Brandon Marshall of Sonic Excess recently conducted an interview with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY guitarist Nick Catanese. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Sonic Excess: What is so appealing about the motorcycle club culture, and why has BLACK LABEL SOCIETY adopted the imagery?
Nick: That's a Zakk [Wylde, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY guitarist/vocalist] question. It wasn't a rip-off. Zakk reads a lot of books, and it's something that interests him, ya know? He was reading Sonny Barger's (Hell's Angels founder) book and came up with that idea. Sometimes it puts you in a bad spot with people who don't agree with it, but it was never out of any disrespect. We are friends with the Hell's Angels, but you gotta watch out. I'll warn fans and say don't ride your motorcycle with it on, and to just be careful. Even though it doesn't say MC, that's what they live for, and if some bikers see something out of disrespect, it could be bad. Now we are going to start seeing the "Order Of The Black" cross patch; that is a bit different.
Sonic Excess: I have seen Hell's Angels working security at the shows, but, on the other hand, there has been trouble in Europe.
Nick: We actually had to cancel a gig in Manchester, U.K. because of it.
Sonic Excess: Has there been an understanding or an alliance with…
Nick: No, no, just that one incident. I mean, it's a vest. We are a band, and over in England, they were full-out threatening. People could have gotten hurt. We don't want anything to happen to our fans. If we put ourselves into a dumb situation, whatever, but we don't want anything to happen to our fans, because they were just wearing a shirt. We have to live with that. We don't want to put anybody in danger, as far as wearing something that is going to make somebody mad or hurt them. This is about music.
Sonic Excess: Especially when it's just a misunderstanding like that.
Nick: Yeah. I mean we never would do anything out of disrespect or anything like that. Some people are like, "Oh, they're just wanna be bikers," and stuff like that. It's like, no, we're not. I don't even own a bike, and I'm not saying I want to own a bike. I play guitar. It's like saying Gene Simmons wants to be a bat (laughs), and that he actually wants to fly around, and Ace Frehley freely wants to be a spaceman well.. maybe Ace Frehley did want to be a spaceman, but it's an image. Anytime you read like BLABBERMOUTH.NET, or whatever, you see that wanna-be-biker bullshit [from people posting comments on the site]. It's like nobody in this band wants to be a biker. It's an image that came up, and you can't say that it's not working. Any concert that you go to, you see BLACK LABEL merch. It looks cool, and, for people that wear it, it's an instant conversation starter. I have seen people that don't know each other from Adam have a BLACK LABEL shit on, they are friends in 10 minutes. That's the power of music, but people take it so seriously. It's music, it's not rocket science, and that's it. There is no reason for people to get into fights about it. There is no reason for people to say they want to be this or that. It's a band, and if you don't dig the music, that's one thing, but come on. Like everyone in KISS wanted to be what they were on stage, and Paul Stanley walked around like that all the time. It's art, it's music, and it's a show. It's what people want to see. Just come and have fun, and don't make drama of it.
Sonic Excess: That's the whole point of going to a show, leave all the bullshit aside and have a good time.
Nick: Yeah. And the big thing too is, say you and I went to go and see KISS. I would say, "Hey man, let's go see KISS," and see is the underlined word. Not "Hey man, let's go hear KISS." If you want to hear KISS, put on your iPod. When you see a show, you don't want to see guys that look like they got off a shift at the Sunoco, with no visuals. People want to be visually stimulated. You want people to walk away saying, "Man, I've never seen anything like that." Now we have this video screen that plays videos behind us. For example, KISS could go on stage without the boots and all that stuff, but when that curtain drops and Gene comes out in his destroyer outfit, I get goose bumps. If I walk down the street into a local bar and the band had a kick-ass image or whatever, and I walk out thinking that took some thought, then you know they are in it for more than just being in a band and getting girls… blah, blah, blah.
Sonic Excess: It's a certain respect for the audience to.
Nick: Without a doubt. People are starved for entertainment. Look at some of the shows that are on TV. I mean traffic jams will be backed up for miles, because some guy is changing his tire. People will stare, because some guy is changing his lug nuts. It's like, you have never seen this before? People want entertainment. People want to see something different. When you give them that, visually and sonically, that's where you win.
Read the entire interview from Sonic Excess.