|Rodolfo Maximiliano Sarzo Lavieille Grande Ruiz Payret y Chaumont.|
It seems apropos that one of the most famous Bass players would have started off with 9 names before he became known simply as Rudy Sarzo. This powerhouse go-to bassist for such classic acts as Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio and more... has been performing on stages for over 30 years and when he isn't wowing audiences with his riffs and technical prowess, he's writing a book or creating computer digital animation..and his name has now become legend.
Juggling multiple projects so seamlessly would suggest that we may have unearthed the true rock and roll Renaissance Man in Sarzo.
Recently, Sarzo joined forces with Chris Impellitteri, Mike Vescera, and Jon Dette to form Animetal USA, whose debut self-titled album was released on October 12, 2011 in Japan and is already a gold certified sensation featuring English-language heavy metal covers of several anime theme songs. This all-star metal band has since produced an American release.
Whether it is breaking records or breaking down barriers, it is clear that Sarzo has more than one muse or perhaps one majorly demanding one, and he is clearly up for her challenge.
MAXIMUM METAL: Hey Rudy, How Are you?
Rudy Sarzo: Doing great!
MAXIMUM METAL: Awesome, well I definitely want to talk about your new project which has me very intrigued but I'd be remorse if I didn't ask you about your career which is filled with one major act after another. You've played with Ozzy, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Dio, Blue Öyster Cult, and now Animetal USA... to be the go to bassist for some of the biggest acts in rock must be awe-inspiring at times. So, as you look back on your career now--what do you think you learned and took away from these incredible experiences? Professionally, how did these make you grow as an artist?
Rudy Sarzo: That's a great question! You know when I got started back then that was the model- to be with a band. Today, it is a completely different model altogether. Basically you make a record, you have a short shelf life, and by that I mean, there's no MTV to keep it in front of people. In the old days, you would make one record, make 3 or 4 videos, tour world-wide, go back and make another record, etc. Now, you basically make a record, do a short tour, and maybe get on festival tours, and you go back and make another record. A lot of individual players now have a lot of different bands that they play in and work with...and you're making everyone's schedule fit. Back in the day, I set out to be in a band, and the first major band I was in was Ozzy Osbourne. When Randy passed away during the tour, it just became very painful for me to remain in the band. If that hadn't happened I would have stayed until they kicked me out... (laughing) that was my ideal band to be in. It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience.
"All of us that have been successful are standing on the shoulders of giants. 99% of the musicians you will interview will tell you who their role model is; remembering that all of these people who have inspired you have been inspired themselves."
MAXIMUM METAL: That leads me to my next question- in your book "Off the Rails" you share memories of Randy Rhoads, and I felt that it definitely was that band and that friendship that first really shaped you as a musician, but who else has influenced you and why?
Rudy Sarzo: Well I wrote the book to address the number one question I got as I traveled the world, which was "what was it like to work with Randy Rhoads?" Every time I would get asked the question –or I met someone after the show—I would get a particular question about Randy..I just set out to put it all in print—it was also about that time in music and about the whole experience- this was pre MTV –very, very different –I wanted to share with today's generation how things were 30 years ago. Also it was about Randy's commitment to music—it should always be about the music, the message, it was also what stories you want to share with the world.
MAXIMUM METAL: Has there been another bass player that has shaped you musically esp. when you first started?
Rudy Sarzo: Oh my God, there's so many...but one of the first was Tim Bogert... from Vanilla Fudge. Now, we get to do a rock and roll fantasy camp together and it's just really a great experience. You know he's one of those timeless players, that can be as influential today as he was 40 years ago...and Carmine Appice...now that was a great rhythm section! For me it was what a great rhythm section should sound like.
MAXIMUM METAL- Well as a bass player you and the drummer are always the back bone of the band.—ok full disclosure time- I have to admit I was surprised to find out that you were a digital programmer and animator. Can you tell us more about that?
Rudy Sarzo: Of course again, it's due to the advances in technology. My major in College was Mass Communications, I actually wanted to become a director, but one of the things that attracted me to become a musician was the stories. In the mid-60s when bands like the Beatles or the Stones were coming out, it was imagery driven lyrics. "Strawberry Fields Forever", "I am the Walrus" and then they came out with the animation, the submarine cartoon...it was beyond playing 1-4-5 –now all of a sudden it was this is way bigger than anything I have heard before. I began to wonder how far could you expand your mind and being a kid you know, a little Cuban kid in Miami, for me the possibilities were endless.
