Tag Archives: The Black Halos

The End of An Era: CBGB Closes Its Doors

Ramones 1975 CBGB Bob Gruen
The Ramones Standing Outside CBGB in 1975, Photo By Bob Gruen. Worth a Thousand Words, at Least

This past Sunday night, a few of my more rock-savvy friends went downtown to the place where Bleecker Street meets The Bowery for the final concert performance at CBGB before that legendary club closed for good. While I’m not generally a huge supporter of people who don’t pay their rent (and think they can get away with it), it’s a shame that club owner Hilly Kristal made the tragic mistake of thinking he’d be bullet proof to eviction in a town where real estate is more precious than gold or diamonds. But that’s hardly the point anymore.

Over the nearly eighteen years I’ve lived in Manhattan, I couldn’t recall with a gun to my head how many nights I spent “making the scene” at CBGB. Beyond attending countless local or up-and-coming band gigs, a dozen worthy-cause benefits and my fair share of overcrowded CMJ showcase schmoozefests, being a member of the press also got me into some pretty exclusive shows. One of my favorite memories has to be seeing Cheap Trick perform the brilliant “Ballad of TV Violence” (coincidentally, on the very same day as the Columbine shooting) on CB’s dilapidated stage for the release of their live CD Music for Hangovers. Two other great shows that stand out are a press event for the Brooklyn-based Goth Metal band, Type O Negative (who I affectionately refer to as “The Beatles of Heavy Metal”) and my first Black Halos show, which must have been about seven years ago now, at least. I fucking love those guys.

But if I had to isolate just one golden moment, my favorite memory of time spent at CBGB wouldn’t even be a show I saw there, but an interview I conducted in the empty club late one weekday afternoon, with the Canadian pop-punk band, Sum 41. This was in the fall of 2002, when that dubiously talented band was riding high on the charts and their goofy faces were plastered across the covers of every rock glossy on the planet. It didn’t hurt that I was on a cover story assignment for the now-defunct Request – my first cover for a national rock rag! Since the band was participating in the article’s photo shoot on site – because, let’s be real here, nothing says “We are punk rock” quite like a group photo taken in CB’s infamously skeevy toilets – I was sent to interview the band ‘in their element,’ so to speak.

I’d never confess to be a fan of SUM 41’s music, but that day, something about the undeniable vibe of CBGB allowed those kids (I think their names are Derek, “Cone,” Dave and Steve) to really channel a kind of “roots punkiness” that made them sound like they knew what the hell they were talking about. It didn’t matter that their music was retarded; they gave me a really interesting, funny interview from which I wrote a great article. I’m sure that those guys don’t even remember talking to me, but I’ll never forget that afternoon.

These days, when I walk down St. Mark’s Place just east of Third Avenue, I can no longer pick out the store front that once marked the entrance to Coney Island High and it still blows my mind that what used to be the Fillmore East on Second Avenue near 5th Street is now an Emigrant Bank. Soon, CBGB’s former address will be home to a Laundromat or a bodega with a prohibitively expensive, high-rise apartment building sprouting from it. And as the replicant, Roy said at the end of the film Bladerunner, “All of these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.” That’s life in the big city.

Gail In Print: Modern Drummer, April 2006 Issue

Modern Drummer April 2006

Drumming great Neil Peart of Rush graces the cover of April 2006 issue of Modern Drummer which also includes my update with Rob Zgaljic of The Black Halos. On Newsstands now!

Billy Hopeless Gail Robbie Z
Black Halos Sandwich: Billy, Gail and Robbie, Spring 2005

An Interview with Rob Zgaljic of The Black Halos

metal edge logo

One of rock’s most welcome reunions of 2005 was the triumphant return of Vancouver’s notorious, leather-clad quintet, The Black Halos. With two new members, guitarist Adam Becvare and bassist Denyss McKnight joining the core trio of vocalist Billy Hopeless, guitarist Jay Millette and drummer Rob Zgaljic, The Halos stayed true to their explosive amalgam of metal, punk, glam and vintage, guitar-fueled garage rock with the release of their third album, Alive Without Control. A series of worldwide tours kept the band on the road for most of the year, but Rob Zgaljic stepped away from his kit long enough to answer a few questions for Metal Edge.

Metal Edge: You’ve said that the way you learned to play drums was “more about feel instead of all theory.” Can you elaborate on that?

Rob Zgaljic: I can read music and I know my rudiments so I can play just about anything, but approaching drums based on musical theory is a little foreign to me, because I never really studied that way. Now I want to go back and take lessons because I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t really teach myself anymore. I’m a rock drummer and I want to be able to expand the way I play. I’d like to learn a jazz approach in order to incorporate other feels into my playing. Then again it’s like going back to school: the thought of it scares me. I see all of these guys who are such amazing drummers and I get a little intimidated by them.

Metal Edge: You spent a few years playing with the band Sparkmarker. Did you have to change your drumming approach to play with The Black Halos?

Rob Zgaljic: For The Black Halos I had to change my style and concentrate on accenting the song instead of throwing in lots of fills. Sparkmarker was a hardcore band so I was a much ‘busier’ drummer, since that music was more technical. For a while, it was hard for me to adjust because I find that playing a straight four/four beat is harder than it sounds. Going from playing all of this off time to playing straight ahead was an adjustment for me.

