Former SKID ROW and SAIGON KICK drummer Phil Varone spoke to Detroit's WRIF radio station about his retirement from drumming.
The 51-year-old rocker, who is currently on tour with Jake E. Lee's RED DRAGON CARTEL, made his decision official via a social media post two weeks ago.
Varone told WRIF's Meltdown that he has been "thinking about" calling it quits with his drumming career "for a while. But because I did this record [RED DRAGON CARTEL's sophomore album, 'Patina'], I really wanted to tour the record. 'Cause I really, truly love this record, and it's my best drumming in my career. And working with Jake has been one of the greatest experiences, and I'm honored and grateful to work with a genius like him.
"I did a short couple of days with BULLETBOYS, which, that I did quit after two days, because the singer is the worst human on earth and just a pathetic sack of garbage," he continued. "It was a joke. The band draws 20 people and he screams and pisses and moans and tells everybody that he sold millions of records… So that kind of put the bad taste in my mouth. I'm, like, 'Is this what it's gonna be? A washed-up joke yelling every night, because only 20 people come, 'cause no one cares about him anymore?' And Jake wasn't like that. Jake is a professional. Jake is a true musician and a great, great human, unlike Marq [Torien]. So it was two different things.
"When I did the BULLETBOYS thing and I was driving home from it and I had my best friend in the car, I was, like, 'You know what? I don't know if I'm cut out for this,'" Varone added. "When I was 25, it was one thing. But I'm a 51-year-old man. I have grown children that I wanna enjoy. I don't wanna do this. But because it was Jake and it was that record, I wanted to at least play. And the tour that was booked was short — it was five, six weeks; whatever it is — and I thought that would be a good amount of time to gauge if I really wanted to. And the minute we started rehearsing, things hurt. Drums are hard. We joke about it, but Neil Peart [RUSH] just retired, because he said, 'If I can't play to the caliber that I played when I was younger, I don't wanna play drums.' And that's how I kind of feel. 'Cause everything hurts. The tour is brutal. We happened to pick winter, which is the worst time to tour. Luckily, we have a tour bus, and the band is incredible. Between the band, this is the most fun I'm having. These guys are really great guys. We're having fun on the bus. There's no tension and weirdness. But it's all kind of wearing us out, 'cause we're older guys. Anthony [Esposito, bass] is from LYNCH MOB and Ace Frehley, and me with SAIGON KICK and SKID ROW, and, of course, Jake with Ozzy [Osbourne] — we're older guys. So it wears me out. And I have to say that I'm in pain. So when it comes down to drums, it's not that I hate drums — it's just that right now, it equates me with hurting and hassle. And I don't have the passion that I used to when I was a kid — I don't. 'Cause I've done it all already — I've done everything that I needed to do with drumming and music, and I'm pretty content."
Despite the fact that he is retiring from drumming, Phil says that he wants people to understand that he is "leaving happy. I'm not angry," he said. "I'm truly leaving on my own terms and very happy and excited to the next level, which is writing. My words are everything. So, some of the fans are a little upset, which I understand, but it's 30 years — I've given you 30 years, with a catalog of music that I'm so very proud of and grateful to have been a part of. And now I'm gonna write. And I'm gonna give you something even more valuable, which is my words and very personal thoughts, and I'm hoping that people fall in love with that, because I'll write forever. I'll write till I die. But for drumming, I'm just not feeling it anymore. And that doesn't mean I'm not playing well. The shows are shredding. We're having a blast. I hurt, because I'm playing hard, because the fans deserve that. So they are never gonna get a show that doesn't have us going full blast. But those shows are a toll on us, and me personally. And it's kind of shocking. And that's another thing too — I'm not young anymore, so the realization of being old has kind of set in as well. And I think it's a good time."
Varone joined SKID ROW in 2000 — about four years after singer Sebastian Bach parted ways with the group. Four years later, Phil exited SKID ROW and the music business to pursue acting and stand-up comedy. During this time, he produced and starred in the feature-length documentary "Waking Up Dead", released in 2007. In recent years, Varone garnered worldwide attention on VH1's hit show "Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew" and "Strange Sex" on the Discovery channel. In April 2013, Riverdale Publishing released Phil's first book called "Un-Philtered : Real Life On and Off the Rock 'N' Roll Tour Bus".
RED DRAGON CARTEL's U.S. tour in support of "Patina" will conclude on April 2 at Queens, New York's Blackthorn 51.
Photo credit: Joseph Gorelick