IZZ: In competition to Spock's Beard ?

DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean


An interview with John Golgano, bass player of the new american progressive rock band IZZ

I know, it's a quit simple question, but what about the name of the band, and how to speak it out correct? Like I - Z - Z , or iz, or ice?????

It's funny we've been asked this question a few times before. IZZ is pronounced just like the English word "is." Short "i" sounds and a hard "s" sound. The "Z" is like the buzzing of a bee...thus IZZ...hope that clears it up!

Can a band like IZZ exist today without the Internet?

Oh definitely. Certainly the Internet has given us an opportunity to present our music to the music world more quickly. The Internet Media also affords more artistic freedom therefore allowing us to create the kind of music we are so passionate about. I also believe that IZZ can deliver more than one style of music. Our roots are definitely progressive but we also love bands like the Beatles (who doesn't like them?), and we feel that we make music for everyone. We want to bring styles together so that even the casual pop-music fan can find something in our music that they can identify with. But I would be remiss if I didn't say that the Internet has given us a unique opportunity to distribute our music throughout the world.

You mention a lot of bands as influences, but no of the typical prog bands like -Yes, ELP and so on, although for me there are some similarities....

Yes and ELP are two of the biggest influences in our music. What they did for music in the early seventies and beyond is immeasurable. Along with Genesis and King Crimson, they were the first true "Alternative" bands. They were all about breaking musical boundaries and that's what we aspire to do as well. What's the use of making music if you're not trying to do something different, or at least do it in your own way? But while we have great respect for the past, we are always looking to the future. And I hope that our music shows that. Oh, and by the way, Yes is still making great music. Have you heard their new single "Lightning Strikes" yet?

What about to integrate the female singer as a regular member?

In the first lineup of IZZ, we did actually have two female singers in the band. Basically the music got to a point where the two singers were starting to feel isolated. Danielle, who sings lead on "Where I Belong," decided to go her own way and went on tour with "Beauty and the Beast" with a touring company that went across the United States. But just because she and Michele Salustri are not members anymore doesn't mean that you'll never hear another female singer with IZZ. You can read a more detailed history of the band on our website at http://izz.webjump.com at the IZZSTORY section.

What about your experiences in playing live, for example at the cancer help organisation gig?

The Breast Cancer Walk-A-Thon was just an amazing experience and I'm so happy that we've been asked back this year. We played for nearly five hours and it was just great. To be able to help, even in a small way, to raise money to fight this terrible disease is great. And this year, with our CD available, we will donate a portion of the sales at the event to the American Cancer Society. For me playing live is the ultimate payoff. You can record and write and rehearse as much as you want, but nothing beats putting yourself on the line in front of other people. It's just such a rush and we've been very fortunate to have a very loyal fan base and we've gotten very good responses at every place we've played, so that of course, makes it even better.

What about the decision to bring the record out on your own label?

That was a decision based on the fact that we wanted control over the music. It was a hell of a lot of work, but when something is your passion, you do whatever you must. We were looking for musical freedom and so the label just naturally evolved. In this way, we were able to create and release the kind of music we really love and we didn't have to answer to anyone except to ourselves. We are pleased to say that this album sounds different from anthing else out there. We are very pleased with the diversity it offers the listener and the diversity it offered us while recording it.

What about the reactions of fans/labels/magazines of your record? What did you expect and what happend really?

To be honest, we didn't know what to expect. We knew that we had made an album that is, if nothing else, different than mainstream rock. We were very interested in the reaction we'd get. And I have to tell you, we've been very pleased. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

For me, you are mixing on your record two kinds of songs - more complex prog songs like the opener on one side and little rock/pop songs on the other....

Well, we like both! That's the short answer! We feel that there is a certain art in creating an interesting longer piece of music, but there is also an art in creating a worthy 3 or 4 minute song. For instance, I don't think that "I Get Lost" has any less musical integrity than say "Endless Calling." They're just two different types of songs. And I feel that by using different styles, we're reaching out to different people. And isn't that what music is all about? It's about bringing people together.

