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Marzi Montazeri: “You know, there are some things in life that happen and you just know it’s meant to be, and this felt monumental”...

Interview with Marzi Montazeri from Heavy As Texas
by Jeff Legg at 26 April 2019, 9:11 PM

I recently spoke with HEAVY AS TEXAS guitarist, Marzi Montazeri (EXHORDERPHILIP H. ANSELMO), via telephone, regarding his band’s new self-titled album. The Houston based band is rounded out with Groove Metal pioneer, Kyle Thomas on vocals (EXHORDER, ex-ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSYTROUBLE), Lenwood Sonnier on bass, and James Goetz on drums.

Going into the interview, I knew that Marzi was a special talent, maybe the most underrated guitar player around, but after an in-depth conversation with him, I came away with a whole new perspective. This man is not only a musical genius, but hands down, one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. And as far as the album goes, it’s as good a record as I’ve heard in quite some time.

After we spent about 20 minutes trying to solve the world’s problems (Marzi for President, by the way), we got into a fascinating interview, my favorite one to date.

Tell me about HEAVY AS TEXAS; how did this band come about and how long has it been in the works?

HEAVY AS TEXAS started out as just MARZI; I was in a 3-piece band in early 2000. I had put together a demo but I couldn’t find anyone to sing; I could scream, but I definitely wasn’t a singer. Long story short, I was writing riffs as such that there was no way I was going to be able to play these songs andsing; I wanted to step up the sound, and screaming was not going to cut it. So in 2009, I contacted Kyle Thomas, via Facebook Messenger, and asked him to sing on my record. I had met him before but he didn’t remember me, but anyway, he was very kind and responsive and surprisingly, he said “sure”. But in 2010 until 2015, I got involved in another project (Philip H. Anselmo) and didn’t have time to pursue this new project. When that chapter of my life was done in 2015, I immediately called Kyle up and we started talking about putting something together again. Ironically, around the same time, ANTHRAX and DEATH ANGEL were playing a show in Shreveport and the promoter wanted me to play on the bill as a 3-piece. I thought, “this would be a perfect opportunity to play with Kyle”, and the promoter knew who he was, and he was totally on board with the idea. Kyle was more than eager to do it and, this is no lie, without practicing or without even a sound-check, we got on stage and played a 6 song, 30-minute set that was amazing. You know, there are some things in life that happen and you just know it’s meant to be, and this felt monumental. It felt so comfortable together with him onstage. We killed it that night and Kyle just fucking delivered; he’s got it all together, man…his voice is so powerful, he’s got attitude, and he’s doing it so effortlessly. After the show, we went and had some drinks and Kyle looked at me and said, “thank you so much; I needed that”, and I said “no, thank YOU, do you want to pursue this full-time”, and without hesitation, he said “hell yeah”. So I went right into the studio and initiated it. After I had laid down my tracks, I sent them to Kyle and I left him alone to do his thing, and he exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be good, but I couldn’t have known it would be this great. All in all, it took over a year to complete, working on it whenever I had time, but here we are today and I couldn’t be happier about how things turned out.

I listen to a lot of new music and a lot new bands, and I want to say, I love this record and I’ve got a feeling that this record is going to be big. Does this thing feel different in that way to you?

Man, I really appreciate you saying that; that means a lot to me. Honestly, I’ve had that feeling since I started triple-tracking the leads. I went through a lot of emotional hell putting this album together; I put in all of my heart, body, and soul…everything I grew up with musically, and I wasn’t going to half-ass this. I gave it all the love I had to give, and Kyle put everything he had inside of him on the vocals…man, I can’t tell you how much he’s done; there’s no words I could say to give him his due credit. I’ll just say, he’s my favorite singer…anywhere.

There’s so much diversity, from song to song, in this album…

Yeah, yeah…each song feels different. They feel different, but at the same time, they sound the same throughout, in that there’s a unification of the musicianship, my guitar playing, and Kyle’s vocals that sound the same, but they definitely feeldifferent, and the messages, the vocals, they say different things. We, the band, HEAVY AS TEXAS, are not gimmick freaks, we are not in this for some costume contest; we’re literally writing songs and telling stories about out lives. Our music is like medicine; it heals us… for example, on the song, “From This Day On”, Kyle literally broke down two times in the studio, two different sessions, where he wasn’t able to hold himself together emotionally to sing these songs; that’s how heavy this was for him. You can actually hear his voice crack on the album here and there. But he persevered, he wasn’t just singing words, he was feeling it while he was delivering it; it’s fucking obvious this man is genuine. Man, I love the dude to death, and he’s such a special musician.

I’m curious about the songwriting for this record; were these songs written together, or were they something that you already had written before you guys got together?

Great question…this entire thing was written by me. Half are older songs that I had from a while back, and some were songs that I had just recently written. I had so much, and I still do, that haven’t seen the light of day and need to come out. A good song is a good song; it doesn’t matter how old they are or how long ago they were written.

