I caught up with two of the biggest names in TNA, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian of the incomparable tag team, Bad Influence, to discuss music, TNA, various musicians, and more!
Alex Obert: Frankie, you used You’re The Best on the independent circuit, what was that like?
Frankie Kazarian: I’ve loved that song since I heard it when I was a kid watching the movie. I’m a big fan of music and as I got older, found out it was Joe Esposito that sang it, who also sang with Elvis. Found out that the song was actually written for the movie, Rocky III. I was astonished that nobody used it in wrestling cause it’s, especially from the character I was playing, the character I kind of am, an arrogant heel that’s full of himself, it was great. It’s just got the great intro and it just says it all, “You’re the best”. People started to associate me with that music on the indy scene which I thought was really cool. And it was from the eighties, as much of a heavy metal guy as I am, it wasn’t a new Disturbed song or something like that, but it’s what I was coming out to at the time, it made me stand out.
Alex Obert: Christopher, during a certain chapter of your ROH career, you used Guerilla Radio, how did that come about?
Christopher Daniels: Well, Guerilla Radio was actually the song I used in Japan for Curry Man because I was a big fan of Rage Against The Machine. So when I was doing Curry Man, that had a really good, hard bass line that I could dance to. I wanted something that got me excited and I figured it would be something that would get the fans involved. Especially if I came out acting like a kid when I was dressed as Curry Man.
Actually, the song I used for a good portion of my Ring of Honor career was Disposable Teens by Marilyn Manson. It had such a great energy to it, and doing the Fallen Angel character, it had a verse or two that I thought fit the character perfectly. It felt like I had some of my best entrances of my career to that song in front of Ring of Honor crowds. It certainly added to my presentation like few songs could.
Alex Obert: Did you ever see that YouTube video where a guy went on a college campus dressed as Curry Man and played Guerilla Radio on a boombox?
Daniels: No. (laughs) I never did. I’ll have to seek that out!
Kazarian: That was me, I did that.
Alex Obert: What are both of your favorite TNA themes throughout the history of the company?
Kazarian: Currently, our song is my favorite because Chris Daniels and I had a lot of input on that. We knew exactly the feel of the song, we knew exactly the rhythm. We knew exactly, exactly what we wanted and Dale OIiver was gracious enough to really hear us out. He’d give us something and we wanted a couple things changed and he changed them for us and the finished product really, really suits our characters. Over the years, there’s been many, many songs that have been either mocked or sung in the locker room or just the rhythm of it, sung along. There’s been some pretty memorable ones like Abyss’s famous one. There’s been so many ones that have stuck with us over the years.
Daniels: Yeah, I’m definitely a big fan of our stuff. I’ve been fortunate enough, not just with the current one that I have, but the last two themes that I had with Dale, I talked it out with him and sort of figured out what I wanted to do. The one I had before the one Frankie and I use now, I actually hummed the bars. It was a song that I had sort of come up with myself. I had sort of a theme that I wanted, so I basically called Dale up and hummed the bars over the phone and he played it on his guitar and that ended up being my theme song for a very long time. As far as other people’s stuff, AJ Styles’s music has been pretty good as far as sticking with his character. And I was a big fan of D’Angelo Dinero’s music when he had it. I thought it fit his character and it certainly fit his entrance. Also, another one that sticks out, it’s one of those songs that gets an immediate reaction is the former Beautiful Peoples’s/Velvet Sky’s music. When that hits, people know who’s coming. I think that’s a big factor when it comes to wrestling entrance music, knowing exactly what’s coming. I think that can be said for our music as well.
Alex Obert: I feel Jeff Jarrett’s music fits that, too.
Kazarian: Oh yeah, that used to have the whining guitars in the beginning. Immediately, you knew who was coming.
Alex Obert: Did you two get immediately sick of Adrenaline Rush?
Kazarian: I don’t know if it stuck around long enough for me to really get too sick of it.
Daniels: I didn’t even know it was called Adrenaline Rush, so I didn’t think too bad of it.
