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It's in the Blood - Gnarly Charlie's Exclusive Interview with Age Of Evil

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Friday, January 22, 2010 @ 9:25 PM


"Who cares if the pitch is absolutely perfect? As long as you sound angry and pissed off -thatís what works."

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Combining power, speed, adept musicianship, and youthful fervor, Age Of Evil, a fast-rising, metal-slinging foursome from Scottsdale, Arizona, is a band about to blow up. The Age Of Evil lineup is comprised of two sets of brothers between the ages of 18 and 20. Already the youngsters have shared stages with some of rockís biggest acts, and are set to open up some U.S. dates with heavy metal supergroup Hail at the end of this month.

Get Dead, AOEís recently released six-track EP, is ďa melting pot of metal,Ē a descriptive coined by singer/guitarist Jeremy Goldberg. There are four bruising originals on the album, two of which are recorded live, along with two blistering covers: Skid Rowís ďSlave to the GrindĒ and Judas Priestís ďThe Hellion/Electric Eye.Ē

Recently I had the privilege to meet the Ziff and Goldberg brothers at the KNAC.COM studio while they were here in L.A. After a few minutes into our conversation it was obvious that they take their work seriously. Witnessing their frequent ball-busting and wisecracks, however, it was evident that this band really knows how to have a good time. They should do really well.

KNAC.COM: Okay, Iím at the KNAC.COM studio with Age Of Evil. Hello, gentlemen. Will you introduce yourselves, please?

JORDAN ZIFF: Iím Jordan Ziff, the lead guitar player.

GARRETT ZIFF: Iím Garrett Ziff, the drummer and the brains.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Iím Jacob Goldberg. Iím the bass player.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Iím Jeremy Goldberg, the rhythm guitarist and lead singer.

JORDAN ZIFF: And Garrettís not the brains. Heís an idiot.

GARRETT ZIFF: No, as the drummer I write all the songs.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Age Of Evilís like one giant brain that feeds the four of us.

KNAC.COM: Youíre like the Neil Peart of the band.

GARRETT ZIFF: Exactly!

JACOB GOLDBERG: No. Heís like the Tommy Lee.

KNAC.COM: He gets all the women?

JACOB GOLDBERG: Not all of them.

JORDAN ZIFF: Heís like the Tommy Lee who doesnít do shit, but gets away because heís talented. Heís talented, but he doesnít practice. Iím talented, but I do practice. So, basically Garrettís an asshole and I work my ass off. And Garrett just kinda cruises along.

KNAC.COM: As a fairly new band youíve already toured internationally. Where have you been so far?

JACOB GOLDBERG: Weíve been through a few countries in Europe. Germany, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, and LondonÖLondonís not a country.

KNAC.COM: Youíve toured with some major bands in your travels and have played big stadium shows. How did that happen for you in such a short time?

JACOB GOLDBERG: We got asked to do the Bang Your Head festival in Germany in 2007, right when our first album came out. We got asked to this 15-20,000 person festival with Heaven and Hell, and who else?

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Nazareth, HammerFall, Girlschool, W.A.S.P., EdguyÖ

JACOB GOLDBERG: We got asked to do that and it was what kind of kick-started the whole thing. From there we met the guy who would be starting the label that weíre with now. You know, everything just goes in steps. You meet someone who introduces you to someone else and thatís how it all got started.

KNAC.COM: Your music is a concoction of all this good shit. When you started off did you guys aspire to play any particular genre?

JORDAN ZIFF: I think we just do what we feel like, and hopefully people will like it.

GARRETT ZIFF: Like you said, we play concoction metal, a new genre.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Weíre premium roast, just like everything combined.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Melting pot of metal.

KNAC.COM: Fondue with meat and potatoes and all the essential condiments.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: It has the essentials, yeah. Our new album that weíre writing right now even has more things going into that melting pot.

GARRETT ZIFF: Just kind of like a metal, rock and roll smorgasbord.

