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Miami band BLACK TIDE is making waves internationally sending beasty 80’s Hard Rock / Heavy Metal crashing through into the mainstream music arena once again. Signed to Interscope BLACK TIDE unleashed a debut album ‘Light From Above’ in February this year but what’s really exciting about this band other than the music, is the fact that none of the members are over 19. In fact, frontman Gabriel Garcia is just 15 years old and he started the band when he was 10! Having completed their debut album, BLACK TIDE is taking their music to the masses by hitting the road for another European tour. Bassist Zakk Sandler gives some insight into the band’s story so far…

So how did BLACK TIDE form, when did you guys all get together?

2003 really, we’ve been together for about five years now. We got together playing backyards and house parties and stuff then occasionally clubs. Then we moved to just playing clubs. We all knew eachother from school and through friends… how kids meet.

When you first joined BLACK TIDE your vocalist Gabriel he was only 10 years old. What was it like being in a band fronted by a 10 year old?

It wasn’t bad because his older brother was our drummer so it wasn’t like we were outside schools waiting for 10 year-olds or something, which is gross HAHA! But we didn’t really think it was that weird. We were like hey the kid wants to do it, let him do it, who are we to stop him? I started playing when I was like 8 so I was like hey it’s another kid playing guitar.

Did you notice his talent straight away?

Um yeah, I’ve been watching it progress over the last five years or so. At first I was like he’s really good for 10 you know. I remember when I was 10 and I was doing that shit. And then he just started getting better and better and I was like damn, this kid is getting really fucking good and he’s like 13!

How did you guys get spotted by the labels to begin with?

We did a festival in Orlando, Florida called the Florida Music Festival which is like a mini SXSW or a music conference with bands and label reps. We first got noticed by labels like Sony, Columbia, Island… all these people and they just started flying us to New York and shit. But then those didn’t work out, somebody from our publishing company introduced us to a guy who just fell in love with us and then we made a record.

You’re with Interscope now but you were with Atlantic before. What happened there?

Atlantic records first signed us to a demo deal a few years back and we basically recorded some demos with them. And then I guess whoever their head honcho was came out to see us down in Florida and he was like yeah, like you guys…. And we were like ah well thanks, you suck. Thanks for wasting a year. And then Interscope records picked us up and the smile has never left my face. I’m not joking, I’m smiling right now.

What was it that first got you into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal?

Um, listening to Classic Rock really. I mean you kinda start out with like your DOORS and then your LED ZEPPELIN and then you kinda get out of the 60’s and 70’s and into the 80’s and here’s MOTLEY CRUE, here’s JUDAS PRIEST here’s METALLICA. Then you start listening to their influences like who were METALLICA listening to? They were listening to DIAMOND HEAD so it’s like alright we’ll check out DIAMOND HEAD, we’ll check out MOTORHEAD. I don’t really classify one band as like Metal or Rock, it’s all Rock N Roll man.

You’ve got a bit of a break before heading back to Europe for more touring, how’d it go last time you were over there?

Last time we went to Europe it was pretty cool. We were only there for about a week and we had a show every single day, so we didn’t really get to you know, run around and explore like we did the first time we went but it was still pretty cool , we had a good time especially because we were headlining so that’s always good. We brought the band GLAMOUR OF THE KILL from the UK out with us.

Black Tide band picWho have you had the chance to meet on tour so far? I know you’ve met LAMB OF GOD, what was it like hanging out with them?

Oh those guys were cool. They showed us where the party was at and they all wanted to hang out. All the dudes from AVENGED SEVENFOLD were also really cool. We were on tour with them for like a few months and they treated us great and got us drunk on our birthsdays HAHA! You now, who else have we met… we’ve met some really cool people like Joey Jordison from SLIPKNOT and all the people from IN THIS MOMENT are really cool and some of OZZY OSBOURNE’s band like “Blasko” (bassist aka Rob Nicholson) who’s one of my heroes. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really good people.

Who else would you really like to meet?

Oh man, there’s tonnes of people I want to meet. I’d love to meet the METALLICA guys. Just to get to like shake James Hetfield’s hand and be like “man, you’re a badass!” that’d be pretty sweet.

Have you had any feedback from METALLICA about your cover of ‘Hit The Lights’ from ‘Kill Em All’?

No we havent, but man I would love to hear what they think even if they think it sucks HAHA! I just want to know. I think actually they might have a copy of the record because I’m sure that they were probably like “a bunch of fucking kids covered our songs, let’s hear it!”. You know what you should do? You should like schedule an interview with them and then be like hey, have you ever heard BLACK TIDE’s cover of ‘Hit The Lights’ HAHA! Hell yeah!

