I wrote to Zakk “If you ever need a guitar player, let me know” That was it. A couple days later, I get a response”
Wikimetal (Daniel Dystyler): OK, Nick, I’m ready here.
Nick Catanese: All right, bud.
W (DD): Nick, first let me thank you for everything you’ve been doing for rock and heavy metal, it’s a real honor to have you on our show, so in the name of all the Brazilian Headbangers, we’d like to welcome “The Evil Twin” to the Wikimetal Show.
NC: Oh, definitely man. I’m glad to be here.
W (DD): Excellent. This is our 100th episode, so it’s going to be great. It’s great to have you and Black Label and Zakk here in our show. I’m going to start asking, like, back in the day when you started, what were the main influences, that made you play guitar and put together a heavy metal band?
NC: Well, the first three albums I got, when I was probably 6 or 7 years old, my aunt gave me Kiss “Alive!” one, Ted Nugent “Weekend Warrior” and Queen “A Day at the Races”, so I pretty much started off right out of the gate, it wasn’t, like, “Muppet Babies” or anything like that. It was, you know, Kiss “Alive!” one, so… And then, you know, in kindergarten I had a Kiss lunch box, and people had, like, Kermit, the frog, I had Gene Simmons spitting blood, you know? It was… you know. But, yeah, I mean, so it was that and that got me into… You know, there was always music around, and, you know, my grandfather played everything, from piano to upright bass, to guitar… And actually got me my first guitar. And, you know, the first time I heard Van Halen, it was… That made want to play, I mean, just seeing… Even the cover, and holding that striped guitar, and, you know, hearing “Running with the Devil”, and then, of course, “Eruption”, and everything, it’s… That’s pretty much it, I mean, it got me hooked.
W (DD): Very good, very good. It’s a great way to start. And talking about the old days, do you remember the first time you spoke to Zakk and how you guys met?
NC: Yeah, it was 1996. I didn’t see an add or anything, there weren’t any adds or anything like that, I actually quit the band that I was playing in Pittsburg, I was, you know, kind of burnt. Basically, I was just like “I’m going to go to computer school” and just, you know, I always played guitar, but I wanted to go to computer school. And one night I saw in Metal Edge Magazine, I saw Zakk’s e-mail address, and this was right when e-mail came out, it was 1996, so that was the big thing. So I saw his e-mail address, and, you know, Zakk is obviously one of my heroes, and I said to a friend of mine, I said “This’ll be funny, watch this.” And I just wrote him, I said “If you ever need a guitar player, let me know, I’m in Pittsburg.” That was it. And a couple days later, I get a response back, and he’s like “As a matter of fact, I do, for this Book of Shadows Tour”. And you know, so I send him a tape and a picture, and he called me, like, two weeks later and he flew to Pittsburg and we hooked up and jammed and it’s been 16 years now, for me and him, so…
W (DD): Wow, that amazing! Amazing that it started with an e-mail.
NC: Yeah, you know, at the click of a mouse, my life changed.
That was one of my dreams come true. Meeting Paul Stanley, and finding out that his son digs Black Label”
W (DD): Very good. And since you mentioned the “Book of Shadows Tour” can you share some memories about playing that gig with Zakk?
NC: Oh, man, it was cool. I mean, it was hard, we did 16 thousand miles in two months in an Astra, man. I mean, it was like, you know, no boss, no nothing. It was me, Zakk, a tour manager and a stage manager. And I drove sometimes, they drove, I set up the gear and, you know, helped… Basically just earning my stripes, you know what I mean, and just… And we busted ass for, you know, ’96, ’97, and then in ’98, Black Label started, so…
W (DD): Very good. Nick, we have a classic question on our show that we ask every single guest, which is, imagine you’re listening to your ipod on shuffle mode or you’re listening to a rock station while driving your car and all of a sudden, a heavy metal song starts that makes you lose your mind and you feel you need to start head banging immediately, regardless of where you are you can’t stop, you can’t refrain yourself. What song is that so we can listen to that one on our show right now?
