THE NEW BLACK – How To Love Your Liver
By Carl Begai
Guitarist Christof Leim was two for two in 2008, cranking out a new Sinner album (Crash & Burn) to rave reviews and launching new street level dirt metal outfit The New Black to equal amounts of high praise. A big change from his one album stint with The Traceelords (The Ali Of Rock – 2006), a band that couldn’t decide if it was metal, rock, or full-on sugar pop and eventually imploded. And while Sinner’s success was assured with Crash & Burn’s return to the band’s rock roots, The New Black was a gamble. Leim had no expectations going in save that the music would better reflect who he is as a musician, making the positive reactions to their demo material and resulting record deal with AFM Records that much sweeter.
“The New Black started before I joined Sinner, and it was one of the good things in life that got the ball rolling: binge drinking,” Leim reveals. “Fabs (Schwarz/guitars) and me attended the Earthshaker Festival in 2006, and we watched the show by a headliner that I won’t mention because they sucked (Lordi), then hit the caiparinha booth. I told him that I had a lot of heavy riffs sitting around that I couldn’t use in The Traceelords because they didn’t fit. Basically, they were a bunch Black Label Society-type riffs. Fabs and I got along great, so the only logical conclusion was that we should form a new band. We got shitfaced and the question came up; ‘So, when should we start this new band?’ Answer: ‘I don’t know, what time is it? 10:45pm? Okay, we’ll start it at 11:00pm…’ (laughs). Fabs is a real musician, not just a rocker, so I sent him three song ideas, and a couple weeks after the festival we were at a party and he pulled out a CD with three songs on it. From there things moved along really quickly.”
Musically, The New Black has been pegged as a cross between Thin Lizzy and Black Label Society. Add to this singer Fludid’s vocals, which bear an uncanny resemblance to those of ex-Anthrax frontman John Bush, and you can understand the band appealing to rock and metal audiences
“The Black Label Society influence might be surprising for some people because I was part of The Traceelords,” says Leim, “but that’s always been there. I was always into Zakk Wylde’s stuff from the first BLS album. That kind of stuff wasn’t usable with The Traceelords. I was always the token metal guy in The Traceelords with the long hair and doing all the baby-Zakk-Wylde-on-a-bad-day solos. We had the obvious talks about the material and it was clear it wouldn’t work. Plus, some other songs I wrote wouldn’t work for Sinner either because the masterplan was to do a rock ‘n’ roll album and not another There Will Be Execution.”
It’s readily apparent The Traceelords experience left a bad taste in Leim’s mouth, raising questions as to whether he was apprehensive about joining another band so quickly.
“Not really, because we talked about the internal band stuff. Fabs and I started this, and we’re not 17-year-olds and dreaming the day away about being big rockstars. That’s actually what our first song, ‘Why I Burn’, is about. You want to get ahead, if only to play better gigs, but if it’s not fun with the guys you’re with and you can’t hit the stage with the same sense of fun that you have when you go to a bar together, you’re going to run out of gas pretty fast. This was clear from the beginning for Fabs and me, and that’s how the line-up came together. We had fun together, and that was the top priority.”
And for the record, did the band name come from Strapping Young Lad’s 2007 album, The New Black?
“No! I was angry when Devin (Townsend) put that album out, and it didn’t even suck,” Leim laughs. “I had the name long before that album came out. I was trying to think of a cool band name if I ever decided to do my macho rock thing, and that’s what I came up with. I like the name In Flames, for example. Flames are cool, and you could call your band Fire Fire Fire or The Flaming Superstars, but that’s boring. In Flames is straight to the point, no bullshit. I figured black is cool, but all those names like Black Symphony and Black This or Black That, they suck. I think The New Black stands out, and I was in good company (laughs).”