20-Minutes with Black Tide
By Dave Schwartz
A moment of reflection...
What do you ask a 15-year-old whoís shared the stage with Ozzy
I didnít realize it at first, but that was the problem I was facing.
I could ask a 15-year-old anything. Hell, I could ask Ozzy anything. But
it was the combination that was somewhat daunting. There was a simple
fact to be dealt with-- the members of Black Tide had been invited onto
the main stage at Ozzfest. That doesnít happen to every pimple-faced kid
walking down the street. I mean, itís got to be a surreal and twisted
moment in a kidís life when he discovers that heís got some God-given
talent. It usually leads to him being thrust into the spotlight and told,
"Dance clown, dance." It turns the heat up a notch further when the
stage is Ozzfest and the person asking you to perform is Ozzy.
Sure, some people will point out that Ozzy is rock royalty and he was
just trying to give Black Tide a leg up. You can call Ozzy rock royalty,
but the reality is itís much worse-- heís Ozzy! The bird biting,
"SHARON" yelling Prince of Darkness!
I guess thatís initially the way I thought I would approach this
interview. That theyíre just a group of kids who have gotten lucky and
found a little success. For the record, I was wrong.
Gabriel Garcia is nervous and somewhat awkward as he fidgets with his
hair during the interview. Clearly thereís someplace - any place - he
would rather be. His answers are short and to the point. I wouldnít call
his responses rehearsed, as he lacks the polish and delivery of other
artists who have been pestered on the road by journalists for many more
years. And you know what? Itís refreshing to see that thereís still a
bit of kid hiding inside this rockstar.
I congratulated Garcia on the success of Black Tideís debut record,
"Light From Above." The album has been out for nearly a year and Black
Tide is still making noise all over the radio. When most artists release
an album they have expectations, I asked Garcia if the success of "Light
From Above" had met theirs.
think it has," he said. "I think the we have done everything we set out
to do. Weíve toured all over the world. Weíve made seven or eight trips
to Europe and weíve even played Ozzfest."
I asked Garcia what it was like to work with producer Johnny K
(Disturbed, Machine Head, Unloco).
"Johnny helped with the arrangements," Garcia explained. "When the
songs were first written they had extended solos. He helped show us
where the parts of the song belonged and how to put them together."
I asked what his single favorite show they had played was.
"I enjoyed playing to Japan. The people respond so differently to our
music," Garcia shared.
When you go home Ė or get a little time off Ė what do you do?
"Hang with friends. Share funny road stories."
I felt like I was walking down that same well-worn journalistic path.
Canned questions and canned answers. Many a boring interview has been
conducted on that simple premise. I asked Garcia another seemingly
innocuous question-- if they had begun working on the next record.
"Itís hard to write on the road. Weíre touring in this van with a
trailer so thereís not much room. We write when we can."
It was a textbook reply, but there was something more here, maybe
something in his voice or perhaps it was the look in his eye. I could
sense a bit of tension from the question and I decided to dig a little
"This next record means a lot to you doesnít it?"
"Yeah, I was only 13 when we started recording these songs. Since
then my voice has changed," Garcia replied.
"You make it sound like youíve got something to prove," I remarked.
"Yeah, I do."
was avoidance when I tried to continue down this path, but I had found
something that I wasnít looking for.
After the interview I sat in my car waiting for the show to start and
I kept flashing back on Garciaís answer. "Light From Above" has been out
for a year and the record company has released four singles, but only
one of them, "Shockwave," has charted. Their latest single, "Shout," has
promise. Iíve heard it on the local rock stations in light rotation but
only time will tell.
A few hours later I was in the pit in front of the stage, preparing
to photograph Black Tideís performance. The lights went down and out
walked Garcia and crew. Gone was that fidgety kid from the van. Standing
above me was a band of seasoned veterans that absolutely owned that
stage. As the lights came up, the transition was remarkable yet
One-hit-wonders come and go, their only legacy found on late night
VH1 specials or celebrity rehab. I wonít be the one to condemn this band
to near oblivion and something tells me neither will Garcia. He has
something that most artists seem to lack. That something is the
understanding that you always have something to prove. There will be no
resting on laurels here!
I donít know why, but after a 20-minute interview and watching a
single performance, I have expectations of this band. Now donít get
crazy, Iím not calling them the next Rolling Stones. But something tells
me my expectations could never be as high as Black Tide's.