Kazarian: And I think that song had been used for the same wrap-up style montages for football games and MMA events. I’ve heard it, but never enough to make me wanna blow my head off if I heard it again.
Alex Obert: Frankie, I’m aware that you are a bassist?
Kazarian: Yes, sir.
Alex Obert: How did that come about? What were your first lessons like?
Kazarian: Well, I never took lessons. I always liked music. I always loved the bass guitar. I always gravitated towards that. My grandfather was a musician in the 50s, 60s, 70s, up until his death in the late 90s. He played music here in Southern California and many years in Vegas. During his last years, I told him I was interested in music and interested in bass guitar. So he called me into his room and he actually just gave me his 1966 Fender Mustang Bass, original, which is a classic bass guitar. It was a lot of money. And I still have it to this day and I’m forever grateful that he was able to share that with me. And I started teaching myself. I went out and I bought books on basic bass scales, I bought a bunch of bass tabs of Metallica stuff because that’s my favorite band. Just taught myself and really, really got into it and really got to where I was sufficient and unfortunately but fortunately, I got real busy with wrestling. So bass guitar was put on the backburner. But the last three to five years, I really, really got back into it. I jam with really, really talented musicians all the time and it’s one of those things where it’s my other passion outside of wrestling. I spend so much time wrestling and working out and training for what I do, when I give myself a few minutes to get away from that, I really like to play music. It’s just another way to give out my creativity and I dig it.
Alex Obert: Aside from Metallica, who do you listen to?
Kazarian: Oh God, basically if it’s heavy metal and it’s rock n’ roll, I listen to it. Big fan of Sabbath, Priest, Iron Maiden. Big, big Pantera fan, Guns n’ Roses, Black Label Society, Ozzy. I listen to a lot of classic rock, big Stones guy, big Zeppelin guy. Alice In Chains, Soundgarden. If it’s rock n’ roll, if it’s driven by guitars and bass, I’ll listen to it. Not a whole lot into newer stuff with the exception of Godsmack, they put out some good music. Yeah man, just rock n’ roll and heavy metal. I just love music and I love produced, recorded music by musicians.
Alex Obert: Christopher, what do you listen to on your iPod or on a CD in the car?
Daniels: The stuff that I have the most on my iPod is definitely Rage Against The Machine. I have a lot of Counting Crows, believe it or not. And a lot of Nine Inch Nails. I’m real off the board when it comes to my musical tastes. Maybe something I heard on the radio and I just like it. I happen to like Lily Allen and Adele, not even all their stuff, just certain songs they sang. It’s all over the place. And it’s weird because I sort of find it that up until the advent of internet radio, I wasn’t listening to the radio a lot because out here where I live, there aren’t a lot of radio stations. So I was listening to my own iPod, which kept me from hearing anything new for a long time. And now with Pandora and things like that, I can listen to the radio off of my iPhone and hear new things. And that got me interested in guys like The Thermals. So I’m all over the place.
Alex Obert: Frankie, earlier you mentioned Black Label Society, what was your reaction and what was it like when Zakk Wylde was at Bound For Glory 2009?
Kazarian: Well, I knew Bully was pals with him and I was thrilled because I’m a fan of him, he’s an incredible musician, he’s one of the last of the actual true guitar gods. So I was thrilled that A, he was going to play the national anthem, and B, that I was gonna meet him. And I got a chance to meet him, couldn’t ask to meet a cooler guy, just down to earth. We just shot the breeze, talked about football at catering, had a good conversation. He’s such a huge fan of our business and a guy that really respects what we do. He’s a huge Ultimate Warrior fan, believe it or not. That’s his favorite wrestler. So it was awesome and I wish that TNA can do that more often, get guys that have a crossover appeal that can get people of the heavy metal, rock n’ roll world. It was awesome, hopefully we can do it again.
