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Articles Home » Music Talk » WICKED GARDEN Interview with Dominic Muzio By Nina McCarthy, Sr. Music Journalist Boston Rock Radio
WICKED GARDEN Interview with Dominic Muzio By Nina McCarthy, Sr. Music Journalist Boston Rock Radio

WICKED GARDEN

Interview with Dominic Muzio

By Nina McCarthy, Sr. Music Journalist

Boston Rock Radio

 

Lead Vocals/ Guitars: Dominick Muzio (far right)

Lead Guitarist: Shawn Trojahn

Bass / Vocals : Troy Spriggs

Drums/ Percussion: Jay Dardano

 

When I think of Las Vegas I picture the Sunset Strip and the hair bands and the current plethora of cover and tribute bands memorializing them. However, original rock is still alive and kicking in Vegas with the alternative grunge sounds of Wicked Garden. Las Vegas' own Wicked Garden's new EP ‘Already Gone’ was released in November, 2018 (Shock Records/Vanity Music Group) and is the prequel to their upcoming 2019 LP ‘Post Dystopian Leisure Music.’ I had the pleasure of chatting on the phone with lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Dominick Muzio. See what he has to say about their challenge to change from cover band to an original.

 

“While most bands try their best to find out where they fit in amongst all the other musicians in the crowd, WICKED GARDEN has set their own path by daring to be different, doing things their own way, just because they can.- Dave Tedder, Publicist, Head First Entertainment

 

BRR: You guys formed in 2011, Wicked Garden began playing covers, receiving some awards and great gigs. Tell me about the challenge presented to you that changed your focus to writing originals.

 

DM: The original lineup started in 2011 and I joined in 2014 and this particular lineup solidified around late 2015. We were playing covers all over Vegas and we won ‘The Best of Vegas’ for cover bands three years in a row, 2016, 2017, and 2018. In 2017 we had done a show out here and I was outside having a cigarette and a guy came up to me trashing the band and said, “Let me see you guys play originals, covers don’t mean shit.” So I went back to the guys, and in truth we had all played originals in other bands and I had put albums out in the 90s, and I said let’s do a couple originals to show we can do it and see what happens. We debuted those songs two months later and somebody at the show videoed one of the songs and put it on Facebook and it started getting around all these indie circles and within three months we were getting offers from independent labels. So, we were like, “Guess we’re making a record now.” We wrote a record and a couple labels would make offers and then pull them back, which is usually what happens. We were all set to release it on our own and we got another call from Vanity Music Group and they said not to put it out yet and they wanted to talk to us. We met with them, signed and they put it out.

 

 

BRR: Nice. Although your bio says you aren't bad boys, you certainly display the bad boy attitude in the way you guys follow no rules and do things the way you want to. Can you elaborate on that?

 

DM: It’s not bad boys in the sense that we are drug addicts (laughing). If you are in Las Vegas, and especially if you are in a band, you can be a cover band or tribute act, or you can try to write your own stuff. The cover band is great and you make good money, the issue is that to get bigger gigs and play the casinos, you literally have to play the same three songs like every band out here that does covers in the casinos. They all play the same songs. If I hear “Jessie’s Girl” one more time I’m going to kill myself.  We started playing covers and did only 90s grunge and alternative and stuff like that. We made a good name for ourselves but the bigger places wouldn’t touch us because they said we weren’t playing “Sweet Child o’ Mine” so nobody wanted to listen...after we just played a show for 300 people. As far as the original acts out here, they are either very heavy, there is a big metal scene out here, heavier than we could ever be, or it’s extremely folksy and have the guys still stuck in 1985 and teasing their hair. There is no alternative grunge scene, so we just kind of designated our own. The bad boy thing came in when people would come up to us and say they wanted to book the band for X amount of dollars and play these twenty songs and we’d say no because we’re not playing those songs. I have a big mouth sometimes and I’ve spouted off a couple times. I find it insulting…”you guys are great, BUT you should play “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” So, no, they don’t get what we are doing.

 

BRR: I've heard the 3 song prequel, ‘Already Gone’ and love it. You smoothly move between genres with a touch of alternative,grunge, and some goth sounds. The guitar work on this album is phenomenal. Tell me a little about the guitar work on the song “Already Gone.”

 

 

DM: Thanks. The lead guitar is played by a local guy here named Michael “Doc” Ellis. Doc was in the original Sin City Sinners, which is now called Original Sin. He was in Ratt for awhile. He is the go to guy here if you need a guitar player. The guy can play anything and he’s a good friend of mine and we’ve done some shows together. I did all the rhythm on that, Shawn played a little bit as well. When it came to the solo, I called Doc and asked him to come down to the studio and lay the solo down. The poor dude  had literally been up for 48 hour because he was in Colorado doing a show with Jizzy Pearl with Love/Hate, had to go to Los Angeles to do some session work, drove to Vegas to do a show at the Cromwell, which is a casino here, and then showed up at the studio. He was literally passed out on the couch. I woke him up and said, “Do you think you can play?” and he said, “Give me a guitar!” and he went in and did like three takes and it was the greatest we ever heard. He’s just ridiculous and we love him to death. I don’t even know how to explain his guitar playing because he can literally play anything, hear a song once and lay down a perfect solo.

