black road history
Compiled by Suzi Uzi and Billy Goat (Doomed & Stoned)
No two bands are the same. They all start out differently, and for their own reasons. Tim M. and Suzi Uzi of Black Road decided to form the band out of what felt like pure necessity. Tim had many riffs built up from almost two decades of guitar playing. Upon showing many glimpses of skill and songwriting knowledge to Suzi, she decided to try and form a band. There was an inherent need to get these riffs and songs out to the world. In June of 2015, Tim chose the name Black Road, and the rest is history.
Upon naming the band, the couple had an uncertain view of what direction the band might take. Anthony Petrucci was asked to join in on bass, and within one month of jamming, the trio recorded an acoustic rendition of a song Tim had brought forth from his past. “Innocent Woman” can still be found on the SoundCloud account for Black Road. After much reflection, the group decided they wanted to play out as a band and needed a drummer. Dennis Franco, longtime high school friend of both Tim and Suzi’s, was asked to join in on drums. A second guitarist was also involved, Eddie Salinas. Eddie and Tim had played alongside one another for years in high school. Along with Dennis, they were known as the main guitarists during the years they and Suzi all attended the same school together.
After an unorganized, but ultimately fun first gig together, the band went through immediate lineup changes. Black Road lost its second guitarist, and became a 4-piece. Another gig opportunity presented itself in November of 2015, and then-current drummer Dennis was unable to perform. A fill-in was quickly found at the music store Suzi worked. Andrew Becker became Black Road’s full-time drummer going forward, after learning the entire set as a fill-in. For about 10 months, the band wrote more songs, became tighter, and performed several times together. The lineup then changed once more in September of 2016.
Former drummer Andrew was the first one to take a step out of the band for musical differences. Suzi had quit smoking to improve her vocals and had gotten much stronger and more confident. It was then that Tim had the “okay” to pull out the heavier metal riffs he had been holding back. Simply to allow Suzi time to get stronger and the fact that heavy songs can be harder and more taxing to sing, the band hadn’t written too many songs that would be considered metal. Since this was the direction Tim and Suzi wanted to go, Andrew and then one week later Anthony, both decided they wanted to pursue other musical endeavors.
A drummer who had previously made contact with Suzi online immediately stepped in, Robert Gonzales. It was clear from the first time jamming with him that he would become a member of Black Road. The last thing to find was a bassist, and there were some folks who auditioned and did not end up working. Without realizing he was under their noses the entire time, bassist Casey Papp stepped forward as a local who had already seen Black Road perform and supported the band. He came to audition and Tim knew right away that he fit his style of playing and would make an excellent addition to the lineup. A couple jams later, the band was announcing the new members on Halloween of 2016, and they remain to this day.
Black Road was eventually noticed by DHU Records label head Robert Black. There were several demos out online, all recorded by John Morrison. In August of 2016, Black Road had signed with the label out of the Netherlands for a vinyl and cassette release. This may have prompted the eventual split with the former members, but it was a great source of inspiration to everyone in the current lineup. In the time the band was going through all of this, BloodRock Records (Italy) label head Enrico Spallarossa took notice, and signed the band to another deal for a CD release. There was a sense of urgency but also excitement, knowing the songs the band was learning and eventually writing together would be printed on multiple physical formats. in January of 2017, local friend Brad V. Earl tracked and recorded the band’s debut EP. It was released October 6, 2017.
There were many hard lessons learned during the recording process, and the same can be said with most bands. These experiences with demos and album recordings made the eventual full-length album much easier to conceive and execute. The “Black Road EP” was well-received, and completely sold out on all formats. The band knew what they wanted and now did not want to happen for the next time they attempted the recording process. The band went through many hardships, struggled financially, and survived some intense times together…only making them stronger. The songs were written from life experiences and shared interests. The full-length album “Witch of the Future” contains songs completely written by the current lineup, whereas the EP had songs written from both incarnations of the band. An initial, separate recording session of a single track for “Witch of the Future” was done prior to the full-length, to test the capabilities and sound at Roosterbat Studios. It was released late 2018 on Bandcamp in the digital format.
The recording sessions varied, as they always do. There were bumps in the road both technical and personal. The window of time to record was limited. Already planned were a music video shoot and two tours quickly following, so the album needed to seemingly be done by then. In the time the band and labels were waiting for the mixing to be done, DHU Records proposed a 7” inch single vinyl release, and Suzi immediately said yes! Thanks to original artwork created by Shane Horror, a mock-up became a reality in less than a month. 50 copies were printed and the tiny clear vinyl sold out in a mere 20 minutes. It was also thanks to the quick work of John Becker that the single was made possible. He and Alec Haley tracked, recorded and mixed the full-length album at Roosterbat Studios. It was then handed over to DHU Records favorite Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording Co. for mastering on all formats. Over 2 years in the making, “Witch of the Future” can finally be brought to the present. It is the culmination of the band’s progress, triumphs, and failures.
Tim M. lead the songs as usual with his soaring riffs. Melodic and harmonic, they set the tone for the vocals. All lyrics and vocals are done by Suzi Uzi, with Tim doing backing vocals on a few tracks. There is synth and tambourine sprinkled throughout, but not overdone. Robert Gonzales took charge of the recording sessions! He absolutely nailed his drum takes during the live recordings, while Casey Papp complimented his every beat with some killer, amazing bass.
After having super solid takes, vocals and guitar solos were added, as well as percussion and synth, to round out the sound. The ambience of the studio and the relaxed nature of the entire process comes out in the album. The single “Witch of the Future” was first released as a live track in 2017, then again in 2018 as a standalone digital single. It was completely redone in the studio and is released as the title track for this album. “Blood on the Blade” was released for the music video and as a single, but has been remixed and remastered for the “Witch of the Future” album release. A bonus track in included in the digital release, previously released as Side B of the “Blood on the Blade” 7” vinyl single.
From The Band
“There were many people who helped bring this to the light. Artists like Nick Gurley and Shane Horror have helped make a name for us by presenting one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by the music, that made a lasting impression. Music videos can be found thanks to Don Corthier and Liza Moon, which have been the source for thousands of people discovering Black Road. Friends have helped record demos, take photos, and get video up online for others. All of the support from reviewers, blogs, and interviewers have helped get people involved and interested in following the band. We feel so humbled by hard-working people like DHU Records and BloodRock Records, and we are honored to be on their roster! It is a community effort, and we are one big family. We wouldn’t be here without you all, and we are eternally grateful. We live by the golden rule and the future looks super bright. Thank you for being a part of this journey trippin’ down Black Road with us!”
And the beat goes on...
As unforeseen as the entire year of 2020 has been, Black Road was faced with a hard decision to make. Our bassist of nearly 4 years, Casey Papp, has started his own family and has stepped back from bass duties so he can focus on raising his baby boy. We were tasked with the impossible choice of having to pick someone to take over on bass. Luckily for us we instantly clicked with local musician Trey Wedgeworth, an old friend of ours. Needless to say, we are in good hands. We cannot wait to see what the new dynamic sounds like, as we begin writing new songs and passing the torch on the old ones.