NEVER GIVE UP - RIKI RACHTMAN
"Never ever give up. Here is the reality of that. Most of you won't succeed at that. So have a backup plan." Riki Rachtman, MTV Headbangers Ball VJ, Radio host, DJ, Nascar commentator.
ON THIS EPISODE:
What will we do if an asteroid hits Earth? NASA has some ideas moving to the design phase, and Dustin and Jeff discuss the implications on this week in Science. Also, it is very easy to say "Never give up" but very hard to put into practice, and that is the thought that permeates What Fuels You this week. Finally, the release of diner mugs, a mug announcement for October to coincide with the RunDead event and some more news about Death Wish Coffee subscriptions.
Riki Rachtman has been a little bit of everything during his career, starting out gaining notoriety with the infamous Cathouse club, a host of MTV's Headbanger's Ball, a DJ, a radio personality, a Nascar commentator and more. We talk about his past and a lot of the stories involving some of his friends, some of whom went on to be famous musicians. Plus, we learn all the details about his most recent Riki's Ride including where he will be heading this time and how all the proceeds go to benefit Claire Wineland's charity to help families dealing with Cystic Fibrosis. (You can hear even more about this from Claire Wineland when she was on Fueled By Death Cast)
Dustin: What was it like to be a part and run the Cathouse during the Hey-Day in, I guess that's the 90's, right?
Riki Rachtman: No, it's the late 80's.[crosstalk 00:00:07]
Dustin: The 80's. Yeah, yeah.
Jeff: Oh nice.
Riki Rachtman: And the thing about the Cathouse is, you gotta understand, when I started this club with Taime, these people weren't signed. Guns N' Roses weren't a huge band. They sold, they were doing really good in the clubs and all these bands so this was unheard of. I was actually a club DJ that would play dance music and I used to scratch and do all that stuff. And I was even the DJ of Tommy Lee and Heather Locklear's wedding.
Dustin: Oh wow.
Riki Rachtman: So and that's kind of when I was playing Rock and Roll. I'm like, man what if we had a Rock and Roll dance club. Like it was gonna be a Rock and Roll dance club. There weren't gonna be bands playing. That was the whole purpose. Just a Rock and Roll dance club that all the misfits would have a safe place to hang out at.
Riki Rachtman: And it wasn't, people don't understand that the L.A. rock scene was not as much the Warrants and, like our scene was more East Hollywood, kind of. And it was more like dirty, dingy, we called it Gypsy Junkie. Like if you Faster Pussycat, and L.A. Guns, and the Guns N' Roses next to a lot of the other like, poofy hair strip, were not the same. We were more dangerous. Even though eventually those bands did come to the Cathouse and did play the Cathouse, some of them, but we were dangerous.
So, as all my bands were getting record deals ... my bands, they weren't my bands ... As all friends were getting record deals and starting to get popular, I decided, hey I'm gonna take this little club that we started and we had a DJ, Joseph Brooks, who had like a record store called Vinyl Fetish and he was a huge part of the success. And then we just, as they started getting bigger I became more focused on trying to make the club bigger, 'cause it was a bomb when it first started. It just was terrible. And I kept on trying but like the people, like there'd be like 8 people there, and there'd be Axle Rose dancing on the floor you know, doing his little dance, cause that's what he did you know, act just like us. And we had a guy, Robb Fenn, rock photographer actually, and he, one of the quotes that he said was "If you ever want to lose a bunch of money you start a nightclub". And like, that's what you're kinda talking about, it's like when you started out it was tough to even get people through the door.
However, so people know, I did not own the building.
Riki Rachtman: What I did was, I went in there, and I'm a hustler, I've always been a hustler. I went in there with no money and a cheap apartment with Taime from Faster Pussycat as my roommate and you know, driving a car that I didn't realize was pretty much stolen that got repossessed. I mean I have any money, and I went to this night club that was dilapidated, it was a Disco that was used in the movie "Thank God it's Friday", in Beverly Hills [inaudible 00:02:52].
Cathouse was only there for about eleven months, and I convinced this guy, "Look, let come into this club, and basically just let me keep the door and you guys keep the bar". And he was like "Okay well, we're thinking about bringing, this is my friend -" I dunno what his name was, John or something, "and he's got this product, that we want to promote at the Grand Opening, have you heard about this stuff, it's called Liquid Methadone". I'm like "Liquid Methadone?" He's like "Well that's what their calling it and it gives you this euphoric high and we really want to promote that liquor the first night. So we'll serve it and let people talk about it." And I'm like, "Okay." It ended up being jägermeister. Jägermeister was what the bar was.
Jeff: I was about to say, how come I've never heard of this story before.
Riki Rachtman: People don't even, like that's a story that people don't really know about. So the first night, we were telling our friends. Taime would tell some strippers and they would go and then because ... to kind of speed it forward because we had, without a doubt there's not one person that will ever deny this, Cathouse had, without a doubt, the most beautiful women of any nightclub period.
Riki Rachtman: And we didn't do Ladies Night or this night. They just went there. And then the rock stars started going there because the girls were there. And then more girls started going there because the rock stars were there. And we had, you know, even when we weren't crowded, we had Steven Tyler there.
