Life of Agony’s debut record River Runs Red is the kind of album bands aspire to create their entire career. A concept record with a slew of stand-out tracks it launched the band into the metal world as well as the rock world as it’s authentic raw style endeared them to the grunge movement that was dominating radio in the early 90’s. You’d think it would be smooth sailing from there but quite the contrary the band had plenty of obstacles which lead to two significant hiatuses and some member changes. However after all the band has endured it’s core three members Mina Caputo (vocals), Alan Roberts (bass), and Joey Z (guitars) remain and are anxious to the lead the group through this latest chapter. On the heels of last year’s album A Place Where There’s No More Pain, the band is about to embark on The Rise of the Underground tour which will take them all over the U.S. and beyond till the end of 2018. El Prezidente recently caught up with Joey Z to discuss the band’s upcoming tour, writing for their next record, and more. You can listen to the entire chat here.
The 1st time I saw LOA you had Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe) on vocals. I wanted to ask you, I know he was only in the band a short time, he only did that Ozzfest tour right? I was wondering if you had the chance to do any work with him in the studio if there were any recordings with him?
Correct. You know what, I gotta correct myself we also did a Megadeth tour with Whitfield. We did two full length tours and also ran over to Europe for some dates as well. Now that I think of it we did quite a bit of touring for that record. When the touring cycle for Soul Searching Sun was over we ended up getting in the studio and started writing, I think it was like two songs we were working on and it was just so different from what Life of Agony is or was it just wasn’t gonna work as far as calling the band Life of Agony. So at that point it was like ‘do we want to start a new band with Whitfield,’ and not that that was going to be a bad idea or anything we just thought ‘let’s take some time to really think about this’ because there was a lot going on in our lives and blah blah blah. So yeah there’s like two songs we recorded can’t remember the names or even recall what they sounded like to be honest with you but all I know is we stood there and looked at each other, Al (Alan Roberts) and although it was good, Whitfield is a super talented person and a great person too, it just didn’t sound like Life of Agony so we went on a hiatus and that was the first big hiatus of the band.
Right. Obviously Mina (Caputo) is the rightfully vocalist you guys have a sound together and a chemistry that’s just unparalleled.
Exactly. Mina’s my cousin.
I still would have liked to have a heard you guys collaborate (with Whitfield Crane) maybe one day those songs will see the light of day? On You Tube or something?
Yeah you never know. I’d love to hear those recordings to be honest with you. I think Alan might have them, I gotta talk to Al. It’d be interested just to hear what they sound like, I can’t recall, I know it was heavy of course, we laid down some heavy riffs on guitar and stuff I just don’t remember where the songs went, but that would be interesting. Listen any collaboration with a really talented person like Whit I welcome that with open arms. Speaking of which we already started writing for the next record, we have some song seeds and we’re on this big Rise of the Underground tour so that’s kind of what we’re focusing on right now we actually leave for the West Coast in a few days. We’re playing Teaneck, NJ at the Debonair Music Hall September 16th.
How many songs do you have together you think and did you do any writing with your new band member Veronica (Bellino)?
Yeah Veronica, we have a new drummer she’s doing amazing. Super duper sweet person and just an amazing talent on the drums period. We had a couple of sold out shows in Brooklyn which is a great way to break her in and warm her up! (laughs). The crowd went absolutely ballistic, not that that’s a good thing there were people losing teeth and bleeding and all kinds of crazy stuff, which isn’t good but at the same time it looked good. But yeah we started writing and sharing ideas and even Veronica’s getting in the mix which is great. We’ve got a bunch of song seeds we’ve been sharing, right now just literally seeds to songs that’s how it all starts with us is a couple of riffs and maybe a vocal idea or something. And sometimes Alan will go a little further and have almost a complete song together, but what we’re trying to do this time is to leave the seeds kind of open to interpretation so when the band gets together come . . . I would think January of 2019 after this big tour. We’ll probably get together and lock ourselves in a studio for a good month and go through all the songs seeds that we have by then and just start jamming em out and see what rises to the top and that’s what we’ll go with for recording the next record. So it sounds like a fun process and we’re all excited to be work like this in this fashion you know.
That’s awesome, I mean you guys didn’t have a new record for over 10 years and now here we are a year later and we’re talking about another record which is great. Are some of these ideas carried over from the last sessions?
