Paul “Ablaze” Zinay, vocalist for the metal band Blackguard took some time out of his busy touring schedule to answer some questions about the group’s newest release, Firefight. This release is an all-out assault on the senses right from the beginning; brash, aggressive and in-your-face these tunes will have listeners’ snapping their necks in no time at all. I had the opportunity to spend some time with these guys and see them perform on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise and let me tell you, this is some real good stuff. Here is how the conversation went.

Now that your brand new CD, Firefight, is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Paul: Yes very much so. It was scary going into this knowing what we wanted to do and the shift we wanted to make, but ultimately it’s turned out great and we’re ecstatic how our fans have been reacting to it.

What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Paul: It’s was really tough this time around, we were on a very strict schedule due to our touring obligations and deadline for the album. Most of the writing was done on the road. Kim our lead guitarist did the bulk of the writing with Etienne (bass) contributing a few things here and there. When the majority of the music was written and demoed I started working on lyrics. All of this came together very quickly and we just made our deadlines.

Give us some insight into the album lyrically. This is a super pissed off sounding record.
Paul: There’s definitely some pissed off parts in it. Each song deals or talks about something different and tells its own story. For instance the song “Firefight” is from the view point of someone whose city is being destroyed and the turmoil he’s going through. “Wastelands” is a not too nice reflection of the touring experience that I wanted to share with people. There are some very personal elements that made their way into the record here and there.

Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Paul: For me “Wastelands” is one of my faves. It’s a bit of a slower song which is a bit of a change for us. That and the lyrics are a reflection of my time touring over the past two years and it’s a bit of a critique of the band lifestyle in general.

How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, comes to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Paul: Live is where it truly all comes together. I find everything is more impassioned live and in front of an audience because there’s so much going on in a live setting. The adrenaline from the show, the energy of the crowd bringing it all together… that’s so much more powerful than in studio.

When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Paul: I’m amazed how many men’s bathrooms in the States have stalls with NO doors. How the hell do people shit so out in the open like that?

When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Paul: Actually during the last tour our trailer broke in Atlanta. We spent two hours trying to find a garage or tow truck, but it was Saturday and they were all closed. After asking around we discovered that it was only one small bolt that broke so we went to a home depot, bought the bolt, bought a jack and fixed it ourselves in under an hour. We still ended up missing our show that night in North Carolina, but it was a cool afternoon.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with you guys on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise and I really enjoyed myself. What was that experience like for you? How did it come about?
Paul: We’ll we have a very good booking agent/manager who hooked it up. It was probably the most unique festival experience we will ever have. It was so much fun being with so many friends in such a relaxed atmosphere. I love how the bigger bands were just hanging out and there was no pretentious attitude from them about just hanging with fans. There were no rock stars on the boat, just a bunch of people there to have fun.

All of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Paul: Personally I train at home and on the road. Keeping physically fit is very important to me and has been for years. I initially started working out so I could give a better show, but it has since really become a lifestyle. But the live show is what helps keep me motivated to train hard.

What artists would fans be surprised to find on your iPod?
Paul: Hank Williams the 3rd, Jamiroquai, The Creepshow, Social Distortion. I’m not sure what would surprise people.

Tell me about a book or two that you’ve read that you think other people should read?
Paul: Actually I’m reading “Great Expectations” right now by Charles Dickens. It’s a fantastic book so far and Dickens use of language is inspiring.

If you had not become a musician what other career path would you have liked to attempt?
Paul: During my next break from touring I’m going to be getting my personal training certification. Eventually I’d like to start training people on a regular basis.

What three words best describe your band?
Paul: Energy, Fun, StageDive.

If you were a superhero, who would it be and why?
Paul: I wanna have the powers of Saiyans like in Dragonball Z. Those guys can fly and manipulate energy to blast shit. Sounds like a party to me.