Metal Edge: What impresses you when you listen to other drummers?

Rob Zgaljic: I listen to lots of new death metal bands and the drumming on those records blows me away. It’s awesome, but I can’t understand how guys play like that (laughs). It sounds like a machine to me. But I love listening to drums – from metal to jazz. Even if I don’t care to play in that style, when I listen I get inspired to be the best player that I can be. When I see a band with a drummer who tends to overplay, it’s frustrating for me. I know that sometimes drummers feel they’re in the background and they want to be more in the spotlight, but I don’t think that drums should be like the lead guitar. Drums and bass are the backbone of the music and…you couldn’t have music without them. I love players who are solid and throw in the right fills. That brings a band together.

Metal Edge: The Black Halos are known for touring almost non-stop. How has touring so much made you a better player?

Rob Zgaljic: If you don’t become better from playing night after night, then there’s something wrong (laughs). I can play these songs now with my eyes closed and the way we feed off each other, it’s like clockwork. I don’t even have to have a monitor. I know exactly what everyone’s playing and exactly where I should be. You don’t need to have all that fancy gear; you should just know the songs. We play twenty nights in a row without a day off, so you just get to know the songs like the back of your hand.

Metal Edge: What’s your main strength as a drummer?

Rob Zgaljic: The most important thing for me is keeping it locked down and just being a rock behind the kit. I really concentrate on keeping that tightness. I get the most compliments from fans along the lines of how tight my playing is, and I pride myself on that because I can’t handle hearing other drummers being sloppy. It doesn’t work for me.

Rob’s Gear:
Drums: Ludwig
Sizes: 16”X24” Kick drum, 12”X14” Rack Tom, 16”X18” Floor Tom, 14”x4” Pearl Marching Snare
Hardware: Pearl Hardware, DW 5000 Drum Pedal
Cymbals: Zildjian
Sticks: Vic Firth American Classic Rock
Heads: Aquarian

Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/TheBlackHalos/

Rob Zgaljic Black Halos

This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

I Like To Rock (Part 1, The Metal Years)

cmi music mararthon 2005 graphic

It’s CMJ week here in New York City and that means…well not much to me, actually. I’m bypassing the convention/ panels/ parties/ endless-showcases-of-lame-bands -enjoying-their-five-seconds-of pre-fame this year in favor of attending just a few choice shows. Last night was my designated “Night of Rock,” despite the fact that my Quest for Rock Action meant I would miss the debut of Survivor: Guatemala. Sometimes we must make sacrifices in order to rock.

The first event on my evening’s agenda involved a pitstop at downtown hard rock landmark, Don Hill’s, where Munsey from Skateboard Marketing was holding his own version of a Metal Mania Party, featuring a performance by my favorite band of scary guys with facial hair, Fear Factory.

Burton Bell Fear Factory
Burton Bell of Fear Factory

This is a picture of Fear Factory singer Burton Bell. He is my very favorite heavy metal front man at the moment. Though Burton is not traditionally “hot” in the pop star sense — being kind of scary looking on stage — he is nevertheless unbelievable sexy, outrageously charismatic and has the best voice for the kind of somewhat melodic aggro metal Fear Factory does. I also love his tattoos. Burt, like me, is an Aquarius and that is probably why we get along. We had Mexican food together once, but that is another story.

It was so crazy to see Fear Factory in a teeny tiny club like Don Hill’s because they play huge venues like Roseland these days, and that ‘s part of the reason their set was so mind blowing. They were so tight and so loud and so fucking metal. My ears still hurt. Have you heard their new CD, Transgression? It just rules; a perfect mix of eat-your-face-off aggressive metal and heavy melodic rock. They remind me what Nine Inch Nails could be if Trent had any balls and wasn’t completely self-absorbed. Before their set, I had the chance to talk to Raymond Herrera, FF’s drummer, who I’ve interviewed a couple of times for Modern Drummer Magazine. He is amazing and completely hilarious to talk to.

Munsey’s party was a total blast because I also met up with some of my metal scene friends who I had not seen since winter, or in some cases over year or more, such as Jon Paris, Liz Ciavarella, Felix Sebacious, Rachel Martinez and Steve Prue. It was rad.

Next I jetted over to the Continental for the Liquor and Poker label showcase featuring two of my favorite bands in the Universe:

Crash Kelly Band
Crash Kelly

Black Halos Band

and The Black Halos

And I will get to that part the evening soon, but now I have to catch a train . . .more later involving much rocking, very cute rocker boys and lots of hugging and sweatiness.

Billy Hopeless, Vocalist, Black Halos

As a musician and a music journalist, I've been both interviewer and interviewee. For an interview to truly be of any value and interest, I find there must be a bond between the both parties. During my time with the Black Halos, I've been lucky enough to be interviewed twice by Gail Worley. I can truly state that she is a Rock ‘N' Roller in every aspect, and she holds such unbridled passion for the music that I've kept the bondage between me and her sticky and tight. Hearts and aces, Gail!