I’m 22 now. I’m originally from California and I moved to Florida. I came back in ’97 at the end of my high school year. Basically I had realized that hard rock…it was hard to find people that were really good musicians in my age group and things like that. From ’94 to ’97 were probably the worst years for hard rock I think. I just did my thing. I did some shows. I won my high school battle of the bands out here in California which was really cool. As far as Shattered is concerned, I put that together a year later in ’98. Just some friends and stuff. The band started to get real serious around 2000. In 2000 alone, the things we’ve done. We almost got signed with Sony Portrait Records which was John Koladner’s label which is like the A&R dude of Columbia. Aerosmith, he used to do Whitesnake, all sorts of bands. Portrait signed Ratt and Great White. Remember when they did that Poison tour? The albums hadn’t done as good as they had thought they were going to do so we did a showcase and stuff but the label I guess was expected to do more and it didn’t. I don’t know if that has to do with part of why we didn’t actually get signed or what. I don’t know the full details. I don’t know if it was taken away from Kalodner in order to sign new bands to the label. They did end up signing a band called Union Underground that did pretty decent. That was the only band. I think they had signed five bands and that was the only one. I haven’t heard their stuff but they’re the one that did decent. They didn’t do multi-platinum or anything but they did pretty good.
They’re pretty kickass. I’ve got their CD and I see them every time they come to town.
They were the only band to do good on the label basically.
I did an interview with a guy who’s good friends with Jack Russell and part of the problem seemed to be band names. If you had a band name that was ‘80s or whatever, you had a hard time getting signed.
I was dealing with Rod Kukla which was John Koladner’s side guy. Basically it was like Kalodner was looking for bands of ‘80s style but when it came down to it, Rod was saying about modernizing the sound and this and that. I think honestly with the stuff I write, you’ve heard it, I think that a new band needs to do what we’re doing. Not like a glam band but more along the lines of a Queensryche or like TNT. Where it’s progressive but not to the point of where people don’t understand it. It’s to the point of where everybody can get into it. We’re as musically complex to where a new musician would have to try to play guitar. It’s not all power chords. That’s what we’re going for. It’s like ‘80s but I’m trying to get the crap out of it. I think image is important but I think it’s secondary to the music. It’s kind of like the ‘80s but it’s kind of different. It’s more like the early ‘90s like KISS’ Revenge. Not just leather but really strong songs so that’s what I like.
You’ve had quite a lineup change. Who do you have in the band right now?
Me. No. LOL. It’s funny because Jose, my drummer that I’m playing with now, when I had moved to Florida in ’94 from California, nobody liked me because I had KISS shirts and it was the worst school you can go to. Jose comes up to me a week later because nobody wanted to be my friend and he goes “dude, you like KISS?” He’s real tall and skinny and he had a Motley Crue shirt on and I go “oh my God.” It was so funny and this is 1994. That’s the worst year to have this kind of stuff. Me and him just became real good friends and then we rehearsed in his garage at least three times a week in high school. We learned the whole KISS Alive III album and Motley Crue’s album with John Korabi. We learned all this stuff. We just rehearsed really hard. Basically what had happened, when I came back to California, maybe a year before he was going to join the Navy or the Army. Something to that effect. I was kind of like “no, no, no” because I was so serious about making it and coming back to California. He had made the decision and it was heartbreaking but the funny thing is, I get a call earlier this year. An e-mail it was I think from him. It was just awesome because he’s in Arizona now. Me and him are working together and doing it. Adolfo which is my guitar player is just taking a little break so when we do this demo that we’re doing next month, I don’t know if he’s going to play on it or not. Actually I’m going to try to get a hold of Mark Kendall to see if he wants to do some of the leads. He’s one of my friends. I got his old amplifier from that Poison tour. The 5150. I called him. “Mark!” He’s like “oh yeah I’ll sell them to you for dirt cheap.” I got a good deal. With Shattered, within a year’s time we did so many showcases. We opened for WASP, Slaughter, Ratt. There was a lot going on here in California. A lot of people were starting to like us. We worked really hard and the thing is, our age group, me and Jose and the other two guys, Glenn and Adolfo, it’s a lot. I think sometimes because I’m the younger guy, I don’t want to say I don’t get respected…here’s an example. We had dealt with some guy that when we were auditioning for new drummers, he