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Life of Agony's Alan Robert & Joey Z. on golf, boxing, coloring books, Tiger Woods & more

EXPERT COLUMNIST
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180   //    29 Jun 2018, 21:01 IST

Life Of Agony
Life Of Agony includes Mina Caputo, Alan Robert, Joey Z. and Veronica Bellino

Initially formed in 1989 by singer Mina Caputo, bassist Alan Robert and guitarist Joey Z., Life Of Agony is an influential alternative metal band. Caputo departed from the Brooklyn group after 1997's Soul Searching Sun, only to rejoin for a reunion of LOA's original lineup in 2003. That lineup stayed intact for close to a decade, completing touring alongside Megadeth and Dream Theater. Notably, the 2005 Life Of Agony album Broken Valley charted at number 5 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.

Caputo, Robert and Z. again regrouped in 2014 and released its first new studio effort in more than a decade via 2017's A Place Where There's No More Pain. Drummer Veronica Bellino -- who has played alongside Richie Sambora, Orianthi, LL Cool J and Jeff Beck -- joined the group earlier this year. While things are fully in gear for Life Of Agony as a band, Alan Robert has also found success with a second career, producing the Beauty Of Horror series of horror comic books. The Beauty Of Horror series has 3 titles coming out in 2018 alone, starting with The Beauty Of Horror 3: Haunted Playgrounds on July 24th.

On behalf of Sportskeeda, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Life Of Agony guitarist Joey Z. -- an avid golfer -- and bassist Alan Robert about sports and more. More on Life Of Agony can be found online at www.lifeofagony.com, while Robert also keeps a home at www.thebeautyofhorror.com.

Word has it that you are big into golf. When in your life did you first get into golf?

Joey Z.: I started playing golf when I was around 24 years old. A little late but, better late than never, they say! My father-in-law is heavily into the game and asked me if I wanted to try back then. I fell in love with the sport immediately and became obsessed like most golfers do.

In the credits on our Soul Searching Sun album, you will see that I congratulated Tiger Woods on his '97 Masters win. I watched it in real time and was cheering him on screaming at the TV. It was awesome. I tried to reach out to Tiger but it's so hard to connect. I wanted to get one of my personal guitars to him since I know he's a big music fan.

All I'd like to do is play around one day together -- come on, Tiger! You get a Joey Z signature guitar!

Is anyone else in your band a golfer?

Joey Z.: At the moment, no, but a couple of them tried in the past for me. It's something you have to naturally fall in love with since playing tends to be a commitment.

Alan, did Joey ever try to take you golfing before?

Alan Robert: Yeah, actually, a few times on tour in the late 90s. I think we were out touring on Soul Searching Sun, our third album. Joey and Dan were big golfers and they had their clubs out with them on the tour bus. They'd go golfing on days off and I tagged along a few times. Honestly, I liked hanging out more than golfing though (laughs).

Joey, do you often encounter other metal or hardcore artists that are also into golf?

Joey Z.: Yes, and it's awesome. I've been playing golf on the road for years and had the pleasure to play with both band members and crew guys.

This interview is coming at a weird time because one of my favourite golf memories on the road was with Vinnie Paul. He picked me up at my hotel in Dallas and we met up with [Pantera bassist] Rex [Brown] and Aaron, their FOH guy, at a nice course. Vinnie brought a cooler and inside was a large bottle of Crown, a bottle of coke and about 8 bologna and cheese sandwiches for everyone. It was the perfect foursome and a great day of fun and golf.

I also played with Frankie Bello of Anthrax quite a few times and also Greg [Tribbett] from Mudvayne. Too much fun...

Are you a member of a golf club? Or is there a course you play at most?

Joey Z.: I am lucky that I live on Long Island because there are some really great courses out here. I regularly go to Bethpage State Park since they have 5 courses to choose from, and never a problem to get on. Once in a while, I'll test myself on the famous "black course" and it will kick the living crap out of me! (laughs) It's definitely worth it though.

Do you have a favourite golfer?

Joey Z.: I've always been a big Tiger fan, always will. I understand what he went through and supported him the whole way through. There were so many people around me throwing him under the bus. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, it just matters what you do moving forward. It must be incredibly difficult to have THE ENTIRE WORLD'S eyes on everything you do.

