THE SWAGGERING ROCK rhythms, fist-in-your-face thrash riffs and fleet-fingered solos of Miami’s Black Tide are the work of skilled musicians who have taken years to hone their craft. That those “years” began before they finished puberty is irrelevant.
“People make such a big deal about how young we are,” grumbles 14-year-old frontman Gabriel Garcia. “I don’t think age matters. Our music speaks for itself.” So far, people seem to be listening. Since summer 2007, Black Tide have played Ozzfest’s mainstage (after being taken off the Jägermeister-sponsored stage for being underage) and opened for Avenged Sevenfold.
Their latest album and major label debut, Light from Above (Interscope), is brash and bracing, sounding like a fluid blend of Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses. “I definitely have my influences,” Garcia admits. “But I try to play in my own style. And I’m always writing.”
His love affair with the guitar began at age seven when he saw his older cousin play. When Garcia got his own ax two years later, his cousin taught him basic rhythm. His lead work, however, was learned from tablature. “I didn’t really know any rock music back then,” Garcia admits. “My dad was into disco and my mom loves Spanish music. But I soon got into everything from Megadeth to Steve Vai.”
At 10, Garcia formed the band Radio with his brother Raul, then 13, on drums and Raul’s school friends Alex Nunez and Zachary Sandler on guitar and bass, respectively. Two years ago, Radio were accepted for the main showcase at the 2006 Florida Music Festival, a gig that earned them their deal with Interscope Records. Raul subsequently quit and was replaced by Steven Spence. A quick name change later, and Black Tide were in the studio with producer Johnny K. (Disturbed, Machine Head), and their handlers were plotting out their future.
“Everything’s happening really fast, but we’re ready for it,” Nunez says. “It’s a good thing we’re doing good,” Garcia adds. “I failed the seventh grade. If I didn’t have this band I’d be a fucking bum.”
Photo by Justin Borucki.