Riki Rachtman: And the deal was, I would never let cameras inside the club.
Jeff: Right, yeah, that's the...
Riki Rachtman: Which bit me in the ass now, but I would never let cameras in the club so there's not a lot of proof of, which is probably good, of what went down there because it was a lot of decadence. Without a fact we were the debaucherous decadent club without ever saying that we are, we just ended up being that way. There was a real sense of danger. I mean, Malcolm Forbes came to our club.
Riki Rachtman: You know, and rich people probably felt more comfortable though because they knew they could walk in and pretty much be however they want to be and there's no record of it.
Dustin: Yeah, it's like you wish you had cameras there to catch the debauchery but the debauchery wouldn't have happened if you had cameras there.
Riki Rachtman: There's so many stories like I remember this 'cause my friend Keith who was working the front at the time said that these pretty girls pulled up, cause we were like in Beverly Hills, and pulled up and were trying to come into the club and they go "well, what is it like there." And he's like, "Oh, you'll like it." And at that time, Slash fell down the stairs holding a plastic plant with a shirt that said "Cathouse Security". So it's like, that's what we're about.
I've always been a part of the motorcycle community, even before I had a bike so we would always let, so I said, "Look. We're gonna let people with Harley's park in front of the club and they'll get in free early." And the only reason I did that is I had this vision that people would show up at this club and see all these bikers outside and that would give you and idea of what's going on inside. And I mean, I hate to pat myself on the back for it, but it was brilliant because it worked. Pretty soon we'd have like 30-40 bikes and everybody's like "What the hell is going on there?" Instead of writing a stupid spotlight in the sky, you drive by, you see a bunch of really hot looking women and a bunch of bikers and it's like "What the hell is going on in there?"
Dustin: Rock and roll.
Riki Rachtman: And so that's how it worked. And I'll just be real quick on basically speeding up. So, I've got a rock and roll dance club. It's doing really well. And Axel says, "Hey. We've got the EP coming out. Can we do like a record release party at the Cathouse?" I'm like, "Okay." He's like, "What if we like, play acoustic." This was before MTV unplugged. He's like "What if we play acoustic." I was like, "So you're just gonna come and just do the show like acoustic guitars?" He's like, "Yeah." I'm like, "Okay." And then so a bunch of others "Hey can we play?" So the first night we had Guns N' Roses, Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, and Jetboy, who were like the biggest LA bands of that era, Jetboy's San Francisco, all playing acoustic. And everybody's just like kinda having fun. And it ended up being really cool and there were I think like 4-500 people there that night which was like "Wow!"
So then, Faster Pussycat decided, Taime's like, "I want to do our record release party at the Cathouse." And they had 600 people and somebody in the band said "We had more people, we're gonna be bigger than Guns N' Roses. We had a hundred more people than they did."
Well then all of a sudden things started changing and people were like, "Well who's gonna play next?" And that's what I didn't want. I didn't want it to be "Who's gonna play at the Cathouse?" It's like, "Oh I'm not going to go this Tuesday because nobody's playing." I want people to go there and be shocked on what's happening. It was always so dirt cheap to get in.
So then the building was pretty much dilapidated, I mean, people would walk in and their foot would fall through the stairs and this is the honest truth. It was just a falling apart building. So the building got condemned and I had to find a new place so I wanted a club that nobody had ever been to and I found this, I think it was like me and Izzy found it, and it was a gay disco that was like a hardcore gay, like I'd never been in there on a Saturday night but like, shit went down.
Jeff: And I bet you they kept it pretty nice.
Riki Rachtman: Yeah. Go to a club that the gay people, 'cause let me tell you something. You want to live in the gay communities, you want to go to the gay clubs because they take care of their stuff.
Jeff: Yeah they really do.
Riki Rachtman: It's all clean. The first time I rode through Philadelphia, and I'd never been to Philadelphia by myself, and I'm walking around. I'm like, all the restaurants are really, really good, and everybody's cool and every thing was clean. I'm like, this wasn't what I thought Philadelphia would be. And they're like "Well, you're in the gay community." I'm like, "Oh, well that explains it." They take care of their stuff. That's not a bad stereo type.
Jeff: Not at all, not at all.
Riki Rachtman: That's a good stereo type.
So anyway. So I found this club, actually that club was no [crosstalk 00:08:33]. It was the amyl nitrate and who knows. So I said, "Can I take it on a Tuesday night." So I started doing it and then like a couple bands started playing and then because it was very secretive who would play, everybody wanted to play. And I had every band from Pearl Jam, Allison Chains, Guns N' Roses was pretty much our house band. All the LA bands that started making it big kept on playing there but it was like White Zombie, Megadeath, Motorhead. I had Alice Cooper on Halloween play the Cathouse. You know, so it became the best Rock and Roll club in the world and because I had this no press, no cameras allowed, a lot of this stuff wasn't known. So even though we still are selling t-shirts worldwide at Cathousehollywood.com it still maybe never got the notoriety that CBGB's did but the fact that we've been closed many years and people still know about the Cathouse is still pretty flattering.
