Intervju med Nick och JD i Black Label Society!
När BLS spelade i Stockholm för någon månad sedan fick jag tillfället att sitta ner med Nick och JD. Med under intervjun var även min dotter Moa, som för första gången fick träffa ett par rockstjärnor och hålla den minigitarr som Zakk gett till Darrens (Roadrunner Records) son.
Det blev ett avslappnat samtal med två trevliga musiker och vi pratade bl a om Zakks nykterhet, filmen "Rock star", nya trummisen Johnny Kelly, låtskrivande och musikerlivet i allmänhet.
A day like this, what´s going on? When did you arrive in Stockholm?
Nick: Doing laundry.
JD: Yeah, I wish I could do laundry, but apparently the machines take hours here so I´m out of it.
Does it get boring?
JD: Totally! You wait all day for an hour and a half.
Nick: It´s like someone said to me, “You get paid to play guitar.”. No, I get paid for the other 18 hours that day. But it doesn´t suck! I mean, we got to see the Eiffel tower together and we get to see things that people pay to go see or win game shows. But your away from home and you can´t get into your car and go to Wal Mart. (laughs) You just sit here stuck. It´s a lot of waiting.
JD: It´s hard to find good food sometimes or a shower, you know what I mean. Things you take for granted, but that´s cool.
How´s the tour been going so far?
And how´s Johnny been doing?
JD: Johnny´s doing great! He barely had any rehearsals with us. He had two soundchecks with me and Nick and that was it and we just fired up.
I´m not a musician and I´m always fascinated by that, because I would think that you´d need a week or so to learn the songs.
JD: Well, you should have at least a week, with the whole band. That would been great, but under these circumstances we didn´t have that luxury so it was just throw and go!
He knew the material?
JD: Yeah, he had it for a week or so before he got out and then he got to watch two shows and stuff, so at least he got some what.
Nick: And there was the live stuff too. I mean, if he just listened to the cd, we do it differently live.
But Will´s departure was already known, right?
JD: Yeah, we knew that he was gonna have to leave at some point and it´s unfortunate that it happened now. We didn´t expect it during the tour, but that´s all. Will´s awesome and he had to go back to Evanescence.
Johnny´s gonna do the rest of the tour. Is he gonna be a member of the band?
JD: That I dodn´t know! We have to figure that out after.
Nick: It´s like Spinal Tap, the drummer´s blowing up. (laughs)
JD: First you had the bass players. When I left the first time, it was a revolving door of bass players, so I came back and shut the door for a little while, til´I´m leaving. I´ll quit this fucking band… (laughs)
Nick: Thank god!
The latest album, how do you guys work when it comes to writing music?
JD: Zakk´s the writer! He has the riffs. He plays his riffs with the drummer and then we just get a good drum track and then we build it pretty much from there. It´s his riffs, his melodies and his lyrics.
Nick: It´s his vision!
JD: In the studio though, I did produce it and mix it, so I definitely got good takes out of him and things like that and helped with arrangements and stuff, but as far as the writing, it´s all his writing.
Was there any talk about using an outside producer?
JD: No, me and Zakk, that´s it! He brought me in and that´s about as outside as he wants to go. I mean, we use producers and what do they do? I´ll tell you what to do! I´ll tell you what sounds good and I know if you´re in key and tell you what note you´re hitting. I mean, some bands definitely need a producer, other bands who aren´t as experienced in song writing and arranging, they definitely need a producer. Or know how to get certain sounds. I´ve been doing this for a long time in the studio so it makes sense that he asked me to do it. That was cool. But listen to it! It´s a good sounding record and sonically it´s probably the best one! And we built the studio at his house so now we have access to it 24/7 whenever we need to do anything.
When it comes to a record like this, does Zakk come up with like 30 songs and you pick from those or…?
JD: This time we probably had about 16 songs and then we lost maybe 3. Everything was pretty jamming. In the past, when we did “Shot to hell”, we had probably like 20 and then widdled it down to whatever was on that album, like 12 or 13. We´ve done it a lot in the past, but this one was kind of pretty much… everything stuck.
For how long is this tour going on?
JD: We´re doing Europe until March 23 and the we go home for April and hit the States in May and then back over to Europe in June for some festivals and shows and then July off and August in South America and perhaps Asia and then September off I guess and then October, November back over here with Alter Bridge or something. We´re busy all year, so thank god! TBA, we´ll see what happens. (laughs) There´s a lot of talk about a lot of things and half the time they happen and half the time they don´t and something else does.