used to tell me “oh you’re the younger guy in the band and it doesn’t matter if you write all the songs. You need to respect us.” I do respect them but he was making it like maybe I felt they were above me just because they were older and maybe they had a little bit more experience. On the other hand other people are going “well they only have this much time to make it.” I just want to do this right. For them I know maybe time is shorter to make it because of their age but for me and Jose, it’s like let’s do a career. Let’s do this right. When we’re doing this demo, you have four guys. Kind of like KISS. Each guy is so different. We all have good ideas but it’s hard because our egos are not out of control but when you have four people that are really strong opinionated, it’s really hard to work together. The guy thinks the song is going to sound this way but I’ve got to come and write the lyrics and the melody. He thought he heard it another way but he is not going to write it on his own. It just gets really hard. What I’m doing on this demo is just me and Jose are going to do it. If Adolfo is going to play or not, I’ll just hire somebody to play lead guitar. The rest I can do. Bass, like I said, everything. It’s really not a problem but me and Jose are Shattered. If we get a deal I’ll just hire some people to come on the road.
Basically you do all the songwriting yourself.
Yeah, but what was happening with the songs like “Nobody’s Hero” and “How Many Lies”, they write riffs. Guitar parts. They don’t write lyrics or melody or all that. What had happened, like “Nobody’s Hero”, Glenn had showed me a tape, in fact a lot of people like that song, I think with four or five songs and my drummer at the time, we went over to listen and I go “that song. That’s the one.” I’m really good at picking what I can work with and do really good. My drummer’s like “oh man, that song’s horrible.” It had different lyrics and everything. He’s like “well, I’m not going to play that song.” It wasn’t Jose. It was another drummer we had had. I’m like “trust me.” It had potential as a song so I re-wrote it and I came in rehearsal and sang it and the drummer was like “oh my God, we gotta play it.” I work really hard on those songs. It’s funny because people sometimes go “oh, they’re songwriters too.” A songwriter in my opinion is somebody that goes in, has the song done. It’s ready. It’s ready to be recorded. Not “here’s two riffs.” “Here’s some ideas that I have.” That’s not songwriting in my book. You can just go in, rip off another riff which is basically what it is. Every song is an idea from another song and just do it. I think it’s really hard to come up with a real concept for songwriting. It’s really hard. Make it sound professional and have meaning without contradicting yourself in the lyrics. I think songwriting is very highly respected in my book because when I need songwriters it’s very rare. If you were to ask a guitar player “oh are you a songwriter?” the answer will be yes or no. Either they’re writing material or they’re not. It’s not half of a song. You can’t do anything with a half of a song. You got to have the writer come in and magic of the song. Anything with vocals or songwriting, I’m really strongly opinionated on.
You did four demo songs and you said that when you go in the studio next month you’re going to be using Juan Croucier as your producer. Did you use him for the four demos you’ve already done?
No. On one of the songs, yeah. What had happened is I had met a girl. Her name is Jessica here in California and this is where songwriting comes into play again. She wanted me to write a song for her because she’s a singer and stuff but she’s really not a writer. I wrote some songs for her and she wanted to cover one of ours songs called “Leave It Unsaid” that she really liked. What had happened is so funny. We went into the studio. The studio is called Front Page Recording here in California which is really big. Alanis Morissette did her album there. Her new one. Nsync was shooting their DVD there. Ozzy’s used it. Dio. It’s really nice. She was paying a lot of money to use it. I said “okay, I’ll write you the songs and if you want to shop for a record deal being a songwriter you get publishing rights.” So what had happened was we were going to be her little backup band for the demo. We had went into the studio and the producer walks up to me because she was singing and we were jamming our stuff and he goes “man you guys are really good.” I’m like “oh thanks. We all work really hard.” He goes “you’ve got to do a demo.” We’re like “yeah, I know but it’s really expensive.” We didn’t have the money to do it right then and there and he goes “no, no, no man. I’ll do it for you on the side.” I go “huh?” Basically he gave us the notation that if we did it quick within the time limit and nailed her songs in one take, with the extra time why not. It’s being paid for anyway. It made a lot of pressure. That’s why there’s a few mistakes in there with the drums. You’ll notice it if you listen to it real closely which is the reason I got the demo basically for free.
