"It's the fucking weather," says 15-year-old Black Tide lead singer/guitarist Gabe Garcia, explaining why Florida produces so many extreme-metal bands, such as Deicide and Obituary. "The heat makes everybody go crazy, and the humidity makes you angry."
Plenty of teenagers are pissed off, but few get the chance to vent their rage by reinterpreting Reagan-era thrash in front of thousands. Despite the fact that not a single member of the quartet -- which includes guitarist Lex Nunez, bassist Zakk Sandler, and drummer Steven Spence -- has celebrated his 20th birthday yet, Black Tide have played at Ozzfest, opened for Avenged Sevenfold, and scored a major-label deal. Yes, they're shred prodigies, and they know it. "I'm sort of sick of the question already," says Garcia, his cherubic face highlighting the profound disconnect between his demonic growl and the brief time he's spent on this planet. "I'm fucking old! I just can't wait to turn 16, so I can officially drop out of school."
Formed four years ago when they were already veterans (at nine, Garcia was playing backyard parties), the band began covering Green Day before evolving into something harder: a combination of Megadeth riffage, Metallica brutality, and Guns N' Roses melodicism. Belying their jaw-dropping virtuosity, the entire band is self-taught. "I took some drum lessons once," admits Spence, "but I said, 'Fuck that -- I'll hold my sticks how I want!' " An ear-searing appearance at the 2006 Florida Music Festival earned them the attention of both A&R scouts and the Prince of Darkness himself. "Ozzfest was amazing, because people found out who we were, but we were hazed a lot," says Sandler. "They put naked gay guys on the giant screens behind us!"
Having toured for most of 2007, playing clubs they aren't old enough to get into as fans, the precocious foursome expect to spend this year in a similar fashion, with much to anticipate. "I want to go to the Czech Republic," Sandler says. "I hear the girls there are amazing. What other reason is there?" He may be young, but he is already headbangingly wise. K.A.
Light From Above (Interscope) is out February 26.
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Black Tide - "Show Me the Way"