FRANCIS RUIZ "It Seemed Every Time SAMANTHA 7 Was Gaining Momentum, POISON Would Come Up"

Date January 5, 2009 / 1010 reads

Sleaze Roxx recently conducted an interview with ex-Samantha 7 drummer Francis Ruiz. A few excerpts follow below.

Sleaze Roxx: After Cynical Side you joined C.C. Deville (Poison) in his side project band called the Stepmothers, which eventually became Samantha 7. What's the story of how you met him, and became his drummer?

Francis Ruiz: Well, after Cynical Side, I was introduced to Krys Baratto by my buddy Jeff and Juan Croucier of Ratt. At the time, Krys was playing in a band called Juice 13 which consisted of John Christ of Danzig, Cheese Boy of TSOL, and the late Randy Castillo of Ozzy Osbourne. Juice 13 had shows booked when Randy got called to do more shows with Ozzy, so they needed a drummer. Once Krys found out I was a drummer, we set up an audition and next I know I was filling in for Randy for these shows. The band had a lot of momentum, but underwent a few changes after John decided to focus on his solo album. We played with the guitarist of Leatherwolf for a short while but shortly after Krys got involved in a project with C.C. DeVille. I originally got called to play, but at the time we got together to 'jam' there weren't really any songs written.

So...long story short, the jam was a bit of a train wreck! I didn't hear anything about that afterwards. Next I hear they were playing a show at the Roxy with Bret Michaels' solo band and Krys invited me to come down and see the show. In the meantime, I had started playing with Timmy Hall and Phil Deckard (formerly of Cry Wolf) in a new band called Airstream Kings. The music was really great stuff! Very bluesy and groovy, but with a lot of balls! Those guys are really great musicians. After I had gone to see Krys and C.C.'s gig, I was playing a show with the Airstream Kings and I invited Krys to the show. Krys brought C.C.. We were on a bit of a short stage, and the room was packed so you couldn't really see the band unless you were near the front.

As the story was told to me by Krys, after their Roxy show, they found themselves in need of a drummer. When C.C. heard me play that night with Airstream Kings, he told Krys, "That's him! That's the guy we need in our band! Who is he?" Krys then told him, "That's the guy we had in the first place!" Shortly afterwards, we all got together, again, and began working on writing songs.

Sleaze Roxx: What was the song writing process like for the Samantha 7 album?

Francis Ruiz: When I got together with Krys and C.C. again, they had about 5 tunes already written, demos done with a drum machine. We went round and round with the tunes, first playing them as they were on the demos, then re-working them and re-re-working them until they morphed into the sum of each of our playing styles. We went into the Record Plant and tracked a few songs. I kind of turned up the juice a bit and punked them out from what was on the original demos which were very poppy and a lot slower, almost Beatle-esque but kind of bubblegum-ish. From there, we all would just go into the rehearsal studio and bang out ideas. C.C. would have a riff idea and then we'd all just hash it out till it turned into something, 'if' it turned into something. We actually even hashed out "I hate every bone in your body but mine" and tracked a demo. C.C. told us he wanted to save the song for our second CD, but ended up putting it on Poison's CD. Krys and I found out about it from the internet. Needless to say, we were surprised, but C.C. said something to the effect that it was so he could have a song singing on the Poison record, which would hopefully equate to Poison's audience being turned on to Samantha 7.

Sleaze Roxx: What do you remember most about the recording sessions for Samantha 7?

Francis Ruiz: Well, about a week or so after John Kalodner signed Samantha 7, we were on our way to Northern California to track the record at Jack Blades' (Night Ranger) studio. We did the whole thing in 2 weeks. I did my drum tracks in 3 days and then basically hung out while everything else was done. We had Mudrock engineering, which I was excited about. At the time Mudrock had recently produced the first Godsmack record, and also worked with Powerman 5000. Super cool guy and great producer/engineer. He's since gone on to producing a ton of great sounding albums. We were all pretty excited. We also filmed an EPK while we were there with VH-1's "Behind the Music" crew which is actually pretty cool. As far as the recording, it was, and always is, great to hear all of your hard work finally get tracked and come to life!

Sleaze Roxx: The debut gig for Samantha 7 was at Woodstock '99. Can you tell us about that experience?

Francis Ruiz: Yeah, before we were signed to Columbia, we got offered to play at Woodstock '99. Of course we jumped at the chance. At the time we were called the Stepmothers. The gig was great! It was so hot though! We slammed through our set, and I remember my hands were so sweaty that it was hard to hold on to my sticks. When you're playing fast notes that becomes a real problem! I remember praying, "God please just let me hold on to my sticks!", ha. Of course the adrenalin was rushing too. When we finished our set, we had to sign a bunch of autographs, and my hands were so shaky I couldn't even write. We played on the second day, the same day as Korn and Bush.