You guys are working on another demo because that one was just a beginning.
Yeah, it was free. It was just an idea of what we sound like to show people. Now "It Hasn't Rained" which is the ballad, I did do it in Juan's studio but we didn't finish it. It's just a demo format. That will be on the new demo because the response from that song has been really good. We're going to do that song and then three new songs. The purpose of doing this with Juan which was a real privilege to me and Jose because we love Ratt and Juan's very accomplished. If you would have told us in high school we would have been working with somebody like this, we would have shoved it into everybody's faces back then. With Juan what we're trying to do now is do the demo like how we did but better. No mistakes. Do it right so we can shop for a record deal as soon as it's done. I could have shopped for a record deal with the other demo but even if there are one or two mistakes, somebody might catch that. I'm really confident about the new songs so that's why we're doing a new demo.
Are you redoing the songs you already did and new ones to that?
Yeah, just that one song, "It Hasn't Rained" only. It's going to have four songs. It's going to be a new four-song demo to shop for a deal. "It Hasn't Rained" which is the third song on the demo, a ballad, me and Juan when we had recorded it, a trigger had bled into the recording so if you listen closely you'll hear a tambourine going out through the whole song. We're going to fix it to where it's just the guitar and then yes, three new songs that nobody's heard. I wrote them here in my living room. Me and Jose have really worked hard. I went to Arizona. He came here. It's exciting. It's really exciting. That demo's really good and we've gotten real good responses but I'm very pumped up about this. Everybody's going to be blown away.
As you go shopping around, do you have any labels in mind?
I'm still going to resubmit the stuff to Jon Koladner just because it's Sony, Columbia, same thing. Something in my mind has been telling me maybe internationally right now may be the best idea. Internationally I want to hit Japan. It's inevitable. It would be smart for me to try to hit Japan majorly. Any label I can send it to. As far as U. S. is concerned, there's somebody that I also want to get a hold of, which actually Ratt Juan knows him. His name is Jason Flom. He did a lot of stuff with Atlantic Records. He owns a label called Lava Records which it has Kid Rock. I know that's not our style but Jason Flom also has a lot of success with bands like Ratt or Twisted Sister and other bands in the '80s so I want to get it to him and have him check it out. Other than him and Kalodner, I'm really going to have to talk to Juan. The scene has changed so I'm going to have to try maybe find different people like Sanctuary sounds like a good label. It seems that they're signing Queensryche and Halford and this and that but they're already established artists. Basically what I'm going to do is focus on the main ones I want but I'm also going to send it to all the major labels just because you never know what can happen. That's what I plan on doing. It's worth a shot. Somebody needs to bring back hard rock. Might as well be on a major label or it's not going to be worth it. I want everybody to hear it. I think it deserves to be heard.
Have you guys done any gigs?
Last month Lizzy Borden played here at the Galaxy Theater. They were pretty cool, Lizzy and them. I'm not too familiar with their music but my friend's band was opening and he said "why don't you come on stage and we'll sing a song." So we did KISS' "Rip It Out" from Ace Frehley's solo album from '78. I put high notes of his stuff. It was fun. I did that and it was a month ago. I don't have any gigs planned right now except for doing the demo. If something comes along because Adolfo had called me a couple of weeks ago and if something comes along and it's a really good gig, of course we'll do it. We've played theaters and you get acquainted to it of playing to a lot of people. I know it sounds kind of dumb but every time you play you want to make it real special. That's what Shattered tries to do. You've got these bands that play dead L. A. clubs and Orange County clubs every week. We've established a pretty good following so we want to respect and make sure we're well rehearsed so when you come see us it's awesome. There's no gigs set up right now.
You were saying you were playing a bunch of the instruments yourself.
Yes, for the demo I will be.
You're playing the bass, piano and guitar. The other guy will do the drumming.
Jose, yeah, my new drummer. The dude from Florida that I was talking about earlier.
That’s pretty accomplished to be able to play that many instruments.
It is but that's why my brain is racked. I bought a 16-track which is now at home so I can record my own stuff. It's been a lot of hard work. Especially when you hear the songs. Some of the things I've worked out, it's been really tough. I consider it a complete blessing. It's hard to sing a lot of people have told me. It's really hard to sing and play guitar at the same time. We'd be jamming and people would be like "how do you do that?" I'm like "I don't know." I can play drums too actually. It's just been a blessing to be able to learn all these instruments and I really think it has to do with God. I think He gave me that so I'd never take advantage of it. It's like my vocals. I knew it was a blessing so I never took advantage of it. I don’t do drugs, I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I'm talking never ever. I've learned a lot of lessons from people I've worked with in the industry that I don't work with anymore because of abusing themselves and then they can't sing as good as they used to or they can't sing barely at all because of drugs and alcohol. I've learned a lot of lessons in not to take advantage of it so I work really hard on everything. You're going to be able to hear it in the material and in the demo.
Do you do vocal exercises?
I rehearse to Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime. No, I don't. Not at all. I just learn a lot of stuff. Like I said, Operation Mindcrime. I rehearse to that because I try to cover all my bases with the range. A lot of singers can either only sing high or they can't sing high and they only sound one way. I try to learn both. Geoff Tate has covered it for me where he had a lower range, a midrange, and a higher range. I'll just rehearse to Geoff Tate or Tony Harnell from TNT which he's amazing. I'll also sometimes rehearse to Slaughter because he sings real high sometimes. I know it sounds funny. It's good for your range. I don't plan on singing like that. High notes every two seconds. It like if you sing high all the time where you show everybody what you got then you've got to come up with something over the top. I like to keep it kind of sweet. Actually that's something that Jack Russell told me when I was 18 or 19 years old. I don't like Jack Russell that much personally but then he had mentioned when he heard me sing is like "geez man, that's good but you've shown everybody all this stuff you can do." That's the only thing I've ever actually learned from Jack because I'll always have that in my mind because I go "yeah, that's right. Why don't I save it for the end of the song?" That's why in the demo you hear that it's formatted pretty well. Also once you make it, if I have to sing like that for two hours, four nights a week, that's why a lot of singers have vocal surgery. You've got to do what feels right. Singing with your falsetto all the time is not good.
I've noticed that Jack and C. J. Snare from Firehouse and even Mark Slaughter are some of the few guys that can still sing falsetto. I've noticed that other guys like Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach can't do what they used to.
That's exactly what I'm saying. Flat out, Firehouse is the best live band I've seen in my life. The vocals are amazing. There's no triggers going off in the background. C. J. Snare's a phenomenal singer. He's another guy that I highly respect and when I saw him live, it was just awesome. C. J.'s great. I couldn't say enough good things about C. J. because 10 years ago when it was '92, I remember MTV used to play videos. I was 12 years old. I used to watch them. Firehouse was hitting big around '91 or '92 when that first album came out. They had heavy rotation on MTV so I love Firehouse from the first album. I've been into them ever since they've been out. That's what I think with Shattered is a good idea. Kind of like Firehouse but peppy like Megadeth or Anthrax too. That's why you'll hear a hint of real heavy riffs but melodic vocals. I'd rather be like C. J. Snare where in 10 or 15 years my voice is primed and I did it right instead of not being able to pull off the songs anymore or having pre-recorded vocals live. I don't want that. I don't want to end up like that.