“Bitch” is me playing all the guitars except the solos, that’s Shawn. He basically just plugged into a wah pedal and a Levi pedal at the same time and said just make noise. “I-15” is Shawn’s song. He wrote that entire song, the lyrics and the music, even the slide. I’ve known Shawn for years and I had never heard him play slide before. Usually when we do live shows, I play all the slide. He just sat down with his guitar on his lap and I told him to do it again and hit record.

 

BRR: Todd Kerns (of Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators) lends his talent as a special guest vocalist on the track “I-15 South.”  How did you end up working with Todd and what was the experience like?

 

DM: I’ve known Todd for a few years. We did some shows together and he was in Sin City Sinners with Doc Ellis and he’s with some guy named Slash. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him or if he’s going to go anywhere? (laughing)  I actually knew Todd back in the 90s when I was putting out records and he was with The Age of Electric when he was in Canada. It just so happened that I had his record from years and years ago. I walked into a club in Vegas one night and there he was playing. We became friends over the years and I called him up and asked if he’d mind singing on a song and he said he’d there in an hour. He showed up, never heard the song before, didn’t know the lyrics. I literally just handed them to him and stuck them on a mic stand and he went in there and shredded. Not only as a musician and singer, but he takes direction really well and it’s really hard to direct a guy that is that good. As a producer, I’d say, “Can you sing that a little higher or a little lower?” and he’d smash it and within two hours he had cut the whole song and it was incredible. It was never envisioned as a duet. When Shawn wrote the song I was singing all three parts but in different registers. It started off in baritone for the first verse, second verse was mid range, and the third verse was real high. Adding Todd to it added a whole new dimension to it.

 

BRR: Who is this “bitch” you sing about?

 

DM: “Bitch” was inspired by a friend of mine’s marriage falling apart. I had gone through a divorce and then a horrible breakup immediately afterwards and my friend was going through one at the same time. He had called up and was just going off on his ex and I put the phone down and grabbed a guitar and I wrote the whole song in about six minutes. It’s not about one person per se, but it’s kind of this group of people. What’s really cool, and was not my intention, but by the time you reach the end of the song you realize that the narrator is just as fucked up as they are. There are some really caustic lines in there like, “You were the first and you weren’t even good” and “you’re not even who this song is about,” complete denial. So, it’s basically about two people that are just toxic for each other.

 

BRR: Please explain where on earth you came up with the full length debut album name ‘Post Dystopian Leisure Music?’ That's a mouthful!

 

DM: That was our Spinal Tap moment. I had no idea what we were going to call it. We knew we didn’t want to call it ‘Wicked Garden’ because there is too much confusion as it is now as a band name. Me and Shawn were at the studio and we had some beers and we were feeling pretty good and started being goofy like guys do when they get drunk just to pass time while we set up equipment. We started interviewing each other and Shawn does this ridiculously awful cockney accent.  It is so bad that it’s offensive to English people. So, I said, “Tell me Shawn from Wicked Garden, how do you describe your sound?” and he said (in his cockney accent) “It’s post dystopian leisure music.” I immediately texted the other guys and asked what they thought of that and that was it, done. When you see the full length album, we did a photoshoot in the middle of a desert in a place in Vegas called The Wheel of Misfortune, an abandoned mine, and somebody spray painted all the bankruptcy and all those things except the money parts from the TV show. We put on gas masks and have golf clubs and brandy snifters in our photoshoot. People in Vegas seem to do the cliche thing of what is going on in the desert but we thought what if everything around us got blown up and we are just sitting there having fun. I think that will all tie together once the album comes out.

 

BRR: What are your tour plans for after the release of the full length?

 

DM: We are working on that right now. The full length comes out in February (2019), so we trying to start to get some tours lined up. We are probably going to start off on the west coast hopefully Nevada, California, that area and then branch off to the midwest. We are already getting offers for people who want us to leave the country but we all have families so we have to see how we are going to do that. Hopefully by the Springtime we will have a nice tour plan where we can go out a couple weeks at a time and then head back. We’d love to come to Boston. I’m from New York City originally, so I’d love to play the northeast.

 

BRR: Anywhere in New England isn’t too far to drive compared to California and Nevada. In conclusion, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?

 

DM: First of all, we appreciate any press at all and you guys have been great. Thank you so much. The review was awesome and we feel really cool about that. (Read Bella’s review HERE). The thing is, you put something out there and you think, “I hope somebody listens.” The immediate response from you guys and a couple other stations where we actually charted in a show already, which was weird, so it’s really cool because it validates what we are doing to the same people who were talking down to us about not being able to write originals songs and now we have a record and it’s selling pretty well and people are actually playing it on stations all over the world. It’s kind of mind blowing to be honest with you. But thank you because we appreciate what you guys do because I know it’s not easy. I had a radio show for a few years and I know what a pain that is. But the fact that you take time out of your day and play the music and talk to us about it, we just really appreciate it. Thank you guys.

 

BRR: You’re welcome. We focus on independent artists and we love to spread the word to others.

 

DM: It reminds me way back of when people traded mixed tapes with each other and now with the internet when you can just share everything in 3 seconds it kind of goes back to that again. Like, “Hey, I heard this and let me share it with you.” It’s that word of mouth buzz that goes around that I think is really cool.

 

BRR: Exactly, and it’s much easier to reach more people this way. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

 

BRR: Absolutely and we appreciate you doing this. If you need anything else, contact Dave (Tedder, Head First Entertainment).

 

https://wickedgardenlv.com

 

https://www.facebook.com/wickedgardenvegas/

 

 

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