Marc Rizzo is a busy guy. I won’t be sacrilegious and call him the hardest working man in show business, but his schedule is enough to make you exhausted just thinking about it. While I get bent out of shape simply taking a plane trip to visit my mom, Marc Rizzo’s life consists entirely of traveling around the world with his guitar. As the guitarist for the thrash metal bands Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy who also tours with his own solo projects and does clinics, Rizzo gets serious frequent flyer miles.
Marc’s played on three Soulfly records, Prophecy, Dark Ages and Conquer, and written two solo instrumental albums, Colossal Myopia and The Ultimate Devotion. His other gig, Cavalera Conspiracy, is a side project with Sepultura co-founders Max and Igor Cavalera. The band’s debut record, entitled Inflikted was released in 2008.
When Rizzo takes a break from instigating mayhem in the mosh pit, he likes to kick back and study the masters -- Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Paco De Lucia and Al DiMeola. When he’s not thrashing away on his day gigs doing theatrical jump kicks on stage, Rizzo becomes the neo-classical Shred Master General from Mike Varney’s (Shrapnel Records) stable. His two solo records are the stuff of guitar magazine super licks. We’re talking mind-boggling chops here! His 2007 solo release titled The Ultimate Devotion is a lexicon of high technique shred styles and nose bleeding metal. He mixes it up with a flavorful blend of flamenco and jazz phraseology on various acoustic and electric guitars for spice.
Although his guitar playing and songwriting is primarily rooted in the genre of contemporary metal, Rizzo likes to make quick left turns -- his compositions will give you whiplash. Just when you got strapped in for a brutal metal assault on your synapses, he quickly veers off into the world of jazz, classical and flamenco. It separates him from the pack and gives you a panoramic view of his artistic musical vision. The way he arranges his music allows the heavy compositions to sound even heavier and the delicate nylon string flamenco and classical workouts to really shine. I caught up with Rizzo just before his trip to the 2009 NAMM show.
I’ve got a new solo record I’m working on.
What’s it called?
I don’t know yet [laughing]. I usually wait until I’m done with the music and then look through the dictionary and try to find some cool words.
How much have you recorded so far?
I got about eight songs recorded. I’m going to try to figure out if I’m going to do more because I’m running out of time. I’m leaving for the NAMM show on Wednesday and then I’m home for a week, then I’m off to Europe for like almost three months.
I’m almost always on tour between Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and my solo stuff. We just tour all year around.
How different is the new record from The Ultimate Devotion?
I think it’s going to be a progression. It should be very similar to that, although it seems like this record is more on the acoustic side. I’ve been listening to a lot more jazz guitar players and doing some clean electric guitar things. I’m trying to incorporate a lot more jazz phrasing into the music and key changes and stuff.
You shred with the best of them but what I like about your playing is how you incorporate a bit of flamenco in what you do. That’s really cool, where did it come from?
A couple years back I really got into listening and playing flamenco. I was really influenced by The Gypsy Kings and Paco De Lucia. That probably just stems from listening to Al DiMeola and tracing back his influences and the Friday Night in San Francisco CD. I think this was all during the era when Nu-metal was big -- ten to twelve years ago. Nobody was really into solos anymore, so I really got into pursing flamenco. It became my outlet for musicianship since nobody was into solos at the time.
Do you play any traditional flamenco repertoire?
Yeah. I really studied hard. Those guys are phenomenal to me. I’m definitely not on their level but I try to memorize some Paco De Lucia pieces and try to incorporate it into my set. I play a little Paco piece here and there between the heavy stuff.
I can hear that influence in your electric playing as well. When’s the next Cavalera Conspiracy record coming out?
We’re talking about doing a new record this year. This summer we’re going to go back to Europe and do all the festivals. It’s going to be back-to-back Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy on the same bill.
Wow, double duty.
Yeah that’s it basically. Two shows in one day. Then come September I think we’ll probably start a new record with Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy.
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