Imagine yourself stuck in Transylvania. Sitting at the bar, drinking a Bloody Mary, you’re still thirsty for some good music. So you leave in mad haste – the campy horror movie organs have begun to grate your nerves. Searching high and low for a sound to quench your craving, you find yourself lost in a dark forest. Creeping through the woods, you suddenly hear a growl. An amped-up, guitar driven, dark sonic groove with enough meat on its bones to give Dracula’s monthly food stash a run for its money. Borgo Pass.
This band is some of the strongest, richest brew the metal vein has had on tap for years. Since their inception in the mid 90’s covering acts like Sabbath, AC/DC, Hendrix, and Metallica, Borgo Pass has evolved into an act reputable enough to self-finance headlining mini-tours from coast to coast in the States. And in the last 14 months alone they have shared the stage with Superjoint Ritual, Type O Negative, Life Of Agony, Anthrax, Biohazard, High on Fire, Clutch, Suffocation, The Misfits, and Kittie. They’ve also headlined Phil Anselmo’s House Of Shock in New Orleans, LA on Halloween night for the last two years.
Their five-song EP, Slightly Damaged, was produced by ex-Scatterbrain guitarist Paul Neider. It has been critically acclaimed on an international level. Their sludge, a particularly dark blend of rage and despair set against classic 70’s metal sensibility, is a staple of heavy rotation on the New York City region’s 89.5 WSOU as well as in its rock club circuits.
Currently, Borgo Pass is in a Freeport, Long Island studio recording under the auspices of producer Crispy Chicken.
James Tamarazzo, Borgo Pass’ amiable frontman who looks like he could moonlight as one of the scariest bouncers never to fuck with, shares with us some insight on the nature of the band and its plans for the future.
Aviva: What’s the Borgo all about?
James: In a nutshell we were all born and raised on Black Sabbath and were writing some dark music. We had a hard time coming up with a name for the band. After tossing dozens of names around, our drummer Joe Wood, came up with the name Borgo Pass after reading a book on Dracula and Vlad Tepes. It sounded cooler that all the shitty names we came up with, so we kept it. It is what I like to affectionately call Dracula’s Driveway, the passage to Dracula’s castle.
Aviva: When did you decide to switch from being a cover band to do your own stuff?
James: The covers were done for a very short period of time to get started. The band in its infancy stage started out as a hard rock/metal cover band called Slow Painful Death. We were doing Sabbath, AC/DC, Hendrix, Metallica – you name it. Starting out, you do what you have to do to get gigs and make what little money you can to put back into the band to move forward. We still like to throw a cover or two in with the sets to show respect for the bands that made us want to play music.
I am the fourth singer in Borgo Pass and the rest of the band has been the exactly the same since day one. I really think we found the best possible chemistry under the sun. Upon this transformation we started to write ungodly heavy songs and really pushed the edge of the envelope and came out with some awe-inspiring stuff that we are extremely proud of.
Aviva: When’s the new stuff coming out?
James: We have five new songs recorded mixed and waiting to be mastered. The songs have all been played live. They include ‘Wrong Man’, ‘Nervosa’, ‘14 Days That Killed Me Slow’, ‘Rid Myself of You’ and ‘Acedown’. We have released two tracks as singles until the full-length record comes out in late May or early June 2004. We are going right back in to do three or four more tracks that are ready to go.
Aviva: How did you guys all hook up?
James: Joe (Wood, drummer), YT (bass), Tom (Crane, guitar) and Paul (Rosado, guitar) have been together for a few years as Slow Painful Death. I had been a fan of Borgo from the area and I answered an ad in a local rag for the open singer slot. Joe had seen me playing drums and singing in my old band Ritual 6 and kind of knew who I was. Paul and I spoke for some time on the phone and I came down for an audition. We jammed some Sabbath and a few of the existing songs and we all were standing there with big ass grins on our faces at the end of the night. I was the first guy to come down and ended up getting the job but not at first. They tried out 40 more singers and I met with around 25 more bands. A few more jams and few weeks later we met at local bar to see a friend’s band and agreed to move forward. Why the hell did we wait!? It was real easy and very comfortable. I think the unique thing about Borgo Pass is that we are all great friends, brothers and that is the most important thing for me being in this band.
Aviva: Describe your band in five words or less:
James: Impossible, but I will try: Destructive, Unique, Powerful, Heavy, Classic.
Aviva: What are your plans now?
James: Basically, to finish the full-length record in the next few weeks and tour relentlessly. Ozzfest is an ultimate goal in the future. We are shopping the new material in hopes of securing a deal. Any interested parties…we are for hire!!
Aviva: When is the video coming out?
James: I am hoping very soon. I have come up with a few treatments that I am kicking around with a very talented indie filmmaker that wants to work with us. It will probably be for the song ‘Acedown’ or ‘Wrong Man’. We are going to try and have it aired locally and shoot for Uranium and Headbanger’s Ball if at all possible.