Metal Israel recently conducted an interview with LIFE OF AGONY guitarist Joey Z. An excerpt from the chat follows:
Metal Israel: Let me ask you. "River Runs Red" is an album that got me through school, got me through a lot. But…well… it's negative as hell, brother! I understand what you're saying, but that album is negative as hell.
Joey: What happens is, that when "River Runs Red" came out, or how it translated, I should say, we were a certain age and a certain age group related to what we were saying. Somehow, that all turned around into a positive message because no longer was a rock band putting themselves on any kind of a pedestal and we weren't saying that, "We're different than you, we're a fucking cool rock band, and who the fuck are you?" We weren't a rock band like that. We were more like, "We're one of you, we love music, these are our struggles, you understand what we're talking about. And we're sharing realistic true feelings, experiences with people that had the same experiences. Like you. You were able to say, "Wow. These guys go through this shit too."
Metal Israel: To hear people going through similar things, it gives you hope.
Joey: Exactly. The album kind of gave you hope. These words and music keep me living, keeps me breathing.
Metal Israel: On the other hand you have lyrics like, "I buried my friend the other day - and I knew some day I'd end up that way." It's a mix.
Joey: It's in between, it's both sides of the coin.
Metal Israel: It's one of my favorite albums, ever.
Joey: It is the classic LOA album. You know, if you want to call any of our albums classic. There's a lot of musicians out there that I have a lot of respect for that said to me that this album inspired them. People like Robb from MACHINE HEAD. People like David Draiman from DISTURBED. David, who passed away, from DROWNING POOL, a good friend of mine. People that told me that that record inspired them. So like wow, I fucking love MACHINE HEAD. I listen to MACHINE HEAD. You go in my truck right now, you open up my CD jacket the first fucking CD you'll see is MACHINE HEAD "Hellalive", 'cause they're killer. DISTURBED, the same thing. A great band. I toured with them, they're great guys. DROWNING POOL, they're actually coming out to Europe with us and opening up on this European tour with us. That's going to be killer. So these are guys who I enjoy their music and they're telling me that my album is a classic. And these guys sold way more albums than I ever did. All of them. All of the bands I've mentioned.
Metal Israel: When I was in college, and "These Weeds" came out.. I don't know, I always felt that if they had marketed you better it would have gotten you a whole new audience.
Joey: Yes. You know, I think we were bordering the fine line and I think we kept our… see, what happens in music is that you walk along that edge. And if you just do what pleases you sometimes, it may not be right for the commercial side, but that's fine. That's fine for LOA. And yeah, over time, we tried to cross the border, with albums like "Soul Searching Sun" and some songs on "Ugly" that we tried to cross the border with like "Lost at 22", "Other Side of the River", you know. But we kept our dignity. I'm not saying that we sold out.
Metal Israel: You didn't sell out!
Joey: No, not at all. But we put our foot over the border and tested the waters, like what if we DID get a little more catchy and what if we did put in more catchy choruses… we tested the waters, and we did that on "Broken Valley" as well.
Metal Israel: Yeh, it sounds like you'd been listening to a lot of VELVET REVOLVER, that album.
Joey: Yeah. We were all very heavily influenced by STP and VELVET REVOLVER had just come out…we were listening to that record, so obviously…
Metal Israel: It still sounded like you. It still had your stamp.
Joey: Well, we stayed true to what inspires us. We're not sitting there saying, "Alright, we want to write a song that sounds like VELVET REVOLVER," but we listen to music, we're jamming music like over dinner and stuff, writing in Woodstock. We wrote "Broken Valley" in Woodstock. We rented a house. It was totally cool. We lived together, we ate together, it was just a very kind of like, bonding experience. We would play some music, jam some tunes, turn each other on to new music and then we'd eat dinner, and then we'd jam more, and then we'd wake up in the morning and play…
Metal Israel: My creative Woodstock vacation.
Joey: Yeah, we did. For a month straight. In October of 2004. We wrote the whole "Broken Valley" then. We started in Jersey at LOA Studios in Jersey City and we started there. We realized it was too much distraction. We were driving in traffic to meet up every day. From Brooklyn, from upstate, from Rockland County, so we were all dealing with a lot of bullshit. So we came up with the idea "Let's get out of here. Let's all go live together somewhere and finish this record the right way," and we met up in Woodstock. We came up with preproduction there, we worked on the songs a little bit and then we all shot out to L.A. together. To Sunset Studios. It was a very cool experience looking back on it. The record didn't do as well as we'd hoped, obviously. We're not on Epic Records anymore. I think we had a lot of killer tunes on there, a lot of killer songs that — you can't always point the finger at one — at the label, or at anybody, or at the songs. I think that in reality what happens is, and this is the truth, when a record comes out, either it's the right time or it's not. And I just think that that is the bottom line. And you know, I say it every time I release an album. I have six records there. Moderate success with some. Little success with others. And really decent success with a couple. That's good, but I gotta say that, I haven't gone gold. None of my records have went gold. So like, you know, do I want a gold record on my wall? Fuck yeah, I do. And that's the positive energy that I'm putting out there. So that hopefully, the next record that I do, with whatever it is, whether it's LOA or a new project, CARNIVORE or whatever I'm doing, hopefully….
Read the entire interview at Metal Israel.