John "JD" DeServio, the former bassist for Black Label Society and now vocalist for his new project, Cycle of Pain, played the Knitting Factory on May 4. Cycle of Pain just released their first album in April, which incorporates and mixes hard rock, metal, funk and even some hip-hop with a hint of soul. No stranger to the tour game, DeServio left Zakk Wylde and the boys of BLS and started jamming with some old friends to create [the new] album. Boise Weekly was able to catch up with him in Tempe, Ariz., for a quick phone interview to get his take on a variety of pressing issues and band-related questions.
Your album just came out and you guys are on tour and are playing in Tempe tonight? How are things going so far?
Oh dude, it's been slammin' brother. All the shows have been amazing, the fans have really been chillin' and it's just been an amazing experience and a great opportunity to get, you know? It's just been really, really great, man.
Are you guys going to rock any golf before you leave Arizona?
Ah nah dude, I don't even got enough time to take a piss. (Laughs.)
How many years total were you the bassist for Black Label Society?
Well, I was there in the beginning in 1999 and I did that whole first Sonic Brew stuff [BLS' first album] and all that, and then I got back in 2005 and now it's been another four years I guess then. It's been a bit, man.
How was being in a band with Zakk Wylde? [BLS vocalist/guitarist, and guitarist for Ozzy] Is he really as wild as he is cracked up to be?
He's amazing dude. He's my brother and I love him so much. He's totally insane, but he definitely keeps it in check though, bro.
I called your cell phone and got your voicemail on it which sounded like a sound clip of a wasted Ozzy Osbourne, was that Ozzy on it?
Nah, man, that's me.
Yeah, that's me.
Ah man that's you? It sounded like Ozzy and that was kind of a prelude to my next question, have you met Ozzy before?
Oh yeah, a bunch of times man.
Right on, you got a good Ozzy story that comes to mind?
Uhhhh (Thinks it over) Yeah ... I mean he's just the sweetest dude on the planet. He is a totally amazing person, he's a funny motherf*cker---I'll tell you that much. He's great man---he is a beautiful soul.
Do you secretly think that Zakk Wylde looks like Gimli the axe wielding dwarf from Lord of the Rings?
(Long pause) Uhhh, yeah ... yeah exactly.
Are you a big Lord of the Rings Fan?
Uhhh, I mean I know who Gimli is. (Laughs)
How did it make you feel when Gandalf took Pippin to Gandor?
I don't know man ... I don't know. (Laughs.) I know music brother!
Let's get back to music then. You also teach bass guitar right?
Yeah dude I've been teaching for like ... forever man actually. I went to Berklee College of Music so I mean I got a great education in music. I've always taught and I do clinics now. Like on this tour, I did six clinics and I have one more left in Las Vegas. I do the clinics everywhere. I have been to Japan and have done some music clinics over there and I have been doing it for a long time man and it's really cool. One of my proudest achievements was getting seven kids [I taught[ accepted to Berklee College of Music.
Who are some of your favorite bass players out there?
James Jamerson [Motown Records guru] is my top pick. There are so many greats though, man, it's hard to say.
Usually bassists are chubby and short, but you're all skinny and have a beard. What is your secret to keeping the weight off?
You travel the road and you don't eat! (Laughs)
That's it huh?
Yeah, dude. Come out there with me! It is insane dude. Insane!
What is your favorite bass guitar company? Are you endorsed by anyone?
I use Schecters, I love them and my shit sounds great, dude, so I'm really psyched with them.
Cycle of Pain has had many other artists on this album like Zakk Wylde, Ray Luzier from Korn and Senn Dog from Cypress Hill?
I just wanted to know if you got blunted with the Senn Dog at the studio ever?
Oh yeah, I love Senn man. He's killer dude. He's a good friend of mine and we hung out many nights man so it was definitely a great thing because he's a bro, man, so getting him on the record was totally awesome.
Who is your least favorite person in your band?
The least favorite? (Pause.) Uhhh, me.
You! (Laughs.) Awww man. You are your biggest critic then, huh?
Let's move on then. Does Cycle of Pain ride Bicycles of Fixed Gear?
Yeah, we all ride bicycles with no seats on them. That's the cycle of pain.
Did you guys ever consider writing songs about mountain bike crashes?
No, but maybe I will now (JD sounds annoyed.}) where are you from man?
Boise. I write for the Boise Weekly.
Ohhh. Is this Idaho?
Wait! Wait! I know you're about to start ripping on Idaho, I was just kidding, dude. Let's talk about your home state. You are from New Jersey right?
Who is the best artist to come out of New Jersey would you say?
Would you agree that Bon Jovi's Superman tattoo is the worst tattoo to ever come from Jersey?
No, I think it's the greatest.
Yeah. It's the best.
Nice. Let's get back to your band. All stupidity aside, what does the name Cycle of Pain represent to you? I read a little bit about what you said on your band bio, but I was just curious about your take?
It's just life, man. It's just life experiences. Enduring life man and dealing with every struggle and you just keep on going brother.
Musically what is the major difference between Black Label Society and Cycle of Pain?
Ummm, I would say it's close to the same thing. It's all roc,k you know. We got a lot of the same influences. Definitely Black Sabbath you know? It's different though. We got a little bit more jazz and funk music so it's definitely a little bit different. We have a different line-up and different people. It's just different, you know? We are both rock bands and we both jam and play our asses off though, so it's all good.
Right on. How do you feel about the word "CoP" being the official acronym for your band? Do you guys like cops?
Oh yeah we love them, man. We love the cops. They are our fu**ing buddies and shit, man. And they take care of us. You know what I'm saying?
With that said, what would you rather have the Knitting Factory cater prior to your show: lots of doughnuts or a potato bar?
Nice. I'll forward this to them and hopefully they'll hook it up.
Yeah, yeah tell them to hook us up. Definitely!
What can Boise expect to see from Cycle of Pain at the Knitting Factory on May 4?
Well, we are going to perform a human sacrifice on stage in under 30 minutes. (Both laugh.)
Awesome! Thanks JD. We look forward to seeing Cycle of Pain.
No problem, bro. I want you to e-mail me that interview.
You got it, dude. Nice work.