NC: Probably… That’s a good question. Let me think… You know what? Probably either “Becoming”, from Pantera, or “Cowboys from Hell”, or… Do “Becoming”! “Becoming” is the shit.
W (DD): Excellent, “Becoming”, from the great and only Pantera.
W (DD): And how does it feel to have a Paul Reed Smith Signature Model made for you? And does the 2012 model have anything different?
NC: Oh, it’s an honor. I mean, to actually be a part of that company and, you know… Even the Washburns that I had before, I mean… Anything… I mean, to have your name in a guitar is… It’s crazy! I mean, when you open up that case and it says your name on it, it’s just like “Wow!”, that’s insane. But to be with PRS… I mean, they built such insanely high quality products, even mine… I mean, the guitars that I put out are the SEs, you know, and they’re like 700 dollars in the stores, and that’s the same guitar that I’m using live, you know, I don’t have an American made one. I could basically go into the store and pick one off the wall and use that. And that’s what I’m using. But, I mean, basically the only thing that’s different with the 2012 one, is that the first one was black with my logo on it and with the red biding. This one’s just a red flame top, with chromium, you know, everything’s chrome on it, so it’s just like a red flame top with chrome. And it plays great, I mean, it still has the jumbo frats and like a nice thick neck, so I’m happy with it, you know, I just hope other people dig it too, so…
W (DD): Awesome. Nick, I heard that Paul Stanley’s son is a big fan of yours… How did you become aware of this?
NC: Oh, in NEM. Whenever I was with Washburn, Paul Simon with Washburn, and him and Evan came to NEM, and I got introduced to Paul, which I was freaking out, you know, and I’m like “This is the dude… This is my first album that I ever got”. Getting to talk to him, and… I mean, just a great, great guy. And his son was awesome. Basically, that was one of my dreams come true. You know, just getting to meet Paul Stanley, but then to find out that his son digs Black Label… That was kind of like a Twilight Zone kind of thing, like… We had this circle of admiration going on, you know, it was like “Your dad’s Paul Stanley!”, and he’s like “Yeah, you play in Black Label!”, and I’m like “Yeah, but your dad’s Paul Stanley! You understand that, right?” That was awesome, man. But I got pictures with us three, and it’s cool, man, it’s great memories.
The shows that I did with Speed X, it was humbling. I’m used to looking over and Zakk’s there, JD’s there, and you look over and you’re not in your element”
W (DD): That’s great, thanks for sharing that great story. Do you have anything besides your work with Black Label? I mean, I really loved the Speed-X album you’ve released in the past…
NC: Thank you, man, yeah, thank you. Right now, you know, I’m just writing with a couple people. And, you know, once we get done with the South American Tour, you know, I’ll get home on the 26th, so I’ll have the rest of November and all of December home, you know, we get to celebrate the holidays, and last year I didn’t get home until December 17th, so it was kind of like a rush Christmas for me, so this year I get to actually enjoy the holidays, so I’ll probably do that. But, you know, you’re still writing and… It’s tough, man, I mean… When you sit there, and you look at, like, Slash and Zakk and people that try to put something together on their own, it’s tough, you know. It’s a tough road to go, and it’s humbling. You know, the couple shows that I did with Speed X, it was humbling. I mean, because I’m used to looking over and Zakk’s there, JD’s there, and it’s like, you look over and you’re not in your element, you know? It’s tough, man, but it’s still… It’s enjoyable. But, you know, I’m thinking about that, I’m thinking about actually just sitting down and maybe even going for lessons, you know? Just for me to learn more about the different styles of playing and stuff. So there’s a lot of stuff to learn.
W (DD): Definitely, definitely. And looking back throughout these almost 15, 16 years on the road with Black Label, what you’d consider to be the main achievements or the highlights that you will never forget?
NC: Well, I mean being able to play with Zakk, and being the guitar player, that I actually have a job for 16 years. You know, that’s the thing. I’ve been pretty much the only guitar player he’s ever played with, you know, like, steadily, you know what I mean? He’s jammed with people, but as far as being in a band, he’s always been by himself, but… Obviously that, and getting to see places that people win game shows to go see. I mean, going to see the Vatican, going to see the Coliseum, coming to South America, I mean… There are some people that don’t even leave their backyard, you know… Being able to see the world, you know… Being friends with Dime, you know, saying that he was a friend, and… I mean, he just was a great dude and… There’s a lot, man, it’s hard to actually have one, you know, it’s… After 16 years, it’s kind of, it’s vast as far as memories.