When people say what are you most proud of, of all the things that you've done in your career, it'd be the Cathouse.
Jeff: The Cathouse is not only a rock legend it's a point in the history of that music. And because you had the vision to make it what it was. And like you said you know, not just go after that brass ring or be like, "Oh I'm going to try for all this big stuff and big spotlights and all that stuff, you made it something that was this echelon of rock and roll and it will always be remembered when you're talking about that timeline.
Dustin: And when people say like, "Was it really as decadent and like raunchy as people think it was? You hear these stories, was it really?" Like yeah, it was.
Jeff: It was probably worse.
Riki Rachtman: Obviously Taime was a big part of getting all those girls in there early. Because he probably slept with every one of them. Probably. But there were some beautiful... And then it became so crazy because the girls started showing up and I know that sounds so cheesy when I say it but this is what was going on, that Women's Wear Daily, Sportswear International, and California Apparel News, big industry fashion magazines came to the Cathouse to talk about the fashion. Because women would dress down and the beauty of the Cathouse is we were never degrading to the women, the women had the power.
They could dress however the wanted and pretty soon there were secretaries that were wearing like lingerie and they're like, "Hey, let's go to the Cathouse. We'll all dress up really sleazy and you know we'll go out and we'll have fun. And then we'll go back home and put on our normal clothes and go to our very sophisticated jobs." Because this is the place that you could let loose and do whatever you wanted.
Dustin: It was an escape.
Jeff: The late 80's and the early 90's even, that part of women's fashion became chic, it became like the upscale sleaze in a sense, you know like the rocker girl. Like you said, like the secretary that goes out in her lingerie kind of idea. Like that became the big thing. So it only makes sense that they're coming to you to get their finger on that.
Riki Rachtman: We'd have Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher in the DJ booth sometime and I remember one time, and I mean, I had my own office on Hollywood Boulevard called Rap and Entertainment. I opened another club called Bordel and I remember one day walking down the street and there was a magazine called Beverly Hills 213 and it was like the trendiest. It would be like a Kardashian magazine if there was one and I was opening it up and it said "What's hot and what's not." And it said that there was a club called Vertigo. It said Vertigo was not hot. What is hot? Cathouse. And I said "I'm done." And I said, "We're now hot. We're now like the popular club. I'm done."
Jeff: Close the doors.
So, fast forward a little bit. You've made friends with a lot of these bands that are just starting out and then MTV is really ramping up and starting to finally figure out their voice. You know, after being on the air for about a decade and they're playing a lot of these bands like Guns that are coming up and becoming very popular. How did you start getting involved with MTV at that time? Like was that just kind of organically through the bands?
Riki Rachtman: No. I've told this story so many times I feel like sometimes just changing it to make up a better story.
Jeff: [crosstalk 00:12:44]
Riki Rachtman: I think the truth is so much better than anything I could make up. The truth is Axel Rose helped me get that job.
Jeff: That's what I've heard.
Riki Rachtman: He called up MTV and they set it up and he's like you know, "Hey, you're gonna get an audition." And his manager Doug Goldstein was a very big part of it. And they called the president of MTV, Abbey Konowitch, I hope I'm pronouncing the last name right, and he's like, "Look, I'll go to New York with you, when you go audition." And I had to get a business class, I couldn't afford a first class, but I flew business, and I'd never flown business before. So me and Axel flew to New York, he took care of the hotel and everything. And I went in to audition and they're like, "Oh, here comes Axel's friend. Axel set up the audition." And I sucked. I was so terrible cause I had no experience on TV.
Dustin: Do you figure your radio or your DJing experience helped you with that?
Riki Rachtman: I was a DJ, not a talk like, "Hey." I was playing music and worried about mixing hiphop. And I was playing ...
Dustin: So you weren't like talking to the crowd, getting them pumped?
Riki Rachtman: Never! No I hate those guys. They're like, "Hey, it's a drink special." It was not that at all. I never had any job in front of the public and it was quite obvious for the first couple years on headbangers ball. So, who you know helped. I got that job because Axel hooked me up. There's not a doubt about it. So that's how I got my foot in the door. I mean, people knew me because it was Riki Rachtman from the Cathouse. Do you want Riki Rachtman from the Cathouse to be on the show or ...
So I started getting notoriety just from being a guy kinda like Pete Rhobell who started Studio 54 was getting notoriety, I was getting notoriety for the Cathouse and I mean I was putting every shirt said Riki Rachtman's world famous Cathouse. So I was doing my best to help whore my name out. As it just got bigger and then the metal years did a piece on the club. Then MTV started and because I was on MTV and had the Cathouse, then all of a sudden you've got Stone Temple Pilots wanting to play the Cathouse and you've got all these other bands that really want to play the Cathouse because it's owned by the host of MTV ...
I'm stepping on your cord...
Jeff: No, no, you're good. [crosstalk 00:14:50]
Dustin: I keep on moving and then your mic comes closer. That's it. I'm doing that on purpose.
