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Interview With Rob Zombie Bass Player "Blasko"

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 @ 10:55 AM

Blasko Confirms He Is Leaving

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Rob "Blasko" Nicholson is one of the most influential bass players in music today. "Blasko" is best known for his driving bass lines that fuel the backbone of the Rob Zombie Band. The Horror Bass King has had an extensive career that would make any rock and roll musician proud.

Blasko recently completed the first leg of the "Educated Horses" Tour. This tour was one of Rob Zombie's most successful tours to date, selling out venues across the country. I recently had the opportunity to witness the "Educated Horses" Tour in Worcester, MA. The show was well received, and the chemistry of the band was amazing.

Blasko has performed with such metal icons as Danzig, Drown and Rob Zombie. This summer, he’ll be performing bass duties for Ozzy Osbourne. In between, all of the touring, Blasko has even found time for his solo project, The Death Riders. In August of 2005 the band released, "Soundtrack For Depression."

In this exclusive interview for KNAC.COM, Blasko discusses his gig with Ozzy, The Death Riders, and what Rob Zombie has taught him as a musician.

KNAC.COM: I recently saw you perform at The Palladium in Worcester with Rob Zombie. How did the "Educated Horses" Tour go?

BLASKO: It was great. It was a real successful tour. Potentially one of our best, if not the best tour we have done. Considering there is a lot going in to it, we weren't sure how it was going to work out. We were not sure how the record was going to do as it has been five years, since we had a record out. It turned out to be better than we could have anticipated.

KNAC.COM: How long have you been touring with Rob Zombie?

BLASKO: I am the only original member of the solo band. Since Rob disbanded White Zombie, I have been a member of the band…of his band.

KNAC.COM: Now are you still with Rob? There is a rumor going around that you are Ozzy's new bass player?

BLASKO: Yea there is a rumor going around.

KNAC.COM: Can we talk about it? Can we confirm that rumor?

BLASKO: It is kind of all talk; it is kind of all up in the air. But potentially I will be doing Ozzfest this summer. The whole rumor thing is kind of funny, in a sense that actually ya know I auditioned with Ozzy in the summer of 2003. I got the gig then. It is just that, what I was auditioning for got cancelled because he got in that accident. So of course that got cancelled. The following two (years) had been Black Sabbath headlining. Ozzy hasn't done anything solo till this past Thanksgiving. We went to London for the NFL Kickoff, where we performed "Crazy Train". We did a couple of things over in London, a variety performance and we did Ozzy's Induction to the U.K. Hall of Fame. I have performed with Ozzy on all the solo performances that he has done since I got the gig in 2003. Me playing for Ozzy is not really this new thing. It just so happens that this is the first time the two band gigs will cross paths (on tour). I have been juggling both and I had to make a decision. I just chose to go out on Ozzfest again. It will be my fourth time. That is always a really good time. There is nothing negative or any drama. It is just how things worked out.

KNAC.COM: I hope you do tour with Rob again, like I said the chemistry of the band is amazing.

BLASKO: Well thank you. I appreciate that.

KNAC.COM: Actually, I got to see you perform with Ozzy, September 8, at Gillette Stadium at the NFL Kickoff with the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders. Tell me what was it like performing with Ozzy that night? I am a huge Patriots fan, and the crowd just went w crazy when the band played The Patriot's signature theme song,” Crazy Train."

BLASKO: Right, and I guess that helmet that we played in is always there, or was it a surprise? It was great, it is pretty safe to say that I think that will be the only time I will do a gig inside a football helmet. [Laughing] At least it won't happen to me again but it was interesting and a real good time.

KNAC.COM: Tell me about the first time you auditioned for Ozzy in 2003. What song did you have to perform for him?

BLASKO: We played "Paranoid,” Crazy Train," I Don't Know,” Into The Void", and "Bark At The Moon."

KNAC.COM: What was it like working with Zakk Wylde for the first time?

BLASKO: It is funny; I have done so many tours with Ozzy, as the support band or opening band. I already know all of these people, so stepping into it wasn't an uncomfortable situation. It was one of those things that just fell into place because it made sense. Those guys are all great. Zakk and Mike Borden are awesome and are really fun to play with. It is a cool situation to be apart of for sure.

KNAC.COM: You have the best of both worlds. Did you ever think you would be performing with Rob Zombie, and now you are going to be performing with Ozzy? You are taking your career to a whole new dimension. Would you agree?

BLASKO: I would have never expected working with these great artists. Never in a million years. I wasn't even trying to push my career that far. It just kind of went there. I would never dream this would be the case.

KNAC.COM: In between all of your tour, you have managed to find time to put together your solo project The Death Riders. How does your solo band compare to Rob Zombie? How would you describe the sound?

BLASKO: It is called The Death Riders. It is project that some buddies and me threw together. We all had some down time away from everything else that we do. We threw some songs together and have done a few little cool things. We are featured in this movie that is going to be coming out next year,” The Wizard Of Gore." with Crispin Glover in the lead role. It is a remake of a horror movie that was made in the 70's. We are featured in one scene so one of our songs is going to be in the movie. Crispin Glover is awesome, and what we were able to see of the making of the movie, I think it could potentially be pretty good. Crispin Glover doesn't really do much, so if he puts his stamp on it, generally it is something pretty interesting. We are not a normal band. We don’t do normal band things. We don't tour. We don't rehearse. [Laughing] So, we had some fun, we made a record, me mainly just made it for ourselves. It's not metal, but more of a hard rock/rockabilly sort of vibe. We just went for something that we liked collectively. We weren't trying to impress anybody.

