Interview With Keith Covert Of Level-Zero
Los Angeles based melodic hardcore specialists, LEVEL-ZERO, only just formed back in 2000 but have made tremendous strides in the underground metal scene with their heavy handed yet perfectly toned, hook-laden song attack that is Deftones meets Pantera. This is a band that is beloved in city after city that its party bus has crashed through and is clearly one of those unsigned act's 'to watch'. I tracked down the man behind the guitar, Keith Covert.
Rocket: Are you originally from Los Angeles, California?
Keith: I was born in Lakewood, CA and raised in Long Beach, CA.
Rocket: When did you first start playing guitar, bro?
Keith: I messed around with guitar in high school, but didn’t actually start playing full time until I was 21, so I’ve been playing for about 10 years.
Rocket: Did you ever take any formal guitar lessons?
Keith: No, I just was inspired by the music I listened to.
Rocket: Who are a few metal guitarists that have influenced you the most? Past or present.
Keith: Kerry King from Slayer and Godsmack, in other words, Sully.
Rocket: What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio?
Keith: I play a Fender on steroids. I took a Fender body and a Fender neck, I set my own bridge and put my own pick ups in it.
Rocket: What kind of amp rig?
Keith: I’ve been playing on a 1986 Randall head, which is the same one that Dimebag Darrell used to record the Cowboys From Hell album, but I’ve also been exploring on Mesa Boogie.
Rocket: You do get a heavy sound. Do you use any effects?
Keith: I use delay and chorus but most of the time I keep it raw.
Rocket: So briefly, how did you initially join Level-Zero?
Keith: In the winter of 2000, I started writing songs on my own and got an itch to form a band. I found drummer Doug Carter through a family member and we started jamming. We played together for a couple of months and then we ran an ad in the recycler for a singer and hooked up with Mike Sweigart. Even though there have been many members of L-Z to come and go, Mike and myself seem to be the mainstay in Level-Zero. We have finally completed our lineup with Jesse Billson, drummer, and bassist Bryan Schlick, who came all the way out here from Detroit, Michigan to join the Level-Zero crew.
Rocket: I know the band's on a little break til October touring kicks back in. What kind of things have you been doing to kill the time, besides drinking a shitload. Ha!
Keith: A lot of sleeping! I haven’t left the house much but it seems to keep me out of trouble for the most part.
Rocket: I know with all the latest big name albums that have dropped, there's quite a competition now going for best metal album of 2006. What's been your favorite so far?
Keith: There hasn’t been anything that’s impressed me yet but there’s 3 ½ months left in the year so we’ll see.
Rocket: Who are some of the other local L.A. based metal acts that impress you?
Keith: I’d have to say Ounce of Self, formerly known as Steel Remains. They’re very talented and solid.
Rocket: I like to have fun with this next one, what's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on stage?
Keith: We played this show at the Knitting Factory about a year and a half ago. The opening act was a girl folk singer and her whole family was there, which included both grandparents and great-grandparents, I think. It looked like Bingo night! We went on right after the folk singer. Her whole family was still there when we crashed into our first song. The looks on their faces were priceless and I’ll never forget them. Needless to say, they didn’t stay too long after that.
Rocket: Let's talk about the upcoming shows for the band in October. What are some of the venues and dates?
Keith: We have a lot of great shows coming up, starting off with October 6th in San Marcos at the Boulevard with our good friends from Sangre and Ounce of Self – you can’t beat that! Then, the next night, we’re playing the best fuckin’ metal show of the month for our good friends at Musicplustv in Los Angeles. If you’re going to attend any show in October, this is the one!!! $10 to get you in and that gets you a free bar and the best metal bands! After that, we got a show in Huntington Beach at Fitzgeralds on the 14th and another show for all you High Desert metal fans in Victorville at the Sandbar in Victorville on the 27th. For a full list of shows, check out our dates on our myspace page at www.myspace.com/level0, we’d love to see you crazy fuckers out there!
Rocket: Thanks for kicking it. Give a shout out to your biggest supporters.
Keith: My kids, Kaitlin & Keith Jr, they are my biggest fans. Thanks to all the bands we’ve played with, all of our dedicated fans and street teamers that have supported us through the years, oh yea, and Laurie, our manager extraordinaire/babysitter.
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