Adventures in Black-Rock with Jimi Hazel of 24-7 Spyz: part 6

Jimi Hazel lead guitarist of the eclectic rock band 24-7 Spyz


By Oscar Jordan

Jordan: Your vocals are perfect. The package is there. It’s complete. What’s the future for the band?

Hazel: The plan is to cut three more songs, remix Face The Day and combine all those tracks together into one cohesive action packed piece of work. Bumblefoot (Guns N’ Roses guitarist) wants to shop it which is interesting because I sold a lot of copies without any hype, any promo, without anything. We cut the record together. We did it at his studio and it was a great thing. When it was finished I said we should try to find a home for it. I knew a couple of people at a couple of labels. We sat down and played it for a couple of people and they all went, “Wow! This record is great! I can’t believe you guys took ten years away to come back and make a record this strong.” I’m like, “Who the hell do you think we are?” (Laughing)

I see bands who get back together for all the wrong reasons or decide to make music, not because they want to make music, but because they’re broke. Because they had one hit thirty years ago, they can get back together on the strength of that one hit. Somebody will sign them because they go, “You struck lightening once we can probably strike it again!” A band like us has consistently made solid pieces of work whether they’re great or not great. There was always a glimmer of something in every record, yet we can’t get arrested. It finally hit me. You know why we can’t get arrested? It’s the Elvis Presley thing all over again.

The music that we created, the scene that we helped to nurture (with a whole bunch of other bands), but took it to a place that a lot of other bands didn’t take it musically, got polluted. By getting polluted I mean that all those bands couldn’t play R&B, couldn’t play ska, couldn’t understand jazz and couldn’t implement any of those other colors in their rainbow. They took aggression, put their hat on sideways, put on clothes five sizes too big and rapped over it. Or tried to sing over it. The white record companies had a field day with it and called it Nu-Metal. So now you make money hand over fist selling white people a derivative of black music. When they have nothing left to say, their car runs out of gas. When the car runs out of gas, all the bands disappear. The record companies decide that’s one genre of music we need to bury. We need to bury it because you can’t have Spyz come back. Spyz did it better than all of them on every level at every turn at every time. And guess what? Spyz were black!

Jordan: And you’ll have people approach you after hearing your music and say, “Oh, I can tell you guys are really into Korn!” (Laughing)

Hazel: (Laughing) “Man! You guys must have been huge Limp Bizkit fans!” (Laughing) I have nothing but great respect for those bands. When I first met the guys in Limp Bizkit they were like fifteen years old. They were Spyz fans. I met them when they were LAPD. We played Bakersfield and they opened for us.

Jordan: What was it like working with Bumblefoot?

Hazel: It was great. What started off as us just planning to cut drums in his studio turned into us making the entire record there. It was amazing to me because nobody at that point would have given us the time of day. We didn’t have anything. We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have a deal, we didn’t have anything. What we had was a desire to make music again. This time do it in a way so we could maintain ownership of the masters.

I’ve been fighting for a long time trying to get back all the records that are languishing out of print. I’m like, “How do you keep people from eating?” (Laughing) “Why you taking food outta my kid’s mouth?” C’mon now. Everybody else is paid. Let these records continue to live. If you don’t want to do it, give them back to me. We wrote them and produced them. Let them continue to make people happy.

Working with Bumblefoot was a beautiful thing because it was just complete freedom. It was just about having some fun. He’s all over the record which is great. He’s the one screaming on “Waiting for the Sun.” (Laughing) He’s singing all over the disc and playing guitar parts. We had a ball.

Jordan: The record has a lot of vibe on it. It came off really well.

Hazel: The thing about Bumblefoot that I think people are understanding is that he’s a player’s player. It doesn’t always have to be about a million notes. I know guys who can play a million notes and they don’t say shit. Bumblefoot is the other way around. He can play a million notes and it would still have the same impact as if he played three notes slowly that spoke volumes. On “Blues for Dimebag” he played all his parts on a fretless guitar. It’s amazing when you’ve got that thing down like the back of your hand. It still sounds like you’re playing a fretted guitar until you choose to go off and do some delta slide and tap all over the place. I was diggin’ it.

Jordan: It’s one of my favorite tracks. It sounds like two guitar players just blowing each other’s heads off.

Hazel: Dimebag was a really gifted soulful player. Metal became his idiom. He was a swaggerin’ stompin’ good dude. The way it ended wasn’t the way it should have been. Not by any means. If I gotta remember him I gotta remember him the way I like to remember him. That was for my friend.

Be sure to check out Jimi and 24-7 Spyz on their myspace page HERE

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