Gabrial Garcia of Black Tide20-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 Osborne?

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.

Black Tide"I 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 here.

"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."

Black TideThere 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 complete.

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.

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