I N T E R V I E W S

Scott Rolaf - Rolaf-Turner
"Amazing Vibes"

Interview with Scott Rolaf or the new Rolaf/Turner band with Joe Lynn Turner.
By: Jonah Haze  |  Published: Friday, July 1, 2011
The Artistry of Scott Rolaf

Since the dawn of man, born were all forms of music that represented every culture, genre and emotion. Musical pioneers distinguished themselves based on the above pre-existing factors. Some play from the heart, some for money, some for fun, or all the above. All add their individual attack and approach keeping it fresh. Some reel in the elusive fish of stardom, some come close to the stars and end up only with a handful of stardust, and some happily concede to smashing their equipment, usually on stage with a flair for the dramatic. Mr. Scott Rolaf, is a perfect example of the many smaller rungs it takes to climb that ladder of recognition. Almost a silent resource for the major leagues, the dictionary will spell out the definition of endurance, patience and technical skills as only Scott Rolaf can. He has walked and talked with the ones we consider giants, however being just as much responsible for their success. These experiences in their own right make no apologies for his love of rock and roll. Today, we are here because a new super group has formed around Scott Rolaf. With the force of Joe Lynn Turner and Muzz Skillings, they are threatening to break Scott Rolaf wide open into the deserved house hold name of arena rock. This is a band of musician's musicians. The light of day is starting to shine, where we now find the perfect opportunity to talk rock with Scott!

I have this crazy desire to do what I call the obscurity of collaboration; it's where old worlds, new worlds, and unique talents create new experiences.
Across the board from A to Z and \m/ in between, a gun slinger from the bad ole days, Scott has barreled his way through both as a sessionist and member for various bands and artists. With writing, performing, producing and scoring credits for the silver screen, nationwide A-list company commercials and a hitlist of unearthed musical ventures, these accomplishments now stand as the production Scott built.


Welcome to maximummetal.com! For the familiar ears and the interested fans, share who Scott Rolaf is as the musician, and who Scott Rolaf is offstage:

As a musician, I am very dedicated and passionate about my music and constantly pursue quality. I always try to remember the roots from where I came from musically, and try to integrate it to everything that I do.

Offstage, I am a gear-head, Audio-wise and Motor-wise. Cars and guitars, that's what I'm about, I have a guitar in my hand and gasoline in my veins.

How old were you when you picked up your first axe? Was it an immediate joining of "The Guitar Players for Life" club or were you more interested in other instruments?

I started playing guitar around 1973 when I was 11, but I started playing the organ earlier. My mother purchased a brand new Hammond Organ in 1968, and rather than play with my friends, or watch TV, all I wanted to do was play with that. My sister was listening to the Beatles, and I was listening to Led Zeppelin. My mother asked me if I wanted to play an instrument. I told her I wanted a guitar. So she went out and for $25, purchased my first guitar. A plywood, crap Sears Silvertone guitar from a place called Cheap Charlie's in Teaneck, NJ. It even came with the amp! I ended up playing my guitar plugged into the Organ because I loved the sound of the rotating Leslie speakers. It was an immediate love. One of the first songs I learned was Smoke On The Water, but I somehow had a knack and learned how to play it the "right way", with the chords! Within 6 months I was already slowing down Led Zeppelin II to learn how to play the lead for Whole Lotta Love. I was sent to guitar lessons in school and pretty soon after I was asked if I would teach the other students the guitar chords. I could barely read written words, let alone read music. I was more interested in playing by hearing. The way they wanted me play didn't seem as accurate to me...almost like it was sterile. The vibe was so much better playing by ear!

Back to the future: at a certain time in your career you played with Leslie West. At this point for anyone, it had to be a once in a lifetime experience. How special was this to you?
It was kind of cool to be there and just hearing him playing his guitar live. But, it was really amazing to be playing up there on stage with him and the two of us just start breaking into dueling guitar riffs. I think that was the best part. We were looking over at each other and smiling as we played. For me, it was a magical experience.

At the end of the night, we auctioned off my autographed Dean guitar for charity. It was signed by Me, Leslie West, Joe Lynn Turner, and Muzz Skillings. Leslie was so kind to have Dean Guitars make another one just for me. He called me up two days before Christmas and said, "Hey Scotty, c'mon over here, I got something for you!" I'm looking forward to doing some recording with him in the future. He is truly just an amazing person.

