Interview: JD Deservio of Black Label Society/Cycle Of Pain

bill bodkin speaks with Jersey boy JD Deservio, the bassist for Black Label Society and the creator of Cycle Of Pain …

It’s interesting that we’re interviewing the bassist of a band that started out as a side project about his side project. JD Deservio, a founding member and current bass player of the white hot metal outfit Black Label Society, which was originally just a side project for Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Zakk Wylde, has developed his own side project — Cycle Of Pain, a band that is equal parts aggressive heavy metal outfit and melodically groove-oriented. Much like the early days of Black Label Society, Cycle Of Pain has produced a record that is explosive and extremely enjoyable. It’s a headbanger’s delight of furious rock mixed supported by infectious grooves. Simply put, Cycle Of Pain, like BLS, is not just a side project — it’s a full-fledged band that you shouldn’t be sleeping on.

Tonight, JD Deservio and Cycle Of Pain will perform live at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J. Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin spoke with JD about Black Label Society, Cycle Of Pain and pure rock fury.

Pop-Break: What made you decide to make bass your instrument of choice? Were there any metal or non-metal bassists that when you were younger just blew your mind that made you say, “I want to do that!”

JD Sernio: I saw a picture of Kiss and that was it for me. I loved horror movies and shit like that. I pointed to Gene and said, “What does he do?” My friend said he played bass, so here I am! Later on, though, Steve Harris [Iron Maiden] blew my mind.

PB: It seems that you’ve known Zakk Wylde for quite some time. How did you guys first meet up?

JD: We met a year or so before he got the audition for Ozzy. We played the same clubs back in Jersey. I heard about this burning guitar player, so I went to the soundcheck, and we became instant brothers from there on in.

PB: One of the first national gigs you did was touring as the bassist for Lita Ford. How was it, being a young guy, going on the road with someone at the height of their career? Was it overwhelming, amazing?

JD: It was awesome. However, my first touring was done with Jodi Bongiovi, Bon Jovi’s cousin, of all things. About a year before I played for Lita.

PB: You’ve toured with a laundry list of musical legends: Rush, Ozzy, Motley Crue, etc. What are some of the most memorable moments you’ve had touring in your career?

JD: It’s really been an amazing ride. Playing MSG with Vinnie Moore [UFO], opening for Rush, was insane.

PB: You were the bassist on the first Black Label Society album. You returned in/around 2005 and have been with the band ever since. Why take a break from the band only to come back a few years later?

JD: I wanted to do my own music. Practice piano, drums, guitar. I didn’t plan on anything. Situations just arose I got back with BLS.

PB: Black Label Society has emerged as one of the top heavy metal acts in the world right now. What do you think it is about this band that has made them go from “Zakk Wylde’s side project” to a full-time, international touring band?

JD: It’s real-deal shit. The music and the lyrics Are true to Zakk, undoubtedly. People figured it out, I guess.

PB: What are some of your favorite BLS songs to perform live?

JD: I love the piano stuff in the middle of the set. I really get a chance to play some melodic stuff there. Also, the jam before “Stillborn” is fun as hell.

PB: While on tour with BLS, you’ve been doing a number of bass clinics. Why take time out of your rough schedule to hold clinics like this?

JD: I love to teach, and it gives me an avenue to really play some shit outside of BLS. I love funk, soul, jazz, reggae, so many different styles of music. I get to do this here.

PB: In Cycle Of Pain’s bio, it says you and some the band members have been friends for more than 25 years and you used to jam as kids in garages. Was this band always known as Cycle Of Pain? What made you want to record a Cycle Of Pain record with these guys in 2009 and not earlier in your careers?

JD: Timing is everything! Yeah, we jammed together from [ages] 14 -18. My singer Gregg [Locascio] was our drummer then. We’ve kept in touch throughout the years and jammed again starting in 2003. I had an opportunity to do a record, so I wanted to do it with my brothers.

PB: What bands influenced the sound of Cycle Of Pain?

JD: Everything we’ve listened to forever. Metal, rock, jazz, funk.

PB: Cycle Of Pain is very much your baby. I noticed you use a different sounding bass on that record as compared to your BLS work. What type of bass is this and why employ different bass stylings on this record?

JD: Actually, it’s the same shit. i just play differently with cycle than with BLS. COP is way more bass-driven as BLS is a guitar band.

PB: There’s a plethora of guest stars on the Cycle Of Pain record — guys from Tantric, Fear Factory, BLS, Cypress Hill and tons of other bands. Why bring on so many guests to the record? Also, which guest performance were you most impressed by when you heard the final version of the record?

JD: The record company thought it would be more appealing for radio stations and just the public in general.

Sen Dog’s [Cypress Hill] rap is the shit. And Ray Luziere’s [Korn] drum take on “Egypt”.

PB: There are tons of hard rock and heavy metal fans out there. What do you think separates Cycle Of Pain from everyone else? In essence, why should people spend their money to buy your record?

JD: Because I’m broke and I need to feed my family. Actually, I don’t even know if they buy records anymore, or they just get them for free.

PB: If you had to pick one song off the album that you believe perfectly embodies what Cycle Of Pain is all about, what song would it be?

JD: “5” would be the one.

PB: Is there a follow-up record in the works?

JD: Yeah, we’re working on some stuff when I get home.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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