Some progfans would like it more to get a whole record with progressive songs only...

I completely understand that point. When Yes was putting out albums like "Big Generator" and "Union," I was frustrated because it seemed that they were abandoning all that made them so special. Of course, by saying that, I'm not putting down those records. I love "Big Generator" although I'm not particularly fond of "Union," but that's not even the issue. Maybe we will put out an album of ALL longer-type progressive songs. Maybe we won't! It all really depends on what we, as a group, come up with. All I can say to those who listen to our music is that you'll get something different with every song and even if it's not the "typical progressive" song, it will still be progressive in other ways. Progressive music is the only style of music that affords this musical freedom.

Are you involved in the american/international prog scene? (Labels like Magna Carta or Sym-Phonic, prog events, contacts to oher bands)

We've had interesting contacts with American and International prog-rock websites, fans, and labels. We'll definitely be involved in future prog events and look forward to getting in touch with other prog bands in the future. We are currently involved with prog radio shows in the States, Canada, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Argentina.

Can you give me some liner notes to the songs of the record?

"Endless Calling" : This is one of those songs that I feel epitomizes the IZZ sound. Greg DiMiceli and Brian Coralian really bring the double drumming picture to the forefront with Greg on the traditional drum-kit and Brian on electronic percussion and sizzle strip. Tom's keyboards and vocals bring this song to majestic heights. All of our individual styles are at some point brought to the forefront in this song. This song kind of introduces the listener to each member of IZZ. I think it's a great song to open a CD with (which we obviously did)!

"I Get Lost": I wrote this song very quickly. It kind of just came out. Honestly, the lyric is just an open letter to those who piss us off! This has become a crowd favorite at our shows. It's great to look out and see everyone in the audience singing every word.

"Assurance" - Originally, the main sections of this piece were composed on the acoustic guitar. Once the rest of the band got their hands on it, it took on a life of its own and turned into the full length piece you hear on the CD. We all feel alone at times, it's how we deal with that isolation that really makes us who we are as people.

"Double Bass" - I love writing with the bass guitar and this is one of the pieces I came up with. Brian and Greg really contributed to the arrangement of the song. It's just a lot of fun to play.

"Meteor"- Well, we're all going to be destroyed by a giant meteor right? That's what Hollywood is telling us anyway. A kooky and awesome synthesizer solo at the end of this one.

"Razor" - Brian wrote the lyrics for this one. It's quite conceptual. Thought provoking. I'll let the listener give his or her interpretation. Although, I will say that the cover of "Sliver of a Sun" is a depiction of the "Razor" concept. I love this piece. We've been ending our shows with this one here in the States.

"Where I Belong" - This piece ends the album. "Where I Belong" is the direct opposite of

"Endless Calling" (the album's opening track). It can be explained as being peaceful, majestic, powerful and controlling all at the same time. In all our minds it was the only way to end "Sliver of a Sun". We hope you enjoy this one as much as we enjoyed recording it!

What about the last minutes of "Where I Belong" - nothing really happens......

I've always enjoyed spacy, new age type music in small doses. Yes really knows how to take a listener and soothe their soul and mind. This is done so very well in the middle of "Close to the Edge" and the middle of "Awaken". The lyrics to "Where I Belong" are so powerful. They call you to remember your past - special people, and special places that, here on earth, you can only return to in your soul and mind. This last section of "Where I Belong" is just an out growth of these lyrics. There really was only one way for this piece of music to finish - in complete tranquility.

What about your current activities and future plans?

I'm happy to say that in addition to playing live, we are working on a new album. We're discussing the possibility of a concept album, but we're still working on the substance of the concept. We do have a few songs written and are recording as well. And I'll promise that they'll be plenty of prog to look forward to! We have some interesting things planned. Stay tuned to IZZ!

© 10/1999 Renald Mienert
DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean