Art of Shock – Making Darkness Light Again

Sunday, 27th August 2023

Another band that took the darkness of the pandemic into a positive as far as creativity, Los Angeles, California’s Art of Shock may have seemed bitter about the world shutting down after releasing their last album Dark Angeles in late-March. Having to pull the plug on a great North American tour with Sepultura, the quartet spent the next year working on the songwriting and recording of the follow-up, Shine Black Light. While still a thrash unit, there’s an added sense of angst, passion, and modern energy driving through this material – as well as a more reflective side for the ballad “Drag Me to Hell”. We reached out to vocalist/guitarist Art Geezar to learn more about the man’s musical background during childhood, the need for him and his brother to move from Mexico to the United States to pursue their musical dreams, thoughts on the new record and working with producer Taylor Young, what they’ve learned being on the road with veterans like Sepultura, Crowbar, and Brujeria, advice for younger musicians, and future plans.

Dead Rhetoric: What were some of your earliest musical memories growing up in childhood with your brother Adrian? At what point did you discover heavier forms of music, and both decide to pick up instruments and start creating music on your own?

Art Geezar: Growing up there was a lot of music in my family. My mother, she grew up in the 60’s, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, all the wonderful music of Motown. And my dad really likes classical music – especially Mozart and his favorite opera was Carmen, he played it all the time. We were dripping with music. And then later on, we were always interested in rock and roll and the heavier side of things. I was a really big fan of Metallica – a cousin of mine said that band was alright, but kind of commercial. He loaned me a cassette tape with Cannibal Corpse – Butchered At Birth, and on the other side it had Morbid Angel – Blessed Are the Sick. That changed my life at eight years old. This was so cool – nobody was telling those guys what to do. I initially got interested, and then Adrian fell in love with this too.

I started playing piano, I was taking piano lessons because I became a massive Queen fan. I had to learn how to play those songs. Also, The Beatles. Then I moved to guitar because those songs also have great guitar parts (laughs). And then Adrian joined me, his favorite drummer was Roger Taylor. He wanted a drum kit. At some point he bought a bass too. My mom took me to piano lessons and she took Adrian to drum lessons. We were seven, eight, nine, really early on.

Dead Rhetoric: How did you decide to move from Mexico to Los Angeles – did you have the support of family and friends in making this move to better your musical aspirations?

Geezar: Absolutely. It was because at that time when we moved, we couldn’t see a future in what we were doing. Who is taking this seriously in this business, here in Mexico, even though the people love hard rock and metal? We didn’t see the industry or business people taking it seriously. And that’s why a lot of people who dedicate their lives to this here have to do something else, because there’s no hope of ever making a living out of this. We just want to be able to pay our bills. We came here to find the people, and we did, and we are very blessed.

Dead Rhetoric: The latest Art of Shock album is Shine Black Light. Discuss the songwriting and recording sessions for this set of material – outside of COVID-19, were there any specific challenges, surprises, or obstacles that you had to push through to get to the finish line this time around?

Geezar: Outside of the pandemic, everything comes together. The pandemic created a situation where I was in and out of depression. It was a challenge to get all the material together in the first place. Why am I doing this? I was doing this to heal myself, to renew myself. It became a theme. That was the only challenge. Almost with no effort, this album came out. We maybe had too much time. We wrote a single like “Drag Me to Hell”, which is a departure for the band – and that’s because we had the extra time. We could create and work on different ideas.

Dead Rhetoric: You chose to work with producer Taylor Young – best known for his work with hardcore acts like Twitching Tongues and God’s Hate, plus behind the boards for Drain and Suicide Silence. What do you think he brought to the table that made this latest record stand out for Art of Shock – and were there specific areas or instances where his knowledge and skills became crucial to the end product being that much better?

Geezar: With everything. He was a producer that was completely into the material. He was like the fifth member of the band. He was a mad scientist of sorts, the way he works is just mind blowing. The sonic landscape he achieves. He became a part of the band. You can’t take Taylor out of this album; it wouldn’t be possible.

Dead Rhetoric: Travis Smith did the cover for Shine Black Light – discuss the process working with such a seasoned artist, have you always been a fan/follower of his work?

Geezar: Oh yeah. I had an idea for the artwork. It was a concept, I guess. I never thought such an artist as Travis would work with us. He agreed to work with us, and what he delivered was amazing. I feel like I am dreaming just looking at this. It’s a beautiful piece of artwork. He has worked with so many bands, Death being one of them. I didn’t think he was going to agree to work with us, to me he’s a legend. He lives at a different level, and I didn’t think that we would have access to him.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you enjoy working with Century Media Records, and do you think they have the right staff and knowledge to promote the band in the best way possible?

Geezar: They are amazing. One of the biggest reasons for a band to partner with the label is the support. You need people that believe in the project. We have a great team that believes in us, that is supportive and wants to see us achieve more. Sometimes as an artist, you think you are the only one who cares about your art, nobody else does. When you have a team of people that actually believe in this as much as you do, that’s also a blessing. It changes the whole game; it changes your outlook.

Dead Rhetoric: Since live venues have opened up over the past year or so, Art of Shock was able to tour with acts like Sepultura, Crowbar, and Brujeria among others. How do you think these tours went for increasing the profile of the band – and what are the key learning lessons you gained from being on the road with these veteran artists that you apply to yourselves when it comes to work ethic, professionalism, or other areas?

Geezar: Being on the road is always amazing, especially for rock bands and metal bands. That’s our main method of consumption, it’s how we discover new music, and how we make new friends. As far as learning goes, we’ve learned a lot. When you tour with a band like Sepultura, you just learn about how they do things. And how they prioritize things. We just enjoyed the sets every night. Seeing Sepultura, Crowbar, Sacred Reich for forty dates was amazing. Brujeria as well. It’s a dream come true.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the strengths and positive attributes of the band that makes Art of Shock special and unique to the metal scene? And do you believe it’s important to have great band chemistry / friendships away from the musical activities?

Geezar: I do. Actually, for a long time, the three of us lived together. Bryce lives really nearby too. We have to be friends, we are a little society that has the same interests, and we are trying to share this with the world. Without being friends and without having the personal connections I don’t think this would be possible.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider three of the most important metal albums that shaped your outlook on the genre – and what’s the best concert memory you have, purely as a fan attending a show, plus what made that show so special and memorable to you?

Geezar: Albums, that’s hard. There are so many. Really, really important ones. Everybody would say Master of Puppets, but I would say the black album from Metallica. Because of the great songwriting. I know it’s a departure from their early work, but the songs are just better. You can see how they grew as songwriters, shining to the maximum. I really love the first Children of Bodom album, Something Wild. I was obsessed with that album, I used to listen to that all the time before going to school. The other one was The Crown – Deathrace King. That shit just blew my mind. It changed my perspective on the limits between death metal, thrash metal, and also heavy metal. There are no limits, you set your own limits.

Believe it or not, (the best concert) would be Metallica and Pantera in 1999 in Mexico City. As soon as Pantera started, I don’t know how the promoter had this genius idea of putting chairs on the field – everybody started ripping up the chairs and setting them on fire. The security barricades were down, it was chaos.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the state of the metal scene on a local and national level currently? What changes (if any) would you like to make for the greater good of all parties involved?

Geezar: I think it’s better than ever. There are so many little things, it could be a tighter circle. The state of metal is great, people are doing all kinds of crazy things. There are no limits to the activity. We are seeing the rise of the eight-string guitar, which I love. It’s so easy to find new concepts, ideas, and melodies- way easier than back in the days when there was tape trading and before Napster. You could only afford a certain number of records. We have access to so much talent, so many new ideas, I love it.

Dead Rhetoric: What is the worst advice you see or hear being dispensed to younger musicians in the metal music industry?

Geezar: The worst advice? To sound like somebody else. That’s old news, especially as we have so many new artists, so many new ideas, trying to sound like somebody else is the worst decision you could ever make. Just do your thing, it’ll be appreciated by somebody. There are billions of people in world collectively, you will find your niche, somehow.

Dead Rhetoric: What are some hobbies or interests you have away from music, when you have the free time and energy to pursue them?

Geezar: I love traveling with my wife, playing video games, and reading. I usually don’t find that time, so the pandemic was good to play more video games, spend more time with my wife. I traveled Europe, went down to Mexico with my wife.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next twelve months or so shaping up for Art of Shock once the record hits the streets?

Geezar: We will get busy. We will share this with the world, with as many people as we can. We will come back and make another record.

Art of Shock on Facebook

[fbcomments width="580"]