INTERVIEW WITH COLD SWEAT, THE FIFTH AND STEELCITY FRONTMAN ROY CATHEY
Date: April 26, 2020 Interviewer: Olivier
MANY SLEAZE ROXX READERS WILL KNOW THE NAME ROY CATHEY AS THE FRONTMAN OF THE BAND COLD SWEAT WHO RELEASED THE ALBUM ‘BREAK OUT’ BACK IN 1990. AFTER COLD SWEAT’S DEMISE, CATHEY WENT ON TO FORM THE FIFTH ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO WHO RELEASED A NUMBER OF ALBUMS INCLUDING ‘CONFESSIONS OF MAN’ BACK IN 2009. CATHEY HAS A LOT GOING ON AT THE MOMENT. A REMIXED AND REMASTERED ‘CONFESSIONS OF MAN’ ALBUM IS IN THE WORKS. COLD SWEAT RECENTLY PLAYED A MUCH ANTICIPATED REUNION SHOW AT THE MONSTERS OF CRUISE PRE-CRUISE PARTY AND CATHEY IS NOW PART OF STEELCITY WHO JUST RELEASED THEIR SOPHOMORE ALBUM ‘MACH II.’
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you end up joining SteelCity?
Roy Cathey: First off, Mike is a great guy and I really liked his drive and vision for the band when I first met him at the Rock N Skull Festival in 2017. After some discussions and a review of some of the material, I thought this would be a perfect project to become involved with. It was time to pay homage to my melodic rock / AOR background and SteelCity was the perfect vehicle to do so. The songs were solid and Mike gave me the freedom to make whatever changes I deemed necessary with the lyrics and melodies. Also, the resumes of the other band members assured me that I was going to be working with some true professionals. The entire process has been very enjoyable and all the band members are super cool guys.
Sleaze Roxx: Can you give me a few examples of some of the changes that you made to some of the songs?
Roy Cathey: Every singer and songwriter is different. We all have different methods of making our melodies and how we phrase them lyrically. I didn’t want to stray from Mike’s original demos too much, but there were a few spots where he gave me the artistic freedom to change some lyrics so it would flow better for me and my particular vocal stylings. He also allowed me the freedom to completly change the approach of the melody in a few verses. Nothing too drastic, just subtle changes that helped the song flow better lyrically.
Sleaze Roxx: So how much input did you have in SteelCity’s new album and direction?
Roy Cathey: As I previously stated, I was given artistic freedom to make changes to the songs with both melodies and lyrics. I think as far as direction goes, Mike knew going in that I was much more of a hard rock vocalist than the previous singer Bryan. With Mike giving me the freedom we’ve discussed, I was able to just go for it! I’m really proud of my vocal performances and how the entire project ended up.
Sleaze Roxx: Cold Sweat made their live comeback at one of the Monsters of Rock Cruise’s Pre-Cruise Party shows. What was that like and are there any plans for any future shows and/or even some new material?
Roy Cathey: It was absolutely fantastic to share the stage with all my Cold Sweat brothers again. The reception we received was nothing short of amazing and being able to reconnect with the guys and with our fans from all over the world definitely rekindled our desire to perform together again. We are currently submitting for various festival appearances and have started to exchange demos amongst each other and discussing future releases. There is interest from one of the well-known labels that specialize in our genre of music, so from our one show on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, we got some pretty serious attention and for that, we are very grateful.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! Is Cold Sweat thinking of releasing a new album? How long has this been in the works?
Roy Cathey: Yes! We have something very special in the works to commemorate our 2020 Monsters of Rock Cruise reunion show. The boys are exchanging ideas and we plan on letting things progress organically and without pressures. Everyone has businesses and personal lives to navigate as well. Let’s face it, we aren’t kids anymore and these things take planning. We have made no official plans or timetables but we have already received some label interest, which of course we are thankful.
Sleaze Roxx: Will the new material be in the same vain as Cold Sweat’s debut album? Or will the new material be in another direction?
Roy Cathey: Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I say. I believe we all know and understand what our fans want and expect from us and I don’t expect us to stray from that too much. Of course, on the other hand, a lot of time has passed since ‘Break Out’ and we’ve all taken on different influences and characteristics in our styles and playing. If anything, I hope we are a bit more “edgy” but still with the great songwriting and hooks. Maybe a more melodic Skid Row type sound.
Sleaze Roxx: Who came up with the idea for the reunion?
Roy Cathey: Full credit goes to Larry Morand who is “The Guy” at the Monsters of Rock Cruise. His relationship with the band dates back to his time with Niji Management and Wendy Dio and when the band was called Ferrari. He developed close friendships with all the members long before I joined. He tried several years ago to get us aboard the cruise but the timing just wasn’t right. When the 30th year anniversary of ‘Break Out’ came around, the stars aligned and we made it happen.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did it take so long for you guys to play a show again?
Roy Cathey: The entire MCA / Cold Sweat experience left everyone with a real bitter taste in their mouth. When you do everything right and the people put in charge of navigating your career totally drop the ball, it sours you. You start pointing fingers and feelings get hurt. Marc got screwed the most and we all walked away just trying to pick up the pieces and continue on with some type of music career. Time heals all wounds. It just took us some time to get to where we are now and I couldn’t be happier. Putting the past behind us and just enjoying each other’s company again and making music together has been therapeutic and healing.
