Dario Lorina, the newest member of Black Label Society, has made quite a name for himself in the shred guitar and metal community. He took the time to speak to us about the pathway that led him to sharing the stage with Zakk Wylde every night, his music writing process, signature model guitar, and of course, the release of his second instrumental solo album, Death Grip Tribulations.
Rachel Leigh: This is Rachel Leigh from Decibel Geek and I’m here with Dario Lorina of Black Label Society, thanks for joining us today!
Dario: Thanks for having me!
Rachel: For sure! I want to start from the beginning, what got you into playing guitar?
Dario: I got a guitar for Christmas from my family when I was around 6 or 7 years old. My immediate and extended family was into music in some way so I was around it as a kid growing up and I got a guitar and I never put it down. When I got to middle school I was playing all summer long coming home from school doing homework and playing guitar all night…….or video games [laughs]. So that’s pretty much how I got going with it.
Rachel: And at that time was there any one person or band who you saw and thought, man, that’s what I wanna do?
Dario: Well when I first heard Van Halen, I was young, a kid, and in my Dad’s glovebox in his truck he had a bunch of tapes, and every time we’d drive around I’d pull out these tapes and the first time I heard Van Halen I that’s when I wanted to play guitar, I wanted to sound like that. That was definitely the one.
Rachel: That’s awesome, that’s what happened to me too!
So you began touring when you were 16, playing with Jani Lane (of Warrant), how did you end up getting that gig and how was that experience?
Dario: The experience was amazing, experience of a lifetime, experience I’ll never forget. I was 16, I was in high school and guitar just absolutely dominated my life and my thought process, everything, so I was like “This is what I’m gonna do”. MySpace was big at that time so on the bulletin board I saw an ad that Jani was looking for a guitar player and I just responded and we sent emails back and forth and they had me record myself playing some Warrant songs, they had me come out. Jani and I jammed in this rehearsal room out in LA, Jani played drums and didn’t sing, just played drums, and I played guitar. We jammed on some Warrant songs and some of his solo stuff, and that was pretty much the process and things went well and a few months later we were touring. I played with him for a little over two years.
Rachel: Wow, that’s quite the experience for a high school kid to get picked up and go out on tour like that.
Dario: Yeah I was pretty determined [laughs].
Rachel: And was it important for you to finish your schooling as well?
Dario: Oh yeah definitely [laughs] ….my mum, that wouldn’t have sat well with her….. but I did some online independent study so I finished my schooling that way.
Rachel: So then you went and toured with Lizzy Borden for a couple of years?
Dario: Yup. So I was 19 when I was playing with them and they were looking for a guitar player and we kinda had a mutual friend…..so I went out and did an audition there, they were in LA also and things went well again. We went on tour two months later, went to Europe…. I think our first show was a festival over in Germany called Keep It True and I toured with them for a good two years.
Rachel: And then of course now you’re with Black Label Society, one of the biggest metal bands around right now so you must be pretty happy with that!
Dario: Yeah psyched, I couldn’t be any happier.
Rachel: And were you just as surprised as everybody else when you heard about Zakk (Wylde) rejoining Ozzy (Osbourne)?
Rachel: Yeah definitely for sure. So let’s talk about some of your solo stuff…. You’ve just released your second solo album Death Grip Tribulations in February, you worked with some of your Black Label Society bandmates on that album, correct?
Dario: Yes, JD (DeServio) who plays bass in Black Label he played bass on the majority of the album, our drummer Jeff (Fabb) in Black Label he played drums on one song, which was a song that we would always jam together like at soundcheck that just kinda started out as a riff and when I went to do the song I was like “Jeffs gotta play on this!” so yeah those guys joined me on that. Then I had Marten (Andersson), who also was in Lizzy Borden, he played bass on a couple songs, then I had Phil Campbell from Motörhead who’s been a good friend of mine for a few years, he played a solo on the song “Two Fifty”. Drums for the rest was my good friend Dan Conway who played drums for my first album also. We’ve been friends since high school, he’s a phenomenal drummer.
Rachel: Okay, so you got to work with a whole bunch of your friends and colleagues on that one. So that’s really cool.
Dario: Yeah, I got to have all my friends on there.
Rachel: Awesome. So this is your second solo album, and since Zakk writes most of the stuff for Black Label, was it kinda like you just had all these ideas running through your head thinking, man, I gotta get these songs out?
Dario: Well I mean, I did my first solo album, which was before I joined Black Label, I was still in Lizzy Borden and you know as a guitar player to do an instrumental album was always a goal of mine, I just always wanted to do it. I’m very humbled and fortunate to have done it with Shrapnel Records which for a guitar player it’s a very influential record label. So yeah I’m always writing and making music and especially for instrumental stuff Shrapnel (Records) was an amazing outlet and this is my second instrumental CD and the next one I’m planning to sing on so yeah I’m just constantly creating and as a musician it’s kind of something that you’re always doing.
Rachel: Definitely. And what I like about your stuff is that I kind of heard a Steve Vai vibe because you do have the crazy shredding solos and you can see the insane technical ability that you have but it’s also very melodic and there’s a lot of arrangements going on so it’s not just you playing as fast as you can for an entire song.