Even on a smaller scale like my personal career with music, you have a lot of people looking into you, your life and what's going on internally whether it's musically-related or not. There is a real pressure there and I can imagine that pressure times a thousand when it comes to Tiger. So glad to see him back and healthy again. On another note, there are some other golfers I dig like Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen, and Justin Rose. Jordan Spieth is awesome too, I just can't wait till he gets out of his own head and tears it up again!

Besides golf, are there any sports that you are particularly into?

Joey Z.: I've always liked watching boxing and was heavily into it during the [Mike] Tyson, [Evander] Holyfield, [Lennox] Lewis years. The fights were brutal and fun to watch. My brothers and I would plan those nights a month in advance so we could watch them together. Some really good times.

What do the next few months look like for you career-wise?

Joey Z.: We are currently on our Rise Of The Underground multi-continental tour that goes all the way to the end of the year. After that, it's straight back in the studio to start recording our next record. Then the touring cycle will start again. I love it. I want to just keep this great ball of energy rolling and take it as far as it will go. I feel blessed and lucky to have had the opportunity to do this with my life.

Alan Robert: Life Of Agony is out on the Rise Of The Underground tour, up and back to Europe and the States a few times, now through November. We're taking out BillyBio -- Billy Graziadei from Biohazard/Powerflo -- in Europe and plan on doing some very cool collaborations with him live. In the States, we're taking out Silvertomb, featuring Kenny & Johnny of Type O Negative.

In between tours, I've been drawing non-stop. I just delivered another book to the publisher for my Beauty Of Horror colouring book series. This one is a Christmas-themed horror colouring book that will be out in October. It's called The Beauty Of Horror: Ghosts of Christmas, and it's basically a bunch of ghouls dismantling the North Pole in twisted ways. It's a lot of fun. There's a chainsaw-wielding Santa, burning gingerbread houses, possessed elves -- you name it! Colourists around the world really bring these drawings to life. It's so cool to see them add their creativity to the pages.

So yes, aside from Life Of Agony and your graphic novels, you do really well with your horror-themed colouring books. When you were making the first one, did you have a series in mind?

Alan Robert: When I was drawing the first Beauty Of Horror colouring book in 2016, I had no idea how popular it would become. It was such a crazy idea, it was either going to be a huge success or a major flop (laughs). Thankfully, it found its audience in a big way and became a best-seller. It is kind of unbelievable to me that two years later I am still cranking out Beauty Of Horror releases.

The Beauty Of Horror 3: Haunted Playgrounds just came out, The Beauty Of Horror: Ultimate Nightmare drops in September, and The Beauty Of Horror: Ghosts Of Christmas hits shelves in October. Some other cool things are in the works behind the scenes that should see light of day in 2019. Exciting stuff!

How long does it usually take to put together one of your Beauty Of Horror titles?

Alan Robert: The Beauty Of Horror volumes 1 to 3 all have double-sided pages and are 88-page books. Those take more time than the seasonal specials like The Beauty Of Horror: Ghosts Of Christmas, which is a smaller, one-sided page book with 64 perforated pages. Depending on how intricate the design is, an average page takes me about 6 to 7 hours to draw, from start to finish.

Is your creative process for music entirely separate from your drawing and animation?

Alan Robert: Writing and recording music is a way different process for me. Song ideas come to me randomly, at any given time. Mostly when I'm not thinking about it at all. It is very difficult to sit down and write a song without being inspired.

Illustrations, on the other hand, are very mapped out. I usually can sit down and start drawing and an idea will come to me right away. The way that the two things are similar, is that each song idea and each rough sketch evolves gradually over time, slowly getting refined to what is eventually released publicly. That's the part that is the most fulfilling for me. Watching a rough idea grow into something tangible and real.

A lot of horror fans are also into wrestling and MMA. Was that ever the case with you?

Alan Robert: Nah, not really. If I catch it when it's on, I'll watch it. But I have always been way more into boxing.

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Alan Robert: Thanks for checking out LOA and The Beauty Of Horror colouring books!

Joey Z.: Yes... Play golf, play music, listen to Life Of Agony, and watch Tiger Woods win his next major very soon.

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EXPERT COLUMNIST
Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Downtown Magazine, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.
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