Feb 142012

(TheMadIsraeli scored this interview of two very talented dudes — Chris (“OJ”) Ojeda and Tony Rohrbough — of the revived and rejuvenated Byzantine. We could hardly be more excited about the rise of this band from the ashes and the promise of new music to come. We wrote about them most recently HERE, in a post that included their appeal for help with a Kickstarter campaign to assist in the financing of the new album — a goal that has already been met and exceeded. But the campaign is still open, and you can GO HERE to contribute.)

It seems appropriate to do this after Byzantine officially reached and exceeded their Kickstarter goal.  Now, production of a new album can officially commence in earnest, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing and hearing what will happen.  I hope you will enjoy reading this interview of Chris Ojeda and Tony Rohrbough as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Alright guys, I don’t want to bother with the bullshit formalities.  Let’s start with what I think of as the ideal opening question is here.  Byzantine: What happened to break you guys up, why did it happen, and why did you get back together?

CHRIS OJEDA: My perception of what happened is this: and it might differ from the other guys because we all were dealing with this internally and processing it differently… We signed a deal with a label and we didn’t really know what we were doing and weren’t prepared for the task at hand. And by task at hand, I mean, going broke, working shit jobs between tours, and not having one single thing in common with your boss at the record label. It started out nice, turned sour and then ate away at our friendships.

When you’re in a touring band, certain things are destined to happen if you do it long enough. 1: You will begin to lose sight of why you became a musician. 2: Relationships will falter back home and/or family members will die while you are gone and you will resent it. 3: Your hatred for your spiraling life will turn and focus its vitriol on your band mates because… well, because they are there. We essentially signed a recording contract, said “Fuck it! Sink or swim”, tied an imaginary chain around ourselves and dove into the water. Unfortunately, I was the first band member to wiggle out of the chains and swim for shore. I bailed. A divorce happened between friends and we wound up not playing music for the better half of 4 years. Wow… that was long winded!!! LMAO! Continue reading »

Aug 222011

(NCS writer TheMadIsraeli reviews the solo instrumental album from ex-Byzantine guitarist Tony Rohrbaugh.)

This review has been a long time coming and is VERY overdue. Tony Rohrbough, for those who don’t know, is the lead guitarist of progressive groove-metal masters Byzantine (a band who will be the subject of a retrospective, with a full discography download, in the post that follows this one), and if you’ve never heard of Byzantine, you need to get educated about them, because you’ve been missing out on one of the best bands of the last 10 years.

I’ve had this album for 3 months now, trying to absorb all that it is. I didn’t want to give this a rushed review, a sloppy review, because this man is one of my favorite guitarists of all time. As a guitar player myself, I IDOLIZE this dude’s playing. The riffs he wrote in Byzantine and his solos in that band’s recordings were just enrapturing to me. I wanted to do this dude proper justice on his first solo outing, and even as I sit here and try to review this now, I don’t think I’m going to do it justice, but I will try.

Let’s establish one thing at the outset: This is a solo album, but this is not a solo album meant to show off Tony Rohrbough’s beastly shred capabilities. This is an exercise in song-writing. Yeah, there are more leads and solos than on your average album, because of the lack of vocals, but that’s far from the point. Rohrbough is creating compositions here, something most shred masters can’t do for shit on their own. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »