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BLS "Evil Twin" Nick Catanese Switches Gears for New Band

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Saturday, September 1, 2007 @ 9:15 PM

"I have so much stored up that

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The Steel city may be known for their football team, The Steelers, but if Pittsburgh's Pride and Glory guitarist Nick Catanese has anything to say about it, it is also home to one of the most respected guitarists in music today. For eleven years, Nick Catanese has followed in the shadows of his boss Zakk Wylde. In 1996, Nick ”Evil Twin" Catanese, as BLS fans know him, hooked up with Zakk Wylde in 1996 when he e-mailed Zakk and told him if he ever needed a second guitarist to call him and the rest is history. There is no doubt, Nick plays guitar with a passion that even caught the eye of Dimebag Darrell Abbott.

Nick Catanese, also make his movie debut in 2001, when he appeared in the movie, "Rockstar", alongside Mark Wahlberg, and Zakk Wylde. Nick Catanese portrayed Xander Cummins and played guitar for the Steel Dragon cover band, Blood Pollution.

The Black Label Society guitarist is also a guitar endorsee of Washburn, EMG Pickup and Dean Markley Strings. Nick help custom design his ET Idol Signature model and Dimebag Darrell Abbot was instrumental in helping Nick ink the deal. Catanese remarks, ”Dime was there for me in every way when I got the deal, he said to me, don’t let anyone mess with ya there, and if they do, you'll call me and I’ll get it straight. So he had nothing but good words about me to them and helped out a lot."

These days, Nick is moving fast forward with his career. As you know, Black Label Society was on a little hiatus this summer, as Zakk Wylde performed with Ozzy Osbourne.

Timing could not have been more perfect, as Catanese took full opportunity to work with his new project that features Queensryche's Mike Stone on bass and vocals, and Mike Froedge on drums. Although the name of the project is a work in progress, and further details still have to be worked out, the name SPEED has been kicked around. As soon as everything is confirmed name wise, KNAC.COM will let you know.

In this exclusive interview, Catanese unveils important details regarding his new project, how he met Mike Stone, and how the meeting of Zakk Wylde and Dimebag Darrell Abbott forever changed his life.

KNAC.COM: Are you enjoying the time off?

CATANESE: I am enjoying it a lot! It's my first summer off in 7 years. I am writing for the new project and spending time with Tiffany and my folks and all my friends, it's awesome.

KNAC.COM: It appears there is not a whole lot of rest for the weary; as Monster Energy did have you sign 4 shows this summer, including a signing in your hometown of Pittsburgh. What was it like returning home and signing for your fans in your hometown?

CATANESE: Actually, it was a bummer, before the Pittsburgh show, someone smashed into the MONSTER truck so they couldn't open it up for me to sign. So I missed out on it, but I did sign in Charlotte.

KNAC.COM: It must be great to be able to give back to the kids and be able to show how important it is to have music in their lives, especially in the Steel city, where the workers are blue collar and lead nine to five lives. Would you agree?

CATANESE: Of course, but don’t worry there are some serious bands and musicians here in Pittsburgh.

KNAC.COM: Your last signing was in North Carolina. I know you are a huge fan of NASCAR. Did you get to catch any races and hang with Dale Earnhardt?

CATANESE: Well, I did go to Loews motor Speedway right after I was done signing. I got to go and hang at the track and do some laps around the track, nothing like doing 180 mph, that's a rush!

KNAC.COM: Would you say that the name of your new project SPEED came from your love of fast cars and racing?

CATANESE: Well, Speed is a name in progress, it's not the name we are using, and it’s close but not exactly. I can't say it until al the legal mumbo jumbo is done, but I am excited. I hope people dig it. We should finish the CD by the end of October.

KNAC.COM: How instrumental were your parents in making sure and supporting your career in music, and helping you reach your goal in making a better life for yourself in a city where people tend to really never leave and experience life's journey on the road?

CATANESE: Huge, they are my backbone, with my pops managing me, Mom doing merchandise and all the computer work for my Dad and our Evil Twin HQ, it's a great chemistry. Tiffany helps a lot with the websites and keeps me going with keeping the fans up to date

KNAC.COM: In the past, you have worked with so many talented people in the business. Let's discuss your current project. In the band, you are working with Queensryche's Mike Stone, and Doubledrive drummer Mike Froedge. How did this come together?

CATANESE: Stoney and me met at the Blacktooth Bash at NAMM, we hit it off there. Then I found out he is a Bass player and sings his ass off. And Mikey, he and I actually played together in bands back in my High Voltage days in Florida. Then he played in Doubledrive and I knew he kicked ass. So we got a great power trio.

