Florida quartet Black Tide’s debut album Light From Above may make you think that you have stumbled into your dad’s vinyl collection and found a long forgotten gem. With influences such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, these guys strive to create music that has intricate guitar work, amazing vocals and powerful guitar solos. While it is no secret that they are still young, they want the world to know that age is just a number. I interviewed bass play Zakk Sandler about their musical influences, how the media portrays them, and what he did to get throw out of a Lady GaGa party.

Are you 19 now?
Zakk: No, I turned 20.

Ahhh, you had a birthday!
Zakk: Yes I had a birthday in Plymouth, England. In which the next morning I threw up violently for the first time in like six months.

Ahh, had a little too much fun?
Zakk: It was all Bullet For My Valentine’s fault, that’s all I’m saying. The videos are on YouTube.

Nice, I’ll have to go check that out. How old were you when you joined the band?
Zakk: 14.

Wow.
Zakk: I know, it’s scary, I’ve known our singer since he was 10. It’s scary and gross.

So how old were you when you learned how to play the bass?
Zakk: Um, the day I joined this band at 14. I actually started playing guitar when I was seven or eight, ya this band didn’t have a bass player and I was like, “I’ll do it, I’ve got nothing to do.” I was like, “I’ll just play bass with you for a little bit, then when you get some free time find yourselves a real bass player, I’ll leave, no harm, no foul, no big deal.” And they never found a real bass player. I’m waiting for someday like five years down the road when they’re gonna bring in some sick, crazy bass player, and they’re gonna be like, “this is our new bass player,” and I’m gonna be like, “oh, so now you replace me?”

Nah, they can’t do that now, you’ve been with them too long.
Zakk: No, they can’t do it now, but wouldn’t it be funny?

Well, not for you.
Zakk: Ya, not for me, I’d kill somebody.

Okay, well have I have read a lot about you, I’ve done my homework.
Zakk: Good! When people don’t do their homework I notice and I call them on their shit, or I make up these fake facts and them they print bullshit, and I’m like, “see, you should have been doing you’re job.”

Ya, well I have the album, I’ve heard it, I love it, so hopefully we will do OK. So how is it that people in this age group are listening to rap and Fall Out Boy and stuff, and you guys grew up listening to stuff like Metallica and Iron Maiden?
Zakk: Well, listening to Metallica at a young age is not that big of an accomplishment. I mean if you play guitar and you don’t know how to play “Enter Sandman” you fucking fail. Maiden? I mean, they’re the bands that attracted us. I mean we didn’t care about like, I don’t even know, like Limp Bizkit, although I will mention that we did listen to some Limp Bizkit today.

They’re first album wasn’t too bad.
Zakk: Ya, but we didn’t care for that. I mean Korn? They’re cool, they do their thing, but we didn’t want to sound like Korn. But we heard Iron Maiden and we were like, “this is the best band ever.” It’s fast, it’s got cool guitar work, amazing singing, guitar solos… same thing for like Megadeth and Judas Priest, I mean, that’s what it was about. It didn’t matter if we could do the fastest double bass pedal and growl the loudest it was about “how well can we play.” And that’s because this is the music we grew up on. I mean, I was four or five-years old and my mom was like, “this is Van Halen, this is good music.”

Nice! So do you think that the media tends to focus on your age more than your talent?
Zakk: Yes. I think Rolling Stone magazine said that we ‘Iron Maiden meets Hanson.’

Oh God!
Zakk: And they referred to us as ‘young teen titans.’ And it’s like, “I get it,” I get that they’re gonna be like, “they’re young dudes, holy shit!” But ya know what? Led Zeppelin didn’t start out when they were 30. Metallica didn’t start out when they were 30. If you can name one band who people give a shit about that didn’t start and come out when they were like 18, 19, then – jeez – find me that band, find me that one band – Kid Rock, and even them, no, because he was doing it when he was like 16.

What musicians inspired you?
Zakk: It kind of comes from everywhere, we don’t limit ourselves to a particular genre or a particular player. If it’s god music, it’s good music. I mean, I think one of the best guitar riffs ever written is in a Michael Jackson song. You can’t limit yourself to just, “well, our main influence is Metallica, and we can only listen to Metallica, Metallica, Metallica!” You just can’t do that, you just get pigeonholed like Trivium did. And that’s not us, we listen to everything, we like everything. Ya, Justin Timberlake’s cool, fucking Lady GaGa, as much as I hate that song I know all the words. We’re still young dudes, we’re still in touch with pop culture, it’s not like if it’s not underground it’s not good, that’s just ignorant.

Ya, that Lady GaGa song is one you get in your head.
Zakk: {sings] Just dance! I got kicked out of one of her parties once.

Oh no, what did you do?
Zakk: I don’t really know, but I peed on the dance floor and security threw me out.

I bet you guys have some great stories… When you guys got signed you changed your name from “Radio” to “Black Tide.” What’s the significance of the new name?
Zakk: There really is not a big significance. We could not keep the name Radio due to trademark issues, and at the same time, we’d grown as a band since we were called Radio. I mean Radio is what we were known as when we were like 14 and shit. And it really wasn’t us anymore. So we defiantly had a harder edge to us and we needed something more appealing, I mean Radio wasn’t gonna work and we just put together, I can’t even tell you how many lists of names we had, we were throwing them back and forth, and we would call our friends, “think of cool band names!” and like everything was there, there was all sorts of stupid shit, and amongst that list Black Tide was in it and we were just like, “that sounds cool, that works.” And in reality, the music makes the name, the name doesn’t make the music. I mean, we had a record done and didn’t have a name.

So now you guys have replaced Alex with Austin. Is he off doing a side project or something?
Zakk: Umm, Alex is no longer with us at all.

Okay, so how did Austin come to be with you?
Zakk: We’ve known Austin for quite some time. He was a guitarist in another local band and he knew our drummer Steve really well because they had grown up together, and when we realized we were making the switch he was one of the first names we thought of, we were like, “let’s get Austin, he can play he’s great, he’s a good dude, we want him out on tour with us.” And we said, “hey you want to come out with us?” and he was like, “ya, sure, no problem.” Which was really lucky for us because if he had said no we’d be fucked. We were starting a tour a few days later.

So when you go on tour with bands like Disturbed and Slipknot do they give you advice?
Zakk: Like, they try to show us the ropes a little, we really just learn from watching. I don’t think, like I’ve gotten some stupid advice, like hanging out at the bar with the dude from Avenged Sevenfold, he’s like, “drink everything you can get your hands on!” Alright, thanks. Then I do that, then I get in trouble. But we’ve never gotten any REAL advice. Pace yourself has probably been the best advice we’ve gotten.

One of those things that you learn by doing it…
Zakk: Exactly, experience is the best teacher.

Okay, on the album you guys have a really kick ass cover of “Hit The Lights,” why did you pick that song?
Zakk: Why not? How epic is that song? Some of us had tossed around the idea of doing a cover, and we were like, and we’re like, let’s do fucking “Hit the Lights.” One of the best early Metallica songs ever.

What does the future hold for you guys?
Zakk: Touring our asses off, seeing the world and writing a new record.

Have you been doing any of the writing or anything?
Zakk: Ya, we’re working on it.

Okay, do you have anything you want to add?
Zakk: Ya, don’t drink Starbucks, Starbucks is the devil.