Black Tide

Interview: Black Tide – Gabriel Garcia

Black Tide began a non-stop rollercoaster of touring since their debut ‘Light From Above’ dropped in 2008, and it certainly fostered growth on album number two. During that whirlwind of shows, the band participated in the first-ever Rockstar Mayhem Festival alongside Slipknot and Disturbed in 2008, toured the U.S. with Avenged Sevenfold, played the main stage at Ozzfest 2008 and lit up the stage on Warped Tour 2009. Overseas, the group shared stages with legends such as Iron Maiden and Metallica. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone featured Black Tide as one of the “Best Rookies of 2008” and Kerrang! lauded the band as “Best International Newcomer,” while numerous video games—from Rock Band to NHL 09—featured Black Tide tunes. The four members, all in their teens at the time, continued to collectively and personally grow as musicians, paving the way for this second album.

Before the band released their sophomore album ‘Post Mortem’ earlier this week on August 23rd I had the opportunity to talk to lead vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Garcia over the phone. Read on as we talk about their new album, being thrown into the deep end as young kids and working through a lot of ups and downs to get where they are today.

Be sure to check out the bands official website, Facebook and Twitter and head on over to your favourite online music store to purchase your copy of their highly rated new album ‘Post Mortem’ (iTunes UK/iTunes US).

Track: Walking Dead Man

 

Michael: How are you doing man?

Gabriel Garcia: Very good, just sitting here at home. How are you?

I’m doing pretty well thanks. I noticed that you just performed the national anthem at the X-Games so how was that as an experience?

[Laughs]. It was probably the craziest thing that I have ever done man. It was so nerve-wracking. I woke up at 9am for the sound check and my voice wasn’t feeling up to par so I was freaking out but I took a nap and when I woke up I was feeling a lot better and just got straight up on stage. It was such an amazing experience.

You’re also just off the back of Sonisphere so how did it feel to be given that chance to get back over to the UK and play to such a big crowd?

We hadn’t been overseas for about a year and a half I think but the coolest thing about it was being able to see how many fans we had gained and how many have stuck around waiting for us. When we got on stage it was just a sea of people, completely packed and everyone knew the songs so it was just a really good fucking time man. It was totally unexpected but still a really good experience.

I came down to catch your set and I was surprised at the amount of people who had turned up that early in the morning to catch you.

Yeah to have a sea of people at that time, mind-blowing.

What happened at the airport as I know you had to end up staying in England overnight?

We just didn’t catch our flight. Traffic was pretty bad when we were trying to get to the airport so we just couldn’t make it on time.

I noticed the post on Twitter about how the American accent was a hot commodity in England and you had a fun night.

[Laughs]. Yeah it was a lot of fun! We stayed out over at this place, fuck I can’t remember the name [laughs] but we stayed somewhere and we went out to a club with a friend of ours out there and had a blast. It was Monday night and the club was packed. People party really hard over there [laughs].

Considering that you’re only what nineteen/twenty years old? How have you handled everything that has been thrown your way so far such as being signed at a young age and all the success that came with it as you were sort of thrown in the deep end?

That’s a good way to put it, being thrown in the deep end. There are no lies when it comes to all of this as we’ve had to learn everything the hard way because we were so young. We’ve been through so many ups and downs. We started out at the top and had to work our back down to the clubs because our first tour was main stage at Ozzfest and seriously who gets that sort of opportunity. We just had to work ourselves back down as we realised this is just not normal [laughs]. After Ozzfest we had to work out how touring works and how the band life works so we’ve had to go through a lot to get where we are today. All of that really inspired the new record that is coming out. Everything that we’ve had to go through really was thrown into ‘Post Mortem’.

That answers the question of what does the album title mean that I was going to ask you about but more or less cutting yourself open and getting everything inside out.

Yeah. It doesn’t cover the full album as there are different messages in there which relate to different things that we have all been through. Each song has its own meaning based off something that we have actually been through.

When you consider things such as your first tour being Ozzfest and everything that you have achieved in the past three to four years, do you think that comes down to the work ethic within the band or is there something that sets Black Tide apart from the pack?

Well for our first record it was weird because age was such a big thing about us. Every article you read about us it was all about “these young kids Black Tide” and “these young kids” this and that. So we did have to work somewhat harder to fight through that barrier but when people actually took time to listen to us they realised that “these young kids” actually sounded quite good. We didn’t appreciate all of the focus being about our age, we always think it should be about the music. Fuck everything else, it is all about the music and people started to see what we had when they listened to us. That’s the big difference with this record now that we are a little bit older because people are now willing to focus on our music rather than our age. Don’t get me wrong, we will still need to work our asses off but people are no longer giving us what felt like a sympathy vote in the beginning as were just young kids back then. We’re young adults now and it has become easier to write now in terms of the lyrics. Before I was writing from the eyes of a ten to thirteen year old and I didn’t really have much to say. The songs were not about anything that was real; I had not experienced enough at that age to be able to write anything with true meaning.

