ROCKET Interviews Guitarist Marzi Montazeri
September 11, 2012
Guitarist Marzi Montazeri is a new name to most in the heavy metal world. For starters, he is the dude that landed the coveted job of playing lead guitar in the solo band of legendary PANTERA/DOWN/SUPERJOINT RITUAL vocalist Philip H. Anselmo, which is currently in preparation to release a debut album in 2013. He also happens to be an old friend of late great guitar God Dimebag Darrell and while he’s certainly got a million and one tales about ole pink beard to share, what’s most important to learn about him is that this dude can play the guitar something fierce and his big time six-string prowess will be on full display soon enough for the entire planet to enjoy.
The Metal Den’s Randy “Rocket” Cody has conducted an exclusive interview with guitarist Marzi Montazeri for his loyal worldwide Den Headz.
ROCKET: Where were you born and raised?
MARZI: I was born in Tehran, Iran but moved to Houston, Texas with my family at the age of nine where I was raised by myself due to an immediate family break up. I’m the Persian redneck street kid from Houston no doubt.
ROCKET: When did you first start playing guitar?
MARZI: I started playing and also got my first Guitfiddle when I was twelve years old.
ROCKET: Do you recall your first rock concert?
MARZI: Fuck yes I do! My first rock concert experience was not your typical (mom and dad took me to see whoever in concert). My ol man, RIP, dropped me off at “Cotton Bowl Stadium” in good ol Dallas, TX when I was fuckin ten years old to see “The Texas Jam”. Yeah man, not one to forget. For one it was my first concert and there were over 60,000 people. To top it off we really didn’t set a time for me to get picked up, my pops just said “I’ll pick you up later”. So before the “Eagles” played I started walking to the front of the stadium to see if I saw him or not when I hear a large group of people screaming to my left running right towards me. As I stand there for a few seconds I see what appears to be smoke bombs exploding everywhere with thick white clouds erupting. But in actuality what was really going down was that a large crowd was trying to enter through a closed section and the riot police started to shoot tear gas bombs. In those few short seconds I had breathed it in and my ten year old lungs, nose and eyes will never forget it. Burned like hell man, my eyes and lungs were on fire, and I ended up missing the headliners which were the Eagles. I did see Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar and April Wine that day. I was a frickin lil kid man but I felt as though I belonged there.
ROCKET: Who are some of your biggest guitar playing influences?
MARZI: First and foremost I would have to say Edward Van Halen. I mean, come on, how can a crazy little kid like me not flip out when he hears “Eruption” followed by the sonic rhythm that is Van Fuckin Halen. VH’s first album as a whole was revolutionary for me, followed by years of looking forward to see what VH would put out. Those were very exciting times in my life as a growing guitarist. After Ed, the great Randy Rhoads and I can proudly say no one else had truly moved my soul like that since Eddie. Randy had a huge impact on me. Then finally the Three Amigos from Texas. First Billy F Gibbons and then SRV who I was blessed enough to see live eight times. And out of nowhere an Austin cat named Eric Johnson who I discovered on my own. He was the first dude, besides Eddie, that I had seen live who fuckin blew me away. I first saw him when I was sixteen and it changed my life. Also saw him many times prior to his first album being released. Other cats that moved me and I was lucky enough to see when I was sixteen were Steve Morse, Pat Metheny and the friggin alien himself Alan Holdsworth. They all had magic and I identified with each one of them in my own special way. I’ve never had a single lesson in my life, like a one on one with a guitar teacher, but the men mentioned above taught me a lot. I did have one local and one regional influence as well that played great roles in my upbringing also from Texas, Rocky Athas. First cat I saw play at a club when I was fourteen and he was not only cool to me but had a tone from hell and played mean. And from Houston a Cuban prodigy that went to my school who I’m lucky still to be friends with named Frank Velligas. Frank also was a great player who “learned me” as we say in Texas about Frank Marino by lending me the live album. I was doing wheelies on my unicycle after hearing the live solo.
ROCKET: Frank Marino totally rocks. Luckily I had a big brother to play me all that stuff when I was younger as well. As I understand it you were good friends with Dimebag Darrell before you ever knew Philip Anselmo. How did you first meet Dime?