What do you do when you have time off and you´re back home? Do you get involved in the other projects you´ve got going?
JD: Without a doubt, yeah!
Nick: I teach sometimes. It was weird at first because I had people calling me from like Kentucky. I want to keep this a consisting thing and you can´t drive from Kentucky every week. If you do, it´s psycho. (laughs) I mean, thank you. Now I just do the Speed X thing and got some guys in Pittsburgh and we just jam.
How long have you been teaching?
Nick: Not long. Some of the kids just wanna learn songs and stuff. It´s pretty much they pay the money and sit there and ask me stuff. Tell them stories and take the money, so I felt like a thief. I don´t want to sit there and waste their dad´s gas money. There were kids that came down and wanted to play, which was great. But hey, back when I was a kid and I got to go to some band that I like and get a lesson, I´d do it. But I wanted to teach and make money. I felt bad. I didn´t want to take their money and tell stories. (laughs)
JD: I´ve been teaching for 20 something years. I do clinics and stuff. I´ve got a clinic tomorrow in Gothenburg and when we´re home I do my band Cycle of Pain and I´m gonna write some more songs when I get home. I´m gonna do a clinic run through the Midwest, I think. You have to do what you have to do! You gotta make a living and if we can teach or whatever you gotta do for an extra income and it´s a way to give back to the kids and inspire, so it´s all good, but we´re always busy. But it is nice to go home and just lay there for a couple of days. The first two days I don´t even go out. You´re jetlagged and it´s crazy, so I´m just in my house playing my Xbox and watching my TV, eating my food, getting into my car. But it´s awesome! We have a blast!
Nick: As we speak, me and my fiancée just got a town house and I wasn´t even home for the move, but… like JD said, we play Xbox and back in the bus, we´ve got everybody hooked on NHL and we have tournaments every night and when we get home we´re online with each other.
JD: The world stops. Here we´re crazy and there´s something to do every day. You gotta get up and go do a meet and greet, you gotta do interviews and you gotta do the show and then you go home and it stops. So you have to fill that time with your own band, clinics, teaching whatever.
Those clinics seem cool! I just read that Chris Adler from Lamb of God had 730 people in Utah and apparently it was just unbelievable.
JD: Lamb of God man! People love them, but it´s not my thing.
Do you practice guitar and stuff like that?
JD: Anything man! Drums, piano, guitar, vocals.
Nick: This dude went to Berkley! It´s awesome!
JD: School was great! It enabled me to just study music and have nothing to do but get better. Ear training and reading and writing music and once you learn how to read and write music and the music theory, then you can apply it to every instrument, which is awesome. So I play the piano, but I haven´t played for the last ten years, but I know the notes, the keys and the chords and the scales so I can play. With drums too, I know all the rhythms and I´ve played with the most amazing drummers in the world and I learned a lot from them and all these different Afro Cuban rhythms and jazz and reggae. There´s so much great music out there and as you keep learning you just keep getting better. It´s like a never ending video game, you know! But I´m good friends with all these cats and they´re cats! I´m honored to be in the room with them, like at NAMM.
As a musician and you´ve been doing it for so long, do you still learn new tricks?
JD: Every day!
Nick: It´s been 15 years for me and Zakk and you´re like a Jedi with the master.What´s cool is that I´ve gotta step up my game all the time. He wants me to double this solo and double this solo and he´s like “This is it! Do it!” and I´m like “Can I have a night to go over it?”, but it´s cool because he has the confidence that I can do it.
JD: Yeah, Nick doubles a lot of his stuff! It sounds good!
Nick: But you definitely can´t slack! With Zakk, he´ll love you and you´ve been with him forever, but if you won´t pull your weight…
Is Zakk different now when the booze is gone and all that?
JD: I mean, he´s still annoying, but he´s not drunk and annoying! (laughs) We knew him before Ozzy and the shenanigans that went on. He´s awesome! He´s always been an amazing musician. He picked it up late, but within three years he had the Ozzy gig. How about that! To play with Ozzy when you´re 18 or 19, that´s insane! And we´re big Randy Rhoads fans and I wear a Randy shirt every night because he´s the reason.
Alright! JD, you played with Lita Ford, opening up for Mötley Crüe, right?
JD: Yeah, back in 1990. “Dr. Feelgood”.