Jeff: So, as someone who grew up with the MTV generation, like, I watched Headbangers Ball when they were trying to figure out what, MTV was really trying to figure out what they were going to do with that show. And they passed it around to some of the VJ's that were on there but it wasn't until when you actually got that gig that the show actually found its own voice and I think that had a lot to do with that you were friends with a lot of these guys already.
Riki Rachtman: Which also sucked because I mean, I got a lot of criticism and some of it was very well deserved, like, I never watched Headbangers Ball because it was Saturday night and I was going out on Saturday night and I didn't realize what I was doing was making an impact because I was the guy from ... and it's still very surreal to me like when people talk about MTV VJ's I was like, "Oh, I was an MTV..." I mean I don't think of my... I'm just like Riki... you know? And it was very, very bizarre what was happening with the show and with me... and I don't remember what the question was.
Jeff: I was actually just building you up on it because I just felt like it was easier for you to be able to talk to your friends.
Riki Rachtman: Oh, so one of the problems that people, that I would get criticized for that was very well deserved was that people would say, "Well, he says that every band is his friend." Okay, now that kind of was stupid but the problem was the people that I said were my friends really were my friends. I mean, I don't like to, I know it sounds like I'm name dropping when I'm saying that I did a bunch of states on my west coast ride and I rode with Chris Kael from Five Finger Death Punch but if it was my friend Joe, I would say and I rode with my friend Joe.
It just says that I just happened to ride with Chris Kael, Five Finger Death Punch, or Billy Duffy from The Cult or Gilby Clarke with Guns N' Roses or Taime or Parker from Queensryche. I mean, I know those always just sound like I'm name dropping but those are the guys that I know. And if I'm riding with my friend Bob then I'll say I'm riding with my friend Bob. And I would say that but it just so happened that the people that I'm riding with are my friends. You know, when I ride to Virginia if I stop at my friends house and I'm stopping for lunch because it's my only friend in Virginia but he just also happens to be the guitarist of Lamb of God.
Right now you guys are watching going "God, would he shut up with the name dropping." And it sounds like that and I understand that, but those people are my friends. They really are my friends.
Now the other criticism that I got a lot was saying that every band was my favorite band. I didn't say that about every band. There were bands like Suicidal and Danzig and London Choir Boys and bands like that, that I would say are my favorite bands because I did have a lot of favorite bands but the number one reason that I said that is, I was also playing so much shit on Headbangers Ball so when I'm going into a band like, and this isn't an insult to the bands in any way, shape, or form but people know that I'm not a big fan of all those bands like the Steel Heart & the Fire Houses. This isn't a dig on them, I don't know those guys, I know a lot of people like that stuff, it's just not my stuff. There's people that like mayonnaise, I hate mayonnaise.
But when I was doing those videos that I don't believe should have been on Headbangers Ball, so when all the sudden I'm going to be introducing something from a really heavy band that I like I'm like, "Oh, I love this band! This band's like one of my favorite bands!" And it's like, "There he goes again." Well I can't say, "I hate this band. This band's a piece of shit." Because I'd get fired and I have a job and I like my job. They paid me good money just to sit on there...
Dustin: Who was your favorite band?
Riki Rachtman: Other than bands that like I can't say the Guns N' Roses or the Faster Pussycats but the bands... I love, love, love Suicidal Tendencies. I was really a big fan of Danzig. Despite the stuff that happened with me and Dave Mustaine I really like Megadeth a lot. Still have love for Metallica but back then, when I grew up I was listening to punk rock I was listening to the punk rock from Los Angeles and Orange County so for me to say when I did an article in Spin and I said when I was a kid I knew more about Black Flag than Black Sabbath. "Oh why the hell is he doing Headbangers Ball." Like, it's all heavy stuff. It's all fast and loud. It's all the same. You know, people don't understand that Motorhead to me, which was such and important band in my youth, was great because I thought Motorhead was punk rock.
Jeff: I still think Motorhead is punk rock.
Dustin: [crosstalk 00:19:21] in that area for sure.
Riki Rachtman: And I love Motorhead. Always love Motorhead. Always loved working with Lenny. So those were the bands that I really, really liked when I was doing Headbangers Ball and I was exposed to a lot of bands. It was like, "Hey, here's this band." And you know, if they were jerks it was like I'm not going to listen to their cd and if they were cool it was like, "I'm going to listen to their band. On the same token, when I say that about the hair type bands I always loved Cinderella and I always love Skid Row. Because those are just heavy rock bands.
Jeff: There's a place in my heart for Skid Row.
Riki Rachtman: Well I remember seeing when Skid Row opened up for Guns N' Roses and I was standing next to Kerry King of Slayer and they came out with Slave to the Grind and Kerry's like, "Dude, that band's heavy." I'm like they are. You know Sebastian is just like one of the ultimate front man. And when ever I'd hear a Ratt song, I'd like Ratt. So I'm not putting down that whole genre of music at all but there are bands that came in that era that I was not a fan of. But that's not to say they didn't belong. If you were a band that was played in the daytime you shouldn't be played on Headbangers Ball. Meaning, even though Alice in Chains were played in the daytime, lets play a different Alice in Chains video because obviously they were such and important part of Headbangers Ball.
