Interview with bass legend, Rudy sarzo - ahead of 2015 uk tour
From playing with Randy Rhoads and Ozzy Osbourne, to pre and post success with Quiet Riot in America. Next up for Rudy was joining the MTV era Whitesnake. This was followed by several musical projects including playing for vocal legend, Dio. Recently, Rudy and fellow musician and vocalist/guitarist Traci Guns (La Guns) have paired up in 'Gunzo' which pays homage to the musical past of the two main protagonists.
We had the opportunity to have a chat with Rudy ahead of the bands forthcoming UK Tour and this is what was said...
SCR: The musical pedigree of both yourself and Traci is widely known. However can you give me an introduction to the other half of the band with the Irish duo?
Rudy: Oh yeah sure, well Michael came highly recommended by another great singer who not only happens to be friends with Traci but also friends with myself. That’s how we met. In Los Angeles there is so much wonderful talent that sometimes that people can recommend others and you never get to meet those wonderful musicians because it’s such a large area. Sometimes people just grab a plane to certain places that we would be playing at .So he came to us highly recommended by this singer called Andrew Freeman. Now Andrew is the vocalist in the band called “Last in Line “I don’t know if you have heard of them.
SCR: Yes I am familiar with them, it’s essentially the Dio band, without Dio.
Rudy: Correct yes, they have got Vinnie Appice, Vivian and Claude, Jimmy Bain. A wonderful band-so he is the singer in that band. He in addition he is alsothe singer in Rock Vault-I don’t know if you are familiar with that but it is a Las Vegas musical and Traci has been a member of Rock Vault for a while. He is going back as a matter of fact.Anyways we asked Andrew Freeman if he could recommend a singer and the first name was Michael O Mara. The guy is phenomenal and I think that everyone will be really impressed to hear his singing. Shane Fitzgibbon not only is he a wonderful drummer but a great producer and engineer. He is 26 years old, so he comes from more of that modern background or just a modern attitude. By that I mean that musicians today have a different attitude from like myself growing up. Also growing up we didn’t have the technology that young musicians have available today. I mean growing up as a musician I never actually had the opportunity to engineer, or even produce a record. That was a job for you know the people that were in the studio. Today pretty much with young bands it’s left to them to come up with the recording of content of their music. They have to diversify and not only be a musician but be an engineer/producer or even a video content creator for your social network. It’s a whole different battle for today’s musician, and Shane is one of those guys who excels at everything. He can play anything from old school rnb to modern jazz. Then he can be the engineer in the studio with the band. It’s wonderful to be playing with someone like that.
SCR: What happened with Keith St John? Was he in the band for a while?
Rudy: Yeah he was part of the band for a while. You know as it happens with today’s musicians-most of today’s players cannot really just have one project. We have to have multiple situations. That’s the way it goes. What happened was that he could not come to and fulfil the Uk Dates, because he already had other commitments. We had to find somebody and we are so happy that we have found Michael O Mara.
SCR: Leading on from Gunzo, I would like to discuss some aspects of your personal musical history. Looking back at your musical career what are you most proud of?
Rudy: Wow, that’s a great question. I am very proud of the Blizzard of Oz band with Randy Rhoads, Tommy Aldridge and of course Ozzy Osbourne and later on Don Airey.That was a musician’s musician’s band and for me to be a part of it I am incredibly proud. Part also of being a part, not only of the Randy Rhoads version of Quiet Riot but also of the Metal Health version of Quiet Riot. It reached such a successful height that the band became the first in the United States...I don’t know how much that means in the UK or anywhere else in the world. In the United States it was pretty big deal to be at the top of the Billboard charts.Thats how everything was gauged, business-wise. When we got to number One we actually knocked off “Thriller “by Michael Jackson-the biggest record in the history of music. That was quite an achievement especially from a band that nobody cared about. We went to Number One in November and in March nobody cared about Quiet Riot. We couldn’t even find a manager (laughing).With a record done already, that record that had sold millions of copies. We would play it for managers and they would say”Ahh no, we are not interested “and “that type of music is never coming back (Laughs).
SCR: Then of course you went on to Whitesnake who attained massive success playing exactly that same type of music
Rudy: I am proud of almost every single band. In Whitesnake one of my proudest moments was actually headlining Donington with Whitesnake in 1990.Touring with Ronnie James Dio every single day was such an incredible experience. To be in his presence, musically and as a human being .Outstanding. I am so blessed that I have had all these wonderful musicians that have been a part of my life.
