INTERVIEWS

Cosmic Rock

Today we sat down with Rochester,NY musician Joe Dellaquila guitarist/vocalist of the group Saints and Winos. Joe is a hard working guy with a huge love for rock and all things music. Rounded out by Amanda Rampe on bass/vocals and JB Rodgers on drums/vocals, Joe’s band is influenced by The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and more. We rapped with Joe about his background history, influences, his band and many subjects. Check out this enjoyable talk with Joe and learn a lot about his story.

 

1.Hey Joe how have you been man, good to connect with you today.

JOE: hey man how’s it going? Glad to finally be join this. thank you for the interest and the interview. Things are good here. I try to stay busy and doing stuff. So between my day job, the band and my family my dance card stays pretty full.

2.Real good man. Yeah okay for sure. Tell us a little about your background, where did you grow up and how did you get into being in a band?

JOE:  A little about my background. I was born and raised in New Haven Connecticut. My earliest musical memories are from my older brother. I shared a room with him when i was very young. Every night before bed he would put on some music to help me get to sleep. I remember going to sleep at night to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queen, E.L.P,Johnny Winter,Genesis, Fleetwood Mac and all kinds of other cool music. My older brother also played guitar. So when I made the connection that the music coming out of the stereo was made with a guitar like his I wanted to play guitar. My brother had a nice record collection and i spent a lot of hours listening to the records and spacing out on the album art on the record Jackets. E.L.P Brain salad surgery was an early favorite. I used to open and close the gatefold over and over again. Then a little later on I got introduced to harder heavier music from one of my older cousins (also named joe) The most important contribution he made to my musical upbringing was introducing me to Iron Maiden and all of the other great early heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Rush, Tygers of Pan Tang, Budgie and a whole host of other bands that really deepened my interest in music and heavier music more specifically. I was an Iron Maiden fanatic from that point on. I would listen to the records and had my room covered in the eddie posters and merch. My mother thought I was a "devil worshipper" at first until she realized it was just music. I grew up in and around New Haven CT. Which was a mid sized city with a great music scene. I used to have a rehearsal space right down the street from Yale University. There were lots of venues in and around the state that regularly had metal shows so there was never a lack of places to play. There was a city arts and entertainment paper called The Advocate that had a great musicians classified section where people would advertise for band members. So if you were willing and had your act together you could always have a gig. I played in a variety of bands over the years, Primarily heavy music but i also played in a couple of blues bands, a few cover bands and even a wedding band. I played in the cover bands and the wedding band to make some money and get some varied musical experience. In those days I was making decent money doing that and it gave me the money to focus on writing and playing heavy music. Another factor that played heavily in my musical upbringing was my proximity to NYC and a bunch of other great music scenes. I was a 55 minute train ride from NYC so i was down there a lot going to shows and later playing in bands. I saw a lot of the early hardcore and metal bands from in and around the city. Agnostic Front, The Cro Mags, Leeway, Biohazard, Carnivore (Peter Steeles pre Type O Negative band) Prong, The Dirty Dozen, Gorilla Biscuits, Sonic Youth, Merauder and so many more. The first time I saw the Cro Mags was a life changing experience. It was either at CBGB or La'mours and they obliterated the venue. I knew right then I wanted to perform live. I had been playing guitar for a bit by this point but there were two events that really pushed me to take it serious. The above mentioned hardcore and metal scene in NYC and the release of metallic as first two records and seeing them on the ride the lightning and master of puppets tour. I immediately went and got myself an explorer copy and started learning to down pick. NYC is where i first got into the doom scene. A friend I knew in the city made me a mix tape of new music. On it were songs by a bunch of bands i don't remember but the standouts for me were the songs from The Obsessed and Saint Vitus that he had put on there. I was already a fan of Black Sabbath and was surprised to learn that we had bands like that in the U.S.                                    

3.Were there any favorite concerts or records you had back in the day that inspired you?

JOE: Pretty much everything I listened to at that point inspired me but some of the records that really floored me and became life long favorites were Metallica's Master of Puppets, Iron maiden's Piece of mind and Live after Death records, Tarkus by E.L.P, Johnny Winters Progressive blues experiment and Joihhny Winter and.. Lynyrd Skynyrd Street Survivors and later COCs Blind record. Obviously there were many more but those are some of my favorites that immediately come to mind. I woodshedded for quite a few years trying to emulate my favorite players. Hetfield and Hammet <downing and Tipton, Johnny Winter(especially) Murray and Smith and a whole host of others. Later she I really  got into thrash and death metal The "H" team from Exodus(Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt) were my favorites for a long time. Their riffs and song writing were killer and i spent a lot of time trying to figure out those songs and guitar tones. While i played primarily heavy music my musical tastes in general were pretty varied. I liked and still like a wide variety of different types of music. Jazz, Classical,Motown,Trad Blues, The Gypsy Jazz of Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Jaco Pastorius and Joe Zawinul of Thee Weather report and all kinds of other stuff. Later when I was a bit older my older brother started his own DJ company so I got exposed to a lot of the real early Hip-hop, rap, club music and R&B that was blowing up all over the place. I still enjoy listening to a lot of different kind of stuff but my heart will always lie with heavy music in whatever form i might be playing it.  

