Rock Notes

The night Ozzy Osbourne saved our lives

Cockroaches all over the place. And all around, our tools of the trade: a hot-rodded Marshall JCM800, an Ashdown half-stack (“The real deal, not that Chinese crap they give you now!”, Alessandro used to point out), a state-of-the-art Yamaha drum set, our guitars, our DAW. And us, stuck inside, with just cheap vodka and cigarettes. The keys to our headquarters, for some mysterious reason, refused to work that night. Chances of being found: almost none.

At that time our rehearsal room was located in the basement of a building in Bellvitge, a working class neighborhood just outside Barcelona. Next to ours was another room where a collector of vintage amplifiers stacked his jewels. We only met him once, just long enough to peek behind that peeling door and be stunned by so much abundance. Otherwise, we were surrounded by warehouses and garages where no one ever came. Least of all at ten in the night. Phone calling was pointless, there was no signal down there. After a dutiful series of blasphemies, we decided that the name of that newly born band had to be Locked Up. We were soon to become All Shades of Wrong, but the cockroaches liked that provisional name dictated by the events. Then we hooked up the guitars and laid the foundation for many of the pieces that will end up in our first record, Resilience.

Many hours later, it was almost dawn, we heard a car radio in the corridors playing Iron Man by Black Sabbath at inhuman volume. We tried to attract the attention of the mysterious passing-by rocker. And that’s how we met Ozzy Osbourne. That’s how we called that dazed guy of indefinable age and t-shirt. He heard us calling and he phoned JuanJo, the owner of most of the garages down there, to get us out.

We haven’t seen him again after that night, but he remains, after a long time, one of the most vivid memories of the band’s life, which pops up punctually every time we think back to how it all started. And we think that, after all, not everyone can boast of having been saved by the Prince of Darkness himself.

A few months later we had to leave that room in a hurry. And again, after a fair amount of assorted curses. One morning JuanJo called us to tell us to come running, because all the garages had flooded. When we arrived we found a foot of water on which all our stuff was floating. We managed to save the most important things and set out in search of another lair.

In that same period Giorgio returned to play with the band, a guitarist who, in the very early days of the project, had been part of the line-up. Compared to the three of us, he had a much “softer” musical background, while we, albeit with many differences, shared powerful roots in thrash metal and alternative rock of the early 90s. Alessandro had played for many years with Morello, an Irish hardcore band that in the early 2000s had had good success, especially in the USA. Cris has an immense drummer curriculum and has played from funky to death metal and, parallel to All Shades of Wrong, has played for several years with Beryllium, a very well rated thrash-death metal band in the area. Pico has a past as a metalhead, but before joining Cris and Alessandro he played bass in Zamazone and, before that, in a jazz septet. Lately, he also discovered an unstoppable passion for early 90s Norwegian black metal.

From the union with Giorgio some of the most harmoniously elaborate pieces of our repertoire were written, for example Black Fly, a small suite that very well summarizes Giorgio’s pop-rock approach and the harsh sounds on which the band was formed.

When Giorgio left the band we looked for a new guitarist, but it was clear that what we really wanted was to go on as a trio. After a few months the decision was officially made, and since then All Shades of Wrong are Alessandro, Cris and Pico. Some of the pieces from the old repertoire have been rearranged for the new line-up, while others have been excluded from the setlist.

In this period Alessandro created the basis of his new sound, a sort of Royal Blood-style “double track” in which the sound of the bass splits into two parallel signals. One goes unaltered to the bass amplifier. The other, raised an octave up with an EHX Pog and treated with a harmonizer that adds a perfect fifth, goes into the distorted channel of a guitar amp. The result is a massive wall of sound that simulates the presence of a second guitar going in unison with the bass.

In the meantime, we moved the ASOW headquarters to M’ouse, a historic recording studio founded in the early 1980s. Here we wrote all the songs contained in Outliers, the EP we released in 2019. The presentation concert at Razzmatazz 2 was very positively reviewed by the monthly rock magazine Popular 1, the very first rock magazine ever published in Spain back in the 80s. A promotional tour in the USA was linked to the release of Outliers. The departure was set for April 1, 2020, but the pandemic has arrived and, obviously, it has been postponed to 2021. Canceled for Covid. Then to 2022. Canceled for Covid again. And finally, barring further catastrophes, in 2023 we will take it back from where we stopped. We bet Ozzy will agree.