East Coast meets West Coast

Wow. What a week its been… Our first show of 2019 at our home away from home, the House of Blues in lovely, warm and amazing Anaheim, California. I have personally been playing shows at the HOB for many years now and I always look forward to our “one” gig a year there during the shit-show of a week during the month of January where a certain music convention is held and well over a hundred thousand people show up to. I am gonna give all a loose synopsis of a play-by-play from when I landed to the moment the gig ended as it has all been pretty epic and equally comical.

Welcome to L.A. the home of the NFC Champions Los Angeles Rams! Thats a debate all in itself…. As I was flying over L.A. and heard the flight attendant state we were landing shortly, I opened up the window and saw this amazing view… the City of Angels looked marvelous so I thought to capture my view with this nifty new iPhone my son made me get. I still think its to big and clunky but it does take killer photos.

As I landed and headed to baggage claim where I was met by the incomparable Tommy “F-ing” Jones of Nulcear Blast Records, I started to panic as my baby is no where to be found! “Red” as I call her (my Fender Custom P-Bass Special that you all know and love) was sitting lonesome with some dude in oversized baggage… hence I yelled “don’t touch her, shes delicate” hahaha the dudes face was priceless and again, had the iPhone out to capture the moment.

Once we got back to the house known as the “MA house” (a rented home the band and crew  stayed at – its like heavy metal sleep away camp – which is a comical story all in itself) I immediately said a few hellos and off to bed I went… the next day is when the chaos started. And it all started with these delicious looking tacos (above). I was craving some real street tacos and there is no where better in the good ol’ U.S of A than SoCal (in my opinion – I’ve had them EVERYWHERE) to get them. I must have had god knows how many tacos and/or burritos during my stay in SoCal. As I downed these bad boys, I received multiple texts that Blitz, Portnoy, Alex, the crew, etc… all have arrived at the MA house. With that, I finished these suckers off and headed back to the house to stir the pot.

And who is the first person I hear (not see) when I walk up to the house? The infamous Robert Ellsworth aka Bobby Blitz. I heard the dude a block away yapping… hahahah so as I walk in and the trash-talk fest was on. Not a “hello, how was your flight” or “hey man, awesome to see you”, it was ” Hey you &^@^@(@***__)” and “)*!^@*#(#” hahahahahaha Now, it is common knowledge in the MA camp that Bobby and I do nothing but talk to trash to one another. It’s resentless and probably makes a lot of people uncomfrotable. Its what we do… but also let it be known that we have great respect for one another and we truly do enjoy eachothers company. We have a blast together, but even more fun busting on eachother. For anyone that has been around us, knows full well what its like. Lets just say that it all revolves around the fact that he is from Jersey and I am from Long Island and it just goes from there into well, I am sure you get it… BUT I truly do love the man and am honored to call him a friend. Plus we shred pretty good together as well…

After a day hanging, talking and enjoying the amazing SoCal weather (and more tacos), it was time for rehearsals… Every single one of us actually showed up at one point or another (which is rare). The week is so busy with other activities going on, concerts, award shows, music convention stuff, meetings, etc… that its near impossible to get everyone to show up for rehearsal… BUT for the first time ever, everyone showed up and rehearsed at one point or another. The studio we rehearsed at was a normal hourly studio that local bands go to… we fit an MA rehearsal with all 14 of us, plus crew into a room that couldn’t be bigger than a 12×12 space. Not one person complained… it was like the old days of sweating it out. Thats when I knew we were gonna have a killer show. No egos… 

Show day! Our amazing crew all left the house extremely early for load-in… I was up early as I’m naturally an early riser these days and was hanging with LA’s own DJ Will (I know you all know him – if you live and listen to metal in LA you definitly know him). I asked Will if he could drop me off early as I had to run a few errands before I got to the venue… when I walked up through the Garden Walk district of Anaheim, this is what I immediately saw (pictured above). The validation when you see your artwork, your band, everything you created on a giant digital billboard 3,500 miles away from home is quite rewarding, but what was even better and more rewarding was I knew that as soon as I walked inside the venue, the stage would be set, the 20-foot x 30-foot MA backdrop would be hanging, red would be waiting for me and this is when it all comes to life.

Woooooo… Give me two claps and a Ric Flair! The first thing I did when I walked into the venue was to see if Ric Flair and Macho Man were set up. hahaha now most might wonder, “why does this dude have WWE toys set up on his amps in clear sight; year after year, show after show?” its quite simple; my two amazing children give them to me to display on my amps so whenever I see them during the show I will think of them 🙂 For that purpose, I will always display what they give me. It just so happens that for the last few years its been WWE figures/toys. Hence the reason why I smile from time to time on stage. Its nice to know that when I am in the middle of thrashing, I can look over and see and think of my two boys. I am truly thankful for them both. Having said that, I also have a slight obsession quoting Ric Flair… hence the new guitar picks I made with his face on it. hahaha speaking of which, these are super rare and I am going to do a giveaway soon on my Instagram page for a few. More details on that soon.

