Interview with guitarist Chris Hager

Interview with guitarist Chris Hager of Stephen Pearcy /  Ex - Rough Cutt

Quick Facts:
Name: Chris Hager
Birth date: January 18
Place of birth: San Diego, California
Favorite album of all time? Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies
What is the first CD or LP you ever bought? Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
A guitar: My first electric guitar was a Les Paul copy that I got as a Christmas gift. I remember it cost only $50!
Favorite musician: Ludwig Van Beethoven
Favorite band or group: The older stuff is classic and can never be duplicated, but I also really like some of the newer bands like Pop Evil, Skillet, Rev Theory, etc...
As you describe yourself? You know, there a lot of aspects to me, but generally speaking I’m driven and purpose oriented but warm and easy to get along with. I like talking with the people I meet. I love music and beauty, and I’m super grateful to be alive with the opportunities I have… 

Chris, what are your most recently completed projects and what are you currently working on?
I pretty much exited the music industry around 1996 to pursue other endeavors. I was involved in music projects only sporadically through the years up until Jan 2013 when my old friend and bandmate, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, asked me to join his solo band – an offer I couldn’t refuse! Stephen and I co-founded Mickey Ratt together in the later ‘70’s which we later shortened to Ratt, and we’ve been like best friends forever. So we’re reunited now, and doing shows around the U.S. which is totally rewarding and fun! I believe we also have international shows in the works as well and we plan on releasing a new Stephen Pearcy solo album later this year which we’re all excited to do. It’s an amazing feeling to be playing out again after so many years!

How did you become a guitarist?
When I was around 15 I used to come home from school and this friend of mine who had a lot of the current rock albums of day. I remember he had this Fender Mustang guitar and an amp and he was the only guy I knew who did. We’d put these amazing records on and I remember just being enthralled by the way the guitars sounded on some of these songs - I wanted to sound like that! Anyway my friend wasn’t the greatest player but he stated showing me some chords and lent me an acoustic guitar to practice with. I just took to it and started practicing diligently. I couldn’t get enough so I asked for an electric that Christmas which I got. I soon found other mentors and taught myself by learning my favorite songs off of records and cassettes. Within the first six months I started my first band with friends in my neighborhood! We were absolutely terrible, but it didn’t take me long to talk myself into other established bands in the area where I continued to improve by playing with more seasoned players. I was super motivated and things just exploded from then on…

Who is your favorite guitar player of all time?
Michael Shenker

Who were the bands or musicians who had the greatest influence on you?
Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Joe Walsh, Pat Travers, Blue Oyster Cult, Judas Priest, to name a few.

What can you say about the days of the “Rough Cutt"? What do you remember?
Rough Cutt was a remarkable experience on a lot of levels. The band was managed by Wendy Dio, who was the wife of the late, great Ronnie James Dio. Jake E. Lee and Claude Schnell had been in the first iteration of the band with Dave Alford and Paul Shortino, but when they left for other projects Matt Thorne and I were asked to join the band. Ronnie mentored us and produced our demos which was an incredible experience for us! He was totally great guy and a huge talent... We almost immediately began getting booked at important shows and our association with Wendy and Ronnie helped catapult us upward at an amazing rate. Within a year or so we had landed a deal with Warner Bros and got to work with one of our dream producers, Tom Allom, of Judas Priest fame. By that time we were playing internationally and began touring extensively with Dio, Krokus, Accept and others. With our second record we got to work with producer Jack Douglass, of Aerosmith fame and continued touring the US. Though we didn’t have the commercial success of some of our peers, I can’t help but looking back on it all with a ton of gratitude and appreciation. We lived the dream for a time, and it was just an amazing ride…

But now you have returned to play with "Rough Cutt", how did that come about?
Well, in the past couple years there’s been some record company interest in Rough Cutt and we’ve been approached by some promoters. Most recently, we slated to play the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2014 but unfortunately contractual obligations got in the way forcing us to cancel. My apologies go out to our fans and I hope things will come together for a Rough Cutt reunion in 2015.

What are your next projects?
As I mentioned, the band plans on recording a new Stephen Pearcy record later this year and Stephen and I have other ideas in the works as well.   

To end the interview, a phrase you want to leave...
Love meeting new people, and hope to see you out there in ‘14!