4.Yeah okay for sure. How did your band Saints and Winos come together?

JOE: In late 2009 I moved to Rochester NY. My wife had finished her PHD and was offered a job teaching at a college here. She accepted and we packed up and moved across country. When we first arrived i immediately started scoping out the music scene. The very first show I went to here was Pentagram with Sulaco and Orodruin opening up. i started to try and find a band to play in but nothing was really working out. One of my wives colleagues had a boyfriend who played in a band and they had just lost their bass player. I had taken up bass playing early on as well as guitar in order to further my chances of always having a gig. i also play some drums and Keyboards. So when I found out they needed a bass player I volunteered my services. that’s where I met J.B. Rodgers who is the Drummer in Saints and Winos. He was singing and playing guitar in that band which was basically a traditional rock band kind of thing. After about 18 months and a bunch of gigs that band started to go south. we lost the drummer and second guitar player so we decided to call it a day on that project. In the time that we spent in that band J.B. and I became close friends being that we both loved heavy music of all kinds. J.B. is also a multi instrumentalist and a killer singer. So we started jamming in my attic and after a few jam sessions He suggested that he move over to drums and I play guitar and sing. that was the birth of Saints and Winos. We quickly found our first bass player the very first stuff we jammed on was Vitus, Pentagram, Sabbath and The Obsessed songs. Matter of fact for the first 18 months that’s all we played. Obscure Doom covers that most people didn't know. The first bassist didn't last long.  the second guy was a bit better and he lasted about 18 months before he finally disappeared. When that happened, we advertised and opted looking for his replacement. About a week later Amanda contacted us and said she was interested in auditioning. We already knew her and her abilities as she plays in another local band called Fox 45. We were more than happy to give her a shot. She came down, walked in and just slayed. She was the missing link and still plays with us today. The guy she replaced was good and had plenty of chops and abilities but he was too much "Steve Harris" when we needed "Geezer Butler" Amanda came in and hit it out of the park. Her ear and musical ability breathed fresh life into the material that we had already written and made writing new material much easier. her style and tone fit perfectly with what we do. She also has a knack for arranging that added that little extra something that was missing with the previous guy. She was an integral part of the writing and recording process for our first record WE RISE. All in all I'd have to say that this band has been one of the easiest I've ever been in. There are no attitudes or any of the usual pitfalls that happen to bands. We all work, have equipment and most importantly we are all on the same page musically which has NEVER happened to me before. All in all I'm very happy with the lineup and the direction the band has gone in.   

 

5.What are some of your favorite films and books?

JOE: Some of my Favorite books are The Book of five rings by Musashi Miyamoto, The art of war by Sun Tzu, One from none by Henry Rollins, Guns germs and steel by Jared Diamond, The Human machine by Arnold Bennett and Thus spoke Zarathustra by Fredrich Nietzsche. Some of my favorite movies are Terminator, Taxi Driver. The first two Underworld movies, Caddyshack, 48 hours, Beverly Hills Cop, Airplane, The Jerk,  National lampoon Vacation  Blade runner. The first 3 Star Wars movies Conan the Barbarian. The Breakfast Club, Texas Chainsaw Masacre The first 3 hellraiser movies and lots more. I was a voracious movie goer and reader when I was younger. I’ve slowed down considerably with age but I still find time to watch videos or movies and read some stuff.

6.What inspires your songwriting?

JOE: My songwriting is inspired by everything I mentioned above. Movies, books I’m reading , documentaries and of course other music. Life in general inspires me as well. I get ideas for song titles or subject matter all the time so I just record them into my phone for later use. Lately it’s been Anime that’s been giving me great ideas. Some of the ones I’m watching are Afro Samurai, One Punch man, Fist of the North Star, The new Baki the grappler , Yu-Yu Hakusho,Daughters of the Mnemosyne, Attack on Titan and Van Helsing Vampire hunter. They stories are great and they are full great images and topics The artwork is dynamite All of the hero/anti hero stuff is present. The ingredients for some great music if you ask me.

7.You guys had some big shows lately what are some of your favorite memories?