We actually came down the first day and everything was all nice. There were even big tents set up with the internet and everything, but when we showed up the next day, we were warned not to go near the tent because overnight, the toilets had already been full or trashed, and people decided to make the tent into the new toilet. The raves of the night before had the place pretty trashed already. Obviously we all know what happened the last day. Peavey and Rich Bartle sponsored our backline, so afterwards we got to keep all the backline, so that was a nice little bonus!

Sleaze Roxx: I read somewhere that after Woodstock '99 more shows were scheduled but the tour was cut short because you were involved in an accident where you were hit by a car as you were crossing the street. What actually happened?

Francis Ruiz: Oh boy. Actually, it was some time after Woodstock. We were still unsigned when we played Woodstock. After we got signed and the CD was released, we actually did a proper tour. We did a 7 week run in the U.S. About 6 weeks into it, we were playing a show in Jacksonville, FL. While the gear was being set up, C.C., Krys, and I decided to take a walk and get a bite to eat. On the way back, we were crossing an intersection about two blocks from the venue, when I got run over by a car! Can you believe it!

Basically, C.C. was to my left and we were about to cross the street. C.C. stepped out into the street first. We were talking about serious band matters, so I can't say I was fully aware of my surroundings. But anyway, C.C. steps out into the street, so I'm thinking it's gotta be clear, right? Cars are coming from the left, and C.C. was on my left. I step out and boom! Out of nowhere I feel myself get pulled down. Immediately after, I sit up and am like...."What the...." I didn't feel hurt, just thought I probably got a couple scratches and bumps. Then I looked down at my right leg and freaked! My leg was snapped half way between my knee and ankle and bent in a 45 degree angle, THE WRONG WAY! Just then, I saw the tendons or muscles snap the leg back in place (although the bones were a clean snap in two) and THEN the PAIN came! Whoah!!!

C.C. was shouting out, "Call 911!" All I could think about was the SHOW! I was telling the guys, "Don't give me any drugs! I can still play the show!" They were like, "dude, I don't think you're gonna be playing tonight." When I finally realized they were right, I asked them to let Paul, my drum tech, play the show. That's finally what happened. I had to sit in the hospital and then go back the next day for a temporary cast.

The worst part is that our next show was to be in Pt. Jefferson, NY. We didn't have enough time to get me on a plane otherwise we would not make it to the next show in time, so I had to ride in the back of the bumpy bus all the way from Florida to New York. Every little bump meant major PAIN! They were at least nice enough to park the bus in front of the venue with the doors open so I could at least hear the show! Ha. From NY, I flew home to recoup. While home, I actually had a friend set up a kit for me and I started rehearsing playing all the songs with my left leg/foot using a double bass pedal. My right leg had a cast up to my crotch, so I had to also work on balance. I actually came back and played several shows using my left leg! I'd cruise up to my kit on crutches, sit down, and threw down one legged! I even played the Mark and Brian KLOS Christmas show at the Wiltern like that.

Sleaze Roxx: Samantha 7 never recorded another album. Was it always known that it would be a short lived thing?

Francis Ruiz: When we first got together, Poison hadn't done anything in years. C.C. told us he wanted to do something totally new, and was convincingly passionate about it. I wouldn't have gotten involved if I knew it was just going to be a short lived project. After we were already pretty involved in the band, the talk of a Poison reunion started coming up. Whether or not C.C. knew about it previously, I can't say. It seemed every time we were gaining momentum, Poison would come up, and as a result, Samantha 7 was put on the back burner. By the time C.C. could devote time to S7, it was too little too late.

Sleaze Roxx: Do you still keep in contact with C.C. DeVille? Any chance he'll resurrect Samantha 7 for another album or show? Would you be interested if he asked you?

Francis Ruiz: I haven't spoken with C.C. for quite some time now. Krys still talks with him though. C.C. is also now a father, so his priorities must have surely changed. Krys and I still keep in touch. I saw him a couple months ago and he mentioned that C.C. wanted to start writing again with him. I don't know if that means a new Samantha 7 album, but I think it'd be fun to be involved if it does happen, this time approaching it as a project. We all have our respective bands, so it would also depend on what we each have going on. We actually did play a sort of 'reunion' show for the Ty Longley memorial benefit concert.