KNAC.COM: Cool, there was no pressure.

BLASKO: Exactly. We had zero aspirations of it, other than just make a record and that is what we did. So we feel confident that we have reached our goal.

KNAC.COM: Now the solo record is called,” Soundtrack for Depression". On the first song, did you have Steve Stevens perform with you?

BLASKO: Johnny our guitar player, he runs a company called the Coffin Case Company. They make guitar cases shaped like coffins. We were trying real hard to get him on the record, but he actually never played on it. With our time frame in getting the record done and Steve's own schedule being busy we never got him in the studio.

KNAC.COM: You have performed with so many metal icons including Danzig. What was it like performing with him?

BLASKO: It was a really a short period of time. My time with Danzig was in between records, so there wasn't a lot going on. The interesting part of that whole scenario is that the band at the time, besides Glen, was me, the drummer was Joey Castio from Queens of The Stone Age, and the guitar player was Dave Kushner, who is rhythm guitar player in Velvet Revolver. That was pretty high quality band who went on to do a lot of quality projects after that. So there is a little tidbit of metal information for you.

KNAC.COM: I recently say Guns N’ Roses in New York. Are you a big fan?

BLASKO: I was a fan of GNR, when they came out. Appetite is a great record. I sort of lost track after that.

KNAC.COM: How did you get started in the business? How long have you been playing bass? Are you originally form California?

BLASKO: I was born and raised here in Southern California. I got my first Kiss record in 77 or 78 and that is kind of what turned me on to wanting to be in a band. I got signed when I was 15 to Metal Blade Records. The album was released 1986. I have been doing this for 20 years. Now we are here we are talking about it.

KNAC.COM: Awesome. Now you also played with Drown. Was that one of your first bands?

BLASKO: That was my first major label. That was a good experience. It is just cool to see the ins and outs of a major label and how things could go from good to bad in a relatively short period of time. It was a good experience for sure.

KNAC.COM: How has the music industry changed since then? It seems the labels are signing bands today more for a song, than a whole album?

BLASKO: It has always been a singles [one hit] driven market in the last 5 plus years. There have always been catalog artists who will always continue to be catalog artists. But there will probably be fewer of them as the years go by. I believe major labels will always push the [singles] driven market because that is where the money comes from and that is how they can afford to have more catalog artists. It has changed drastically. The media has changed, the format has changed, how we listen to music, how we hear music, how kids find new bands, all that has changed with the Internet and MySpace. I grew up in a time where my first band put out a12 inch record. CD's didn't exist, and that was only 20 years ago that was going on. The growth of the Indy label has really made much more of a change. Major labels seem to more how to work pop music and that seems to be more their forte. The Indy labels seem to have taken a stronghold on the Indy genre, whether it is metal or something else that you are in to. To me that has helped to bring a lot more to the table. You have a lot more out there. A lot more interesting things for people to find and latch onto too.

KNAC.COM: You have performed with Rob Zombie for so long. What is the most important thing that Rob has taught you as a musician? What have you learned from performing onstage with him?

BLASKO: I have learned so much it would be impossible to narrow it done to any one thing. One thing is the overall presentation of how to get things done. How take projects and pull them all together. There is just so much to what Rob does for his visions.

KNAC.COM: One of things I noticed at your show at the Palladium in Worcester was the showmanship onstage. The band really interacted with the crowd. You had great stage props, including the mechanical robot. The show was fun. Everyone really was involved. Rob was a bundle of energy. How important is it to interact with the audience?

BLASKO: We have been doing this for a long time. Rob definitely knows his audience. I think every band is different in how they present themselves. I know as a fan I like to go see a big rock show. I don't necessarily like to go see dudes stare at their shoes. If I am paying money I want to be entertained. That is the kind of school that we all come from. That is the big arena rock shows we grew up with and where we came from. Being entertained. Putting on a rock show. That is how we do things. That is how things are done.

KNAC.COM: Any advice for aspiring musicians getting started in the business?

BLASKO: I think the thing is to really understand that it is work. If it is something that you really want to do for a living, you really have to take yourself seriously. If is it something that you want to do for fun then by all means, you should always be having fun with it. I think the most important thing is to go out there and just follow through. Taking lessons and all those things are all fine, but you really got to get your feet wet. Get in a band and start getting in front of people. There is a lot of work involved and its not easy. It took me twenty years to get to this point. I have seen a lot of things, had a lot of ups and downs. I have gone through Indy and major labels. I have changed paths a few time and done different things.

KNAC.COM: Great advice. Do you have a management company as well?

BLASKO: Yes, me and my partner manage a handful of baby bands, all of which are signed to really strong Indy metal labels. Three of which have records out and two that are about to release. The link is at www.mercenarymanagement.com that is really another main focus of mine to play and put out energy into focusing on these younger bands that are real hungry and focused on what they want to do.

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