Interview By John Katic (Ironcityrocks.Com) And Jari Asell / December 2010
Black Label Society have a storming new album “Order Of The Black”out now and seem to have gained immense popularity all over the world, with plenty of radio airplay to support it. The band is currently touring in support of their new album. Guitarist Nick Catanese took time off from touring to have a chat with Steel Mill.
Nick, thank you for taking the time to talk with us during this short break in BLS’s touring schedule. Can you tell us what got you interested in playing the guitar?
The first time I heard “Van Halen 1,” I was blown away by Eddie (Van Halen). That started it all and also getting “Kiss Alive 1 “ for my first album was a start too
When did you first seriously consider becoming a professional musician?
It was a dream of mine but I just dug playing the guitar. It’s awesome what has happened in my life but I started playing because I DUG playing.
Can you talk about how you came to play with Zakk Wylde?
I quit my old band in Pittsburgh and I saw Zakk’s email address in Metal Edge magazine. I emailed him saying “if you need a guitar player, I’m in Pittsburgh,” never thinking he would need one. And he needed a guitarist to accompany him for the “Book of Shadows” tour in 1996 so I get an email back saying he did and for me to send him a tape and a picture. And two weeks later he called me and we talked for a good while, then he flew to Pittsburgh. We rehearsed and my first gig was in Erie. And even after that I thought I would be there for a month or so and I was psyched just for that. Well 14 years later, I’m still here.
Would you be able to contrast Zakk to you and your playing styles?
We play similar, that’s why it sounds like the cd live. I still learn a lot playing with Zakk. He is always doing new shit and I’m trying to figure it out . Now we double a lot of solos and I do the solos on the piano ballads.
You don’t hide your love for KISS, did that make playing on “Alcohol Fueled Brutality” that much more special?
Hell yeah , it’s always fun to record.
Can you relive the experience of being in the movie ‘Rock Star’ for us?
It was amazing!!! Getting to hang with Mark (Wahlberg) and Jennifer (Aniston) and Brad Pitt was there a lot. VERY cool people too. It was awesome just seeing how movies are made, one shot takes almost all day to shoot, different camera angles and shit. I was blown away by the process. But seeing the actors play onstage was cool too, it was like both the actors and the musicians got a taste of each others careers.
How would you describe the fans of Black Label Society?
Incredible and loyal as hell. It’s sick to see how many BLS-tattoos are out there and how much the fans LOVE this band. Its an honor and the family keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Can you tell us a little about SpeedX?
It’s a project I put together with Mike Stone from Queensryche, Josh Sattler and Mike Froedge from DoubleDrive and Jason Fowler on vocals. We did a CD called “Flat Black.” You can get it on Itunes. We have done a few shows and having fun with it.
Tell us a little about your new PRS SE Nick Catanese guitar?
Being with PRS is amazing. They make awesome guitars and all of them sound sick! The Evil Twin model is a SE (import). And it’s the same one I use live and it sounds as good or better than some of my others. I wanted a guitar people could afford and still play the same guitar as me . It’s a 22 fret Mahogany body, EMG pickups, jumbo frets and a nice weight to it, heavy but not too heavy.
What do you think the biggest misconception that you think people have about professional musicians?
That its a constant party, hah!. It’s a lot of traveling and shit. The best part of the day is that hour or so you play. That’s the reason we are all there is to play music. But it’s still a blessing to do what you love to do for a living.
Is there any one person that you have met in your career that you were really in awe of or that reduced you to a nervous fan?
Shit yeah! Paul Stanley, I met him at NAMM. I was in awe, I mean here is the guy that is responsible for me being where I am. If it wasn’t for “Kiss Alive 1” and “Van Halen” I might be working at Wal Mart. He was the coolest guy and his son Evan is a BLS fan so it was cool talking to him.
You have to pick only one, a 1958 Les Paul in mint condition or a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454?
Wow can I have both, ha ha! I would take the Chevelle, I have quite a few Les Pauls as well as my PRS guitars. But I dont have one Chevelle, so that would be my choice. GOOD question though!!!
Since you mentioned “Kiss Alive 1” and VH 1, how do feel about Priest`s “Unleashed in the East”?
I think “Unleashed” is one bad ass album. K.K. and Glenn killed as usual and of course Rob and I played “Green Manalishi” over and over (one of my favorites).
What is your take on Priest`s twin guitar attack?
Of course I`m a fan. Anytime there is more guitar I dig it! Even in BLS the two guitar sound is the way to go. That way it sounds like the CD. But it’s the best when you find two guitarists that mesh so well like K.K. and Glenn.
As a guitarist which Priest album will have most spins in your car stereo?
“Screaming for Vengeance!” “Hellion/Electric Eye”, BABY!
Any last comments for the K.K.Downing`s Steel Mill readers?
Keep on listening to good guitar rock and we will keep on making it for ya!!! I´m sure K.K. would agree.
Black Label Society on the web: