Interview: Marc Rizzo

Guglielmo Malusardi: Introduce yourself to the readers - where you were born and raised?

Marc Rizzo: I was born and raised in New Jersey, U.S.A.

Guglielmo Malusardi: And how about your roots? Rizzo sounds undoubtedly Italian...

Marc Rizzo: Yes I am italian. My grandparents were born in a town called Trentinara, in Italy, and I have family in Salerno.

Guglielmo Malusardi: The metal army knows you already for your work in Ill Nino, and your partnership with Alex Cavalera, first in Soulfly and late in Cavalera Conspiracy.

Marc Rizzo: Ill Nino was the first band I was in that got signed. Soon after I quit and joined Soulfly, made three records and two solo records, then Cavalera Conspiracy.

Guglielmo Malusardi: When did you get the idea to release your first CD and get the, in my opinion great, idea to put together metal and Latin/flamenco parts?

Marc Rizzo: Solo records were something I always wanted to do, and during my time in Ill Nino I started recording my first solo record. I love flamenco and metal, so it was natural for me to combine it on a record.

Guglielmo Malusardi: If I'm not mistaken, on "Colossal Myopia", you mentioned that Mike Varney suggested you open the CD with two metal (not as much flamenco/metal) shred tunes...

Marc Rizzo: Yes, when i put out my first solo record it was mostly acoustic. Then when Mike Varney got a copy and signed me he suggested doing more metal. I was thrilled because at that point in time it seemed nobody cared for metal solos.

Guglielmo Malusardi: On your second CD, those elements seem to co-exist in a happy marriage from the first few bars...

Marc Rizzo: Yes, on the second record I embellished on it more.

Guglielmo Malusardi: One other difference is the tracks' running time - much longer on the second CD. Was that a conscious choice or a consequence of the composing process?

Marc Rizzo: I think going into "The Ultimate Devotion", I wanted to make a record that was just all around ridiculously musical and progressive.

Guglielmo Malusardi: There are two vocal tracks included.on "The Ultimate Devotion". At some point will you do a full length, vocal-oriented project?

Marc Rizzo: Yes, my next album will feature a new singer I'm working with, who is amazing. It wiill have more vocals, but I'll still have instrumentals too.

Guglielmo Malusardi: What guitars did you use for your two records?

Marc Rizzo: For "The Ultimate Devotion", I used my Peavey HP special and a Yamaha nylon acoustic.

interview pic

Guglielmo Malusardi: How about amps and effects?

Marc Rizzo: I use Peavey JSX amps, Zoom pedals and GHS strings.

Guglielmo Malusardi:
What software do you use?

Marc Rizzo: We use a Pro Tools rig for "The Ultimate Devotion" and a small Roland machine for "Colossal Myopia" but I prefer using tape.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Shrapnel Records released both of your solo projects. The label is owned by that legend named Mike Varney. Would you like to to portray him from a label artist point of view?

Marc Rizzo: I have a high respect for Mike, and doing two Shrapnel records with him is one of my biggest accomplishments.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Who are some of your favorite guitarists?

Marc Rizzo: I have so many favorites: Eddie Van Halen, Marty Friedman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, Dimebag Darrel and Joe Satriani. I could go on forever.

Guglielmo Malusardi: How did you develop the flamenco style you use on guitar?

Marc Rizzo: Mostly on my own through books, but I also studied with Dennis Koster, a popular flamenco guitarist out of New York City.

Guglielmo Malusardi: About your right hand; are you an integralist/orthodox nail fingered technique, an "Al Di Meola-ized" one or a cross between the two?

Marc Rizzo: I do both picking styles.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you know any Italian guitarists?

Marc Rizzo: Yes, Italy has some of the best musicians. I really like Alessandro Benvenuti's playing. I met him at the NAMM show a couple of years ago where he gave me his CD "Sonic Design", which is amazing.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Are you currently performing your own music live?

Marc Rizzo: Yes, in between Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy tours I have done four solo U.S. tours that were amazing. I'm hoping to come to Europe soon.

Guglielmo Malusardi: Finally, what are your future plans?

Marc Rizzo: Keep recording and touring with all three bands - and maybe some new projects!

interview picture
If we could give Marc Rizzo a nickname, we'd probably go with "the flamenco bomber". This young and busy guitarist from Carlstadt, New Jersey showed with his two solo albums released by Shrapnel Records ("Colossal Myopia" and "The Ultimate Devotion") his guitar brilliancy and originality, combining bulldozing metal riffs, flamenco and Latin parts, all spiced with tons of stellar soloing. This is on top of his work with various bands, as lead guitarist in Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, and last but not least his own band.

Guglielmo Malusardi quizzed Rizzo on his many and varied musical endeavors.