Your influences have been noted in your write up, but take us through your musical inspirations:

If you listen to my guitar playing you can definitely hear how I was influenced by Leslie West and Jimmy Page. Probably more so Leslie, than Jimmy Page, but I was definitely a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I mean, Jimmy Page is the man, he was a big influence in my writing. His writing and his musicianship is what drove me into the music, and wanting to write like that. My style of playing was inspired by Leslie, but my desire to write was influenced by the artistry of Jimmy Page. It comes out of the finger tips. A lot of people can play the same songs and the same chords, but when it's played by someone like Jimmy Page, you can tell the difference.

To clarify for the readers the band consists of Scott Rolaf on Guitars, Joe Lynn Turner on vocals, Muzz Skillings on bass, splitting the snapping of the skins are Thom Suntag and Paul Ciraolo, and rounding it up with the Hammond Organ we have Jack Ciraolo. All the way around, this band seems to seek exploratory routes and avoid Main Street. You have not given way to the stale structure of generica the way so many other bands have. The flexibility and professionalism of the band would have you believe they fell from the sky just for you! Scott, how does it feel to have this line up?!

Absolutely incredible! And it's a dream come true to have Joe Lynn Turner as the singer. I was growing up listening to Deep Purple and Rainbow and sharing stories about him with my friends as a kid. And now, to co-write and headline with him, one of the top vocalists of all time and a true legend, is just a dream come true.

A deserved focus on this record is the 2nd time Grammy Award winner Muzz Skillings-- Mostly known as a founder, bassist, songwriter & producer for the band Living Color. You have maintained a healthy and productive working environment for over 13 years with this player's player! Please Scott, don't hold back on the details!

Muzz, I've been writing and recording and playing with for the last 14 years. He is the best bass player I have ever played with. He has a very unique style in and of his own. He is very versatile as well. He plays a great acoustic guitar, and is an excellent vocalist as well. I love the uniqueness of this group of guys. It's a weird combination. It's kind of a weird mix, you know? Muzz is an all-around great guy and good friend.

Let's let the audience zoom in a little further with Suntag, and how the Ciraolos got involved?

The Ciraolos...I have been with Jack and Paul for at least 30 years. I co-wrote with Jack for the band Asylum and then High Bias. We played every major club in the NY/NJ area throughout the 70's and 80's. I left High Bias in 1991 when I got signed for an independent record deal to produce one Scott Rolaf album. We're still very good friends. I thought it would be a great combination to bring in some home-grown feeling of yesterday into what I was doing today. My roots will always be my roots, you know?

To dock the boat so we have everyone on board, another AOR legend Joe Lynn Turner shows up to share the captain's wheel. How did you two Jersey boys initially shake hands?

That's a funny story. I was in the midst of writing commercials for Remi Martin, Coors Light, Perrier water and some other major corporations. Writing for these commercials wasn't doing it for me. It seemed too cookie-cutter for me. There was no emotion in the music. It was just background tracks. I wanted to get back to writing music. I decided to start writing again for me. As I was writing the songs, I kept imagining the guy who sang Street of Dreams would be really great to sing them. I think I was a little arrogant to ever think that I could get Joe Lynn Turner to ever sing on this, don't you think? I had no idea what he was doing, or if he was still recording or performing.

I decided to Google him and see if I could locate him. I found a contact for a publicist and decided to send them a sample through email of what I had written with just the tracks and no vocals on there. They got back to me within 3 minutes. They were curious to know what else I had on my end, and to see if I had anymore, or if it were just the one track. I didn't respond back for at least a month. I had given them my contact information but life was keeping me busy and I didn't have a chance to get back to them. They tried to contact me several times, but I was too busy. One Saturday morning I received a call. The guy on the other end asked if I was Scott Rolaf. I said, "Yes it is" and he said "This is Joe Lynn Turner." We spoke for almost an hour on the phone to try to vibe each other out. I told him I would send him more tracks and did the following day. After listening to them, what he said was that he felt there was something there and that this would be a really great project. The vibe we had was amazing right from the beginning. We decided to get together and we recorded "Don't Tell Me Goodbye". It wasn't even one of the tracks I had sent to him. Immediately there was a vibe. We looked at each other and we knew. Whatever you want to call it, it just worked! Everything just gelled. I don't even know how to explain it any better than that. We've been great friends ever since.

How long did Rolaf/Turner take to pick and pull all the parts together? When should fans expect a release date, and where can they find it?

It took us just over three years to compile the tracks to be what we consider a flagship album for us both. We are shooting for a January release of the album and we're working hard to meet that goal.

Alright, we have to know--divulge us with anything that brings a smile to your face during your off time!

