Interview : J.D. DeServio of Cycle of Pain
Hard rocking band Cycle of Pain released their self-titled debut album yesterday. The album which has been 10+ years in the making, has finally hit stores. I sat down and had a conversation with Cycle of Pain founding member and bassist John J.D. DeServio last Thursday on the making of the album, touring with Black Label Society and the state of Metal today.
Tell me a little bit of the album, how excited are you to finally get this thing out?
It’s like giving birth, you know. It look me even longer than nine months though, so it’s even worse than giving birth. I’m like an elephant, whatever an elephant takes to give birth I guess that’s what I am.
So you guys have been working on this album since you have been teens, how did you decide to finally hook it all together and get the album out?
Like you said we have been jamming on it together, Me, Joe and Greg, since we were 14-15 years old and I had a meeting with this record label in Jersey and I played them a bunch of music I had recorded over the years, a bunch of jazz-funk bass music , and a bunch of rock stuff and they loved it all. So they signed me and said ‘You can do whatever you like, a bass record or rock record, or whatever’. So I was like, I’ll do a rock record, and I want to get my brothers involved, from when we were kids, so here it is.
Describe the sound, it sounds like you guys have a lot of different influences, tell us a little bit about what the sound of “Cycle of Pain” is going to be like?
Ultimately it’s definitely a rock band. We have a lot of different influences like you said, a lot of Jazz, Folk, Fusion, Metal, Blue, Soul, it’s all in there man. Ultimately it’s all rock.
You guys have some pretty interesting guest appearances, you have guys who have played with Cypress Hill, Korn, and Billy Idol, how did you pick those guys, tell me a little bit about working with them?
Their all friends of mine, it was kind of easy to just ask a bunch of buds to get together. Greg my singer wrote “Do my work”, he wrote that in ’03 and then day he showed it to me I was like ‘Man I gotta get the guys from Cypress Hill on this one because it sounds like Cypress. Greg’s voice sounds like B-Real on that track, you think its B-Real, but it’s Greg singing and then Sen Dog does the that little bit in the middle, that rap. I’ve been friends with Sen Dog for a couple years now so that was cool, I was friends with Ray Luzir from Korn for a long time, and Brian Tichy went to Berkeley with me and he plays in Billy Idol, so it was all just asking friends, that’s about it.
Some of the songs you had written forever ago, I think one of them was over 10 years ago?
Yeah 2 of them “Down Witcha Pain” and “Tungle” I had written in ’99
Now how have those songs evolved, have they changed much since you wrote them back in ’99 to what they are now?
“Down Witcha Pain” is pretty much exact, I put the piano in the middle now so that was a little bit different. “Pungle” – those drum tracks were done in like 2000 or 2001, its crazy man. The arrangement didn’t change at all, it’s basically the same arrangement, we just re-recorded a bunch of things, however we did keep the original drum track, and I just blew samples on top of it to beef it up a bit, but it’s crazy there is shit from 1999 that is on my record. “Down Witcha Pain” the ending keyboard little part is from ’99 actually.
During this tour you are going to be doing some double duty playing with Black Label Society and Cycle of Pain, how is that going to affect you? Is it going to be a little overwhelming doing that double duty?
Nah it’s going to be awesome. Once my band plays our first show “Cycle of Pain” I’ll be able to like rest, you know what I mean. Until that happens I am freaking out. Once that is in the bag then I’ll be like ‘OK cool we did it, that’s cool’ now I gotta go sell merch and then I gotta get back on stage and play with Black Label.
So you going to be actually out selling merch between?
I’m going to go out to the merch booth and sign a bunch of things for the fans, and hopefully they can pick up the record there too.
During the tour you are also going to be having some bass clinics tell me about those and where people can get more information.
I do them at Sam Ash primarily. I got one more in Vegas at the end of the month. It’s killer I get to do a lot of fun stuff, some Jazz-Fusion shit and I get to show the kids about the different influences we all have, and the different styles of music and just educate them about what we dug.
Metal today is totally different then when we grew up.
What do you think about Metal today, it’s all this scream ’til it hurts kind of metal?
It lost the soul aspect of music, totally. You know the blues. That’s where it came from the blue man, it’s kind of missing big time in today’s music and it needs to come back man. “Black Label” always had it and hopefully “Cycle of Pain” will help to strengthen that as well. There are not many bands with soul and blues that are killing it, and the players really playing. There are some bands that have great guitar players that are technical, but they lack the soul man. Soul is what really gets in each person, they really react to it and they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even know it, they just feel it.
Growing up who was your biggest mentor and how did they shape you into who you are today, not musically but just as a person?
As a person, it’s funny to say this but I used to watch “Good Times” when I was a kid and just the message that John Amos had being the father of that house, and keeping everybody in line and getting through no matter what it took man, and that was pretty much an amazing role model for me growing up, just as a kid watching “Good Times” and learning lessons from that show. That was a huge one. My family, growing up and being raised right was huge. The discipline aspect of having to work hard for shit, I got that from my family.
Do you think that is lacking in youths today?
Oh without a doubt, totally.
A lot of kids are stuck in front of a TV and there aren’t really any good messages out there.
Dude it sucks man, even just television shows like you said. Years ago they all had really cool messages, and real issues and shit, and it was more heartfelt and more soul full. Today it is just lacking dude, and the work ethic is gone, because these kids fucking they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t to do shit, they can just go on the computer and watch anything they want from any artist they want. You know when I was a kid I would have died if I would have had that opportunity. Me and Zack we just practiced our asses off, you know what I mean. Nowadays with all the technology, I would have been even better, because we had that work ethic. With the technology if you have the work ethic you are going to be slammin.
We need to get the kids working again.
That’s what I’m saying, I try to tell them in my clinics. That’s a major reason I do it because I want to educate and inspire.
The tour kicks off in a couple of days?
Yeah dude, Tuesday bro.
The same day the album drops?
I know I’m friggin’ shitting myself, it’s amazing because I am running around with toilet paper because I shit myself daily. I can’t believe it is finally here man.
What can fans expect on this tour, a half hour set, or what can they expect?
I said this in another interview, and it was a good line. We are going to perform a human sacrifice each night for 30 minutes.
I am just so honored and blessed to be in a position I am in. Black Label fans are the best fans in the world and I keep telling everybody that, and it’s the truth. I’m just psyched to get this opportunity to open up for Black Label and hopefully start a little branch off the black label tree. It all came from Ozzy, and from Ozzy with Randy, and then Ozzy with Zack and now Zack to Black Label, and now hopefully I’ll have a little branch off the tree.