W (DD): Yeah, good memories and a lot of achievements and highlights.
W (DD): Can you choose a song that you have written or maybe recorded that you are really proud, so we can listen to it right now?
NC: I’m trying to think… Do you have the Speed X stuff?
W (DD): Yes, I do.
NC: How about “Fly”?
It takes work, it takes patience, but if you love doing it, then it doesn’t become work.”
W (DD): Excellent, excellent, “Fly”, from Speed X. We are almost reaching the end of our interview, Nick, but before we let you go, what kind of advice would you give a young kid that´s thinking of putting up a band or start playing the guitar?
NC: Just go in knowing that it’s not easy, you know what I mean? It takes work, it takes patience, but if you love doing it, then it doesn’t become work. It’s getting past the part where your fingers hurt, and getting frustrated because you can’t switch to that other chord, or whatever. But once you get past that, it’s like… It’s probably the best thing you can do. But just have drive, and, you know, just basically play for the right reasons. Just play because you love to play. Don’t go in thinking that you’re going to become a millionaire, don’t go in thinking that you’re going to have a mansion and all this stuff, because you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Just play guitar because you love to play. I mean, that’s why everybody should… If you do play guitar, it’s because of that, because you love music, you know, just creating music, you know… There are people that go in, there are people that I’ve heard say “Oh, I started playing guitar for chicks”, or “I started playing guitar…” That’s pretty bunk. Music should be the reason you start playing. That’s pretty much the reason, but, yeah, I mean, anybody that’s starting: just play because you want to play, play because you love it, play because it makes you happy.
W (DD): And if I was going to let you choose only one, which one are going to pick: the Star Wars Trilogy, or a Snapple?
NC: Oh my God! Oh my God… Oh, it would have to be Star Wars, because, you know, the Snapple is an enjoyable thing, but Star Wars is pretty much my… I mean… God, man, I remember being… Yeah, it was ’77… I remember walking through a department store with my mom, and seeing the T-shirt with Darth Vader on it, before I even knew what it was, and I’m just like “I don’t know what that is, but I want that.” And then, of course, when I went to see the movie and Darth Vader came in, in that first scene, I was like “That’s the dude” you know. From there on it was pretty much a whole lifestyle. And it’s crazy, because my fiancée hasn’t even seen it. I’m like “Wow! You’re my fiancée and you haven’t seen Star Wars” you know? That shows love, man. That shows love, trust me, she’s like “I’ll watch it, I’ll watch it!” But yeah… And now they’re talking about… I guess Lucas sold to Disney, so I was like, you know… I was trying to stomach that, but you never know, I mean, if they come out with another episode, it could be good. I’m kind of curious to see, but… Of course, the best thing’s Star Wars with a Snapple.
W (DD): That’s correct. Mr. Nick Catanese, you were so nice, that I’ll let you have both.
NC: Thank you, you’re the man!
W (DD): Very good. Just, in order to finish, can you please leave a last message to all the Wikimetal and Black Label fans that are listening, and invite everybody to the concert in São Paulo on November 25th?
NC: Oh, definitely, man. Are you going to be coming to the show?
W (DD): Definitely, definitely we’re going to be there.
NC: You’ve got to come up and introduce yourself, man, so I can meet you face to face.
W (DD): I will, definitely.
NC: Everybody come out and have a good time, and we’re definitely going to try to put on a kick ass show for you and have some fun, and we’ll see you guys soon.
W (DD): Excellent, Mr. Nick Catanese, here on the 100th episode of Wikimetal, thanks so much, Nick. And count on us for everything you need to promote Black Label, and anything you’ll be doing in the future, you can count on us here in Brazil.
NC: Thank you so much, man, it means a lot.
W (DD): Thank you very much, bye bye, Nick.
NC: Cool, I’ll see you soon.