JORDAN ZIFF: Fondue.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Of metal

GARRETT ZIFF: So many analogies.

JACOB GOLDBERG: We listen to anything thatís rock and roll. Anything from the 60ís to the 90ís. Thatís what we grew up on.

GARRETT ZIFF: Early 90ís.

JORDAN ZIFF: Anything before Nirvana.

JACOB GOLDBERG: So thatís where we get our influence from and thatís like the styles we like. Get Dead is a heavier album, but we listen to a lot of classic rock bands and stuff like that, too.

KNAC.COM: Did your parents turn you on to the music they listen to?

JEREMY GOLDBERG: They didnít listen to that kind of music, but we came up on it on our own.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Now I got my dad getting into Iron Maiden and Motley Crue. Itís kinda funny.

GARRETT ZIFF: My mom listened to that since she was younger, anyway. So my mom had a lot of influence to what I started listening to. Itís definitely cool being able to share those influences with our parents and stuff like that. But like I said, we listen to a lot of older stuff. We donít really listen to anything too modernóit all just sounds the same. So, weíre being different.

KNAC.COM: What are your plans now?

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Well, weíre going on a couple of tour dates with Hail in late January in New York and in Massachusetts. And while weíre out there weíre going to be meeting with a producer, because weíre working on the new songs for the next full-length album. Right now, touring and the new album are the main focuses for us. We have a lot of demos that weíre already working on and the newer music is definitely the best stuff weíve ever written. Before the album comes out, hopefully we can release a single or two and give everyone a taste of what itís like. We donít want to keep everyone waiting too longóattention spans these days (laughs).

KNAC.COM: But there arenít people breathing down your back and throwing unrealistic deadlines at you, right?

JACOB GOLDBERG: No. Thatís kinda nice. Being with a smaller label, theyíre not hawking you all the time to do stuff. We were literally recording till the last day we were on tour. So we go at a pretty fast pace. Weíre cool with that. We like it that way. It makes us work harder.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: And itís important too, because you donít want to play a live show and your album has all these layers and things that you canít replicate live. For us, live, we play as good, or better, than the songs on the album. But we also have the entertainment with it, so itís like live shows are really important to bands, and if you donít have that you probably wonít be super successful

JORDAN ZIFF: Basically, itís all about the moves (laughs).

KNAC.COM: Whipping your hair and stuff like that? If you have that down then you got it made.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Thatís why we like to do everything raw. The album sounds really raw. Thatís what we like, so when we play live itís not like we have to worry about so much extra stuff, like he (Jeremy) said, like keyboards or synth stuff or whatever new things people are doing nowadays.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Yeah, weíre not into the Pro Tools shit or the vocal tuning shit, so itís not something that we have to worry about.

KNAC.COM: Your recordings have been all analog?

JEREMY GOLDBERG: The first album we did was analog. The Get Dead EP was digital.

JORDAN ZIFF: But it really wasnít edited.

JACOB GOLDBERG: As long as thereís attitude there thatís all that matters. Who cares if the pitch is absolutely perfect? As long as you sound angry and pissed off--thatís what works.

KNAC.COM: A lot of bands, particularly the up-and-coming ones, donít have that mindset.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Thatís the problem.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Since the very beginning of this band weíve never moved on from something until weíve nailed it, especially with Jordan and his guitar playing. The reason heís so good, besides his raw talent and ability (laughs), is that he always practiced it until he could play it perfect, and then he moved on. So, thatís what we do. If you put a vocal tuner on your voice then how are you supposed to get better? You donít push yourself.

GARRETT ZIFF: Youíre going to do as well as your expectations are for yourself, and if you donít set that goal high enough and you rely on auto-tuning and Pro Tools and all that shit, you got nothing.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Same with drums. Weíre not into the whole ďLetís program the drum kit and use triggers on every single drum live.Ē We just donít do that. I know a lot of these grindcore death metal bands do that because they have to play so fast and they canít hit it hard enough at that speed, so they just have it all triggered. To me, it all sounds fake. I donít know what separates that from rappers using fake drum sounds. To me itís the same.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: If the best band in the world, The Beatles, could do it with four tracks, then why shouldnít everyone else be able to do it?

