With a brand new album out, “Powerflo” is a band that a lot of people are sleeping on, that many will quickly hear more about in the very near future. Helping to lead the charge in this rap metal band is none other than iconic Biohazard guitarist, Billy Graziadei.
In addition to being a monster guitar player, Graziadei is also a black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu, a martial art that like Powerflo, is quickly spreading enough to take the world by storm. When not in the studio, or on the road, Graziadei can be found at the legendary Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Torrance, CA. It’s his love of music and Jiu-Jitsu that comes together beautifully in his other project “RockJitsu,” a charitable movement where people who love music and train Jiu Jitsu can come together to experience the beauty of the overall ART that both entities create and inflict in one’s soul.
Joining the army of assassin metalheads such as Everybody Panic’s Ty Gay, Trivium’s Matt Heafy, Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, Five Finger Death Punch’s Zoltan Bathory, and many more who have embraced the RockJitsu movement. It is from this movement that more people are encouraged to join in to make the world a better and safer place through music and Jiu Jitsu. With the beauty that Graziadei has helped to create on his own terms with his music and love of martial arts, others in the world can help do the same, with perhaps just a fraction of interest can help total the sum that will greatly impact the world on a positive note.
With the new album only being just over a week old in the eyes of the public, the band is wasting no time to get the ball rolling on the road. On June 30th, the band played a small intimate show at the Affliction Studios here in Los Angeles, CA. As the electricity was flowing, so was the energy of the crowd, as fellow Powerflo bandmates, Sen Dog, Roy Lozano, Christian Olde Wolbers, and Fernando Schaefer lit the stage up, creating an atmosphere as if the band was playing in front of 100,000 people at the Wacken Festival. From here, the band will begin a short line of tour dates throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona, before planning a longer ended tour that will take the band throughout other parts of the world.
As the adrenaline of performing the night before wears off, Graziadei seeks out a hot cup of coffee on a gloomy Saturday (July 1st) morning in Los Angeles. In this exclusive interview, Graziadei takes us deep into the world of Powerflo, enlisting the full scoop of the band from the beginning, middle, and future of what is next in line for Powerflo.
- How did Powerflow come about?
- “Very unorthodox and odd how things happened. It all started in 2016 when Sen and I started working together. We had written a Biohazard song back in 1993/1994 and became friends ever since. He sang on a couple of other tracks that I would produce for other bands and that was the beginning of our thing. As a Cypress Hill fan I am and how much of a metalhead he is. I knew he always liked rock, but didn’t know that until we started working on Powreflo. We were going back and forth trying to complement each other on the opposite sides of our creativity. He’s bringing more of me out of his stuff, and vice versa. Roy was from a band called Downset and we took them on tour with us in Europe. Christian we got him into Fear Factory and took him on his first U.S. tour and we were friends ever since. Fernando I’ve probably known the longest and the band just formed from there. At the time, I was working on Biohazard stuff but I was like ‘yeah let’s do this.’ At this point, it wasn’t really a band, but then Christian and Fernando came on board, and we ended up in the studio looking at each other thinking ‘this is fucking awesome,’ and we became Powerflo.”
- How did the name Powerflo come about and what does it mean?
- “Powerflo is our label of what we do. Sen has the flow, our music’s got flow, and it’s energetic. We love the heavy stuff. Sen’s a huge metal fan and loves everything from Iron Maiden, RATT, Motorhead, Pantera, and it’s our tag for the style of what we do.”
- How does Powerflo differ from some of the other bands that you’ve been in?
- “When you have so many strong personalities, it’s like a meld of all of us coming together. We did a Biohazard song with Sen called ‘How It Is’ and there are moments where it sounds like Biohazard, and Fear Factory, and Cypress Hill put together. So what’s different about Powerflo is that it’s a new thing and we’re establishing what that Powerflo thing is. I don’t think any band really comes into their own until the 2nd or 3rd record and they grow on the style that is started”
- Was making this new record a smooth process for you?
- “Yeah. I enjoy touring, being in the studio, playing live, and songs for me come very easy, very quick over the years and I’m proficient at getting my ideas out there. It used to be a laborious chore before, but now I can articulate my ideas through music better than I can through words. I’d be in the studio, write a song, send it to Sen, and so it was more of a fun thing rather than just forcing it. We paid attention to each song one at a time and was more enjoyable rather than dealing with deadlines, and management pressuring you to release a new album before the festivals start. We didn’t have any of that pressure. Sen has Cypress Hill, I have Biohazard, so we’ll be doing some juggling, but right now, it’s all about Powerflo.”