What is this that stands before me? As the rain and thunder cranked from the House of Blues PA system… it was time. I was transformed into 1970 Geezer as we were opening our set with the first “Black Sabbath” album… like we did this past October in Brooklyn, I decided to dress in full vintage Geezer clothing with only one exception… I was NOT shaving this time 🙂 Now, to dress in a costume like that (wig, shirt, necklace, etc….) with four people in the band is one thing (as the other three also were dressing up) but to do this in a band of 14 while having the show live streamed to millions around the world, with all of your peers laughing their ass off at you is another… but anyone that knows me knows that I truly do not give a shit what anyone thinks. Besides, Alex had his fake mustache on so it was worth it. hahaha I made it a point to have as little people before the show see me like this… its when I walked out of the dressing room that everyone was like “dude, are you serious?” hahaha I just follwed the sound of thunder and rain, waited for Dan (my trusted BFF, TM, Right-Hand man) to tell me it was “go-time” when everything left my mind and got into the Sabbath zone. Myself, Alex, Mike and Osefuego walked across stage with drinks in hand, traded them with our respective techs for our respective instruments as the crowd went nuts and hit that first note into the title track “Black Sabbath”

After we completed the first Sabbath album, the four of us took a bow (at that point it was myself, Alex, Mike and Blitz) – I ripped my wig off and threw it to the crowd (hey who has it btw?) and I SPRINTED off stage to change. I literally made a b-line to the dressing room as I needed to get all this crap off and get into my normal self/mode. Plus my head was itching like holy hell cause of that wig. As I was in the dressing room changing, I started to have a moment of “holy shit, my hair is covered with sweat, its a mess, what to do with it?” and Alissa was in there getting ready and said “dude, its fucking metal, who gives a shit” which I wholeheartedly agreed with… so I put on my House of Stark Winterfell shirt (Yes, I am GOT obsessed and can not wait until April), threw some water on my face/hair and back out to the trenches I went… at that point we delivered thrash tune after thrash tune after thrash tune after thrash tune… we played a lot of music off of our two albums including the live debuts of “Gift of Pain” and “Voodoo of the Godsend”. One day I will do a tell-all of my lyrics, what they mean, etc… but “Gift of Pain” was an epic moment for me. I wrote the music to that song sometime around 2003-ish, and wrote my poriton of the lyrics and the words “Gift of Pain” in January 2013. It gave me goose bumps to hear that tune again after so many years. Some highlights for me was of course the Sabbath set, but performing so many MA tunes (10 in total), hearing Bush sing “Only” again, talking Football with Doyle, having Zetro and Jack come out and do “The Toxic Waltz” and to my surprise Zet changing the words from “Exodus” to “Allegiance” during the song… I did text Gary Holt during the show (as that tune was happening) to tell him I missed him and was bummed he was not down here to partake in the festivities. Gary has some personal stuff going on, but he was missed. He will be back…

The night was coming to a close and I changed shirts yet again. I always wore the same shirt for an entire show, this time around I changed three times! Having said that, after looking at the above picture I need to stop trying to do the Steve Harris bass pose… doesn’t work for me and I can’t do it like the master himself can. But we ended the night with an amazing rendition of “Aces High” sang by both John and Alissa followed be “The Trooper” where EVERYONE came out… 

To cap it all off… it was an amazing night with an amazing crowd with an amazing band and crew. I want to thank OUR ENTIRE crew for their hard work and dedication. Without them, these shows do not happen… Dan Leo my right-hand man and all-around Taco lover, John Rup for coordinating all the gear, support acts, etc…, Aaron Mercier (my tech – stage right), KY (stage left), Mike P (drums), Wedge (sound), Scott Diussa (photos), DJ Will (MC and stage assist), Victor and the video crew of Jupiter Return (Live Stream), The Kentzells (number one MA fans on the planet) and the staff at Nuclear Blast Records whom were in the house working their asses off (Tommy, Jackie and Kristin). These people go above and byond for myself and MA and I love them all dearly. Tommy coordinated the live stream with Victor and his team… Tommy also was on MA social media patrol and tried to share as much as possible with everyone around the globe as it was going down. Jackie handled all of my personal social media and brought you all the live action from my perspective. Each and every one of you are amazing and I am grateful for you all. I also wanna thank Superfix, Helf Hostage and Metalfier for setting the tone for the evening. And last but not least, I wanna thank my Core 4 brothers of Alex, Mike and Dave and our extended family of Blitz, Osefuego, Charles William, Mark Tornillo, Trevor, John, Alissa, Doyle, Andreas, Demmel, Zetro and Jack. You all truly are amazing musicians and have long looked up to you guys and am humbled you let this kid from Long Island jam and write with you all. I also wanna thank our amazing sponsors; Nuclear Blast Records, IK Multimedia, Orange Amps and Murder in the Front Row whom all have been absolutely amazing to work with and super supportive. 

And last but not least, I wanna thank all the fans for showing up to the Meet & Greet and to the show at the House of Blues. I know you all had many options that night for your musical entertainment and I am thankful you all showed up to our gig. MA gigs are unlike any other gigs going on… ya never know what you’re gonna get but do know it’ll always be epic and on point. I also wanna point out that there is this great debate on who has better thrash, who started it, blah blah blah… the West Coast or the East Coasts? In my humble opinion… one does not work without the other. If Metallica did not move from L.A. to the Bay area and then travel to NY/NJ to meet Jon and Marsha Zazula to record “Kill Em All” then who knows what would have happened? But do not forget, at that same exact time you had Overkill, Anthrax, Exodus and Slayer planting the seeds for what we know today. I think the debate is dumb and like I said, one does not work without the other. Chuck Billy and Bobby Blitz had a moment on stage this past week and to me, that showed that we are one big happy metal family and one is not better than the other.

Until our next show… 


Photos by my iPhone, Scott Diussa, Steve Rose and Iron Mike Savoia

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