JOE: Well the biggest and best memory would have to be playing at The Maryland Doom Fest. Saints and Winos was started as an homage to the great U.S. Doom bands and of course the musical output of Winos many projects over the years. So to be playing a festival with so many of the greats in the genre was incredible. I can’t say it enough but J.B. Matson and the rest of the crew there really put in an awesome event. I originally submitted too late for 2018 but J.B. Was nice enough to limit us on the replacement list if someone cancelled. Turns out one of the bands on day three had to drop off so he reached out and asked us if we wanted the spot. Of course I said yes. I’m beyond grateful and very humbled that we were given the chance to play with the greats. The Obsessed, Unorthodox, Earthride, Windhand, Doomstress, Weedeater, Castle, and all of the others. I’ve had some really great memories with this band. We’ve opened for a lot of great bands when they come through here. Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Apostle of Solitude, Anvil, Orodruin,,Revelation, and so many others. I would have to say the single greatest memory I will take from this experience was from when we opened for Saint Vitus. I got to meet and talk with Scott for the evening. During one of our conversation I mentioned that we covered a lot of his material. He asked if we were playing any of his songs that night? I looked over and said in a half hearted way “yeah we will play one if you will get up and sing it. I never expected him to say yes but he did. He said he would watch out set and if he liked it he would just come up after the last song. So we played our hearts out, finished our last song and I looked over and he was standing on stage ready to go. We played Inside looking out by Grand Funk. It was the craziest thing ever. I still can’t believe it to this day. Such a great down to earth guy, he was very easy to talk to and flattered that he influenced the band so much. If the band ended the next day I would have been ok because that was one of the greatest nights ever. I was blown away and humbled by the fact that he thought enough of our music to get up there and do it. Cold, with strangers and without a minute of rehearsal. That takes guts. This band has far exceeded any and all of my expectations. When we started it was just for some fun and to keep playing. It just kept getting better and better. We may not be as active as other bands but we get out there when we can We are all older with family and jobs and other bands and there is no real expectations so we just kind of let it steer itself and it goes where it wants. The universal creative energy provides the fuel.

8.That’s awesome bro. Any news coming down the line?

JOE: We are currently writing the follow up to our last record We Rise. It’s usually a long process to get new stuff together. As I mentioned above we take our time as we all have busy lives. I think that lends a certain kind of authenticity to the music though because it is crafted over time. As opposed to being quickly put together to produce a product for market. You can stream it on bandcamp here. http://saintsandwinos.bandcamp.com/album/we-rise-2

9.What is one life skill you think everyone should have?

JOE: The one life skill I think everyone should have is patience. Nothing happens without hard work. If you have the patience to plan and the work ethic to see those plans through there really isn’t much you can’t do.

10.Yeah for real. What are some of your regrets and some of your best choices in hindsight?

JOE: I don’t really have any regrets in life. While my journey could have been different it’s that journey that has brought me to where I am today. I’m happy, I have a great band, super band mates who I love and who both shred on their respective instruments. I have my own little family who I love and who love and support me, I’m able to work and support myself and I’m grateful for all that IMO have any day. None of it was a mistake. This is where I’m supposed to be and I’m happy to be here.

11.Sounds like a good perspective. What advice would you give new artists?

JOE: Advice I would give to new artists. Never give up on yourself or your dream no matter what it is. Find what you love and go after it. Develop a good work ethic and a plan. Dreams are great but plans are what sets the dream in motion. Also have a backup plan or skill set and use that to support yourself while you work on your dream/plan. I’ve been playing music for over 30 years. Been in more bands than I could count. Never really had a lot of commercial success but I love to play, write music and perform so it was always easy for me to keep going. No matter how hard it got or how many false starts I’ve had. I never lost my love for creating new art and music.

12.Excellent. What are some of your other pursuits outside of music?

JOE: Some of my other pursuits outside of music. Well I’m a dad to my 10 yo daughter. I’m restlessly creative. I like to paint, draw sculpt, make Lino cuts, pen and ink. I make acid etched metal art. I have my own small machine shop in my garage. I build and ride vintage motorcycles. I love the outdoors and go hiking and camping as often as life will allow. I have two awesome dogs that I enjoy a lot. I try to stay busy and doing things. I can’t really sit still for long. My brain is always thinking of things to do.

13.New bands you would suggest to check out?

JOE: New bands to check out. I listen to s lot of music all the time. Some of the newer bands I’ve really enjoyed are : Summoner. Their album Atlantean is just killer. Hexxus. Their latest disc Tunguska will flatten you. Horn of the Rhino their album Weight of Coronation has been a favorite for a long time. Chronobot out of Canada these guys kill it. Disgusted Geist is another recent favorite The mood and atmosphere they capture is awesom. Switchblade Jesus is another killer outfit from Texas. We had the pleasure of playing with them at doomfest this year. Windhand because they crush. Last but not least is the band Castle. If you haven’t already then go check them out. We’ve opened for them 3 or 4 times now and they also played at doomfest this year. They are one of the hardest driving outfits around right now. I’ve never seen them have a bad show. Matt Cadtkes guitar work is awesome and the lyrical contents and songwriting are top notch. They bring it all together into a package that just rips faces off. Doomstress is another recent favorite if mine. Doomstress Alexis and company bring it. They are some of the hardest working people I’ve seen in a while. There are so many more new and upcoming bands that I’m finding out about all the time. People say modern music is terrible. To those people I say you just aren’t looking hard enough.

 

14.Great man. Any last words today for your fans?

JOE:  In closing I’d like to thank everyone who has shown support for me and Saints and Winos. Thank you to all the bands we’ve played with and learned from. Never give up. Keep fighting and moving forward. Last but not least thanks to you Gideon for giving me the opportunity to do this interview.

 

Thanks to you Joe for taking the time and very cool, looking forward to hearing more from you and the band. - G