Dustin: How'd you feel about the whole grunge movement in general?
Riki Rachtman: It was rock and roll. Nirvana did not kill your scene. If your scene is killed by a bunch of these guys in Seattle then your scene sucked. If your band isn't selling records because of Nirvana then that's your bands problem because Motley Crew was still selling records and Guns N' Roses were still selling records. And a lot of bands were still selling records. Yes, did we move to a more toned down, dirty, grungy, I hate using the word grunge, but that grimy kind of feel. Yes, we did. But your band would have probably died otherwise. I bought Nirvana Bleach and I used to crank it up because Negative Creep was like, "I'm a negative creep." That was such a heavy song, you know. And I love Nirvana.
Sound Garden of that grunge era were Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. And I'm in such in the minority when I say that about that music scene but it was all rock and roll to me. We had Bad Religion on Headbangers Ball. We had the Ramones on Headbangers Ball. I was wearing Pennywise shirts on Headbangers Ball as much as I was wearing Motorhead because it was all just heavy and loud. I liked to do a lot of festivals because I liked to see some newer bands and I liked to see just fast, loud, heavy, good stuff.
Dustin: How do you feel about music now?
Riki Rachtman: I like a lot of the bands that are playing out there now. I'm gonna be at Chicago Open Air festival I go to Carolina Rebellion. I went to Welcome to Rockville which are great festivals because we'll get some older bands and some newer bands and I'll get to see bands like I never saw Avenged Sevenfold and when I heard Avenged Sevenfold everybody's like, "Oh, they're this kind of poppy..." I'm like, "They're Iron Maiden, they're Dio, and there's a lot of Guns N' Roses in Avenged Sevenfold." So I was excited to go see Avenged Sevenfold and I was like, "Okay, right on."
Jeff: They put on a show too.
Riki Rachtman: I was excited, many years ago, the first time I saw Volbeat. Because when I heard the first Volbeat record I heard a lot of Rockabilly in it. And I heard more influences from like Rockabilly or Social Distortion and Metallica and Elvis. So I was like interested in that. So there's a lot of new bands. I like music. I like the band Kyng with a y. I like them a real lot.
Dustin: Just saw them. They were awesome.
Riki Rachtman: They're just a good rock band.
Dustin: I think they just played, was it the Zack Sabbath show that they were at?
Dustin: It was Kyng, Zack Sabbath and Clutch.
Riki Rachtman: I saw Clutch recently again and they're great.
Dustin: They're so good.
Riki Rachtman: I just like music. And I'll tell you a band that blew me away last time I saw them was Papa Roach. And if you haven't seen Papa Roach don't go in there with your closed mind. Go watch Papa Roach and I'm telling you, Jacoby brings it. And I hate to call them a new band because they're not a new band but the one band that you will see me at almost every show that people know I'm just the biggest, hard core, dork fan for is Slipknot. I am a dork Slipknot fan. I have always gone to see Slipknot.
Dustin: Talk about a show.
Riki Rachtman: Yeah. But it's like that's the show, I'll go to see Slipknot and that's the show I'll go to and I'll feel kinda old because it's like...
Jeff: There's a younger crowd.
Riki Rachtman: Corey's always up there like, "Fuck this and fuck the..." You know and I'm just sitting there like, "Okay." But Corey's brilliant.
Jeff: What a front man. What a front man.
Riki Rachtman: And I get to, believe it or not, I've never seen Stone Sour, I'm going to see them in Chicago on my ride. So I'm a big Stone Sour, you know, Slipknot fan but I also listen... The punk rock we have now is the Outlaw country scene. That's what's punk rock. Which I've been into for a long... I mean on the second episode of Headbangers Ball I was wearing a Hank Williams shirt and nobody gave me shit for that. They didn't think about it. I like to see a lot of those bands... I just like music. When I'm riding, I'm listening to everything. There's a time, in the morning when I don't want to listen to Lamb of God and I want to listen to Shooter Jennings or listen to Williams.
Riki Rachtman: And sometimes when I ride I really like to hear one song from the Who, which is Rain Over Me, is the best morning... I'm not a big Who fan but that starts my ride. That's such a great song to start. And sometimes when you're going through the Blue Ridge Parkway you don't want to be listening to Slayer or Megadeth. There's certain songs, like wine, there's certain foods that go better with a certain type of wine. To me there's a certain type of music. You know, when I'm riding in the city, I want to listen to Hatebreed.
Riki Rachtman: You know, and if I'm riding through the mountains I don't want to listen to... and sometimes I don't listen to any music at all.
Jeff: Okay, so speaking of riding.
Riki Rachtman: We don't have any time on this show left. Do we? We've talked the whole time about my past.
Dustin: We're good as gold.
Jeff: You are currently on, Riki's Ride. Which you're touring all 48 states and I think you should try for Alaska but I mean, good luck on that one.
Dustin: There's a boat. There's a boat that goes from Seattle to Alaska. You could ride your motorcycle on that and make it 49 states.