MARZI: Truth be told I knew of Dime and saw him play with their old singer once in Houston and the second time I saw him they had just recruited Philip. It was actually Philip’s first gig with them in Shreveport, LA. I met Dime at a club in Houston shortly after, called The Backstage, where Pantera was a fixture and had a huge, loyal following. I met Philip, Rex and Vince the same evening. I didn’t know Dime prior to that night. The night we met we traded licks, I guess you would say, and he had his tech run down and get a mini Marshall stack and busted out the blue Dean man. It was awesome cause as crazy as the after show gatherings were this one was out done by everyone’s complete attention on the both of us just playing our own versions of Van Halen and Rhoads licks with the undeniable Texas blues twist and funk to it all. We were from the same self taught school of rock. A brotherhood then was forged based on Love and Respect for Music and was embraced every time I saw the man for years to come.
ROCKET: Can you tell me how much your friendship with Dimebag meant to you over the years?
MARZI: I tell you this, man, I never connected with another Rock Guitar player on a level of mutual respect then I did with Dime. He is what I call my Guitar Soul Brother and that is because he is alive in my heart. Top it with so many nights of this crazy muthafucka making me cry from laughing. His brand of comedy and the shit he would pull off was on another level. Like all those that knew him, I have many stories with him that are simply outrageous to say the least. My favorite memory with Dime though is clearly the time when I went to the Abbott house and jammed and recorded with Dime in his little Garage Studio. He had a clean guitar melody looped and we both took two solos on it. That rhythm ended up being the verses in the song “Hollow” and I am sure Rita’s got a copy somewhere. And sadly to know what happened to end his life is beyond tragic and is a dark fuckin cloud that for a while overshadowed the good memories I would have. By that I mean I always think of him and the funny crazy shit he would pull off or the demos he would let me listen before they would become epic tunes. Then the fuckin brutal reality of how his life ended hits me, but I keep on embracing his life and keep that good feeling he gave me inside as opposed to being hateful towards this or that and use his life’s end as an excuse to be an asshole to others. He was way too fuckin cool for that and he wouldn’t want it that way man so I say “Long Live Dime”. He made such a huge impact that it’s hard to even measure it but like I said before he will always be in our hearts.
ROCKET: So tell me what is the funniest memory you have of Dime that you are willing to share?
MARZI: Too many in that category but I would have say that once he gave me a four song tape that he had done on his four track that was friggin hilarious. Songs like “Cow Wench from Hell” and I still got it. The rest man I could write a whole chapter in a book about it and it would be way too crazy.
ROCKET: Let’s talk about the upcoming solo CD from Philip Anselmo. Who produced it and where was it recorded?
MARZI: It was produced by Phil but he gave me the creative freedom to help shape the record. And it was all recorded at Philip’s studio “Nosferatus Lair”.
ROCKET: Does it have a title?
MARZI: Absolutely, it is called “Walk Through Exits Only”.
ROCKET: What can fans expect from the music? Is it going to be heavy or mellow?
MARZI: Well I believe that Phil has put it best when mentioning that you truly cannot categorize it. It’s heavy and it is fuckin extreme. Every song is completely different from the next. It’s not one that you’re gonna get upon just a single listen. It will unfold itself into what it is, which in my book is an undeniable body of work that will not only fill this empty musical existing void but will kill and destroy the over rated bullshit that is fed to the listener. The time has come and as a fan and lover of arts and music I would want and need this in my life. I’m beyond stoked to have contributed. This has been my focal point and it is a very important album for everybody out there across the globe. We put everything we had into it and by that I mean blood, sweat, heart and soul. Philip’s lyrics are our new anthems. He is the one and only man that can deliver this kind of intense, honest, true and downright vicious body of work.
ROCKET: How did the songwriting process work for the Anselmo solo album? Did you and Philip just sit down together in a room and jam out ideas?
MARZI: This body of work is Philip H Anselmo’s brainchild. This crazy maniac fuckin came up with all these songs man. I squeezed myself in though. Phil welcomed every idea I brought to the table. But prior to recording I ended up sitting in another room dissecting the sessions due to an injury I picked up while playing football with him. He’s got a rocket of an arm and I went to grab this friggin torpedo that he launched at me and I bent two fingers on my left hand. So he said to me, “Man you are the director now”. That’s when we started tweaking and finalizing but before that it was more like me sitting in front of Phil and he would show me the parts on guitar. And during rehearsals we both went off and actually came up with two new ones for our sophomore attempt.
ROCKET: What is the release date for the album and what record label is it going to be with?
MARZI: Prior to the full length there is a two song split EP with “Warbeast” which is due to be out this November and it is called “War of the Gargantuas”. The full length is due to be out July of 2013 called “Walk Through Exits Only” as I mentioned earlier and it will be on the mighty Housecore Records. Housecore is more than a label it’s family.
ROCKET: What do you feel is the biggest misconception people have about Philip Anselmo?
MARZI: Philip’s the realest motherfucker I know. By that I truly mean that he is all heart and he wears it proudly. The love he has and the good that he does almost silently is felt by many around him and far. And when you are the only one out there speaking the truth boldly under a damn microscope by the general media, who’s got an appetite for destroying reputations, then he’s the perfect candidate because he has no fear. And of course when his words are taken out of context it has its costs, but in the end his voice is heard and the real fans not only hear him but identify with him. The big misconception would be to say the opposite of what I mentioned. There is always gonna be a shit starter somewhere for perverse purposes. Fuck them!
ROCKET: Are you guys planning to tour the US for the Anselmo solo CD release?
MARZI: Oh fuck yes. We will tour the US, then destroy Europe, Japan and finish off in South America. I can’t put into words what bringing it live means not just to me but the rest of the band as well. I can’t wait to get out there and see the fans faces and represent with my heart buried in six strings.
ROCKET: What kind of guitars are you currently playing live and in the studio?
MARZI: Both live and in the studio I use Gibson Firebirds.
ROCKET: What kind of amp rigs?
MARZI: I used two different heads on this album Bogner and Engl through a custom Marshall M cab sprayed with foam on the inside. I honestly went directly in the brains without any rack gear or pedals. I got a mean tone that is raw and honest and far from processed.
ROCKET: What kind of ‘warm-up’ do you do before playing a gig?
MARZI: I do a chromatic exercise to coordinate both hands and to bring a bit of order. I also do all legato for a bit then the rest is to throw caution in the wind and go nuts. I have no reservations when it comes to playing.
ROCKET: What are your words of advice to some youngster who wants to pick up the guitar and start learning how to play today?
MARZI: Patience is the key, especially in an environment where it is hard to focus because you’re being dragged in all different directions. It is a must to allow growth in a player. If you have a desire to do anything in life, such as picking up a musical instrument, then you have planted a seed within you. And like everything in life that seed will need nourishment. For an artist that translates into practice and dedication and at that instant it has no choice but to bear fruit. There is no greater high than having the doors of the Universe open up to let you in long enough for you to know how much more actually exists just by playing your guitar. We live in a quick fix, pill popping society that’s designed to temporarily shift us from ourselves long enough to see us make the grave. So most kids won’t put in the work and will expect quick results. The fact lies in knowing that the learning process is just that. It’s a progression where in every second there is an invisible transformation taking place. The final result is what everyone wants but getting there is the prize. So play and practice as much as you can and challenge yourself while making sure to have fun with it at all times.
ROCKET: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
MARZI: I see a lot of output musically from myself along with film and the arts.
ROCKET: Thanks very much for rocking this out with me. Best of luck with your music! Go ahead and give thanks to your biggest supporters.
MARZI: Man, before this all takes off with Philip I think its killer for me to get an opportunity to say to the real mofo’s out there that we didn’t forget about you. We have sacrificed much to bring you this new album. In a world where even the one time rebellious musician has started to bow down to the machine, we are here to restore love back where it belongs. We are the last remaining true source of nonconformity. Thanks for having me man. I’ll see you all soon on tour. With Love & Respect to All.