Was there any hard partying going on? They were sober back then.
JD: They were sober, so I got in all kinds of trouble! They hated me! (laughs) I was this young kid and full of life and they hated it. (laughs) But they were cool, Mötley was awesome, but everybody like their tour manager and everybody in my camp, it was just horrible. I hated it, man! But it was a great experience and I got to tour arenas and all that and get endorsements with Kramer and I got another Spector bass. It was a great experience!
Nick: You were endorsed by Kramer?
JD: Yeah, Spector. That was my first endorsement.
Nick: I love Kramer!
JD: Yeah, I love those basses. They sound slamming!
What about the movie “Rock star”? Would you consider do any more acting?
Nick: Absolutely! It was fun and it was something different and I got to see how movies are made.
What was Jennifer Aniston like?
Nick: Awesome! Everybody was! Mark was a gentleman and hung out with everybody. He called me over to his house one night and he was making steaks and I thought it was gonna be a get together, but it was just him and I. It was funny. He likes to study and me and Zakk and Jason Bonham, we were looking at the actors and they were looking at us and going “This is what you do?”. Like Jason Flemyng who was the singer for Steel Dragon, he was legitimately terrified whenever he went on stage in front of 16000 people and he was like “You do this every night?”. And then the time we had to film, you had to be in the chair at four o´clock in the morning to get make up and stuff, so the first night I stayed up and I walked in all bright eyes and they were like “Did you sleep?” and I went “Nah!” and Jennifer said “Well we´ll be losing him around 5.30!” and sure as shit. “Coffee on the set!”. Then they switch it on you and go “You have to be in the chair at five o´clock!” and then shoot all night, which is great, because that´s what we do.
JD: Yeah, that´s what we do! We´re nocturnal creatures. (laughs)
Nick: It was awesome! I thought I was just gonna do the soundtrack, because they said to Zakk that he got the part and then they said “Could you bring someone out who can be in the tribute band?”. So I went out and it was like “Wow I get to play with Zakk and Jason and do these songs!” and then I was out there for another four months and they put me up in an apartment, gave me a car and it was awesome! I mean, it´s not gonna be “Schindler´s list” or anything but it´s funny. It came out on September 8 and then September 11 happened, so nobody went out.
It´s a cool movie!
Nick: Dude, here´s a great story! Me and Zakk were flying home from Germany and it was the in flight movie, so it´s the first time we got to watch it together. We´re punching each other and laughing at the wigs we were wearing and everybody starts looking and going “Are these guys in the movie?” and this old lady comes back to us and goes “Excuse me son, is that you in the movie?” and she´s like “I liked it!” and I was like “I´m glad!”. It was a great experience!
Where was the live footage shot?
Nick: That was at Staples Center.
Was another band performing or…?
Nick: They had a couple of bands playing and then they would shoot the Steel Dragon thing and Zakk and Jason and Jeff Pilson were actually all plugged in so in between shoots Zakk would solo and try to keep the crowd going and entertained. It was great! We get to do so many things we dreamed about.
No, not many people get to travel the way you do.
JD: It´s awesome when we have days off and we get to see stuff, but on show days this is what we do. Unless we´re in the city. I don´t know where we are now, around the outskirts or something.
It´s real close. It´s just across the bridge here.
JD: We can´t walk! (laughs) We ain´t walking over and there´s snow out! Sun and blue skies!
Nick: It´s the first time we´ve seen the sun since February 9.
JD: Yeah, because we were in the UK for weeks and then France and Holland and Denmark there was no sun, so now there´s sun here and we´re very happy. (laughs)
What about Speed X and Cycle of Pain? More albums coming?
JD: I guess! For sure! I hope so, for both of us, man. We hope to do more records.
Nick: Cycle of Pain opened up for us.
JD: Yeah, we grew up together, me and my singer and my guitar player, so it´s pretty cool when we get to do it like this and open for BLS. It´s amazing! We opened up for Shinedown too in the States for a few weeks and that was really a great experience. I hope to get over here, man!
Nick: That´s the greatest thing with Zakk, that he´s supportive. It´s not like “No, you can´t do it!”.
So it´s not like James Hetfield with Jason Newsted?
JD: No! We played New Jersey and he was like “JD, are your band opening up?” and I was like “I don´t know! I hope so.”. He´s great like that.
Well, thank you guys!
JD: You got it my brother!