Riki Rachtman: That doesn't really count. I was on a ferry this ride because everybody on Twitter suggested I take the ferry from Delaware to New Jersey, which I rode through there anyway so it's not like I'm skipping states. The whole plan was, because I've gone coast to coast seven times, Mexico to Canada three times on a motorcycle without a camera crew, without a producer, without a trailer. Without anything. I go usually, I mean, I've ridden coast to coast with Taime Downe plenty times and there's nothing that I love more than riding with Taime. I've ridden to surges plenty of times with Gilby and those are my favorite things but I'm riding a lot by myself. Sometimes I've ridden coast to coast and Taime's riding coast to coast and we'll just hook up
Jeff: Oh, that's awesome.
Riki Rachtman: And that's like my brother. If there's anybody that's my brother, we love each other, we hate each other, but Taime's a very, very important part of my life. But lately I just get in these zones where I just ride and ride and ride. So, because I've done so much riding I said, "Okay, I've gotta hit Alaska, I've never ridden to Alaska." Well then I found out there's a lot of gravel. I'm really bad in gravel. And when I'm in gravel I go really, really slow. I've also heard there's moose that chase you. So, it would be so perfect for Riki Rachtman to go out killed by a moose. I mean because how does...
Dustin: You almost want to go out that way. That's awesome.
Riki Rachtman: How does anybody say, "Riki Rachtman, he was great and he did this ride and finally he was killed by a moose." And I'm like, "Really?"
Jeff: And finally he was killed by a moose.
Riki Rachtman: It's great but I just didn't want to go yet. And the thing is like, I think it should be an adjective, should be called Trump tweet and what I do is, I'll sometimes put something on Twitter without even thinking what I'm putting out there and then I have to follow through with the repercussions of what I just did. So what I did, is I just would put on Twitter @RikiRachtman like, "This summer I'm going to do all 48 states." Tweet. And them I'm like
Dustin: Oh shit.
Riki Rachtman: All 48 states? And I can't trailer it anywhere but the truth is, with the amount of riding that I do to me, there's a couple things. America is very small. I don't look at like, you know, if I'm gonna go 300 miles out of the way to go to this place I'm like, "Oh, okay, I'll do that." You know I don't even think about it. And the other thing that is the most important thing is America is great. America was great.
And when I see it, there's parts of America in every single state that are so incredible and the people, I mean, when I go to gas stations somebody sees this guy with all these bags on and the just talk to me and they don't know who I am, usually, and sometimes they do and when people, when I pulled up to Death Wish today there were two people that met me. Death Wish coffee and Riki Rachtman, yes I'm talking about myself in the third person which I learned from Richard Petty, Riki Rachtman has a lot of the same, and I hate using the word fans, I never use the word fans, but I'm just going to say, has the same fan base as Death Wish coffee. We're very interchangeable. There's a lot of people that have learned about me through Death Wish and I know for a fact there's a lot of people that are drinking Death Wish because of me.
Jeff: Definitely, definitely.
Riki Rachtman: And so for me to say, come see me at Death Wish, you know and there's two people outside and I'm like hey they came to see me and they go, "Of course we came to see you. And we also pick up our coffee here." And I'm like, "Okay, well I'll still say you came to see me." But I love meeting people and that's why if you see me somewhere I'm not going to have an entourage if I had a bunch of people with me making sure everything was okay you'd be like, "Oh my god there's Riki Rachtman!" But if you pull into a gas station because you know I'm going to stop at that gas station and I'm there, instead of freaking out, you might just me like, "Hey Riki, what's happening." And I'm like, "Hey, how are you?" And we'll talk.
You know I got a tweet that somebody was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire the other day and they posted a picture and they go, "Look. That head in the background is Riki Rachtman, rock legend." Or whatever and I'm like, "Dude, please come up and talk to me." Because I hate, don't sit down and eat with me, but please come down and talk to me because I'm eating and doing a lot of things by myself. I'm by myself so much that when people come up and talk to me I really, really like it. So I like meeting people and doing all that stuff. So when you see me on the road...
So, about the ride really quickly. So I do these motorcycle rides every year. About three or four years ago I got involved with Death Wish coffee that started sponsoring me and I started plugging Death Wish which was just such a, you know, I work with Law Tigers, I work with Hot Leathers, and Death Wish coffee. And these are the perfect people because they're all good people. I believe in what they do. And I drink a hell of a lot of Death Wish and I've always drank Death Wish and I mean for me to say every morning for the past five years has started with Death Wish coffee and I've bought Death Wish coffee even recently because John didn't get me my package on time so I just bought it. I don't care. I don't mind buying stuff, you know.
So basically, I ride my motorcycle, and this year I'm riding in every single state. People can go on Twitter or Instagram or even the Facebook and say, tell Riki where to go. Say, "Dude you've gotta stop by the Evil Knievel museum in Topeka, Kansas." I'm like, "Oh yeah, I guess I do." Or you've gotta take the ferry or stop here and have lunch or hey we have a little bar why don't you come by the bar and I do all that. And people really get involved with my ride and they meet me. I'll give them a patch and I started saying, you know what I'm doing this ride. I will never start a go fund me account for my ride. Hey everybody give me $20 to pay for my gas and hotel. These rides cost around 20 grand. And that's with staying in crap hotels and eating at shit places. So thank God for companies like Death Wish coffee and Hot Leathers, and Law Tigers that do help me on these rides. Because I cannot afford to do this by myself.