When you guys are ready to do a full-length album are you going to use Juan for that?
We were going to do a full one with Juan actually. Good question. Money. It comes down to that. Juan is cutting me an excellent deal. Juan is somebody I've met through the years and I used to hang around with somebody that I won't mention. When I went to go see Juan to record "It Hasn't Rained" because I had met him through this person, we started going over the song and things like that and he goes "dude, you're an awesome musician and singer/songwriter." I was laughing. I said "what?" He says "I'm going to be honest with you. I thought you were a dork". I go "oh thanks." He goes "well, you were hanging around with so-and-so person all the time so I didn't take you seriously. It was more like you were a tag along." From that moment on, Juan I think knows what I want to do. Juan has been in my position. Juan was my age when he really started to get serious so Juan has been a real good mentor to me. I'd love to do a full-length album with him, but my plans are more to do the demo and try to get signed from it. If so, I'd love for Juan to do the whole album.
Where do you get the inspiration for some of your songs?
I started the album as a concept record. Like Operation Mindcrime or Crimson Idol by WASP. I actually wrote a story line and everything. What had kind of happened is talking to people. The songs were real life. It wasn't like characters and this and that. It was more like people are like "wow I can totally relate to this song." The concept album got kind of slashed. That's why sometimes you'll hear things in the songs that are sometimes similar with the lyric writing because it was going to be an actual story. I find inspiration through just things that are going on right now because the first album will be called Images Of Life. I've been through a lot of emotional trauma dealing with certain things. There's an aspect of relationship not just with girlfriends and stuff. Every day things. There's aspects of parents, dealing with emotional problems that maybe you had when you were younger. There's also a political aspect. There's also not like a religious aspect but…well I guess there is a religious standpoint on my personal beliefs. I'm not like a pusher and telling people what to do because people know what they should be doing. They know what's right and wrong. I don't need to tell them. Sometimes I think people are relating to the songs. You know how you'll turn on a CD and you'll go "oh man, that's just like what happened to me." What it comes down to is I'm trying to write what I really feel. What's real and what's really going on. People are totally relating to it. I find inspiration through people that come to see the band. I find inspiration through just things that have happened to me that are unfortunate. You have to take the negative stuff and somehow turn it into a positive because this isn't a party band. It's not like "oh everything's good." I think if you take your experiences and you deal with them, you're going to become a stronger person. That's what Shattered's kind of achieved. I've been through a lot of crap and I've learned so much from it. I'm glad because if I wouldn't have, I would have given up. I'm not going to give up. It's all about real life experience. There's a strong concept behind the band and that's why I think people are getting into the band because it's not a joke band. It's not a party band. It's a serious band and some people don't want to be serious all the time. I just take myself musically serious. Other than that, I'm a big goof. That's how I am. I'm a goof. I like to joke around and have fun but when it comes down to the music, I get to be really serious. I don't want to look back in 10 years and go "oh, I was an idiot. I wrote this dumb song called "Hollywood Sunset Strip", cruising down with…" you know what I mean? When I think of all these songs, if you've ever been down to Hollywood nowadays, go to The Rainbow bar and grill. All you'll see is burnouts doing drugs and this and that. I don't want to have somebody drive and listen and go "oh he's talking about Hollywood" and I go down there now and think of this stuff. All I can think of when I think of Hollywood is disgusting. All I can think of is crotch rock. I know it sounds funny.
It's kind of funny because Jani Lane made the remark that he wrote some songs he'd rather forget about like "Cherry Pie". I sit there and I think yeah, but that was a cute song.
The thing is, like "Cherry Pie", you go oh my good. But it had a great a hook and it gets you pumped up.
Well every time I hear it in the car I go headbanging.