Fast cars and nice guitars.

Familiar territory here: Ever changing, home gaming technology, (guitar hero and rock band for example) is being introduced faster than our imaginations. This begs the question of how kids will be influenced, by man or machine? Will this be the catalyst of our future leaders to aspire to learn on real instruments or will it create a generation of remote controlled couch children never knowing what they were missing?

I think there is no substitute for real instruments. I think Guitar hero is unfairly sold as a musical learning tool, but it's not! A great example of that was Christmas 2007. I bought Guitar Hero for my kids. I had Muzz Skillings over Christmas morning and I invited him to play it with one of my kids. As he sat on the living room floor trying to play Cult of Personality and it's obvious this was a foreign object. Even though he wrote the song and has played it thousands of times, let's just say, he wasn't about to win the game! It is not an instrument, it is a toy.

Is touring on this CD something you are planning? Would you consider bringing the same players with you? Any plans for US dates?

It has been discussed that Joe and Muzz and I will be the key players in the band when we decide to tour. Along with some very special guests, we are very excited about getting on a stage together and playing live in both the US and Overseas. No dates have been set yet.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

Off the top of my head, I would love to work with Peter Frampton. I'm a Jimmy Page fan, but that is just crazy to dream that big. I think an obscure and unique project would transpire with Peter Frampton. The mixing of our styles would be just crazy! When you combine talents that normally don't seem to match I think it would be so great! Chrissie Hines is another one. When I think of the unique combination of the two of us, I think that people would go crazy over what we could do together as far as writing and performing. I have this crazy desire to do what I call the obscurity of collaboration--it's where old worlds, new worlds, and unique talents create new experiences. That's what I'm looking for. That's what I'm about.

Will there be a Rolaf/Tuner II?

We're already starting it. Joe is busy writing lyrics to some of the original tracks I sent him that we never did for Rolaf Turner I.

Do you have any interest in reinventing yourself as a soloist or multi-instrumentalist in the future?

I think right now, this is where I want to be as far as being in a collaborative effort. Solo is alright, but sometimes you can tend to be boxed in.

Alright Scott, the meat and bones--your gear! Start wherever and throw some spice on how you arrived at what you use today!

I'm a big fan of VOX and Orange amps. Not so much of a foot petal guy. All my guitar cabinets are fitted with vintge greenback celestians. My favorite and most used Amp is a Marshall Plexy. As far as a guitar, I probably use a vintage 70's Stratocaster most of the time.

Any guilty pleasures?

Yes, buying musical equipment.

Any favorite people in the world?

Morgan Freeman. Not as an actor, but what I know of him as a person. I don't know a lot about him but what I do know impresses me. For me, it's how he portrays himself as a human being. I think he really sets an example to other people on how to treat humanity. Plus, he's a great actor too!

Are you the type of guitar player who brings a back-up guitar with you everywhere you go, because you will never know when you need it?

Yes, I carry a guitar everywhere I go. Not because I may need it, but because I will play it. To me, being without a guitar is like losing my cell phone.

We've all had them by now, c'mon, Scott spill the Spinal Tap moments!

Around 1986, High Bias was scheduled for an appearance on the TV show called, The Uncle Floyd Show. It was about 5 minutes before we were supposed to appear on stage and Paul Ciraolo was busy getting ready. We were about to leave the dressing room when he turned and asked if anybody had seen his shoes. I pointed to the ceiling where I had glued them with some crazy glue. I was laughing so hard…everybody was. The bass player was wearing black spandex pants and he split his pants wide open from laughing so hard. Now he was sweating profusely from this little mishap and being so nervous about the TV performance. It couldn't be any funnier. He looked like Peter Cottontail backwards with his whitey-tighties peeking through the front! We told him the bass would hide it on stage, but I don't think it did!!!

Any other fan sites people can go to check out ROLAF/TURNER?

Other than RolafTurner.com and Scott Rolaf on facebook, I have scottrolaf.com and twitter is in our future as soon as we learn what a tweet is!

If there is anything, anything you would like to add or I missed, I implore you to take this time to open yourself up!

Although I have worked in music my whole life, I am a prime example of never letting up on your dream. I have done so many things, but now at almost 50 years old, I am following what I believe in and doing what I want to do. I say to follow your dream and don't give up. You never know how close you are to achieving it.

Much thanks again for your time, Scott. It was a pleasure meeting you through this interview and again thank you for letting me borrow your time to tell your story.

Links:
RolafTurner.com
scottrolaf.com


--Jonah Haze







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