Cold Sweat performing “Let’s Make Love Tonight” live at the Monsters of Rock Cruise Pre-Cruise Party at Magic City Casino in Miami, Florida, USA on February 6, 2020:
Sleaze Roxx: What are your thoughts on Cold Sweat’s ‘Break Out’ album almost 30 years later? Do you think that it has held up well over time?
Roy Cathey: I think the record sounds as good today as it did 30 years ago. Great songwriting, top-notch musicianship and crisp, clear “over the top” vocals! These were some special songs with some killer musicians. It’s just a shame we got caught up in all the music business bullshit that destroyed the band and the music industry at the time. All I know is that although Cold Sweat was just a blip on the musical horizon in that time, that release is near and dear to the hearts of a lot of people all over the world. When people from the U.K., Peru, Italy, Japan, Columbia, and Germany tell you they booked the Monsters of Rock Cruise because of the Cold Sweat reunion… Well, you know you have something special.
Sleaze Roxx: You used to go by “Rory Cathey” when Cold Sweat came out but you eventually changed your name to “Roy Cathey.” Why the change and when did you do it?
Roy Cathey: This question always cracks me up. The whole “name change” thing was entirely Wendy Dio’s idea. She didn’t think my name was “rock n’ roll enough” so she came up with a series of ridiculous suggestions. Luckily, the guys came to my rescue and helped salvage my last name “which I refused to change” and simply added the extra “R” to my given name Roy. To me, I’d rather keep something closer to my real name than coming up with a completely different and made-up stage name. My people back home in North Carolina would not have ever let me live that down. I just viewed the whole thing as a “welcome to the music business” kind of thing.
Sleaze Roxx: A lot of people still identify you as the Cold Sweat singer 30 years after the debut album. What are your thoughts on that?
Roy Cathey: I’m totally fine with that. After reuniting with Cold Sweat for the 2020 Monsters of Rock Cruise, it made me realize just how many fans from all over the world truly love and cherish that record. The countless people I met from all over and the stories they shared about the impact that record had on them… Man, you can’t beat it. It’s amazing.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s going with The Fifth? About 10 years ago, The Fifth re-released ‘Confessions of Man’ via EMG / Universal and there’s been no new material ever since aside from the single “No Going Home” released via Vanity Music Group / Head First Entertainment in 2016.
Roy Cathey: A band like The Fifth that has been together for 20 years is bound to have member changes. The past few years unfortunately became the victim of some untimely member changes that hampered the band’s progress. We would move closer to recording and a member would drop out due to personal or professional reasons. The band currently has the most solid and musically talented line-up since the band’s inception. It features guitarist Justin Womble, drummer Gary “Zeus” Smith and Jake Tripp on bass.
Sleaze Roxx: In July 2019, it was announced that a remixed and remastered version of ‘Confessions of Man’ was almost finalized but there has been no album release date. What made you decide to remix and remaster that album and what’s the status?
Roy Cathey: Our new label EXSR Records felt that although ‘Confessions of Man’ had been released several years prior, it had not been given the proper promotion and push from our previous label EMG / Universal. The EMG / Universal release was for digital download only. EXSR plans on putting physical copies in retail outlets and through other distribution methods. They felt the material was still strong and current sounding and wanted to put some retouches on the overall mix. A lot was stripped away from the original recordings. It will truly be a remix / remaster that you will audibly hear a difference from the original recordings. We were weeks away from getting our hands on it when the factory overseas printing the CDs and artwork were shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our team is in constant contact trying to get updated. It’s coming… We’re just in a waiting pattern sadly. I’m bummed. It sounds amazing!
Sleaze Roxx: I believe that The Fifth have played every edition of SkullFest which later morphed into the Rock N Skull festival. You’ve seen the event grow from a pretty small event to a larger scale one in 2016 to a free one for the last few years. What makes that festival so special to you and The Fifth, and what do you think of all the problems that the festival has encountered in 2016 and 2017?
Roy Cathey: I have a soft spot in my heart for that festival because it was the very first festival I was invited to perform at where I was recognized for my work with Cold Sweat. When they called me to perform, I was simply blown away that people would even care about me singing those old songs. It exposed me to an entire family of people that attend these music festivals and follow the music they love around the country and world. Amazing people, memories and friends that I will keep and cherish for a lifetime. That’s why it was hard for me to see so much drama begin to be associated with the event. The internet is a blessing and a curse and the festival got caught up in a “war of words” with an online publication that quickly escalated. I think there is such a thing as “bad press” and sadly the festival got pulled under by it. I’m friends with the promoter and I believe he’s a good guy at heart. The Fifth will not be appearing for the first time in 2020 but we wish the festival success now and in the future.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything else that you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
Roy Cathey: Wash your hands [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Last question for you — what are your three favourite albums of all-time and why?
Roy Cathey: Oh geez… I can’t even. OK, just spitballin’ here… First, Queen’s ‘Live Killers.’ Why? Freddie [Mercury] is the greatest frontman of all time. Second, Van Halen’s debut album. The record that made me want to become a rockstar! The minute I heard that guitar, it pulled me in. [David Lee] Roth was the ring leader of a rock n’ roll circus and I was hooked. Third, Black Sabbath’s debut record. It was dark. It was scary. You felt like you were doing something bad by listening to it. As a kid, I loved that. As a kid, I loved how music that could pull those emotions out of you.