2008's "Best Local Rock Band"

I had enough of my wits about me as I left the bar last night to pick up a copy of the Miami New Times alternative weekly newspaper, which this week features the annual “Best of Miami” round up. I like to look through the listings and see all the things I promise myself each year I’m going to check out but then never do.

Over coffee this morning, I’m paging through and looking at the entries for “Best Eyebrow Shaping” (The Brow Shoppe) and “Best Restaurant for Gluttons” (Pescecane), trying to get to the good stuff: “Best Bars and Music.” Upon finding the section, I was pleased to see local-rockers-gone-big-time Black Tide voted as “Best Local Rock Band.”

Black Tide plays old-school heavy rock in the vein of Iron Maiden and Metallica (they actually included a Metallica cover on their debut album, Light from Above). I remember reading about these guys in Rolling Stone last month in their “Breaking Artists” column. This quote from bassist Zakk Sandler sort of stuck in my head: “We see the world, and people give us free alcohol sometimes.”

The funny thing there is that none of the members of Black Tide are over 21. Lead singer and guitarist Gabriel Garcia is 15 years old and the members’ average age is just 18. Black Tide first started playing Miami area clubs about four years ago, shortly after Sandler – at the time, a lead guitarist for a rival group – agreed to fill in for a couple of gigs on bass. Although Gabriel was only 10 at the time, none of the older guys were remotely fazed by the idea of playing in a band with him. “It wasn’t weird at all to be in a band with a 10-year-old,” Zakk said, “because it was just like, ‘This kid is fucking talented!’”

After playing house parties and club gigs, Black Tide scored their big break when they talked their way onto the main showcase at the 2006 Florida Music Festival. Interscope Records signed Black Tide and flew them to Chicago, where they recorded Light from Above at Groovemaster Studios, with Johnny K (Disturbed, Machine Head, Soil) producing. No sooner had they finished the album than they got a main stage slot on the 2007 OZZfest tour.

The New Times describes Light from Above as “a sucker punch of true old-school heaviness, all Maiden’ed and Megadeath’ed-out.”

Check these songs out and I think you’ll agree. And for more information on buying the album or seeing Black Tide play live, check out their Web site.

Hit the Lights (Metallica cover).mp3

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