So when you wrote these songs, you didn’t have any idea who would be singing them. Were there changes made to any of the songs to accommodate Kyle’s style or his different nuances?

On “To Keep A Promise” and “Reality Check”, Kyle sang them and phrased them in the studio exactly like I did when I wrote and sang them. He had free reign to do with them what he thought, but on those two songs, he left them “as is”. No “lead singer disease” at all. He’s just a great dude, plus he’s intelligent, articulate, and he’s a mad genius with the way he puts his words together. And, he’s the funniest dude I know. He can make me cry from laughing so hard. He’s just an original; the real fucking deal. It’s a blessing to have encountered him. I was a huge fan of his before I met him.

I know in the studio you had Chris Collier on bass and Anup Sastry on drums, but tell me about the other two fulltime guys in the band.

I’ve got two live musicians in this band. Glenwood Sonnier on bass, who lives in north Houston…he sings and plays bass and is just an asset to have in the band because his personality is so good, and, he’ll woop anyone’s ass. He’s awesome; he’s like a younger big brother to me. And then I’ve got James Goetz on drums who is also a great personality to have around. It’s really great because we all get along. We all got together in Houston recently and shot three videos, but we haven’t rehearsed live yet…

I’m glad you mentioned playing live because that brings me to my next question; do you plan to take this show on the road?

We are…we’re going to get the ball rolling and get HEAVY AS TEXAS out on the road, which is a no-brainer. We are a live band; we are a live fucking band. A lot of bands sound good on the record but suck live; this band is tailor-made for the stage. We’re going to kick everybody’s ass; I guarantee it. Kyle and I have a great rapport; we have had since the first time we took the stage together in Shreveport. We’re going to play all over the world; that’s the goal. We want to play everywhere.

The record is released by Crunchy Western Records, the label that you created a few years ago. Did you do this just for this record, or will you sign other bands for future releases?

Well, the first Crunchy Western release was actually my solo record, “The Uprising” (featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens), and now HEAVY AS TEXAS. But I’ll sign anyone that I feel is putting out great music AND possesses great integrity. No egos; it’s all about integrity. It doesn’t matter what genre or style, it must be a band full of real, genuine people. I’m not prejudice as long as it’s good music and great people. I see it all the time; some bands exist only to be famous, even though their music sucks. Those are not the kind of bands you’ll see on this label.

So tell me about your influences…who was your guitar hero, I heard it was Eddie…

You can stop right there; yes, it was Eddie Van Halen. His guitar sound and style just freaked me out. There were others that really moved me like Randi Rhodes… and believe it or not, Chet Atkins and Roy Clark; anyone that had a distinctive guitar sound appealed to me…but no one has ever moved me like Eddie Van Halen. He was God to me. Since then…I’ve really only been rocked twice in my life; it happened when I was 10 or 11 with Eddie, and it happened again when I was 16 or 17 with Eric Johnson.

There are certain guitar players who, ten seconds into a riff, you know who it is, and I feel like you’re one of them. You could be playing on a Brittany Spears album and I would know it’s you. Do you hear the differences in your playing style and everyone else’s style, and do you try to sound distinct?

Wow…that’s a high compliment. I really, really appreciate that. That’s a great question, but in all honesty, it’s just the way I was brought up on the streets, and I’ve never had a guitar lesson in my life. Literally, when I say on the streets, there were years of isolation…I guess I picked things like fishing, literally just fishing…there ain’t nobody sitting around the fishing hole saying, “throw it this way or that way”. I just picked it up on my own…no tips, no Internet. I mean Hee Haw had Roy Clark, and that was it, for real. I grew up poor and had a $20 guitar…all of those years of fishing solo, building dexterity and building strength in my hands, learning things this way and that way; hearing things in my head and fishing after it…I guess all of this created a style. It’s unorthodox, but I can happily say that my guitar playing sounds different than anything that’s out there today. It’s just me…

To me, it’s like you can feel you’re soul in your playing…it almost seems like your guitar is an extension of your soul…

Thank you for your words, man; you said some really profound words just now. You know, when you play so much in your life and it means so much to you…it’s like sometimes you get so into it a zone and you have those moments when your body just takes over…something else inside you takes over…I guess you could say it’s like a religious experience. It’s a high that I can’t explain; it’s just a beautiful thing, man. You can only achieve this from doing it for a prolonged period of time. It only comes from a certain amount of madness. I’ve worked hard at it; it defines who I am and where I’ve come from.

Well, I’ll say it again; this record is amazing and I can’t wait to see you live. I really appreciate your time today and I’ll see you down the road.

The pleasure was all mine, brother, and we’ll definitely be playing a city near you. Make sure to let everyone know that they can download the album for free on our website,

Band Members
Marzi Montazeri - Guitars
Kyle Thomas – Vocals
Chris Collier - Bass (Studio)
Anup Sastry - Drums (Studio)
James Goetz – Drums (Live)
Lenwood Sonnier - Bass (Live)



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Edited 28 November 2022

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