- Were there other people you had in mind for vocals, or did you know Sen was the right person to do the vocals?
- “Actually, we didn’t bring Sen on. Sen brought us on! Sen and I talked about doing stuff together and he always liked what I brought to the table because it was always different. Sen and Roy were putting together song ideas and they came to me and said ‘are you down?’ and I said ‘fuck yeah!’”
- With a brand new band like this, what’s your style of song writing?
- “I do everything and write everything as an artist. I do the drums, guitars, vocals, etc. Then it’s a demo to me. That goes for every band I’m involved in. What brings out the life of the band is that once the band hears it, everyone’s jamming. In Biohazard, we called that the ‘meat grinder.’ With Powerflo, it’s the same thing. I like to work alone and come up with ideas. I work on ideas, record it on my phone, hit the studio, put away everything that’s going on in the outside world, and come out with a more finished product. For me, it’s just all about the vibe. Sometimes I’ll program a drum beat and it comes from different inspirations. You need to find inspiration in anything, whether that’d be a bass guitar, or a particular key you’re in.”
- How do you and Roy blend together as guitarists in the band?
- “It’s funny. I’m working with him on a different band he’s in called “Cutthroat.” I find with Roy that there has to be a balance. Roy has that ying to my yang in a simplistic way. Roy is more metal, and I’m more punk rock and we work well together. It’s the whole Powerflo thing with dynamics.”
- Talk to us a bit about the “RockJitsu” movement that you helped start and how that came about.
- “Biohazard were the first guys in bands to train. We read this article before the UFC came out about the Gracie family. Less than a year later, we heard the Gracie’s were putting together a no holds barred bare knuckle fight. We couldn’t believe it. After that, we called everybody in the martial arts world in New York, and sought out to train the style (Jiu Jitsu). We took Helio Gracie’s nephew on tour and that’s how we started training. RockJitsu is a new thing that just came together, but it’s a group of like-minded artists that have a love of Jiu Jitsu and are into doing better things in the world rather than just feeding their egos. RockJitsu isn’t about us, it’s about doing something with what we’ve created. The idea is if Trivium and Powerflo tour together, or Tool and Powerflo, or Everybody Panic and Biohazard, Soulfly, Five Finger Death Punch, all these bands that train Jiu Jitsu, we go out and play a show, and during the day, we do a seminar. We don’t do it for money, but we ask for donations, which goes to a particular charity. With that, people get to hang out with us, train with us, share ideas and stories. The idea is about getting together, talking about bands, music, Jiu Jitsu, come out, have a good time, then enjoy the show later at night.”
- Where do you see Powerflo going from here?
- “Up and up and up. When I say ‘up,’ I mean forward. We love doing it. Everything is great for us. We’re going on tour with POD. We’re at a point where we enjoy it so much that we want to keep doing it. It’s not difficult, because we’ve done it before. We know how to navigate the pitfalls that the industry has destroyed artists and look forward to everything.”
- When can fans be seeing Powerflo in other parts of the world outside of just the West Coast?
- “For the next year, we’ll be focusing on the states. It’s not public yet, but we’ll be on tour. We have something booked late in the Summer. In the Fall, we’ll be back on the road.”
- Any talks on being on the big time festival circuits?
- “Yes! We’ll be doing that too.”
- Anything you want to say to the fans?
- “[First off], I don’t look at people as fans. I feel it creates an inequality feeling that I don’t like. To me, it’s all family. We appreciate that people stay by us, follow us, support us, and it’s more fuel to inspire us. If nobody cared, we wouldn’t have this conversation, so I’m super thankful to be given the opportunity to create what I create, write what I write, and perform what I perform. So to all the fans out there, THANK YOU for helping us facilitate this vessel for our art and our creativity.”
Powerflo 2017 Tour Dates With P.O.D.
7/8 — Fresno, Calif. — Full Circle Brewing Company
7/9 — Riverside, Calif. — RHA
7/11 — Bakersfield, Calif. — Bryders
7/12 — Los Angeles, Calif. — The Regent
7/13 — Tempe, Ariz. — Marquee
7/14 — Las Vegas, Nev. — Brooklyn Bowl
JT “Doc” Berry \m/