Daniels: He came backstage, he was a really cool guy. He’s knowledgeable of our product, which is cool to know that guys who are successful in his field are still watching wrestling and still enjoying wrestling. It makes us feel good about the product we’re putting out there and he did a really good job with the National Anthem. I thought it was a good beginning to a great show.
Alex Obert: Now I also know that Billy Corgan is a big wrestling fan and donated several Smashing Pumpkins songs for TNA pay per view themes.
Kazarian: Yup, Billy is. And he was at a live event in Chicago this past March. I know Chris and I had a chance to sit down and chat with him and again, such a fan of our business that he actually started up his own promotion, which is doing very well. Billy, like me, his first passion is music and obviously, his second is wrestling. Both worlds are very and he’s done a great job with his promotion and he’s very knowledgeable, very respectful of us, and he’s a huge, huge musician. So that’s really cool for those worlds to mesh again.
Daniels: Yeah, he’s definitely somebody that you can talk the history of wrestling with and the stuff that got him involved as a kid. It still effects what he likes to do, what he watches today, and how he runs his promotion. So he’s definitely very knowledgeable about wrestling and you can tell when he’s sitting backstage at our show in Chicago this year, he was watching the show just very interested to see what everybody was doing, how the promos went and how the matches went. He’s definitely someone that has a real appreciation for wrestling.
Alex Obert: Another band that was recently involved with TNA on their podcast, it was Bully Ray and Jeremy Borash that met them, have either of you seen Steel Panther play?
Kazarian: You know, I haven’t and I’m ashamed of myself, being out here and knowing that they play out here often. And I’ve been in Vegas and they’ve been there and my wife has actually seen them. And everyone that’s seen ’em says they’re tremendous and I’m kicking myself for not getting out to Hollywood and seeing them. I have a Steel Panther album. They’re awesome, they’re hysterical, and from what I understand, they’re awesome, awesome live performers which we can surely appreciate. And funny guys, which is something else we can appreciate. So yeah, I would like to get out and see them. I have no excuse other than pure laziness.
Alex Obert: A former TNA wrestler that was heavily involved with music, not just with his tastes but with his band, do you have a bond with Alex Shelley over music?
Kazarian: Him and I used to talk music a lot, they had a little project going (The High Crusade). He sung, and I was surprised, he had the chops, man. He could sing. He’s very, very much influenced by the onslaught of seventies punk, that type of stuff. I’m not a huge fan of that, but surely enough, I can respect it. He’s very, very much into that scene and was real knowledgeable when it came to that. Just that hard-hitting, two and a half minute song style. Even his wrestling gear, believe it or not, was influenced by Iggy Pop and those type of guys. So yeah, we used to chat music all the time. I played some stuff I recorded, me and my guys, and he’d play his stuff, send me audio files. He’d ask for my opinion. As far as I know, he still is very much into it. Pretty much all he listens to is that style of music.
Alex Obert: Speaking of Alex Shelley, did you both enjoy the MADE episode with the Motor City Machine Guns?
Daniels: I never got a chance to see it, to be honest with you. I heard the stories from them about all the stuff that went into making it, but I never got a chance to watch it. I’m not a big MTV guy. Even trying to find that episode was sort of a hassle. So I never got a chance to do it.
Kazarian: I don’t ever think I saw it either. I think I’m actually in it where they’re teaching the kid how to do a promo, but I know there was a lot of trial and tribulations for the to film it and it took a lot of their time and effort to do it. I don’t watch MTV also, for obvious reasons. But I just know that it was a long, tedious project for them and they definitely get the credit for that. All it is is a thirty minute show, but they put several well-spent months into it.
Alex Obert: Frankie, earlier you went into Metallica, and since we were just speaking about former TNA talent, are you both aware of the rumor that Hulk Hogan was auditioning to be the bassist for Metallica?
