Interview with Soulfly’s Marc Rizzo: The Legionnaire

Many who read The Aquarian on a regular basis know that I have a pretty good relationship with metal’s rising guitar hero, Soulfly’s Marc Rizzo, and have already interviewed him a couple of times. I’ve seen Marc play on numerous occasions and he’s even come to see me play with my band. So, it was pretty much a no-brainer when I was asked to interview him for The Aquarian again. The only thing that I found odd was that it felt like I was interviewing one of my friends instead of Marc Rizzo from Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy!

Anyway, Marc just released his third solo CD, Legionnaire, on his and his brother Luke’s own label, Phlamencore Records. Legionnaire is the follow-up to Marc’s 2007 solo CD, The Ultimate Devotion. He wrote and recorded Legionnaire while he was touring worldwide with Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, the new Max and Igor Cavalera project, which was a two-year span between both projects. The little downtime that he did have, Marc would find himself running over to Hit And Run Studios in Fairfield, NJ, to record as much as he could for Legionnaire. The cool thing about Hit And Run Studios is that it’s owned by Derik Kleibesch from one of my favorite local bands Hello Eden. Derik is now Marc’s touring bass player.

Marc, who is extremely excited about Legionnaire, is currently out on the road promoting his latest opus with, like I just said, Derik on bass and another North Jersey native, Anthony Devizio, on the drums. The Marc Rizzo Band, as the trio is collectively being called, brings their metal show to the BLVD Bar And Grill in Elmwood Park, NJ, this Friday night, Feb. 5. I got the chance to call and wake up the very excited Marc Rizzo to chat about his new CD, the tour, and the new Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy CDs. Here’s what the hardest working metal & flamenco guitar god had to say.

What’s up, Marc? Are you awake?

Yeah, I’m awake! I had this crazy drive last night that lasted 10 hours, but we’re good, man!

So, your new CD, Legionnaire! Let’s talk about it.

This is my third record! I’m real excited about this one. I’ve been writing it and recording it over the last two-and-a-half years while I was on tour with Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. I was going all over the world doing those tours with those bands, but I was writing on the road and then I’d come home and go into the studio and put down some stuff. And then trying to get the CD finished? It’s been a hectic two-and-a-half years with all three projects. It took that long to get it finished.

Wait, two-and-a-half years?

Yeah, man! We started working on it when I came home from Cavalera Conspiracy tour in 2008. I got back and we started working on it then, and in-between that time I recorded two new Soulfly records, Cavalera Conspiracy, and a bunch of other things. It never ends! I feel like I’m just always on tour and recording, and I love it! So, I’m just riding with it.


Well, since you mentioned it, Soulfly has a new CD coming out also. What’s it called and when can we expect it?

Yup, it’s called Omen and it’s coming out in May. I definitely think that it’s the best Soulfly record to date. The guy that produced the Cavalera Conspiracy record, Logan Mader (who was actually in Soulfly for a minute), did the new Soulfly record. A lot of people have been asking me what it sounds like, and all I can say is that it’s really similar to the Cavalera Conspiracy record. It’s real short songs, it’s right to the point and the production on the record has that Cavalera feel.

I read somewhere that Max’s kids actually play on this new record also?

Yeah, there are a couple of tunes that his two sons, Zyon and Igor, did the drums on. They’re both drummers, so they did a couple of tunes on the record.

How about Cavalera Conspiracy? Is there anything new happening there?

March I’m going out with Soulfly. We’re doing a full U.S. tour and then right after that in April we’re going back out to L.A. to record the new Cavalera Conspiracy record the whole month of April, and then once we’re done with that I’m sure that we’re off to Europe to do more touring for the rest of the summer.

Awesome! Going back to your solo CD, you actually worked on Legionnaire with another local musician that I know, right?

A couple actually. You know Derik Kleibesch from Hello Eden. He recorded, co-produced, and engineered the record up at his studio in Fairfield, NJ, called Hit And Run Studios. Then on drums, I got Anthony Devizio, who’s from Verona, NJ. He played the drums on the record and did an amazing job, too! So, yeah, both guys are from the area and they’re also both in the live band.

Speaking of live band, how’s the tour going?

Good! We did two weeks out in the Midwest. We hit all of the major cities out there, and they went great! We had great turn outs. The Midwest is just probably, I think, the best place in the country for metal! They just really support metal out there. There are just a lot of kids that are huge metal fans out there. I guess that there’s just not much to do out in the Midwest, the kids really come out and support their favorite bands.

And the response to the new songs has been good?

Yeah! Really good! We’ve been playing the new stuff and the kids have definitely been really into it. So, I’m really excited for this record to get out and for everyone to get a copy.

How many songs off of Legionnaire are you playing live, and which ones are you favorites to play?

We’re doing like two or three songs off of the new record. As far as which ones I like to play, I’d probably have to say ‘Release The Kraken’ and ‘By Great Odin’s Beard.’

What can fans expect in your new and improved live show?

The live show is a lot more metal now than what it used to be. I’m doing a lot more vocal songs in the live set now. We throw in not only all of the heavy instrumental stuff in the live show, but also we’ve been throwing in some Slayer covers, some Pantera, Sepultura, Soulfly. I feel like I’m getting more confident with my vocals, and getting better at it, if you can get better at screaming. The shows have been getting a little bit more on the metal side. We still do some of the acoustic stuff, but I kind of feel the audience and if there’s more metalheads there, then we’ll do more of the metal stuff. That being said, Legionnaire is a little bit more on the metal side, and there were a couple of acoustic songs that I did leave off, but maybe I will put them on the next record or just save it for something down the line.

Does Legionnaire better exhibit what Marc Rizzo is all about more than any of the other records?

Yeah! I think that this record is definitely the best representation of what I do, and after touring solo now, we’ve done like five or six U.S. tours now, I’m starting to see what goes over good live with the instrumental stuff, and it’s always the real energetic songs. So that influenced this record a lot.

Do you notice the crowds getting bigger as you revisit some of these cities?

Yes! We were just saying that the other day. I was talking to a couple promoters and they were saying that more people were just coming to the shows and starting to catch on to it. When I go out there on tour with the solo stuff, I’m out there with very low promotion, we just jump in the van and go, and it’s starting to grow. A couple of years ago when I started it, I didn’t even think that I’d be able to tour for it. It wasn’t even a thought that I can tour the country or the world, and get this solo stuff out there, but it’s starting to become possible now. We’re starting to get offers from overseas. We’re talking about going to Japan soon. It really seems like people want to see it live because it’s definitely an exciting live show!

You can catch Marc Rizzo and his newly exciting live show this Friday night, Feb. 5, at the BLVD Bar and Grill in Elmwood Park, NJ, and Saturday night, Feb. 6, at The Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre, NY.