You guys got pranked at the end of the Ozzfest tour last year, where people came out to join you on stage dressed as chickens etc. Was that an odd experience?

It was pretty awesome actually. At the time we were like dammit, all of our families are here and our friends are here but then we were like whatever dude, we just got accepted into the Metal community. It was like that right of passage you know. That dude in the chicken mask, he was LAMB OF GOD’s guitar tech. There was also BLasco from OZZY and Tony from STATIC-X. IT was pretty cool, when we looked back and watched the video we were like that was pretty badass. We got hazed by some of Metal’s biggest names.

When we were doing the Ozzfest tour we were doing off dates playing with STATIC-X which was pretty sweet. They didnt hang out with us too much and then the last two days of the tour they were all cool with us all of a sudden. So we were like that’s cool. It was after they humiliated us on stage that they were our friends HAHA! But those guys are really cool and it was fun being on tour with them. STATIC-X used to be one of my favourite bands when I was like 12 so then I was like hey, I’m 18 and on tour with them. It’s like you go from being the fan to being on the bill which one of the coolest things thats ever happened. Its like we were going to see TRIVIUM and LAMB OF GOD and I was going to see OZZY all the time and now it’s like hey, I’m on the same stage as them and it’s pretty sweet.

You guys are still quite young, are any of you still studying?

I left school when I was 17 because I hate my l and my school hates me so I relied on the music thing HAHA. It’s funny because when you drop out they make you meet with the principle, like that one last gasp you know, maybe they can convince you to stay. And she’s like “Ohhh, what are you going to do with your life” and I was like “I’m a musician, I’m in a signed Rock N Roll band” and she’s like “You know music never works out…” So I need to bring her a copy of the album and smack her in the face with it HAHA! Everybody in the band is out of school. Gabriel is 15 and has to be in school so he does online schooling because… well thank God for technology – the only time I love computers.

Yeah well speaking of computers, I was having a browse around on Youtube and found a few interesting things to do with yourself and BLACK TIDE. What the hell was going on with that dude who interviewed you from Metal Injection?

Oh man! Alright, that was like our first video interview ever and it couldn’t of… I’m mean I’m not knocking Metal Injection, they’re a great site and they do some cool work, but that dude like wasted 20 minutes! It was like why don’t you ask us something like a real question? He didn’t ask us about our record, he didn’t ask us about our influences. It being our first real interview like that, we didnt really know what to expect but it was like this is rediculous. If you watch it we do almost like no talking in that interview. Like half the time it’s him going “Oh, so you guys get get drunk?” It’s like dude really? That’s your best question? Like come on man, do some research!

But there’s actually are some really cool videos on Youtube like my friends sitting there going “Yeah, Zakk sucks!” There’s two videos, there’s that one where they just sit there saying I suck for like 10 minutes and those are like my two best friends in the whole world. I’ve grown up with those guys and I’ve played in bands with them. They were “oh, dude, we’ve made a video” and then a bunch of BLACK TIDE fans were like “those guys are gay, fuck them…!” I was like man, I’ve got the best fans ever and they were like “we have to make a video of us hanging out with you” so my fans dont kill them.

They talk about how you were all in a band called FOX ARCANIA…

Yeah that was my old band, that was the band that I played guitar in basically when I wasn’t doing the BLACK TIDE thing or like rehearsing with them. We always spent time at my best friends house and he was our drummer. And it’d be like 2am and we’d be hanging out on a friday night and we’ve be like “fuck it, lets just practice”. It was just a fun band to be in. We didn’t even play that many shows. We played like maybe played like 20 shows in two years. But it was just fun and we’re always kinda joking like “see this, see this, we’re going to be the greatest Rock N Roll band ever!” but we’re not even together HAHA!

Are those guys still playing in bands as well?

I think they still play music. Whenever I’m in town we always jam and we hang out and play all the old songs. We reminiss but I dont know, I dont see them being the next big thing or anything. But it’s a fun little thing to do on the side. Nowdays everybody’s got side projects right? They could be like my FOO FIGHTERS! HAHA! But that side project is the last thing on my mind. The little skinny dude in the video is Tony and the other dude who starts crying is Tito – he’s my boy.

Going back to BLACK TIDE, you worked in the studio with Johnny K (DISTURBED, MACHINE HEAD, UNLOCO). What was that experience like?

