CK interview: Joe Cocchi of WTR

Ten dates into the 2014 Summer Slaughter Tour that started in San Francisco on July 17 and ends August 12 in Springfield, Virginia (23 shows), Within The Ruins is sharing the stage with Morbid Angel, Dying Fetus, The Faceless, Thy Art Is Murder, Goatwhore, Origin, Decrepit Birth, and Fallujah. CelebrateKnoxville.com spoke with Within The Ruins guitarist Joe Cocchi by phone in anticipation of the WTR show July 31, 2014 at The International in Knoxville.

Joe Cocchi (guitar)
Tim Goergen (vocals)
Kevin “Drummer” McGuill
Andrew Tate on bass

Discography: Creature (2009, Victory); Invade, (2010, Victory); Elite (2013, E1) and Phenomena (2014, E1).

WithinTheRuinsJeremySaffer

From left: Kevin “Drummer” McGuill, Joe Cocchi, Tim Goergen, and Andrew Tate. ¬†Within the Ruins is part of this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, coast to coast, from July 17-August 12, 2014. Photo by Jeremy Saffer.¬†

CK: I bought Phenomena on iTunes and I really like the variety of songs on this album. One minute you’re riding high on “Enigma,” the next minute you’re on your belly crawling in the mud with “Dark Monarch,” and “Clockwork” is right in your face. Really good stuff.

JC: So glad you liked it. We try hard to expand and experiment while staying the same band. It takes balance.

CK: You cofounded WTR with Kevin “Drummer” McGuill during your high school years (2003) in Westfield, Massachusetts. Did you and Kevin ever sit around and say “Hey, we’re gonna play the Summer Slaughter Tour one day!”

JC: No, I don’t think we really ever thought we would get this far, but here we are.

PhenomenaWithinTheRuins

CK: The song “Calling Card” from the new album, Phenomena, was recently featured on GuitarWorld.com as a playthrough. Amazing work! Tell me about your slime green Acacia Romulus guitar. I especially love the glow in the dark inlays.

JC: Yes, that’s a custom guitar; I have several (guitars) now. Those inlays are great when you’re playing onstage.

CK: You still using the Mesa 290?

JC: Yes, that is a very powerful amp, like two amps in one. I’m all about the tube power; the difference in tonal quality is like night and day.

CK: That wasn’t the first time your work made the front page of the GuitarWorld.com site. Last year, the song “Feeding Frenzy” had a featured spot.

JC: I bought Guitar World when I was a kid. Having our work there, tabs in the back and everything, is surreal.

CK: It really must be gratifying to have a magazine that is entirely dedicated to your instrument recognize what you do. They described WTR with this quote: “Audiences at South By Southwest, The Bamboozle, The New England Metal and Hardcore Festival and across the country on the Summer Slaughter festival tour have come to know Within The Ruins for their intensity, dexterity and mind-blowing melding of multiple metal subgenres that somehow sounds all their own.” Good props there.

JC: Pretty much sums it up. It doesn’t get better than that.

CK: I have always wanted to ask someone on the Summer Slaughter Tour if anybody really cares about genre descriptions.

JC: I can honestly say there is not one person on this tour who cares about genre descriptions. I suppose they have some usefulness on the internet, but no, we don’t care.

CK: I could tell by the “Calling Card” video that you enjoy playing around with your effects pedals and it looked like you had recording equipment also.

JC: I use Pro Tools. Not a really crazy set up or anything, but there’s a lot you can do with that.

CK: The band has seen a lot of personnel changes since 2005, and now you have a new record label and this really tight knit, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, four-man band. What makes it work? Are you afraid to say, because you might jinx it?

JC: (laughs) No, I am not afraid to say. I think it is because we are in it for the long haul. Everyone has life goals and changes, and we have been through a lot, but this is our passion. This is our business.

CK: Would you rather play outdoors where you can play for more people at once, or would you rather play indoors where the intensity of the show is more focused?

JC: We just played outdoors today and the heat was ridiculous. Inside has more of a show environment. Yes, I would rather play indoors where it is cooler.

CK: Last year’s album, “Elite” sold 6,000 copies the first week of release and made the Billboard 200. That’s impressive. It’s also awesome that you guys did a cover of Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire” and Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son”. Whose idea was that?

JC: We’re super Metallica fans. I think with the other song we were just trying to do something different, see where we could go with it. Lots of people connect with that Kansas song. We also covered Pantera.

CK: You turned Europe with Carnifex! That had to have been amazing. Favorite city?

JC: The Czech Republic is an amazing place, very beautiful, very historical. And when you are from the U.S. out there, you are introducing yourself, you get to be a new band all over again.

CK: I am sure you are looking forward to the rest of the tour and then getting home. What’s coming up next for WTR after the tour?

JC: When we get home, we stay away from each other for about a week and a half. We do have plans for another U.S. tour starting October 10, 2014. We’ll have more to say about that tour later.

CK: I’ve noticed that a lot of guitarists teach music when they aren’t on the road. Dweezil Zappa does a guitar camp in New York and Chris Ketchford of Scale The Summit has written books on how to play guitar. Do you teach?

JC: I have taught a few lessons, but maybe in the future I will do more. I love meeting young guitar players because they have such energy. I see myself in them and I want to help them along the way.

 

–Laura Long, CelebrateKnoxville.com. July 27, 2014.