No, actually we literally wrote that last record, those 10 songs and just went with them. It’s a different type of process this time, like I said we’re gonna throw a bunch of seeds down and see what rises, see which ones make it to the record. We might end up having 20 ideas this time between now and January. Already we have a good five or six songs that all seem like they’re gonna make it to tell you the truth. There’s such great material floating around already so it’s going to be interesting to see what we end up putting on there but I mean our main focus right now like I said is this tour we gotta stay in the moment we got mega-, I don’t know if you looked at the dates but we got mega touring going on.
Yeah, I was gonna bring that up, this is probably the busiest you guys have been in a long ass time. Am I right about that?
Yeah, absolutely. That’s the whole plan. We felt like we weren’t doing enough just in general. We weren’t hitting different parts of the States any more it’s been years since we’ve been to the west coast. It’s been years since we hit the middle of the country. I mean we’ve focused so much on Europe over the years that we’ve been getting a lot of feedback from everyone in the States saying well what about us? So now the whole plan is to listen to the fans and where people would like to see Life of Agony and also listen to what songs they want to hear in the set list and that’s something special we’re doing on this tour. Veronica learned 25 Life of Agony songs already and she’s just killing it. And we plan to keep going with that vibe, keep relearning some of our material, some of the material we’ve never played live before. So we got new songs we got the old songs we got classics and we’re just mixing them all together and the funny thing is the way Veronica’s playing the new songs feel like old songs and the old songs feel like new songs. They’re all gelling so well in the set list that the set list is nice and flowing. All and all it’s just really good stuff for the LOA fans.
Yeah man. You guys are legit when it comes to playing live. I was wondering though, it sounds like the songwriting process for you guys is a very collaborative effort and everybody compares being in a band to being in a relationship. Sometimes I watch TV shows with my wife that I don’t necessarily love but I get down with the program just to share it together so I was wondering out of all the Life of Agony tunes what’s your LEAST favorite? Not that it’s bad but your least favorite.
I never got asked that. That’s probably one of the hardest questions I was ever asked because I just don’t know if I have a least favorite song. I don’t know. That’s something that I’d have to roll around in my mind for a while cause. . . It’s probably a song off either Soul Searching Sun or Broken Valley, maybe one of those albums. Otherwise all the other material, maybe even off Ugly. . . but Ugly I can’t have a least favorite that’s pretty solid. This new album we just did A Place Where There’s No More Pain that’s pretty damn solid I would really have to re-listen to Soul Searching and Broken Valley cause I remember there were moments where I was like ‘OK I’ll do this song,’ I just didn’t know if I was 110% into the song whatever it was, but I can’t recall which title on the spot. I’d have to listen, I’ll get back to you on that.
Fair enough, you answered pretty honestly. Soul Searching I think is my 2nd favorite record, behind the classic River Runs Red of course. Maybe because it was my introduction to the band but I feel like you guys really spread your wings on that one and tried some new things, like “My Mind is Dangerous” is like a ballad. You’re one of those bands I think that can venture off and fans don’t get too freaked out.
Yeah I think the true hardcore LOA fans, all the open minded LOA fans are usually. . . Let me correct myself, an LOA fan usually is open minded. I mean to be an LOA fan we almost are asking people to be open minded, especially with Mina being transgender, the music like you said goes in different directions. We are very passionate and we’re very true to what we do. There’s no formula no preconceived reason why we do music, we do it cause we love it and I think that the LOA fans get that and hear that in what we write and put out.
Hey man, I love a band that isn’t afraid to explore and you have a solid foundation and a sound that’s original. But I also wanted to mention that you’re hosting a benefit for your cousin Victor Caputo Friday June 1st at Revolution in Amityville, NY.
Yeah my 37 year old cousin. Thanks brother, anyone that can make it out to that it’s for such a great person, my cousin is a super person. Unfortunately these things, these diseases pop up in people and we’re hoping he pulls through. This benefit is gonna help him because his union, his job won’t help him pay for his treatments and we’re being told the treatments are gonna be a shit load of money so I just thought the best way to try to help real quick is get a benefit show together and raise some money to just help him out you know. That would be great if anyone could make it out Friday June 1st in Amityville.