And I was at a NASCAR race in Dover and they were like hey, let me give you $100 for gas. I'm like, I'd prefer that you give to the charity which is the Claire Wineland Foundation instead of giving me money. I like to pick a charity that if you want to help out and the reason that I'm raising money for Claire's foundation and I know that now through me Death Wish coffee's also become involved with Claire who we just love Claire. And the reason that I'm raising money for her foundation is pure ego. It makes me feel good to see that we're almost up to 5,000. It will make me feel good when we finish the ride that we're going to be over 10 grand. So it's pure ego. Don't think I'm this nice guy doing this thing. I'm not. It makes me feel good. And it's all about me, Riki Rachtman.
Now this is what Claire Wineland does, Claire Wineland is this beautiful girl that's got cystic fibrosis. Claire Wineland does not have an attitude like "Woe is me. I'm in the hospital. I might die." She has got the greatest attitude that you guys ended up learning about.
Dustin: Oh, totally.
Riki Rachtman: She's got the greatest attitude. So I found out about Claire just looking for charities where if I give them a dollar, a dollar goes to the charity. You know, I'm not going to talk bad about Susan J. Komen or I'm not going to talk bad about any of these charities but we're in a weird point like, "Hey, this charity just gave $5 million to breast cancer research." That is brilliant. $5 million. And I'm sure it's a lot more than that. They also made money and they also have high administration fees.
Dustin: How much do the people running those charities, how much are they making off that charity?
Riki Rachtman: I can just tell you that there is not one penny that is given to gas, that is given to hotel. I wish there was sometimes that if you give money to RikisRide.com it's going to go to Claire. Now the money that Claire gets. A dollar given to the charity goes to Claire. Now the money does not go to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. It doesn't not give any money to research cystic fibrosis. It does not give any money to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis. By Tweeting, I believe I'm raising awareness. What she does with that money is she goes to help kids and help families that are dealing with cystic fibrosis. It is very expensive to be on these machines. It's very expensive to live that way. I mean there was a lady that was on Skid Row that couldn't afford to get the deposit for an apartment because she spent so much money on the machines. So Claire's foundation helped with the deposit for her apartment. She does stuff like that. So, I love Claire. I know that you guys are know also very involved. We're a big family. We really are a big family here.
Jeff: Claire's amazing. If everybody who's listening or watching this has not heard it go on over to our episode with Claire. I believe it was episode 26. And it was absolutely amazing to talk to her.
Dustin: Yeah, if you ever want to learn how to be like, I don't know, a real man, you know, I would listen to Claire because I learned so much just from listening to her YouTube videos, the Clarity project on YouTube about how to approach death and how to live life.
Riki Rachtman: Well, what happened was, I was in Los Angeles and I decided I was going to go visit Claire in the hospital. So I get on my motorcycle and it was 4 o'clock. In LA the traffic, one of the reasons I moved was because of the LA traffic, it's just so ridiculous. So it was going to take me like 2 1/2 hours to get to the hospital where she's at and I pulled over and I'm like, "It's 4 o'clock. I don't know if I want to go in rush hour." Then I'm like, "Claire's in the hospital." Not bitching about anything. And I'm being such a bitch about traffic. And I'm like, "Get on your fucking bike, Riki. And go ride to visit her." You know, stop complaining. And I did and we didn't talk about cystic fibrosis, we didn't talk about it. We just kind of hung out.
And she's just so, I just, I like her as a person. And if she didn't have cystic fibrosis she's still be a friend and her mom is great and everything like that. So, she is dealing with stuff that's more difficult that the stuff that we are all dealing with right now. But she does not let that bring her down. It's not like, "Hi everybody, it's about rainbows and flowers." Claire's a normal girl and she swears and you know, now that she is out of the hospital she is learning to deal with the hard things like, holy shit I've gotta pay rent now, and I've gotta pay this. And so Riki's ride is raising money for her. We've got an incredible guitar that we're going to be auctioning off eventually that it's Ron's guitar, who's this incredible guitar painter and PRS gave us a guitar. I've already got Volbeat and Papa Roach to sign them, I'm probably going to get some more people to sign it. Try to get Zack to sign it in Chicago. And then we're going to auction it off and give all the money to Claire's foundation.
And at the end of this ride I really hope to raise $10,000 and that's going to help, and basically I'm riding to raise money and I'm riding because I really like to ride and I like to meet people and it's the best thing. It's my favorite thing to do.
Dustin: It's a win-win.
Jeff: That's awesome. So finally, we always ask our guests this question...
Riki Rachtman: I'm so frikin hungry right now I'm like shaking. Cause all I've done is drink coffee this morning.
Jeff: We'll get that.