Do you think you have proved to those people who viewed you as just young kids trying to make a rock record that you had a lot more to give or do you still think you have more to prove to them and yourself?

We will always have something to prove. Every band needs to continually prove their worth when it comes down to a new album if you get what I mean. We will just keep writing music that we love and then we have to hope other people will at the same time like it and join the army kind of thing. We’re going to continue to grow and evolve and during that process we will never make the same record twice, every record will be a step above the last one.

Other than what you have said about being able to write about something real this time around and things you have experienced, how else do you feel that this album is set apart from ‘Light From Above’?

I think the biggest difference over the four years, well for me anyway, is that my voice changed so I’ve had to work with that. I come back to it again but the biggest part of it is still being able to write about something real this time as it will help us to connect with the listener and hopefully create a new bond with them, one that we couldn’t achieve before. I feel like it will help get people through some shitty situations in their life. Music can make any situation better and if we can achieve that even with a small number of people then we’re winning.

I sort of wonder how much can happen in three to four years if you ended up with forty to fifty songs.

[Laughs]. A lot man.

Black Tide Post Mortem ArtworkHow long did it take to get everything together if you ended up with that many songs?

The writing and recording process was the longest part of making this record. The pre-production process really took about a year to just find out what direction we wanted to go in and it was from there we ended up with I think forty four songs before we picked the final ten. We really had to sit down with the label and figure out where we all wanted to go with it because it had been so long since we released our first record that ‘Post Mortem’ had to be something special across the board you know. With everything changing around us and my voice like I said, we really had to go back to square one at times to find the best place to start.

What did Austin [Diaz] bring to the table as this was his first album with the band?

He definitely brings a different edge to the band as he comes from a classical background. He studied classical music in high school and all that kind of stuff so it was good to see his perspective on things. He was the glue in this band because there were times we were on the edge and Zakk [Sandler, bass], Seven [Spence, drums] and I weren’t really hanging out and not being a real band but when Austin came in he brought us all back together and ever since we have grown tighter and tighter as a band. He really helped us to sort out everything and now we’re ready to keep going on. At times also I had kind of lost my sense of who I was in the band as I wasn’t so focussed on being the lead guitarist, I put more focus into being the songwriter and he helped to push me back to where I needed to be. He brought a lot to the table and he has some great solos on this record.

So when you finally got all the songs together you went into the studio and worked with Garth Richardson and Josh Wilbur, what was it like to work alongside them?

It was really cool man. Josh was the one who was there from day one, well maybe not day one as he came in during the writing process but it was when we were starting to get serious about things and I think he ended up working with us for around eight to nine months. Josh helped us with some of the writing and the recording after that and then Garth hopped in for around one month to a month and a half. Josh was cool because he had a younger perspective on things. He knew what was in nowadays, what is cool and Garth came in with an old school vibe of knowing what rocks so the combo of them both was really good. We had to fight at times for what we believed was right in the direction but what they helped us to achieve with the outcome is exactly what we wanted to have as ‘Post Mortem’.

Well that was the outcome that you wanted back then but you’ve been sitting on this record for over a year now so do you still feel the same way or do you feel unattached to that material now?

Yeah we’re still happy overall with it but it does feel pretty old to us now. I think the songs were done about a year ago and it has been recorded for about eight months. Although it still feels old to us, it is exciting to see the reaction people have when they hear the singles and we’ll just need to wait to see how people react when it finally comes out on August 23rd. It’s when we get to do something like Sonisphere and you see the love the people have for the songs and for the band, it makes the wait worth it. I think the fact they are excited to hear the new material feeds back to us when we’re standing on stage in front of them and it just helps to fuel you on.

What actually lead to the delay because the initial release was way back in February?

It’s all about timing when it comes to this industry. We still had little bits here and there we could do and in terms of press and marketing we and the label felt things could be done to give the release a lot more notice. In the end they know what’s better and how to handle the business side of things as if it were up to us we would have had it out the night it was finalised. They have been doing so many great things for us like getting us on great tours and handling all that stuff like advertising so people will know about the record beforehand in order to buy it when it comes out.

Back in February the album was self-titled so what during that delay made you switch the title to ‘Post Mortem’? Was that just down to more thought based on the lyrical content and cutting yourself open with everything that has happened.

It was just one those things that we kept talking over and when the record was pushed back we had even more time to think about everything that was involved to do with the record; it was then we came up with ‘Post Mortem’. We know it sounds kind of negative but we’re a really positive band so for us it was more like taking a step into a paradise whereas other people just look at it and say “oh you’re dead” [laughs]. For us it is taking a step into paradise which is taking a step into the unknown.