I basically am a product of my own imagination...a musician who grew up watching the Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show. So being a 3D animator is basically an extension of all of that--a medium to tell the stories. The way the music industry is today you as the musician are left with the same responsibility as the record companies had before –you must define your identity- who are you as a band--it's through creating your own music videos. Now it's youtube and all of the social media, you are establishing your music through the visuals. Not only animation, special effects, editing...I also think it's part of the model of this new generation of musicians. Creating the visuals has become just as important as creating the audio content.
MAXIMUM METAL; So, obviously there is a connection with your new project Animetal USA- which has already been wowing audiences in Japan-it's obviously a different spin—tell us more about this new endeavor.
Rudy- Yeah, well it's Chris Impellitteri on guitars, Mike Vescera (who has played with Yngwie Malmsteen), myself and Jon Dette who has played with Slayer and Testament. Our simulation was a tribute version of Animetal which is very Japanese. Very culturally specific to Japan—ours is a mission to have a broader stroke... to take all of the beautiful things Japan has to offer and of course anime –it is almost like social commentary- They use anime to translate anything that is happening, it's like CNN. They use a lot of metaphors and philosophies that associate a strong part of the entertainment with what isn't entertaining. It's taken very seriously.
MAXIMUM METAL: In many ways it sounds like you are creating a whole different genre. With your background was this an organic move or more of a calculated one?
Rudy Sarzo: It had gotten to the point, we as musicians had gotten in that box...we had almost become cereal in the grocery ...this is our little box. And you know—to me that's not really music and it's not what attracted me to music. If you listen to the Beatles in the old days- they would do one thing and then turn around and do something completely different. To me that's what being a musician is about—not being in a box or category- like this is the only type of music you are going to make. That's what anime is all about- using your imagination—finding your own identity and celebrating that. We just attended the Anime Expo and it was so wonderful- I couldn't believe it—to see 75,000 people flocking the LA Convention Center and to get to play for them, it was unbelievable. There were people from all walks of life, all over and we're playing in our home town! It was all different cultural backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, ages, fathers and kids, mothers and everybody. These are people who don't think of themselves being in a box, they celebrate their own personal identity.
MAXIMUM METAL: I know you probably get asked this a lot..but I am always impressed with musicians who have staying power..someone such as yourself, who has had a very long career and is still creating and moving forward in a business that can make that a very hard accomplishment for most. So if you had to give the next Rudy Sarzo one piece of advice what would you tell them? What would you advise them to focus on to have the kind of career that you have had?
Rudy Sarzo: Well the obvious stuff is you have to practice, know your instrument, work on your skills; it's an ongoing process. You should never stop growing as a musician. Having said that, there is one essential thing to make you succeed and that is that you have to have that burning desire to be that person that people want to see and hear. Visualize yourself doing what you want to do. All of us that have been successful are standing on the shoulders of giants. 99% of the musicians you will interview will tell you who their role model is; remembering that all of these people who have inspired you have been inspired themselves. It's about passing the torch.
It's always interesting to see how musicians became themselves—with all of the information available to us on the internet...you can learn about their backgrounds. The most important thing is to believe—believe in yourself. Have a strategy, know who you want to become. There's two things in life- your passion and your dreams –there's also God's destiny which may not always be the same as your dreams and passion...there's always a bigger purpose. Use your success to fuel your passion in life.
MAXIMUM METAL: Lastly, you guys just performed at the convention in LA, and have been touring—so what is next on the horizon for Rudy Sarzo?
Rudy Sarzo: Well we just finished touring Japan –we performed with JAM Project and it was a true anime evening- At the end of the show we did something I have never done before which was to have both bands performing together. That's the kind of camaraderie you see in the anime world. We collaborate a lot with other artists. We got to record a theme song for the series Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals we hope to do more of the same—and of course each of us each have separate projects too. I am in the band TRED and we're recording now and it should be coming out soon.
MAXIMUM METAL: Awesome—you're obviously still keeping good company! Well Rudy- thanks for your time it has been a pleasure! Good luck with all of the new projects!
Rudy Sarzo- Thanks!
For more information on Animetal USA go to: animetalusa.com
For more info on Rudy- visit his website at: rudysarzo.com