now."
With Croucier returning last year — thereby reuniting the band's most recognizable lineup along with Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Blotzer (minus the late Robbin Crosby, who died from complications arising from his heroine addiction in 2002) — RATT has begun conceiving its next studio release with a rejuvenated sense of camaraderie.
"We're getting along," Blotzer said. "And that makes it a lot more fun."
Getting along, of course, has never been RATT's strong suit.
Despite the group's debut album "Out of the Cellar" going platinum four times, becoming one of the definitive recordings of 1980s rock and catapulting the band into worldwide fame, the band's disintegration from within has been well-documented.
Bickering and in-fighting divided band members. Addictions and creative differences began to overshadow the music. While playing to a sold-out crowd at the Sun Plaza in Tokyo in 1991, Crosby used the wrong guitar for his solo in "Round and Round." After the show, he left the band for rehab. Within a year, Pearcy, Crosby and DeMartini had departed for other projects while Croucier and Blotzer pursued more private lives.
In the ensuing years, dual versions of RATT toured the country while courts settled proper ownership of the name.
Following a series of lawsuits and several years to salve bitter feelings, band members slowly began returning to the table in the early 2000s. By 2010, the band was cohesive enough to release "Infestation," which was lauded by critics as a return to the band's successful formula of the 1980s. And though Blotzer admits the forthcoming release has not been as punctual as originally planned, he said band members have taken a few lessons from their struggles.
"It's a matter of giving everybody a little leeway," he said. "People have to check their egos at the door."
As for Blotzer, he said he's adopted a workman-like mentality toward the band.
Derived in part from his own upbringing in a working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh and an innate entrepreneurial sense — in addition to self-publishing his biography, he and RATT have also branded lines of wine, cheese, sauces and salsa — Blotzer said his attitude has allowed him to overcome any of his own personal resentments.
"I tell those guys: 'I expect you to do the best job you can out there because you can expect that from me,'" Blotzer said. "We don't need to be giving each other any stink-eyes on stage."
If You Go What RATT concert, with Sebastian Bach, Dokken, and Lita Ford When Doors open at 5 p.m. today, music begins at 6 p.m. Where Vetter Stone Amphitheater at Riverfront Park Tickets $35. Purchase at the Verizon Wireless Center Ticket Office and all Ticketmaster locations. Charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.