It was really cool. We’d just met him the one time before and it was like two or three months before we even made our record. But you know he just came out, he hung out with us a little bit, he talked to us and we went to dinner. But we didn’t really know anything about him. We didnt know how weird a guy he really is! You know how you hear like Oh, so and so is insane or like Lars Ulrich is insane… no, Johnny K is insane! We were like in the middle of recording and he’d just be like, “man you know what, I dont like the vibe, lets go play a couple of rounds of foos ball and then get back in the studio.” We were like but “what, we’re in the middle of working” and he’d be “yeah be we’ve gotta to lighten the mood, let’s go play foos ball” or “hey who lets go play lazer tag”. And we were like “dude, you’re like 40”. But it was badass! That dude is smart as hell, he really knows musical arrangements. He just has good taste for music you know and I think that’s kinda how you rate good producers and bad producers. It’s not about their skills with ProTools, its about their taste in music. Rick Rubin gets in the studio and he doesnt even touch a board, he sits on a couch and plays with his BlackBerry but he’s like “I think that sucks, dont use that, use this instead,” and then it’s a number one single. And Johnny K kinda has that, he’s just a little more hands on. He’s like “listen, you have to work on this arrangement, you cant just do this. Here’s your verse, here’s your chorus, here’s a verse, here’s a chorus, now here’s the bridge and here’s two more chorus’ and that’s your hit song”. You have to craft it, you have to love the song, you have be into it, you have to feel the whole thing, which is really cool.

So it’s pretty much safe to say he gave you the exact sound that you wanted on ‘Light From Above’?

I think so yeah. It’s a very raw sound but it’s still polished if that makes any sense. But he’s got that right ear for it you know. He knows when something just sounds off.

How long did it take to finish the recording off?

It took us about six months, which is rediculously long for a new band to be doing their debut album but it got done. I think we did a really good job. I think it could’ve been done in three months but between playing around and writing songs last minute… we just worked out a lot of things in the studio. We just had to keep reworking some songs. We’d finish a full arrangement to a song and then we’d start trashing it. If we didn’t think an arrangement was that good we’d start over because we didn’t want to put out crap.

Were there any songs that didnt make it onto the album?

Yeah there were a couple of songs that didnt make it on. Some of them are like b-sides, exclusive tracks or whatever. Like the UK has a bonus track, iTunes has a bonus track, Hot Topic has a bonus track. But there’s a few songs that we didnt even actually track to begin with which we wish we had an maybe we’ll use them for the second record.

Speaking of that, someone online has started a rumour that you’ve already been given the thumbs up by Interscope to do a follow-up recording to ‘Light From Above’

Oh hell no HAHA! I just talked to our A&R guy like a few days ago too. There is no talk about a second album, not yet. We will be doing one but we’re only like three or four months into this one. I know fans have like hot demand for things but they’ve gotta chill out HAHA! We haven’t even see a lot of the world yet. We’ll probably start working on an album sometime in 2009. 2008 is just all about touring and getting us out there. So by the time we go in for our second record we can see 100,000 copies HAHA! I want a number one album on that next release dammit! HAHA! I wont take no for an answer.

You released the ‘Shockwave’ single as a limited edition coloured vinyl. A lot of the bands you’ve talked about like METALLICA all did that sort of thing. Does it feel cool to be following in their footsteps?

Yeah, I mean one of my big beefs when we signed up to a major label was like man, we’re never going to have anything on vinyl. Because I’ve grown up on vinyl, I still listen to records. All my favourite DOORS albums I have on vinyl, I have LED ZEPPELIN on vinyl, I have all the good shit So to actually have my own vinyl is pretty sweet, and it was red which is just a little cooler. It’s definitely cool that bands can even do that stuff now. I have no idea how many we pressed. I guess we pressed about 1000 of them. Each member of the band, we all got a copy of it because you know, we’ve got to have a copy of that. I think we signed like 200 of them for some giveaway at some point, or maybe just so some people could sell them for more HAHA! But there’s roughly about 1000 of them on sale, if there are any still on sale. I dont know how they’ve sold.

I’m sure it’ll be worth a lot of money on Ebay eventually

You can find anything on Ebay. I found someone who was selling “rare” promo stickers of us and I was like dude, they’re not that rare, I’ve got a huge box full of those HAHA! If you wanna talk rare I’ve got our old band t-shirts from when we were called RADIO… which actually I might go sell those on Ebay, that’s a great idea HAHA! Thankyou for that!

What’s the most prized record in your collection?