KNAC.COM: What was it like jamming with Mike at the Dimebag Blacktooth bash at NAMM? Did you know right then and there, that you wanted to work with him further, and possibly start a new band from that moment on from your initial meeting?

CATANESE: Totally, when we did, ”I Don't Know" by Ozzy, and Stoney and I doubled the solo, that was it, I was thinking " man we just rehearsed for 2 hours and we are doing this, anything is possible, then he told me he was a bass player so bam that was it.

KNAC.COM: What kind of sound are you aiming for with the new project?

CATANESE: There isn't a style; we are just writing what comes out. We have no direction. We are just doing what comes out. We did 3 songs in Atlanta in Mike’s studio, and for just a week, the 3 songs are cool as hell. All different styles and fresh. Doesn’t sound like anything I have heard. There s one song that is very Pink Floydish meets the Beatles. I love it, and the solo is way Stevie Ray.

KNAC.COM: How have the members different band influences come into play? Did you all want to do something completely different?

CATANESE: We all did, but it wasn't planned. We just hung out, jammed, went and ate, jammed more and just relaxed and had fun. No pressure or anything.

KNAC.COM: Are you a big fan of Queesnryche? What did you think of their phenomenal stage production of Operation Mindcrime?

CATANESE: It's amazing. I love it. I remember seeing them with the Metallica tour and loved it then. Great songs and Geoff (Tate) sings his ass off.

KNAC.COM: Has the band been writing new material and in the process of looking for a label to release the tunes?

CATANESE: We are all writing and emailing riffs to each other, it's awesome. ZOOM sent me a digital recorder called the H4, and all I do is have it running and jam, then dump it to my PC and email it to the guys and BAM we got something cooking in the oven.

KNAC.COM: How do you feel a 3-piece sound wise compares to a four band?

CATANESE: I think its a challenge, I love Kings X, and I think you can do it and sound huge as a 3 piece. We sure as hell are going to try.

KNAC.COM: In your new project, are you able more to focus more on guitar solos?

CATANESE: Well yea, I am, but I am going to solo for the song, not just rip to rip. I love singable solos too, but don't get me wrong with the knowledge that Zakk has given me I hope to do some rippin’.

KNAC.COM: How does it feel to be able to create new music, on your own terms and to be able to let the creative process flow with no label restrictions?

CATANESE: It's so new to me, and I love it. I have so much stored up that I just need to release it all. I am having a blast.

KNAC.COM: How is Mike adjusting to playing bass in Speed? I know he usually handled the guitar duties in Queensryche?

CATANESE: He is a bass player in his soul, he is playing a 5 string fretless, and it sounds amazing.

KNAC.COM: I know Queensryche are getting ready to hit the road on September 5th with Heaven And Hell and Alice Cooper. Do you think SPEED will have the opportunity to tour this year?

CATANESE: Not sure yet, we hope to have a debut sometime next year. I’ll keep you all posted.

KNAC.COM: What has performing with Zakk Wylde for eleven years taught helped you form your own signature guitar style?

CATANESE: Everything. He has taught me so much and matured me as a player its no even funny. He has been my mentor for 11 years and I thank him for everything and I hope with this project he is proud of me.

KNAC.COM: Dime was instrumental in helping you ink the Washburn deal. Recently you have more endorsements from EMG Pickup and Dean Markley. Tell me how these deals transpired?

CATANESE: All through NAMM, any musician that doesn't go to NAMM is a fool, that's were you meet everyone and get your name out there and meet and shake hands and then they get to see what kind of person you are and if they want to deal with you. I am lucky to have so many people to work for.

KNAC.COM: As a guitarist, how important is it to have the right strings to bring out the brightness and tone on a guitar?

CATANESE: It's very important. But use the strings that feel good to your fingers, not what your favorite guitarist uses. It's got to flow like butter.

KNAC.COM: Do you have a space page or website for your new band yet?

CATANESE: We don't have one yet but the 10,000 plus on my site www.myspace.com/nicket13 is a good start. I'll have some sample clips up sometime soon so you all can get a taste.

KNAC.COM: Zakk will be hitting the road with Ozzy and Rob Zombie this fall. Are there future plans for Black Label Society to record a new album in 2008 and tour?

CATANESE: After we do the 3 shows in October, I'm not sure whet going on. I know the new CD will be getting done sometime in the New Year.

KNAC.COM: Will you continue to work with Black Label Society as well as your new band?

CATANESE: Totally, I am always there for Zakk; he is my big brother.

KNAC.COM: Musically, what can your fans look forward to hearing from you in the coming months with your new band?

CATANESE: Hopefully, stuff they like.

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