Two competing versions of ROUGH CUTT are now in existence, with each accusing the other of acting unscrupulously.
This past March, an incarnation of ROUGH CUTT featuring guitarist Chris Hager and drummer Dave Alford released a new single and video, "Black Rose". Hager and Alford are joined in the group by lead vocalist Steven St. James, guitarist Darren Householder and bassist Jeff Buehner. Less than three months later, a completely different version of ROUGH CUTT, featuring founding singer Paul Shortino along with classic lineup members Matt Thorne on bass and Amir Derakh on guitar, surprise-issued a new album titled "Rough Cutt 3" via the DDR Music Group label. That LP includes the song "Bed Of Black Roses", which appears to be musically and lyrically similar to the aforementioned "Black Rose", prompting speculation that the two tracks were conceived from ideas that originated with members of both versions of the group.
Hager and Alford addressed the confusion during an interview with "Hard, Heavy & Hair With Pariah Burke" this past Thursday (June 10). Speaking about "Black Rose", Hager said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, I wrote the music to that song. Matt wrote the chorus, lyrics and melodies — part of 'em. And the version that they did, he also wrote part of the verse melodies. Now, our version, which we released, obviously, before they did, Steven, our singer, changed the verse lyrics. I don't know if you've listened to both of 'em, but you will hear a marked difference in the verse vocals, melodies and phrasing.
"The thing about that is that we went… I just went and listened to a sample of all the stuff they did [on the 'Rough Cutt 3' album], and they didn't even bother to redo it [from the original way we wrote it]," Chris continued. "That was done over here [at my studio]; those are my guitars; and they added some stuff to it — they embellished it. And they did that on a couple of other songs as well that we had written collectively before we broke up."
Alford went on to say that "it was a slap in the face" to see the other version of ROUGH CUTT release its album so soon after the arrival of "Black Rose". But he added: "We have no ill feelings towards those guys. I will say we dropped our single months before they did this. And we're going out and playing, and we have a record coming out."
Hager was more blunt, calling the other ROUGH CUTT's decision to move forward with a new album "a cheap shot. We made every effort to make ROUGH CUTT work, the original members, and they just weren't having it," he explained. 'It's, like, one person didn't wanna go out and play shows… And then the ROUGH RIOT thing came along" — referring to the short-lived project featuring former members of QUIET RIOT and ROUGH CUTT — "and then that didn't work out. So we put a lot into making that work, especially me, man — I mean, I worked my ass off on that. And it just didn't happen. And so Dave and I, we don't wanna sit around. And that's why I went and called Steven and said, 'Hey, Steven, you wanna come over and write some songs?' And then I said, 'Hey, Dave, come on over and listen to these.' Of course, Dave knew Steven from before as well. And so that's how we got started."
According to Alford, "over half of the music that's on" "Rough Cutt 3" is "old stuff that's me playing drums [and Chris] playing guitar." In addition, Hager claims that Shortino, Thorne and Derakh "screwed us over on the royalties as well. When I registered 'Black Rose', I was very generous," he said. "So that's what tells us that it's out of spite. They think that we should have asked them, or told them, that we were gonna [go ahead with a new lineup]."
As for why things fell apart between the original ROUGH CUTT members, Alford said: "Them guys didn't want anything to do with us." Hager concurred, saying: "I couldn't get Matt to return my call. They basically weren't interested until our single came out. So I don't care."
He continued: "I'll say it straight out — I think it's a cheap shot [for them to release this album and move forward with another version of ROUGH CUTT]. I can't stop 'em from doing it. And also we'll see when it comes to the trademark and all that — that could turn into a legal thing."
Despite the potential for a lawsuit over the rights to the ROUGH CUTT name, Alford says that "it's not gonna stop us. The music that we're creating right now, our fans are just dying to hear it. Once they heard 'Black Rose' and saw the video, it's on now — it's totally on. And we've got some real talent in the new lineup."
Hager was equally enthusiastic about his new version of ROUGH CUTT, saying: "Fans, they can take their pick. A lot of people will say, 'Well, without Paul Shortino, it can't be ROUGH CUTT. And we say bullshit." Alford chimed in: "I haven't gotten any negative feedback about our [new] singer, much less talking about Paul." Hager continued: "It was really amazing. We expected more pushback from fans, and it never really came."
In a press release announcing the arrival of "Rough Cutt 3", DDR Music Group said that "to release anything under the moniker of ROUGH CUTT without Paul, Amir and Matt is nothing short of unprofessional and disrespectful to the members and especially to the fans. Simply put, no Paul, no ROUGH CUTT!" The label also said that "many false accusations and lies have been made public about arguably the three most important members of ROUGH CUTT and all of them are completely fabricated nonsense."
The same day that Hager and Alford's interview with with "Hard, Heavy & Hair With Pariah Burke" was posted online, Shortino took to his social media to share a letter that he, Thorne and Derakh wrote to Chris and Dave in October 2019 in which they called the idea of Hager and Alford touring as ROUGH CUTT "deceptive" and predicting that it would "undoubtedly mislead fans into thinking they were seeing the entire original lineup." In the letter, Shortino, Thorne and Derakh went on to ask Hager and Alford to advertise their performances as Dave Alford's & Chris Hager's ROUGH CUTT and announced their plan to oppose Hager and Alford's trademark application for the exclusive right to use the ROUGH CUTT name on clothing and merchandise.
Originally based in Los Angeles, ROUGH CUTT was mentored by Ronnie James Dio, managed by his wife Wendy and signed to Warner Brothers. The band released two albums three and a half decades ago, 1985's self-titled effort and 1986's "Wants You!", before Shortino left to join QUIET RIOT. QUIET RIOT's fourth album, 1988's "QR", was the band's only LP to feature Paul on vocals.
— Paul Shortino ?? (@PaulShortino) June 10, 2021
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