SCR: We have touched on some of your musical highs. What would have been the lows during your career?
Rudy: Well, easy experiencing Randy Rhoads crash during the Diary of a Madman Tour. I mean not only musically but as a life experience itself. It was beyond a tragedy
SCR: Most people would pick out people like Randy when discussing your career... Who would have been the best drummer that you have worked with, given that together with your bass it would provide the rhythm section? There has obviously got to be a connection between yourself and a drummer.
Rudy: That’s interesting because I have played with some great guys. That is like saying “what is your favourite food? “I love different tastes in food. I love Chinese food, I love Indian and I love Italian. They are all different, so it is not a favourite per see.I really enjoy playing with a great drummer. I am really enjoying playing with Shayne Fitzgibbon, because he is young and is basically unbreakable. (Laughing)If you ask him to play anything no matter how fast or hard he will do it. (Laughs) because he is twenty six years old. He has just turned twenty six and there is a lot to be said about that. The older guys. You know as we get older we play a little bit different. Just to keep ourselves from injuring ourselves. Drums are so physical, so that is great you know. Playing with Tommy Aldridge, was just an incredible and unique experience. I just learnt so much from him. Playing with Frankie Banali was another great, wonderful experience. Simon Wright ….These are guys that are just basically at the top of my list as you ask me this question.
SCR: Outside playing music, so you have any spare time interests and hobbies? Or does music encompass everything for you?
Rudy: I used to do 3d animation. I am a bit of a computer geek-nerd. To be honest with you I am doing less and less of that as I get deeper and deeper into playing. Actually I just opened up the Rudy Sarzo Bass Academy. As a matter of fact I have a couple of students from the Uk.It is wonderful to be able to teach on-line because you can teach people from around the world rather than just local.
SCR: As Gunzo will be essentially playing yourselves and Traci's back catalogues, i'm wondering what you have lined up for the future in terms of new music and band projects?
Rudy: As a matter of fact, Traci Guns and I got together when we decided to do this and we had a strategy... to do Gunzo the old school way. Back in the day people used to get together, put a band together. Then spend a few months playing music around town, get to know each other musically and then start working on songs as a band. Nowadays bands send each other emails and go”hey, let’s put a record together, and here’s the tracks “Then the record comes out, and then they have to become a band. (Laughing).We definitely wanted to avoid that. Actually Traci said that “I have already some dates booked “as La Guns/Traci Guns. So why don’t we use those dates to actually start working on Gunzo.As we go along we can let the people know what we are doing. We celebrate each other’s legacy and we split into half La Guns and things that Traci wrote. The other half would be songs that I recorded with the bands that I have been in.That way it is a jam-packed, every song everybody is familiar with. It is a jam-packed night of great music and it is a celebration. On the road music is being written. There is a lot of great material that we have already, because we have been touring now for about maybe four months. At the end of the year we will go into the studio and start recording that new material
SCR: Will that be with Michael and Shayne?
Rudy: Yes it will.
SCR: After all this time do you still have hopes dreams and ambitions?
Rudy: Yeah, I want to become the President of Cuba. (We both laugh).Musically my ambitions are daily. To be a better bass player today than I was yesterday. I do something about it by going out and actually learning. I am constantly learning, I am constantly pushing my own playing to the next level. You have to... Every musician must
SCR: Do you still have that same passion and enthusiasm today then that you had when you first started playing?
Rudy: It’s more than that, it’s a lust for knowledge of how to be a better musician.
SCR: Just a final question, you have done many interviews but who would you personally like to sit down and interview?
Rudy: Wow, another musician? Yeah Paul McCartney, nothing but music really. I would love to ask about his thought processes when he comes out with a bass line. To me Beatles songs are bass lessons.
SCR: I have recently relocated from N.Ireland to Manchester so will be attending the Gunzo show there.
Rudy: I can’t wait and I think that the last time I was there was actually with Dio.
SCR: The last time I saw you was in Belfast with Dio on the Holy Diver album tour at the Limelight
Rudy: Oh yeah, it was an intimate setting.Yeah that was the smallest gig that we ever did and it was also so much fun. Everybody was on top of each other-not only the band but the people in the crowd-the audience
SCR: Looking forward to catching Gunzo in Manchester and thank you very much for talking to me ahead of the UK Dates
Rudy: Thank you so much and we will see you in Manchester, God Bless. Cheers!