It gets you pumped up. That's what I'm doing. Jani is by the way one of the coolest people in the industry. I don't want to regret when I hear my song and it's done, I don't want to go "hmm, maybe I should change that line." I want to know in my heart that I wrote it right. I just can't relate to partying because I can't stand people getting drunk and ruining things for me and drugs and getting arrested by the police. Things like that. I don't know what's so fun about that.
I don't know what's fun about getting arrested.
Some of my friends, I don't get arrested but you bring them out somewhere…I think it's good to have a fun time. That also brings our fanbase back into this. A lot of people that are into the band used to have drug problems and things like that. Our fans are the survivors. I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to that because if you have a mentor…say we make it huge and I'm this mentor. If they say to themselves, for example, we have this fan who is a professional tennis player and he's 18. He saw us open up for Slaughter and he was going to check out colleges. One of the colleges he had went to had drugs in the college and showing him pot and this and that. They're like "do you want some?" This is a true story. He goes "you know what? Giancarlo doesn't do it and I don't need to do it." For me, that's the kind of influence I want to be. That's amazing. It makes you realize the power of music and what you're doing and the statements you're making. In Shattered it's like people come up to me and say "how do you do that? How do you think like that?" I go "you know what you want to be. Sound good and things like that. Don't do drugs. It's as simple as that." I don't recommend drugs. I don't condone them. People have problems. I understand that but I think, like I said earlier, the more experiences you learn about yourself the stronger you're going to be. That's just one of many examples. I think a lot of people like to come see the band because of that. I have people that hang out with me because I don't do drugs and they know they don't have to do them. When you're around people, it's tough man.
Not really because I have friends who do drugs and all I have to do is sit there and watch them get high and see some of the stupid shit they do. It's like what's the point in that?
Well, that's true too.
I have one friend who uses cocaine. All of a sudden he's running around the neighborhood with no clothes on which I have no complaints with mind you but it's a silly thing to do.
That's one of the reasons I have learned. It is dumb. Say you want to be more accepted. Take myself for example. When I was 18 years old and I wanted to get into the industry I was hanging out with the guys that weren't the best of people. Now to fit in, because there's a lot of people that want to fit in, I didn't do it. That caused me a lot of problems. It's not fair I don't think. It's kind of a music industry thing. I'm trying to give you an example.
Back in the '70s when KISS first started out, the labels honestly believed in keeping people happy so they’d keep Peter Criss in cocaine and champagne. That was actually part of the business deal.
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are perfect examples of this. I kept them as another mentor and I try to guide my career…I know this sounds silly but sometimes I say what would Paul Stanley do? Paul has been a success for so long and has never had a drug problem or anything like that. I’m sure people made fun of him when he was my age or a kid. “Oh, you’re nuts.” He always said that in school the teachers were like “why aren’t you doing your work?” He knew what he was going to do. I kind of feel the same way and I try to guide my career maybe how Paul did. Once again I don’t want to end up a loser. I want to end up a successful person like Paul or Gene. But Paul mainly.
You wouldn’t want to get too much like Gene. Gene carries business a little too far.
I’m a little bit more emotional like Paul. Paul’s great.
Any other thoughts or comments?
We’ll have this demo done soon. I’m really fortunate to play with Jose again. I’m fortunate to have the people that have come to see us. I’m fortunate to even be walking because I messed up neck really bad after we had played with Ratt and a lot of people thought I was never going to be able to play again. It put a lot of priorities into aspect. You never know who’s going to be reading things or what’s going to happen. Anybody that reads this and is having a lot of hard times in their life, you just got to tough it out. If you do something good is going to come out of it. A lot of the most successful bands and artists and people in life have gone through something. It’s almost like a nothing comes too easy concept. All I can say is if something’s going wrong just be strong. That’s the way I feel towards anybody that likes our music. Anybody that likes our music I highly respect because they took the time to listen to it so I try to take the time as much as possible when we have shows to listen to people and listen to people that like us. Sometimes I’ll meet people at other shows that I go to see and they’re like “well I didn’t get to talk to you” so I try to do my best.