|Photo Credit: Jeff Gerew/C7 Photography.|
“Well, the story sort of begins when I moved to New York City from upstate New York with my band I was in at the time. The band I was in was called ONE, and it consisted of me and my brother Andre Karkos, and also another pair of very talented siblings, Matt and John Farley. We’d been a band together for a long time before New York City, and for the most part, remained a band up until 2009. That band, which was renamed BULLY in later years, came to an abrupt end when drummer Matt Farley decided to give Nashville a try.
|Karkos, Czynszak, Gaskill
Photo by Shayna Kurth
“So far, Nashville has been good to me. We’ve had some decent weather! Seriously, I make a living doing music and I’m enjoying the friends that I have met since I’ve been here. Oh yeah…one thing that I did about Nashville…the driving around here seems to be more dangerous. There’s so
me bad drivers out there, so be careful!”
You have a background in writing/arranging/performing in addition to your production skills. Please share your early influences and performing background.
“Well it all started for me at a very young age. My mother sang and played guitar in a church group when I was very young. She’d always be singing and playing. So we always had her acoustic guitar laying around. It was only natural for me to pick it up and try to play. I never needed encouragement from anyone to actually want to play, however, later on in my pre-teen years, I had uncles from both my mother’s and father’s sides who took part in stoking the musical fire, so to speak. They introduced me to The Beatles, Sabbath, VH, RUSH, Elvis, etc. and almost needless to say, growing up with a musical brother only further cemented my musical path.
“All my life I’ve been a lead singer. In the early band years, I played bass as well. I’ve always played guitar but only started playing rhythm guitar in my band in the early nineties. From that point on, we became a regional band playing the northeast which eventually brought us to New York City. Around the year 2000 and beyond, writing and producing is just what I naturally started to do. The band I was in had so much talent –every member was a lead singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, etc, so we had great ideas flooding in all the time from everyone. And we considered our band a true musical democracy. And being sort of the “band leader”, I felt the responsibility of turning all these “ideas’ into actual songs that we could record or play. For a lack of a better term, I became the “song finisher.”
You have music in your DNA with your brother Andre (aka Virus) also having a successful career with Dope and other projects. Did you and he know at an early age that a career in music was your destiny?
“I think so. However, I don’t ever remember saying to myself, “I want to have a career in music”, I just found myself doing music and thinking music. I never was after popularity or money, although that would be nice. I do it just because I love how it makes me feel. I’m not sure how my brother would answer that. He could have a different perspective.”
Since moving to Nashville you have worked with John Corabi as a writer/guitarist/producer for his recently-released ‘Unplugged’ album. How did you first connect with John and describe how this album came to be. Also, any chance of a full-on electric album from John in the future?
“Well, it started with my brother Andre. He and John knew each other since they both use Diamond Amplification. I think they met at a NAMM show or something. Well, Andre said that he’d let John know that I was moving to Nashville. So then I reached out to John though, yep you guessed it, Facebook. I sent him a link to some music I did, ranging from hard rock, to metal, to finger-style country-blues, to techno, etc, and he got right back to me with an offer to write together. I said “great!” and that’s what we did.
“And sure, there has been talk about doing another record later, but this record just came out. There’s still a bunch to do with this one.”
You’ve recently been working with Jerry Gaskill of King’s X for his second solo album. Your working relationship with him goes back a few years. Please share how you connected with Jerry and give folks an idea of what to expect with the new solo album.
“Well, the story begins in New York City. It was probably 2004. Now coincidentally, we just so happened to know his girlfriend (now wife), Julie Cox. One night, she brought Jerry to one of our shows and he absolutely loved our band. A month or two later, he asked us to be his band in support of his debut solo release, “Come Somewhere“. We collectively said, “Of course!!” Now it’s kind of funny…me and the guys in my band, BULLY, have always been huge King’s X fans. In fact, we loved them so much that we started a King’s X cover band with our good friend, Andee Blacksugar on guitar a month prior. So basically the band was already in place for rehearsals to begin right away.
|Wagener, Gaskill, Karkos
Photo by Shayna Kurth
“After we did the Jerry Gaskill shows, Jerry and I started talking about writing some songs together. We started at his place in New Jersey and we recorded a song called, “Julie“. It eventually landed a spot on King’s X’s “XV” album, which was produced by Michael Wagener. After that, Jerry would come over for long weekends at my place in New York to write. It was always a fruitful visit. And here we are now, with the help of Edwin Frost and EmmJamm Records, we are finally able to properly make this record together.
Photo by Shayna Kurth