Ladies and gentlemen, friends and rock stars …
It is my honor to present to you one of my absolute favorite musicians, a man whose work I have enthusiastically followed for quite some time. He was the founding member of the phenomenal heavy-metal band Scarz Within, and his new band Babylon Rising has become yet another metal powerhouse!
So, without any further ado …
Meet CHARLIE ROCCAFORTE!!!
WELCOME, Charlie! Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the Hampton Roads music scene knows you’ve been fixture there for decades. Can you tell our readers how you wound up in the area, and started out on its music scene?
Great question! Well, back in December of 1993, I moved from West Babylon, New York, USA to Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. And hooked up with some people and started playing in bands. One band was Strange Flesh, and the other was AJ Nag. Then for a year I did a band called Montag. Then in 1998 was the Start of Scarz Within.
Now, Scarz I know … ‘Nothing Sacred II: The Seven’ is a staple album in my household. How did Scarz Within come together?
I love telling this story. I just got separated from my first wife, and I went to a Dokken show at the Boathouse.
OMG … I was actually AT that show!!! Small world, huh?
I know, right? This tall guy come up to me and we just started talking. He said he was a singer, and I told him I play guitar. And then he said ‘this is great! I was just talking to another guitar player and drummer. Looks like we have a band!’ So the singer Jerry Wright set up a get-together at his house. The other guitar player was Rial Eargle. The drummer was a no-show, typical.
Drummers always seem to be the wonky ones, don’t they? I’ve kinda noticed that. Weird breed, drummers …
True that. Jerry belted out some Pantera, and he had this ‘double vocal’ thing going. Dirty and clean, and sounded similar to Phil Anselmo. Rial and I had the same influences
Holy shit that’s high praise … Phil is a vocal GOD!!!
Right, this was 1997. So after the new year, we found a drummer and bassist, and called ourselves Scarred. The following year we changed it to Scarz Within. Just before that, the drummer we were trying out (sorta) came to my house for a try-out, Matt McCaully. He said ‘can I warm up first?’ We said ‘sure, go for it.’ My man warmed up to 6:00 by Dream Theater!!!!
What … whoa … DREAM THEATER?!
We were like holy shit!!!! You’re in. Yeah, no try-out needed. He accepted.
That’s like Randy Rhoads warming up with Mozart …
Yeah, like that. After that he came up with the name change. Because we all have a scar within us … There is a self-titled EP from 1999 /2000 when Scarz was a four-piece band. But that’s long gone.
Indeed! There must have been some lineup changes. I’m looking at the album jacket. ‘Nothing Sacred II: The Seven’ lists TW on vocals. He sounds more like Dio than Phil. And it also lists Will ‘Biscuit’ Bradford on drums. So how did the band evolve? Was it a struggle dealing with lineup changes?
Jerry left to pursue other things, and unfortunately he is not here with us.
Oh no! So sorry for your loss.
TW came in and showed us a tape with him singing Queensryche’s Take Hold of the Flame. And then he did it a cappella. In my living room. He was in, of course
Holy shit … he covered Geoff Tate A CAPPELLA?!
Yes, he did. Finding a drummer was the hardest.
Amazing. But drummers are the hardest to find. We went through several drummers before Will ‘Biscuit’ Bradford. Rial moved out of state, and then we got Sterling on guitar.
The only drummer I can think of that rivals Biscuit is Mike Portnoy. Wonky or not—and drummers always are—the percussion helped make Scarz Within truly shine!
Yes, very important part!
I see Sterling listed on the album jacket. Was it his idea or yours to use seven-string guitars? That added a whole extra layer of ‘heavy’ to the record. You can hear that brutal, lingering, open D note throughout the whole album. Adds an ominous tone to it …
That was his Idea. I bought one, and we tuned it very oddly
It makes the music stand out from the crowd. Your average listener might not be able to say why, but they could tell you that the music sounds … different.
We were tuned Dropped C#. My Idea was to tune the seventh string to the dropped C#. So on the seven strings our top four strings were G# C# G# C#. So that was my idea of tuning.
C# … my ear was off by a note!!! But yes, you can definitely hear an unusual element in the music, which is why that album is—and will always be—one of my absolute favorites!!! So … everyone knows that Babylon Rising is the official soundtrack of Crazy V’s writing operation. You guys were kind enough to lend me your music for the promo videos for my books. So can you tell us Babylon Rising’s part of your story?
So the end of Scarz within came in 2017. My Guitarist Mike Martin passed, and I lost the passion for music.
Oh no …
I stopped playing. I lost the heart. But after a year I picked it back up and joined a cover band. After awhile I had the itch for writing.
Isn’t that how it works? I was an accomplished novelist between 2004-2007, but then some things went wrong in my life. I disappeared for a long time … but at the end of the day, you do what you do because it’s who you are.
You are so right. We started come up with stuff. So I came up with the name Babylon Rising.
After New Babylon, NY?
Yes Babylon from where I grow up, and Rising from coming back to music.
LOVE it! What makes BR stand out to me is this: it’s a complete departure from your old music. Scarz had a heavy, progressive-metal feel. But there’s a … dirtier element to BR, something reminiscent of 90’s grunge. How did the band get together?
The first person I asked to play was Rob King. He was in 180Out. He helped sculpt that dirty-ness. Rob was first and he accepted instantly. We started writing Internal Madness. Then we just put a FaceBook message out looking for a singer, bassist, and drummer. Less than a week later, Jeff Dietz and Drew Horn joined.
It sounds like that lineup was simply meant to be! I’m looking at the Babylon Rising’s album now … I gotta ask, what does O. B. S. O. L. stand for? You know, the title of the record?
OBSOLutly nothing! Jeff said I would like to name the Album OBSOL.
LOVE it!!! Totally random name for an epic record!
He said it meant nothing. I said ‘cool, let’s put dots after each letter, and let people figure it out.’
SO awesome … fuckin’ with the listeners’ heads!!! THANK you, Charlie, for gracing our page today. I so admire you for keeping on doing what you do. Life knocks you back, and often pulls you away from your art … but the true artist keeps on going, no matter what. Thank you so much for sharing your story!
STALK CHARLIE HERE: https://www.facebook.com/charlierock69
FOLLOW BABYLON RISING HERE: https://www.facebook.com/BabylonRising
BABYLON RISING’S MUSIC IS AVAILABLE ON SPOTIFY AND YOUTUBE.