Rudy Sarzo on Becoming An Anime Character in Animetal USA
Stateside fans might not be familiar with them yet, but they are already a best-selling, gold-certified super group in Japan. They are Animetal USA, a character-based metal sensation starring renowned bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Whitesnake), who is playing Stormbringer Mike Vescera (Obsession, ex-Loudness) in the role of Metal-Rider, guitarist Chris Impellitteri playing Speed King, and drummer John Dette (Slayer, Testament) portraying Tank.
A reinvention of the popular Japanese version of the band from several years ago, Animetal specializes in metal covers of theme songs from Japanese anime TV shows (while also reimagining pieces of famous metal songs).
Noisecreep recently had the pleasure of speaking with Rudy Sarzo about the wildly-conceptual Animetal USA.
Rudy, you seem to be having a lot of fun in Animetal USA. This must be a very different type of project for you.
I certainly am. When I started out in the 1970s, in Florida, I played in a bar band. We had to know anything from Led Zeppelin to Kool and the Gang. If it was on the radio you played it or if people could dance to it, you played it. You had to be ready for anything! Today, there are more tribute bands than cover bands - so you just learn one style of the band you are paying tribute to. Me, I could go from "Ring of Fire" to "Fire" by the Ohio Players! So for me, Animetal is like getting back to that style that is challenging and creative and unpredictable.
So you came of age at the right time, it sounds like.
I think I did. Musicality was foremost back then in the '70s. If I'd started in the '80s, I'm not sure I would have been as inspired because things became so simple. In the '70s, it was all about chops. Even me, I know in Quiet Riot, as much fun as it was, I got into some of the that stuff where it was less about playing and more about posing. Still lots of fun, but I am about the playing. I will always be. Animetal brings me back to the high level of playing on real progressive tracks that I have missed for a long time. So the timing is wonderful for me. I am very excited. Also, this fulfills what I've been preaching all along at conventions and other gatherings - that creating strong visuals to go along with the music is a way to create an amazing and powerful image for a band. In this day and age, the marriage of anime and music is an absolute reality and we've never had better tools to work with to create those visuals. We are at a very exciting time in terms of technology.
Watch Animetal USA's 'The Spaceship Yamato' Video
And so this is a chance for you to really apply your graphic artist expertise, right?
Right, that's another thing that is so great about Animetal. Some people might not know but I have a very experienced background in animated arts and so yes, this is an opportunity for me to try and enhance this amazing and exciting music with a visual approach that hopefully is just as dynamic.
Watch Animetal USA Video
I know what Animetal means in Japan and how popular and vital it is in the culture there. The Japanese audience, in general, seems to embrace metal no matter what, right?
Absolutely. They are a dedicated culture. They don't care about fads or the charts. They just want great music and we play great music. Just think about this – we are an anime-based band that plays speed metal versions of anime theme songs. It is so unique and yet so in tune what is going on today. Our first shows in Japan showed us just how popular the concept is, how much not just music fans but anime fans still love this. But beyond Japan we feel this has a real global appeal so we will start there and then branch out, taking these characters and music deeper and deeper into popular culture. I am just very proud and excited to be involved with this.