Black Tide Brings It

“BLACK TIDE SOUNDS LIKE FOUR PISSED OFF TEENAGERS who listen to too much good music,” says the band’s bassist, Zakk Sandler.

Black Tide under the wire (left to right)—Garcia, drummer Steven Spence, Diaz, and bassist Zakk Sandler.

“BLACK TIDE SOUNDS LIKE FOUR PISSED OFF TEENAGERS who listen to too much good music,” says the band’s bassist, Zakk Sandler. “We love Iron Maiden, Pantera, Metallica, and Guns N’ Roses, but we don’t try to be anything we’re not. We get together to make something special.”

The Miami, Florida teens already have two major-label releases to their credit, and numerous video games have used their songs to pump up action sequences. Their second album, Post Mortem, is due this month on DGC/Interscope.

While the subject of youth typically rears its facile little journalistic head when discussing Black Tide—the members were famously kicked off the Ozzfest 2007 Jägermeister stage because they were under the legal drinking age—it’s not a factor the band seeks to exploit.

“The age thing—it drove us crazy,” says guitarist Gabriel Garcia, who founded the group in 2004, when he was just 11 years old. “People would say, ‘You guys are pretty good for your age.’ This went on for years, and it is always such a pointless subject. Listen to the music!”

Happily, it’s exactly that—the music—which has garnered the major-label deal, the video-game cuts, the growing audience, and the spot on this year’s Uproar Festival. A couple of years ago, GP’s Matt Blackett spun Black Tide’s debut album, Light From Above, and was impressed enough to write about the band in the September 2008 issue. We didn’t avoid the “child prodigies” theme—and, in all fairness, how could we not talk about 15-year-olds playing far beyond their years—but Garcia and co-guitarist Alex Nuñez (who left in 2008, and was replaced by current co-guitarist Austin Diaz) sounded ageless as they name-checked their influences (Joe Satriani, Hendrix, Angus Young, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag, and Paul Gilbert), favored melody over shred, and advised that “not every tone has to have a ton of gain.”

On this year’s Uproar stages, you’ll see (and hear) Garcia playing an ESP Viper or an ESP Eclipse through either a Peavey Butcher or a Peavey JSX. He uses D’Addario strings and Dunlop picks. Diaz will be wielding an ESP Alexi-Scythe or an ESP M-II NTB plugged into a Peavey 3120 head and Peavey 430B cabinet.

One of the audience-pleasing aspects of many of the Uproar bands is their very un-rock-star-like affinity for the fans, and Black Tide is no exception.

“We’ll be going out into the crowds and hanging at the merch booths,” promises Garcia. “I think every band should do that. We appreciate our fans and never take them for granted.”