|Rob 'Blasko' Nicholson - Ozzy Osbourne's Band|
|Written by Kim Thore|
|Saturday, 02 January 2010 13:30|
As one of the most sought after gun for hire bass players, Rob "Blasko" Nicholson has held his own on many a famous stage. Whether it has been with Prong, Danzig, Rob Zombie or Ozzy Osbourne, Blasko's distinction as one of heavy metal's most prolific bassists is firmly established and unquestionable.
As a bit of a renaissance man, Blasko has been involved with everything from music to clothing and jewellery design and has recently announced a new project - Heavy Metal Karaoke set to launch in January 2010. As one of the busiest and most prolific bassists in metal, you can bet that if Blasko is involved it is sure to be a great ride.
We managed to catch up with Blasko and get his insight on everything from the Sinatra of Metal to what it takes to remain creative in today's music scene.
And with a resounding thump and a slap... here's Blasko:
Blasko, thanks for your time... let's begin by giving our readers a bit of a biographical road trip if you will - You play a number of instruments, have been involved with some of metal's most well-known acts and icons, how did all of this begin?
Um, how did it all begin? Well, the band I was in - Cryptic Slaughter - got signed to Metal Blade Records in 1985, when I was like 15 years old and so all through high school we put out records and went on tour, that's where it all started with Metal Blade Records in the mid 80's - that whole scene; once we broke up, I was the sole guy in the band who wanted to pursue music as a career, the others had wives and colleges to pursue, but for me I wanted to focus on my music career and that then transpired into a couple of band scenarios and then segued to me becoming more of a hired gun guy as opposed to a guy with my own band. When I started that it went from Prong to Danzig to Rob Zombie to now Ozzy Osbourne. That's it in as much of a nutshell as I can put it... but its pretty long as we're talking almost 25 years or so.
Of anyone that you have played with, which band or singer has been the most challenging and why?
I think everything has its own challenges - especially whenever you are going from big established bands - either you are stepping into a situation where the foundation has already been laid and you're having to emulate what's already in front of you and do the songs their respect. I suspect the Ozzy situation was the most challenging because there was the most to emulate there. In the course of an Ozzy Osbourne set you're going back as far as Black Sabbath to current stuff, over the course of that we're talking about 4 or 5 different bass players, different eras and stuff to emulate, so that was more challenging as one person stepping in trying to emulate all of these things.
A bass player and the drummer are considered the backbone of a band, you've been both - tell us how that makes you approach your craft differently?
I think for me that it is beneficial coming from a drum background first just to understand the relationship between the bass and the drums, in terms of locking in with the kick and the snare and understanding that and knowing the difference of how to play with different drummers cause you know, since we're talking about challenges, well, not only do you have to emulate what bass players have done, but now you're stepping into situations with different drummers all of the time, so you have to be able to quickly identify what kind of style is going on there. So having a drum background would help with that for sure- that's just my experience, I'm not saying you would have to have that but in my own personal experience that's the way my situation rolled out and it benefited me but it wouldn't necessarily benefit everyone.
You've just announced plans to do Heavy Metal Karaoke - this is no ordinary karaoke; tell us the who, what, when and where and especially the why?
Why? Well, we're not trying to come out here like we're some creators of something totally original and this has never been done before - that isn't the case, this has been done before and is currently being done but our only difference is we're focused primarily on heavy metal songs and we have a band of dudes that have been in bigger bands with bigger names like Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Danzig and Ministry and things like that- so a lot of these other ones, not doubting them at all, because they kind of helped paved the way as an idea, but a lot of them are done with people who aren't as well known, or don't come from as significant of backgrounds as we do - so it seemed like a fun thing to do and, like I said, there have been others that have done it, but no one has done it in LA yet. So, we asked why is LA the home of Steel Panther, and all of these other cover bands and yet no one had done it in LA and it seemed like such a no brainer. So, who knows maybe someone has done it here (laughing)... but the equivalent that we sort of took our model from is the Punk Rock Karaoke, which is the same exact thing except for guys from NOFX and Circle Jerks and Bad Religion, so we sorta took that model but just made it a heavy metal genre as opposed to the punk rock genre. They do it in LA and had success with it so we thought man, we should try a heavy metal version - I don't know it may or may not work - but it seems like it would be fun, people would enjoy it, and they'll come out to it and have fun... So we'll see! Yet to be determined!
There have been a few similar events... if you will, for example former Warrant/Quiet Riot guitarist Billy Morris does one at the HiFi club in Cleveland..more of a constant thing in a club atmosphere..any plans to make this an ongoing event?