Riki Rachtman: You don't have any food here do you?
Jeff: I think we do.
Riki Rachtman: Did my Death Wish doughnuts.
Jeff: We have coffee chocolate.
Dustin: We have coffee chocolate.
Riki Rachtman: Oh, that's what I need more of. Buy the way, it's funny that I don't get sent that much coffee chocolate anymore because that stuff is so good. It was like this cherry bark. That's going to be my breakfast today.
Jeff: So just to wrap it up then...
Riki Rachtman: Ask me questions that have nothing to do with, that talk about random stuff.
Jeff: Random stuff? Well the one question that we ask everyone is...
Dustin: What's your favorite cheese?
Riki Rachtman: I like... that's a stupid question.
Jeff: You're the one who wanted it.
Riki Rachtman: Sometimes if you rub your earlobes, if you rub your earlobes then you smell your fingers it'll smell like Cheetos.
Riki Rachtman: Or maybe it's me because I'm dirty.
Dustin: All that motorcycle grime.
Riki Rachtman: Yeah.
Jeff: All the stuff you do, all the stuff you've done in your life, we always like to find out this from everybody we talk to... What fuels you to keep going? What fuels you to keep, you know, doing a ride? Going out there, what fuels you to continue to be Riki Rachtman?
Riki Rachtman: One of the things that fuels me to keep on doing the things I do with work is, I have always had an incredible fear of being broke. And I did go broke. I once had an incident when I was doing talk radio, I was making like 300 grand a year and I beat up a DJ and went broke. Like, not MC Hammer broke in a mansion. Flat broke in a house with my power turned off. And people will tell you never ever, ever, ever, ever give up. And that's true. If you want to be a musician, if you want to be an actor, if you want to be this, never ever, ever give up.
Now, here's the reality of never give up. You're not, most of you will not succeed at that. So never give up, but have a back up plan. I could say, I'm going to wait and be a VJ or a radio host or this like that but I needed to get some money so I was a car salesman. And I sucked and I was selling Volkswagens with a suit and tie in Huntington Beach and people would go up and be like, "Are you the guy from Headbangers Ball?" And I'm like, "Yeah let me show you this Jetta." It was so damn humiliating that I had to do that for like a year. And I never gave up, but I still gotta pay bills.
For all you people that are like, people say never give up, pursue your dreams. Look, I'm proof positive that your dreams will come true but also you have to do some shit work in the meantime. Always have a backup plan. It's not a healthy feeling that I have about that fear that I don't enjoy stuff enough because I'm always scared of being broke but what motivates me is I just don't ever stop.
I don't ever want to be status quo. I don't want to ever be that guy. I mean, when people says stuff about me being on Headbangers Ball I'm not the greatest at getting compliments. When I just did TMZ about Kurt Cornell and they put me as like, Rock Legend, I was like, "Dude. Rock Legend? I mean like, I introduced some videos, I had a club." I just don't want to stop. I mean my mind works better, as soon as the Cathouse 30th was done I was working on doing this ride and as soon as the ride's done, I don't know what I'm going to do, but I have to always keep moving forward and that I think will stop you from becoming old.
I just have a fear of becoming stagnant. And that's why I never ever stop. And I really don't think I've done anything yet. I don't know what my main goal is. I don't know what I want to being doing two years from now. You know, I'm blessed that I have a very successful radio show called Racing Rocks that I get to talk about NASCAR and play rock and roll and I'm very lucky for that and happy but that's my income. I don't make a penny. I lose a lot of money on these rides. But that's not what it's all about. This keep me sane. I know my family misses me very very much when I go. And I know that Christy and Khloe are going nuts at home thinking about, "Is he going to be okay today, is he going to be okay today." And that's really tough on them. And I know that it's tough on them. And it's very selfish what I do. But I have to do this. I have to do these rides. This is who I am. This is just, this is who I am.
So I just never ever ever ever stop. I just can't rest. I don't know what happens.
Jeff: And you never should.
Riki Rachtman: I'd like to one day.
Jeff: Well that's awesome. I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show and to talk to us. You've said it before but I'll say it again, go to rikisride.com if you can value doing all that through your entire ride and you're also I believe just Riki Rachtman on all social media, right?
Riki Rachtman: I am. Riki Rachtman. I should have thought of something else so it'd be easier to search. By the way... [crosstalk 00:42:21] I am very well aware that my hair is growing out and it always looks like crap. So it's parting in the middle so it's like Moe from the Three Stooges. And I realize that but I'm just not going to cut it anymore and I love my wolf shirt. That's really all I have to say. And I really hope there's something to eat because I'm really sweating right now. And I drink Death Wish coffee everyday but I don't think I just drink three cups non stop drinking. And it doesn't get fresher than it gets right now and I'm look...I'm shaking.
Dustin: We're going to make that happen.
Riki Rachtman: You're giving me chocolate with Death Wish coffee in it.
Dustin: It has pretzels in it too I think.
Riki Rachtman: Oh okay. That sounds like a rounded meal to me.
Dustin: Thanks a lot, man.
Riki Rachtman: Thank you, guys.