Joey Z: Life of Agony Have ‘Started Writing New Material’
Last year, Life of Agony returned with their first new record in 12 years, a sign of good fortune for a group that had split up for a couple years after initially dissolving in 2012. Guitarist Joey Z joined Full Metal Jackie on her weekend radio program to discuss the end to the studio drought, their recent lineup change as well as reflecting on the last 30 years while looking at the future with a new album already in the works. Read the full chat below.
Life of Agony released a record last year called A Place Where There's No More Pain. There's a bunch of touring coming up here and there's been more than a fair share of turmoil throughout the history of Life of Agony. What kept bringing you all back to the band?
You know, it's funny you say that because a part of the story ends with a new band member right now. You know, it's just over the years, you know, it's like a big family, you know. And sometimes outside influences could affect the internal. Sometimes it's just the state of where everyone's heads are at musically. Again, it's like being in a relationship where you're very close.
You're like a family, and you're like brothers and sisters and whatever. And, you know, just recently we had a member change which is sparking all this, how would you say, all this touring that's gonna happen and all kinds of stuff. You know, Sal Abruscato and the band parted ways amicably. We just weren't seeing the same picture moving forward. It seemed like there was a different idea on how the band should move forward. So, it was cool and everything's cool. Sal has a band called A Pale Horse Named Death that he's focusing on. And we want to keep going.
We have a lot of drive in us, the three of us. So, we got Veronica Bellino on drums now, who has jammed with Jeff Beck. She jams currently still with DMC. She's jammed with LL Cool J. She's worked with Richie Sambora. And she's just a dynamite, dynamite person just in general and an amazing drummer.
So, the band's super charged right now. We actually just kinda ramped up our set list. We dove way back into our catalog. There's been so much on social media saying, "Oh, why don't the band play this song?" or "Why won't they ever play this song?" So, we just opened our ears and opened our minds, and we've been listening to all those suggestions. And we talked about it, and we got just an incredible set list this year prepared. You know, we're gonna be playing different songs in every show. We're gonna change it up.
We had Veronica learn so much material that we kinda feel bad. She's capable though. So, she handled it great, and we've been rehearsing like crazy. Like I said, the band is super excited, super pumped, super charged. We already started writing new material together. And there's just this whole new, reinvigorated feeling going on in the vibe in the band right now. So, all good on all ends, and we're really looking forward to this gigantic touring run this year in 2018.
Let's talk about the album, which is the first Life Of Agony album in over 10 years. What circumstances needed to happen for you guys to record another album together?
We just needed to all get on the same page and it was kind of like it was a feeling, I think, we all felt at the same time. You know, we all felt it's been, it was way too long since we dabbled with any material. We had some breaks in between. The last record we put out before A Place Where There's No More Pain was 2005.
There was a huge gap there. You know, we're talking, like you said, over 10 years. And I just think we felt inside it was time to put something new out, that people were waiting to hear something new from us. And even our team, which is our agency and everything, had been pushing us saying, "You know, it might be a good idea to start thinking about a new record." And that was some years ago. So, we kinda just all felt like, "Let's do this." And Napalm Records came to the table with such a great deal for the band. And there was a lot of love there.
We thought it was just the right deal for the band and the right timing. We love the record. We worked hard. We worked very hard on it. We're very proud of it, and it seemed the fans received it very well, as well, and love it, as well. And there's some fan favorites already that we're gonna be playing out live this year.
You talked about Veronica Bellino earlier. She just replaced Sal on drums. What makes her a good fit for Life of Agony, musically and personally?
She blows me away in every aspect of her talent. Not only is she a great drummer, but she's a great writer. She also is a great vocalist. There are just so many assets to Veronica. Her personality, she's one of the sweetest people you could ever meet. She's so approachable, she's so humble and she's so talented. So, when someone that has so much talent at what they do yet is so humble and open, and so easy to talk so, we felt like we added a gem to the band.
That's how the three of us feel. Not taking anything away from Sal's talent and everything we had with Sal, this is just something new and fresh. We just feel very lucky that we were able to find someone to replace Sal that's this good on her instrument and that's this easy to work and live with. It's a blessing for the band, we all feel. It's definitely breathed new and fresh air into the band and a new vibe. Veronica just brings it on all levels.
Life of Agony will be on the road this year including a West Coast run for the first time in 10 years. What do you appreciate about touring that maybe you took for granted when you were younger?
I'll tell you what, it's amazing to get to connect in person with the people. There's so many people online now with the social media, which is great. It helps in a lot of ways to keep you connected with your fans and people who listen and your following. But there's nothing like the in person, getting up on a stage, performing your heart out, dripping with sweat, fans screaming the lyrics in your face, packed clubs. It's just where we come from.
We're basically the band that over the years and years just - that's where we shine, when you put us up on a stage. After the show, that's where we like to meet the fans and get face to face with everyone at the merch table. Sign stuff that they bring, everyone is always welcome to bring whatever LoA stuff that they have from home, whether its records, pictures or whatever they want signed. We're very connected to our listeners and our fans, we feel that they share the same struggles and thoughts and feelings that we do. That's what has connected us to our fan base all these years.
So I think that's really it. It's appreciating that the fan base has grown over the years and we remained connected as humans and as people, and that's the special part of being in this band and getting back out on the road and actually talking to everyone and seeing them again. That's special for all bands, I believe. You look at bands like Metallica and all these bands that have been going all these years. It's just as special for them to go out there and play for the people in person. It's quite a different thing than looking at stuff online.
Next year is going to be the 30th anniversary of Life of Agony. What would you like the next 10 years of the band to bring?
Oh wow. Hopefully much of the same, if not more. Again, very thankful for all the years that everyone has stuck with us and all the listeners and fans that have stuck with the band. We have a nice cult following. We like to think of it, we call it the "Life of Agony Famiglia." Which is an Italian word, [LAUGHS]. It's like one big family and the connection through the music is the most important part of it, of course.
I hope that we can just keep doing what we're doing, keep touring and putting out great music. This next record that we just started dabbling with I'd like to say, we started sharing ideas together and I can tell you that its gonna be one of the best. Having Veronica on drums and just what she brings to the table is really gonna be a special record.
Quite honestly, Jackie, we don't feel that old. We may have been around 30 years but we started in our teens, so we still feel like we got a lot of fire in us. We're one of those bands that get up there and give it our all, 110 percent every night going nuts on stage. The crowd seems to go nuts themselves and love it themselves so ya know, if anything it's gotten better like a fine wine.
Thanks to Joey Z for the interview. Grab your copy of 'A Place Where There's No More Pain' here and follow the band on Facebook to stay up to date with everything he's doing. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
Life of Agony Talk A Place Where There's No More Pain