GARRETT ZIFF: Exactly. Back in the 60ís, 70ís, and 80ís there was no Pro Tools or none of that shit, so it was either you had it or you didnít. So weíre trying to bring back that aspect of music, being able to say, ďThis is us and this is what we sound like. Weíre not editing shit.Ē

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Changing one little part isnít going to sell ten million more records. Whatís the point? And, our first producer really showed us that on out first albumóthat changing that little thing, making it perfect, is not going to sell any more records. If anything, it would just take away from the rawness and attitude.

KNAC.COM: Jordan, did you have any formal training or are you a self-taught guy?

JORDAN ZIFF: Iíd say half and half. I took lessons, but Iíd go on my own tangent and do my own thing. When I started guitar, I listened to Santana and stuff like that. I had lessons for a long time and my teacher was the one who said, ďHere, man. You gotta listen to Paul Gilbert and Yngwie.Ē And then I just started learning that shit. So I just kinda put all my influence and shit into a big ball of Jordan Ziff guitar playing shit (laughs). I guess I play fast, but playing fast is not the most important aspect to playing guitar, because a monkey can learn to play fast after a long time.

KNAC.COM: Garrett, whatís the deal with your drum playing? Where did you come from?

(laughs)

GARRETT ZIFF: Well, I started playing in elementary school when I was about seven, eight years old. I took lessons for my first couple of years, but for the most part Iím self-taught. I took a couple of lessons from a guy named Rikard Stjernquist. He plays drums in a band called Jag Panzer, and he showed me a couple of things. But, for the most part, Iím self-taught. Thatís where Iím at. Iím just naturally amazing (laughs).

JORDAN ZIFF: I was always telling him, ďHey man, youíre hitting like a pussy. Hit harder.Ē Garrett, when you see him play live--he hits harder than 99 percent of the drummers, probably.

JACOB GOLDBERG: Sometimes weíll be in the practice room and heíll hit a cracked cymbal and a chunk of it will fly at our faces.

GARRETT ZIFF: I almost decapitated Jacob a couple of times from flying cymbal shards.

JACOB GOLDBERG: No, dude. Itís dangerous.

JEREMY GOLDBERG: I made Jacobís head bleed from my guitar one time. I was playingÖ

JACOB GOLDBERG: He swung his guitar at my face.

JORDAN ZIFF: Me and Jacob smack each other at almost every show.

JACOB GOLDBERG: No, that was only one show, man. This one show we ran into each other, like, five times.

JORDAN ZIFF: We just donít pay attention onstage. Weíre in our own tangent of playing music.

JACOB GOLDBERG: That makes no sense (laughs). You totally used tangent out of context. Stop trying to sound smart.

JORDAN ZIFF: I know. Iím allowed to do that. I failed English class. Thatís why I use words that donít make sense.

KNAC.COM: Iím sure youíre the envy of many of your peers, going out on the road and becoming successful at such a young age. Whatís your vision now?

JACOB GOLDBERG: I donít know. Itís just crazy. If someone told me five years ago, ďHey Marty Friedmanís gonna play on your album.Ē Iíd be like, ďShut up, man. No way.Ē Itís just really cool that stuff like that actually gets to happenÖjust four guys wanting to play music growing up. Thatís all we ever wanted to do. And how far itís gone and how far, hopefully, itís going to goÖ

GARRETT ZIFF: No. Itís not hopefully how far itís going to go. Itís definitely how far itís going to go.

JACOB GOLDBERG: How far it will go.

JORDAN ZIFF: Definitely!

JEREMY GOLDBERG: Itís just a matter of time.

JORDAN ZIFF: Itís in the blood.

www.ageofevil.com

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