Interview with Guitarist, Marc Rizzo
There’s no doubt that when you want to hear great instrumental guitar music, you pick up a Marc Rizzo solo record. Marc's’ love for music started at an early age and he knew quickly it was what he wanted to do with his life. Since he was a young boy, he has been fueled by a love of the guitar. Throughout his career, he has been involved with several bands, including Ill Niño which he left in 2002 which lead to his current bands Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. He puts every ounce of his soul into the music he plays. Playing guitar is what he does best and he proves it once again on his new record.
ROTATION, Marc's fourth solo album, is scheduled for release on March 30th via EMP Label Group. Dave Ellefson, founder of EMP Label Group says “Marc’s an awesome guitar player. He’s a bad ass.” When a legend like Dave Ellefson says you’re a bad ass guitar player, people listen. I was fortunate enough to get to pick Marc's mind a little about his passion for guitar and the things that drive his desire to play.
The Sound of Muzic: Growing up, when did you realize that you wanted to become a musician?
Marc: I was about eight years old, so I started when I was really young. Basically I had an older brother who was older than me by about seven years. He really got me into stuff like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and then Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth and basically just all of the stuff that was going on in the mid 80’s.
The Sound of Muzic: So the guitar was your first instrument of choice then?
Marc: Yeah it was. I always have just been pretty crazy about the guitar. It’s just my favorite instrument.
The Sound of Muzic: I know you said your brother got you into bands like Black Sabbath and such, were there other bands or artists that inspired you?
Marc: Yeah so much stuff. The mid 80’s thrash metal stuff and a lot of the instrumental guys like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmstein and everything from Shrapnel Records from the 80’s. I’m just into all different types of music.
The Sound of Muzic: Where do you feel your musical taste fits in with today's unpredictable industry?
Marc: Basically it’s tough for instrumental guitar music. I have a good time doing what I do. I love instrumental guitar music. It’s my favorite and with all the different bands I’ve had, we’ve had a great fan base and either way they come out and support whatever band I’m in at the time and that I’m touring with. I’ve got a pretty good following. I’m pretty grateful for everything that I have.
The Sound of Muzic: Your new album, ROTATION, is set to release on March 30th. How does that feel?
Marc: I’m excited for it. It’s my best record ever. I worked really hard on it. I worked with a good friend, Zeuss, who produced it. He did an incredible job with the production on the record. I’m with EP Records now, which is Dave Ellefson’s record label, from Megadeth, so I’m really excited. I think this is a good time for me. I’ve been waiting to get this kind of support, on this level so I’m really excited about the record coming out. I wrote the record specifically for metal heads and the fans of all the bands that I’m in so it’s a must have for the fans. I’m really proud of this record.
The Sound of Muzic: Chris Zeuss is a beast. He has produced for some amazing talent. Tell me about your experience with producer in regards to the production of ROTATION.
Marc: It was great. We’re good friends and one of my favorite Soulfly records, I made with him. It was called Enslaved and ever since we made that record we had a great working relationship. Basically we started recording ROTATION a couple months after I recorded the Soulfly-Enslaved record. I wanted a continuation of that kind of sound phonically. I think the fans of that record will love my record too.
The Sound of Muzic: What’s your favorite song on the album to play live? Why?
Marc: I think Punk Thrash Boogie. It’s kind of an ode’ to Joe Satriani. He had a song, Satch Boogie, so that was kind of me paying respect to Satriani who is one of my favorite guitar players. It’s got that vibe but it’s just a lot heavier.
The Sound of Muzic: Of all of the songs on the album, is there a song that is more meaningful than the rest and if so, what inspired you to create it?
Marc: Honestly, I’m crazy about all of the songs on the record. It’s definitely one of these records where I can sit back and be like, every song is special to me and every song is great. I don’t think there are any filler songs on the record at all. I can’t say that about maybe some of my past records. Looking back, it’s like oh, maybe I shouldn’t have put that song on there but this record, man it’s just real heavy and right to the point. I kept it more on the heavy side and it’s just an exciting record from beginning to end.
The Sound of Muzic: Does the album title ROTATION have some significant meaning?
Marc: Just basically all my travels around the world. I’m constantly on the go and constantly doing shows. I’m constantly working hard, practicing, and constantly putting music out. This is what I love to do. I want to continue doing it and just continue rotating around the earth.
The Sound of Muzic: You said already that you feel this is your best solo album yet, and it is wonderful. Do you have plans for more solo albums in the future?
Marc: Oh yeah. I hope this record does great. I plan to do more and produce more records on EMP Records because this is what I love to do. I love to play guitar music and the team over at EMP/Combat Records is perfect for me. I could write new records all day long and continue doing this. I’m not slowing down at all. I’m getting younger and better as time goes by so I would like to make more records like ROTATION.
The Sound of Muzic: You are obviously extremely busy with Soulfly, your solo work, and your work with Cavalera Conspiracy. How do balance time for each in order to find the time for the other?
Marc: It’s easy. It’s really not that difficult. I just love to play. I’m always practicing. I think that’s the main thing is that I’m always practicing. I’m always listening to new music. I’m always trying to get better and always trying to incorporate new styles and new players and styles that they’re inventing. I’m just trying to mix things up and trying to come up with something different and come up with new ideas. Every time I step into the studio, I feel like I have a whole batch of new ideas to drop on the new record. If you love it and you’re practicing every day, you’ll never run out of ideas.
The Sound of Muzic: Soulfly is in the studio now working on new stuff too, when is that album set to come out?