You mentioned the singles before and to date you already have four out so based on the sound of the album, will they follow the four singles or do you have a few twists that might shock people?

I’d say this record is a little bit all over the place [laughs]. We have our heaviest song on this record but at the same time we also have our lightest song on this record. I think some people might be thrown off but I believe there is a song on this record for everybody and I mean everybody, not just metal fans, there will be something on this record that any fan of any genre of music can relate to.

I think the song that everyone will be interested in will be ‘Ashes’ which features Matt Tuck (Bullet For My Valentine). How did it come around that you have him work with you on that song?

It’s actually funny man. We were on tour with the guys from Bullet [For My Valentine] and the record was already done at this point which was about six/seven months ago. We were on their bus and we put on the record for them and Matt was like “yo man, why didn’t you guys ask me to sing on the record? You should have hit me up!” and we were like “damn it’s finished, we didn’t even think about it at the time”. It just so happened that in a couple of days we would be in New York so we thought fuck it, let’s get back into the studio, as Josh’s studio is there, and make this happen. We’re on tour with the guys from Bullet so why not make this happen. So we called our manager and their manager and we set it up. A few days later there we are and Matt just ripped through the choruses and the verses he was in.

Did he just sing or did he perform any guitar for it?

He just sang on this one.

 

Track: That Fire

 

The most recent single you have released is ‘That Fire’ which you also shot the video for.

Yeah that video has been about for a week or two now.

What is the story behind that song?

[Laughs]. That is just a fun song man; it is actually the least serious song on the record. It’s about lying to a girl or a girl lying to a guy, playing someone out, telling them that they are your fire just to keep playing them along.

Surely there must have been a point during that video shoot that the other guys spoke up and were not happy that you were spending most of your time in a bed with hot chicks.

[Laughs]. Yeah the guys were not happy as there was me for most of the day in this bed with these cute girls all over me and they just sat on the couch with their sad faces on [laughs]. But we’re all good and we were all stoked with the outcome of the video. Having our friends out for the day and stuff like that just made it better.

Something that I noticed recently about ‘That Fire’ is that it was featured on NHL 12 but a lot of your songs have been featured in games so are you big gamers?

Definitely man, I have my Xbox sitting right next to me here. I play games like Call Of Duty and things like Halo, I’m all about it man [laughs]. But yeah it’s very cool and we’ve been very fortunate with the fact they have wanted to pick up the songs. Games like Tekken Vs Street Fighter, football and hockey and just a bunch of stuff man. We’ve been very lucky and it’s really cool just to hear your music on anything. The other day ‘That Fire’ was on ESPN during the X-Games and that was just fucking cool.

Next up for the band will of course be touring and this month you are on the Uproar Festival tour which has some big names so are you looking forward to getting out on the road?

Definitely man. They are all bands that we have toured with before like our boys in Avenged Sevenfold and our good buddies Bullet For My Valentine and Escape The Fate. It should be too much fun [laughs]. It’s going to be like a big family reunion when we all team up again. Our record comes out in time for it so it will be great to see how we build fans during the tour and it will just be exciting to get out there and play music.

Straight after that also it is the 48 Hour Festival which features everyone from the Uproar Festival minus one or two.

Yeah it is almost like the same thing just with some more bands and we’ll just rip through that too.

After Sonisphere you must be considering a UK tour.

Yeah we are actually looking at some dates right now and we should be over in November.

Black Tide Band PictureAre you taking the chance with a headline tour or playing it smart and supporting someone?

Playing it smart right now and jumping onto a tour right now. I’ve seen a lot of the dates which are more or less close to being confirmed so it looks like it is happening.

Who is it you will be touring with?

It is Lacuna Coil. (Lacuna Coil confirmed to me that Black Tide would not be supporting them and have since announced a different support for their UK tour).

Ah that would be a good tour to get on to.

Yeah, just need to wait and confirm it and then we will be back over.

I was meant to be interviewing either yourself or another member of the band at Sonisphere but things happened which meant I couldn’t make it but I was rounding off all my interviews at the festival with this question so I may as well bring it back over tonight.

Go for it man.

Well you have already talked about experiences and things you have went through to get to this stage today but now, with all the knowledge you have gained over the years, if you could go back to when you first started out in Black Tide and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?

I think, especially with making the first record and all of that, I would tell myself to dig deeper. As far as things lyrically, I would like to tell myself that I need to dig down and find something that you really mean to say and that you will never regret. It is just little things like that and I wish I had someone there to tell me these things when I started out but that’s fine, it’s all part of the learning experience. That’s what I would probably tell myself.

     

About Michael

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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