We're going to try it out - we're going to do a handful of shows at the Whiskey in Hollywood and we're going to do a handful of shows at Wasted Space in Vegas, we're gonna try it out, see how it works, and if people like it and there seems to be a real need for it, then we probably would have a pretty good reason to keep doing it. If there doesn't a high demand for it, then we'll go on to our next wacky idea we wanna try and pull off!
Karaoke can be a slippery slope - how do you prepare for such an event?
I don't know, I think it's gonna to be whatever it's gonna be. Obviously the band itself is going to be well rehearsed and ready for just about anything and, you know, we've been doing this for a while and we know these songs and we sorta know the lay of the land in terms of helping someone get through the song. I don't know, in terms of the kind of singers that are going to get up there and do these songs justice, or injustice we're about to find out! And you know I think that's kind of the interesting thing about it. We have no idea what's going to happen, and I'm pretty sure that is the appeal. Either way entertaining no matter what!
You've been a bit of a renaissance man outside of music as well...tell us about your clothing line and any of the other projects you are working on... How is the creative process different?
I think it's all one big cohesive unit- you know? As I've gotten older, I start to look around at my peers and I see that multitasking is something that is very common. I don't think any longer you can be that dude in a band, and that's where it ends, at least not if you want to have a lot of success. People's attention spans are a lot shorter these days, what you can earn in terms of a consistent living by just being one person in one situation is a little bit less than it used to be. I'm seeing a lot of peers branch off into other things, and doing a lot of things that are all consistent amongst what they do and who their brand is . Um, but I don't know it just is one of those things that seems logical to try and branch off and do - I have a management company, I have a couple of one-off shoots, with whether its designing some jewellery stuff, or this heavy metal karaoke thing, or whatever - it's about putting yourself out there and trying several different things, and it just seems that's the way things are going. I'm by no means a pioneer about it, but it seems to gravitate towards me as an interesting way to go about things and that's how it's going.
So, back to the music - your work with Ozzy has probably taken a new turn with the introduction of Gus G as the new guitarist - tell us about that...
It's sorta of as an "as needed" basis - this year it's been two one-off shows and we've been working on a record - and I'll go in and record or rehearse as needed and that's my responsibility in this situation and I am honoured to be involved in the Ozzy situation and to be in his band. I am blessed and honored to have the luck of the draw to be that guy so I'm very appreciative! The two shows that we did were with Gus G, we also had a different drummer for one of the shows, we had Tommy (Clufetos), Rob Zombie's drummer - we had to use him because Mike Warden was out doing reunion shows with his band Faith No More. Ozzy has always had a revolving door of musicians, he'll do one off gigs with Camp Freddy and Slash and Friends so when you talk about songs like 'Iron Man', 'Crazy Train' and 'Paranoid' these are rock and roll standards, you know? He's like the Frank Sinatra of metal so whether its Gus G, Zakk Wylde, Slash or Dave Navarro - whomever it is interpreting these songs, it's interesting and cool and it's who he is at this stage of his career and life.
Musically what can we look forward to in 2010?
Well, we have Heavy Metal Karaoke kicking off, we'll put out an Ozzy record and touring so it seems for me in terms of strapping on a bass in front of an audience - it appears 2010 is going to be one of my most exciting and busy years yet!
Any final thoughts for our readers?
If you wanna know more about me my hub is Blasko.me and that's where you can find me and all of shenanigans!
Thanks Blasko! All of us wish you success with your new Heavy Metal Karaoke project, and we'll be there to cheer you on! Let us know if you need any help we'll be around spreading the word!
You could be metal's next Ripper Owens! Admission for each show is $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show, so get your tickets now before they sell-out. This is the first Heavy Metal Karaoke event featuring established live musicians and is a must-see event even if you are not up for the vocal challenge. There will be a designated area for "singer" registration that will include a large song list to choose from including classic tracks from Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Pantera, Slayer and plenty more. Expect a variety of special guests and surprises! It's time for you to be discovered, so don't miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Weekly residency at The Whiskey-Hollywood starting every Tuesday on Jan. 12th, Jan 26, Feb 09, and Feb 23.
Then head to another residency in Las Vegas on Sunday's beginning Jan. 17th
Bass: Blasko (Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Cryptic Slaughter)
Guitar: Tommy Victor (Prong, Danzig, Ministry)
Drums: Alexi Rodriguez (Prong, ex-3 Inches of Blood)
Phil Varone: (ex-Skid Row, Saigon Kick drummer)
Previously hosted "Sex, Stand Up and Rock & Roll" at the Improv in Hollywood.
As first published in December 2009 by All Access Magazine http://allaccessmagazine.com/