Marc: The new record; we just finished it and it should be out later this year. It’s really exciting. This is a great time because back in November of last year, we released the new Cavalera Conspiracy record and now my new record, ROTATION, is coming out March 30th, and the new Soulfly should be out later this year so the records play into each other I think. I think it’s a must have for the fans to pick up all three records.
The Sound of Muzic: How do the bands react to the fact that you do participate musically, in several things?
Marc: It’s hard to work out the scheduling with all the projects, when I’m available to do what project at what time, but basically when I’m off the road from Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, then I hit the road and d my own solo projects. I am passionate about playing music and I don’t ever want any time off. I love playing shows and when I’m home and doing nothing, I start getting a little anxious so I think I’m just real passionate about playing music and being in this business and being grateful for it.
The Sound of Muzic: What is in store for us next, touring, etc.?
Marc: We started a tour. Right now, we’re in California today; in sunny, Colton, California and we continue up the west coast and into Canada. We’ll be in Canada for about two to three weeks so we’re busy.
The Sound of Muzic: If you had to set up your perfect touring partners, who would you choose?
Marc: I would love to be on the G3 tour. Again, I’m a big Satriani fan and a big Vai fan. It’s always been a big dream of mine to be on that tour. Really anything in that world of the instrumental guitar scene. That’s the music I’m just real passionate about so to be with any of my favorite guitar players would be it, you know.
The Sound of Muzic: Musically, you love the guitar, but what started your passion and motivation to create lyric/vocal free music?
Marc: Again, just my love for instrumental guitar music. It’s what I listen to. I just love it. I love just listening to music. I love instrumental music. Sometimes I feel like lyrics and vocals just clutter the music and the melody. Sometimes I love just putting on the jazz station or even some easy rock stuff, fusion stuff, and just vibe to the music. Sometimes, I mean, there’s a lot of bands that I think “I wish you guys were just instrumental because the vocals are just killing it for me”, so yeah, for me, I’m just obsessed with the guitar and passionate about hearing the guitar. All different styles of music are based around the guitar.
The Sound of Muzic: Some of your songs have the flamenco guitar in them and have the Latin sound and feel, is that something that you’ve always had an appreciation for or is it something that was inspired with Ill Niño?
Marc: I just love all styles of guitar music. Even prior to being in Ill Niño, I was always studying flamenco and classical guitar. When I joined Ill Niño, they were never doing anything acoustic on the Latin guitar side of things so that was definitely an influence I brought to that band and helped created that sound. I continued with that vibe with my solo records, incorporating the Latin guitar playing and also with Soulfly. I’m real passionate about Flamenco and Latin fusion guitar and of all different types of Latin styles.
The Sound of Muzic: Tell me a little about your experience with Ill Nino as a band.
Marc: Well it was a long time ago and it was one of the first bands I was in and I’m grateful for those years. It helped get me to where I am now. We got a record deal. Back in those days, I never thought that we would do the things that we did. It was a stepping stone. I worked real hard. I helped develop that style that they’re still playing today. We were all huge Soulfly fans growing up before we started Ill Niño so everything worked out for the best.
The Sound of Muzic: You’ve been with Soulfly for about 14 years or so now, so what have some of the differences between the bands been?
Marc: It’s been a long time. In 2002 I left Ill Niño and the next day, I was offered to join Soulfly so it was a pretty amazing opportunity. It’s not every day you leave one band and then the next day have the opportunity to join your favorite band. Everything is different you know. I’m playing with Max Cavalera, who is a legend and I grew up listening to his music. They’ve treated me very good since I joined the band and I have a lot of freedom to really express myself. If you listen to the first Soulfly album I recorded, Max really gave me full reign to do guitar solos and never tried to hold me back where as when I was in Ill Nino, I definitely was held back when it came to certain guitar things, especially at that time. It was the new metal era so obviously solos weren’t really a thing that was cool. Once I joined the band with Max and he saw that I could play all those old triple tour thrash metal songs and that I was into that, that’s where we started getting thrashier and I started doing more solos. I feel like I found myself because for a long time, I feel like I kind of got away from the shredding in my time with Ill Nino so when I started working with Max, it was like, oh man, the flood gates were open to shred and get back to my trash metal sound. It’s something I’ve always loved. I’m not a big fan of a lot of the new metal stuff so to get back to the thrash roots was really exciting for me.
The Sound of Muzic: Of all the bands that you’ve toured with, which have been your favorite and why?
Marc: Oh so many, but probably my favorite tour ever was back in 2005 with Soulfly. We opened up for the original Black Sabbath with all of the original members. That was incredible. I still had only been with the band for maybe a year or two but again to go from playing around New Jersey to a year or two years later playing in Soulfly and opening up for the original Black Sabbath was mind boggling so that will always be one of my favorite tours. But there have been so many. It’s unbelievable how many bands we’ve played with over the years.
The Sound of Muzic: On the album, you have other musicians involved. Are they also part of your live band?
Marc: Yes, my drummer, Anthony Devizio plays the drums on my new record and he’s my touring drummer. He also plays in a band called 40 Below Summer from New Jersey. They’re a pretty popular band but he plays with me. He comes out and does the tours with me and rocks it. He’s an incredible drummer and he’s played on my last two records. He’s great to work with.
The Sound of Muzic: Thank you so much for talking with me today Marc. The album is spectacular. Do you have any parting words for your fans?
Marc: Just a big thank you for all the support and for coming out to all my bands’ shows, and buying the records. If you haven’t, come on out and pick up my new record ROTATION. I hope to be touring for it soon, so come by and see what’s up man. I’m always available at my shows, to hang out and talk and have a good time. I hope to see everybody on the road.