I think my most prized record would have to be my copy of THE DOORS ‘Strange Days’ because it’s like an original print. It’s all faded and screwed up but it’s just really cool because it’s like dude, this was sitting in a record store in like 1967. I like that shit, I’m into old collectable stupid crap that is really not worth any money but has sentimental value. I’ve got LED ZEPPELIN ‘IV’ and I’ve got a bunch of YARDBIRDS records. I got a JIMI HENDRIX ‘Bold Of Love’ that was like sitting in one of my neighbours garages and I was like dude, can I have this? He said yeah sure and it’s all screwed up but it’s like a second print or something from like the 70’s. I’ve got heaps of SIMON AND GARFUNKEL because they’re awesome. I’ve got a bunch of stuff, I should really look through it some time, it’s just because I’m always on the road I kinda keep a lot of stuff packed away now. I’m trying to you know, leave room for the rest of my family to live in HAHA! If you go into my house there’s like nice stuff and there’s some space, but then you go into my room and its like full of guitar, magazines and free clothing and shit that doesnt even fit me… that I give to my friends.

Has life changed for your family since you’re on the road all the time?

It’s changed a little for them. I mean they’re used to having me around all the time and being able to run errands for them, just basic house stuff. Because the deal with my house is it’s like my brother, my mom, my grandmother and me. And like my brother is moving out so that kinda sucks for them but not really, they’re tough, they can handle it. It just sucks because it’s like a five bedroom house and there’s like three people living there so it’s kinda pointless to have all that space. Actually I’ll promise you, the rest of the year I’m probably not going to see my house because of touring, I’ll probably see it for like a day.

Is there any chance BLACK TIDE will make it over to New Zealand to play?

I hope so. I really, really want to go to like New Zealand and Australia, somewhere I’ve never been. I really want to see some just different people and different culture. Because I kinda get off on that. Dude, I’ll go to the mall and I’ll watch people and just see how people act and their manurisims and stuff. So it’s kinda cool to do it in different countries and really see how people act there. It’s like they dont all go to Burger King at 3pm… so they eat this. Or they dont scream at their kids, they give them the silent treatment or something. I’m like a nut, I like to see how people act.

What’s the best show that you’ve played so far?

There’s a few. We played one of our first headlining shows ever in Portland, Oregon and it was pretty insane. I dont think our actual playing was that awsome but the crowd was so redicuous, they were like stage diving and crowd surfing. It didnt even matter that it wasnt out best night because the crowd was just insane. Recently we played the Rock In Range Festival in Ohio and the crowd there we just won them over and they were really great. We played a show at the Whiskey A Go Go and I guess you could call it a small riot broke out. Not everybody can say that’s happened to them, especially at the Whiskey A Go Go. It’s nice we could do Jim Morrison proud HAHA!

There’s that writer James Frey who wrote that book ‘A Million Little Pieces’ and Oprah said there’s not way this is all true so he was like ok, so I made some of it up, it’s a book, its supposed to be entertaining. He really wanted to do a Rock N Roll book launch so he said I want you guys to come out to LA and instead of doing a book signing at a Barnes And Noble bookstore, lets do it at the Whiskey A Go Go and have a Rock band play and turn it into a Rock show. So we did that and security was like hey, no moshing. But we have some fucking crazy fans and they were like throwing tables and fighting security and shit… like real moshing but around all these like literary people, you know, people who really read HAHA! …like book critics. So yeah, a bunch of people got arrested and a few security guards got their asses kicked and then they beat the shit out of some of our fans. It was ugly but it was insane. We were just like man, thats fucking Rock N Roll. Somebody said to us, nothing really happens like that anymore, not since GUNS N ROSES and we were like well that’s cool HAHA!

Do you consider BLACK TIDE to be in the new, New Wave of Rock / Metal?

Yeah, it’s definitely like that new wave. The way I see it is we’ve got all these bands who are trying to bring it back, they’re trying so hard and we’re one of them. We’re doing out best just to bring back when Rock N Roll was good. I mean it’s great there are these bands out there who have their Top 40 hits and they look the part and all that but they’re not really… I mean MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE can say they’re Rock N Roll all they want but I dont believe it. They still straighten their hair at night and put on their makeup. I mean, not to knock them, they’re fucking huge. They’re 10 times, no fuck that they’re like 1000 times the size that we are and they can fucking tour arenas so they’re clearly doing good. They made a pretty decent record but I wouldn’t call them hardcore Rock N Roll, I wouldn’t call us that either, but it’s definitely more real. I mean we don’t stage our fights HAHA! I dont buy precut jeans or anything, the holes in my jeans are real dammit! HAHA!