Dario: [laughs] Yeah I’m big on melody and I write songs like there would be vocals on them so the structure is for a vocal with a verse and a chorus and a bridge and all that. For the choruses, I just try to come up with a melody that you could sing but it’s played on guitar then in the verses I’d do some solos and whatever, but it’s all arranged like there would be vocals on there. I don’t have like a free for all jam session track, it’s all songs.
Rachel: I was just curious, what is the meaning behind the name of the album, Death Grip Tribulations?
Dario: So that, I was out on the road, the last tour that we did and it was Zakk Wylde’s second Book Of Shadows album, all the Black Label guys were out there, we were playing on that tour, we were on the bus and we had a little bit of time off before that so I was finishing up my solo album and while we were on the bus I was talking back and forth to my label about cover ideas and I was showing Zakk some of the stuff and we were kind of throwing stuff back and forth and he came up with this Death Grip Tribulations title with a picture of my hand around the neck of the guitar, so I had Dustin Jack do that with my hands around the guitar. Everything just fell into place and everything fit so well so Zakk came up with that title, it’s killer.
Dario: Yeah, we just did this show in Vegas at a club called Vamp’d. That was my first show supporting this solo music. JD from Black Label joined me and my drummer who played on both my solo albums joined me and we had another guitar player. The next one will be at the Whisky on June 30th and yeah we’re just doing them here and there.
Rachel: Your logo kind of looks like one of those black metal logos with the white and black and I was wondering where that came from?
Dario: I’ve always loved that style of logo I think it looks provocative and awesome. It says my name in the logo and I just wanted something that looked cool that you could wear on anything.
Rachel: So you’ve been using LAG guitars from France….I was just wondering when did you start playing them and what drew you to this brand of guitars over some of the guitars a lot of the other metal guys are using?
Dario: The first time I saw them I was in Frankfurt, Germany. What drew me to them was the look – they have a different look. All their guitars are great. This one just caught my eye. The line they had at the time had all different tops and colors, and just their attention to detail just caught my eye. And of course, they play great. I had my first LAG when I started playing with Jani so you know it’s been like 10 years of playing LAG and they’ve always been supportive and I’ve always dug playing them.
Rachel: And of course everybody’s got their own specs, you’ve got your own model called the Arkanator?
Dario: Yeah so I had two of their models and one was called the Imperator which is like a Les Paul kind of model and the other one was an Arkane which is like a Strat kind of model so what I did was I put those two models together, because I love the Les Paul body but it has a Strat kind of neck on it but the back of the neck is a little fatter around like a Les Paul neck would be. And it has like a Floyd Rose on it. So I was basically like can we put these two together? So that’s where the name Arkanator came from. I have Seymour Duncan pickups in there, the body is mahogany, maple neck, and ebony fretboard.
Rachel: Over the course of your career you’ve accomplished a lot in such a short amount of time and worked with a lot of different people both in the studio and on tour. What have you learned from working with so many different people in the industry?
Dario: I think it’s a big handful of things that you learn. I don’t know if I could put my finger on any one…you’re just growing in every area and you can learn something from any situation that you’re in whether it’s recording or rehearsing or performing or traveling or whatever…I mean there’s so many things you’re learning and you’re just growing as it goes on you just kind of adapt to how things work. The best thing is to just be open and take as much in as you can.
Rachel: Definitely. Do you have any advice for anyone who is trying to start up a band or get into the business right now?
Dario: Play 100% from your heart. Do everything from your heart. And of course practice, practice, practice. That’s the best pieces of advice I could give. Just never give up.
Rachel: Everybody’s got their sort of routine they use for practicing and their opinions on how to make the most out of their practice, do you have any tips for that?
Dario: Like you said, everybody has their own routine and schedule on what they do, but I think one of the biggest tips is to practice whatever you’re practicing to a metronome. Always have that timing instilled in you especially if you’re trying to play leads or different riffs or rhythms, you always want that metronome going when you’re practicing, just to lock everything in so it’s nice and tight and you have a good sense of timing.
Rachel: I think that’s Nita Strauss’ #1 tip as well! Always play with a metronome.
Rachel: Do you have any passions other than music? What do you do when you’re not playing guitar?
Dario: My world definitely revolves around music and I like to sit and play the piano or sing, it’s all music and guitar. I do like photography a little bit, it’s more of a hobby. Basically, music is dominating my world.
Rachel: Fair enough, me too! Lastly, you’re very involved with rock and roll and metal, but are there any areas or genres you would want to explore further?
Dario: You know what, you never know. I am very open-minded; I love all different kinds of music. The style of music I play comes from my heart so that’s what I love and have always loved, but I have an open mind and the whole thing’s a journey so you never know where it’s going to take you.
Rachel: You seem to have a really good attitude about that and seem to be a good role model for anyone trying to pursue that career of being a musician, just keep an open mind and try to learn from everything.
Dario: Absolutely, that’s every aspect of life.
Rachel: Well thank you very much, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today! Good luck with the tour!
Dario: Thank you!
Pick up a personally signed copy of Death Grip Tribulations here