Kazarian: That’s as silly today as it is the first time I heard it. I think he had said something to the effect of Lars wanted him to replace Cliff on bass or to join the band. I can’t take that out of context. (laughs) I read an interview that Lars responded and laughed it off like, “No, that didn’t happen!” I don’t know why Hulk would say that. I mean I know Hulk did play bass, I’ve actually talked to him about that. But that’s about as ludicrous of a rumor as can be, but if it gets people talking about you, whatever. I’m all for it.
Daniels: I actually auditioned for bassist of Metallica, as well.
Kazarian: He did, he did.
Daniels: I was terrible though. I play an upright bass. For some reason, they didn’t like that. I thought it was cool. I thought they were looking for a cellist, but I have to get an electric bass.
Alex Obert: What are your favorite bass lines?
Kazarian: Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying? by Megadeth is one of the first that comes to mind. My Friend Of Misery by Metallica, the start is all bass-driven. Anything by Primus. Les Claypool is an amazing bassist. He does some incredible things on that guitar. And the fact that he does that and sings is amazing to me. Anything by Rush, obviously. Geddy Lee is an incredible bassist. Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?, that was used for the MTV news theme song for years, and it’s just a great, little bass line.
Daniels: For me, I’d have to say it was definitely Guerilla Radio. Anything that Rage Against The Machine did had great bass lines for me. That was one of the reasons that I dug their stuff, like the bass line and Zack de la Rocha, the way his delivery for all his stuff. That, to me, stood out from a lot of stuff. That was one of the reasons that I got so into ’em.
Kazarian: I also have to mention For Whom The Bell Tolls. That beginning bass part is one of the huge reasons I got into bass. That’s one of the first things I wanted to learn how to play. That sound of the bass guitar with the distortion pedal and the heavy wah was really, really cool. The way Cliff Burton played it, especially live, is just incredible. The way his fingers moved on the strings, it’s just awesome.
Alex Obert: I want to get into a little wrestling. Frankie, this first question is for you, where were you the first time you did an impression of AJ Styles?
Kazarian: Probably in the locker room or in a car or in a hotel room. And it was probably years ago. When you spend so much time with someone, you start emulating them, good, bad, or indifferent. We always just kind of crack on each other and AJ’s got that Southern accent, it was easy fodder for Chris and myself. So probably sometime in the early 2000’s in a locker room or a hotel or a car, I couldn’t tell you, man. But I guess just spending so much time with the guy over the years, I just kind of picked it up as a second language, really.
Alex Obert: Christopher, do fans ever buy you Appletinis at bars?
Daniels: They want to, yeah. In the last couple years, whenever I do signings, they wanna know where they’re at, as if I drink them twenty four hours a day. As if that’s all I drink. And yeah, it’s even gotten a couple chants at live events, which is pretty incredible, considering it’s just a drink, everybody. (laughs)
Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I’d like to do a quick Speed Round. I’ll ask questions, answer the first thing that comes to mind.
First question, who would you want to induct you into the TNA Hall Of Fame?
Kazarian: Chris Daniels.
Alex Obert: Musician you want to be in the audience for an Impact Wrestling event?
Daniels: Rage Against The Machine.
Kazarian: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, so they can see that I’ve stolen their logo on my tights and to promise to not sue me.
Alex Obert: As we were talking before about MTV’s MADE, if you were on MADE, what would you want to be made into?
Daniels: A delicious cream pie.
Kazarian: A human being, and not the cartoon that I’ve become. I just wanna be a real boy like Pinocchio.
Alex Obert: Who do you wish you could wrestle for the first time again?
Daniels: AJ Styles.
Kazarian: I’ll say Chris Daniels again. And only because the first time I wrestled him, I was very, very green. I was very, very nervous because Chris was kind of a big deal. Still is.
Daniels: I don’t want to punch you, I like you.
Kazarian: I figure we could have a straight up wrestling match without any fisticuffs.
Daniels: You are a gentleman.
Kazarian: I’ll go ahead and say that.
Alex Obert: Last question, if you could have a cameo on any other show, which would it be?
Kazarian: I would say a toss up between Sons Of Anarchy and Walking Dead because those are two of my absolute faves.