Black Tide proves you're never too young to rock

Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:58pm EST
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By Christa Titus

NEW YORK (Billboard) - When Black Tide's members were barely out of high school, they landed an Ozzfest date on the second stage.

Another act dropped out of the lineup, so Black Tide was invited to join the rest of the tour. But second-stage sponsor Jagermeister balked because it didn't want to look like it was promoting underage drinking. Black Tide's fans swarmed Internet message boards demanding that the judgment be reversed. And then a miracle occurred: Ozzfest's organizers asked the band to open the main stage, and it rocked the crowd accordingly.

Such have been the formative years for Florida's Black Tide, a quartet that merges classic rock with a modern style. Debut album "Light From Above" (Interscope, March 18) reflects the influence of such genre heavyweights as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, whose catalog is older than Black Tide's members. In fact, guitarist/lead singer Gabriel Garcia just turned 15.

Black Tide's youth hasn't hindered its progress, which has been swift. The band formed just a few years ago and picked up a demo deal with Atlantic before signing with Interscope in 2006. Its triumph at Ozzfest indicated a victory on another level. Teen acts are more readily accepted in pop and R&B, but metal audiences have little patience for music that seems contrived. Black Tide earned major credibility by proving it can perform.

Asked what he'd like people to know about "Light From Above" or Black Tide, bassist Zakk Sandler says with a laugh, "(That) it's not bull---t. That it's actually real. I know a lot of people are like, 'Oh, this is going to last a week because they're young and whatever.' That's not the case at all. We don't plan on treating it like that, either."

Revolver magazine is one of the first media outlets to support Black Tide in a big way; its current issue features a four-page spread on the band.

Although Interscope is targeting a rock audience, Black Tide is also gathering coverage in such mainstream magazines as Spin, Blender and Entertainment Weekly. Interscope product manager Dyana Kass says the crossover press happened organically.

"They're such an interesting concoction of old school meets new school, and we're really doing a two-prong approach," she says. "We're making sure we're getting more of that kind of classic-metal-audience-slash-rock, and then additionally getting that youth audience and the (Vans) Warped tour audience."

Black Tide is staying on the road for the rest of the year, and will do dates on the Rockster Energy Mayhem tour and possibly Warped.