Blak Void

The pounding of drums echoes through the halls of the seemingly deserted rehearsal studio in North Hollywood.

All the other doors to the rehearsal spaces are closed and if it wasn’t for the drums, you’d swear there was no one in the building.

Screaming guitars quickly accompany the drum beats, which are then promptly followed up by deep, growling vocals.

Following the sound will take you straight to room 18, which is where BlakVoid is practicing for their upcoming show.

Open the door and behind it, are five guys (Rob Barba, bass; Johnny Blade, vocals; Ted Kerr, guitar; Tony McCabe, guitar; and Toby Swinehart, drums) who are seemingly in a trance, concentrating on their instruments and vocals.

They finish up their song, take a quick break to say hi and roll right into the next song.

Swinehart kicks things off with the telltale drumline signaling the beginning of “El Cucuy.” Shortly after, Blade begins his crescendo of, “El Cucuy, El Cucuy, El Cucuy!” which is quickly followed up with more heavy guitar riffs.

After a few more songs, the guys take a break to talk about their upcoming show, March 23, at The Canyon - Santa Clarita, for which they’ll open for Hollywood rockers Faster Pussycat.

The band has been together for 8 years and has undergone an evolution with different members, but the current line-up has known each other for much longer — 35 years, give or take. McCabe is the newcomer to the group.

“It’s a totally different band,” Blade said, comparing the previous members to the current line-up. “This is the band me and Toby and Robert have been looking for. They’re (Kerr and McCabe) the two guitar players we’ve always been looking for. This is it, right here. If it doesn’t work out now, it’ll never work out. You know what I mean? These are our brothers.”

The “brothers” all hail from Sylmar, except for McCabe, who’s from Santa Clarita. They all began dabbling with music at a young age and have been in various bands through the years.

It’s sort of hard to put a label on them, but in describing their style, Blade said they’re ’80s metal.

“But there’s some new metal to it,” McCabe said.

Barba preferred not to categorize their music.

“We’re just hard rock/heavy metal,” he said. “We got experience from different bands and when we play, there are a lot of different influences.”

For him, one of those influences is Eddie Van Halen.

“Even though he’s a guitar player, I love to hear his music,” Barba said.

Kerr, on the other hand, cited Robin Trower as one of his influences, while Swinehart mentioned Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman” album and LA’s own Motley Crue.

“He loves Motley Crue,” Blade said.

McCabe’s influences lean to the heavy side, with Pantera, Metallica and Slayer.

The Metallica influence is evident on their song, “Lost My Words,” which features an opening guitar riff by McCabe, very similar to Diamond Head’s intro to “Am I Evil?” which was also covered by Metallica.

“KISS and my father,” Blade said about his influences.

You would think that the band would have a favorite song, or one they consider their “best,” but their favorite songs are as varied as their musical tastes.

While Blade cites “Lost My Words” and “Suspect” as his favorite tunes, Barba prefers “Down.”

“It’s a groovy song,” he said. “It’s catchy. It stays in your head.”

Swinehart didn’t hesitate when talking about his favorite.

“That’s an easy question,” he said. “The best songs a band has ... the first song on their album and the last song they play live. ‘El Cucuy,’ ‘Demon Rum.’”

Despite their influences, the band wants to make clear that they play original music, written by them.

“We’re not trying to be anyone else,” McCabe said.

They’ve been honing their skills for 27 to 40 years, depending on who you ask. But one thing’s for sure, they all share a love of music and performing.

“Because that’s what we like to do,” Kerr said, when asked why they continue to perform and play music.

“It’s not like the music has brought up any fame or fortune,” Swinehart said. “So we play it because we like it.”

Blade pointed out that they all have jobs, but give their musical pursuits 100% every time.

“I mean, we could easily be like, ‘We have jobs and say, we do this as a garage band, or let’s just do this on the side,’ but we do this because at any time, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We’d love to not go to work and do this as a full-time job, but we do it because we love it.”

In 2018, they played several gigs at different locations. They started out the new year with a bang and have played about five shows, so far, despite having busy schedules and working on a self-titled album at the same time, which is set for release “any day now,” Blade said.

As soon as it’s released, it’ll hit iTunes and Spotify, but those who attend the show March 23 show, can purchase a CD there.

In addition to the show in Santa Clarita, they will play the 6th Annual Metal for the Troops show, March 30, at the American Legion San Fernando Post 176. They’ll also be doing a show, in June, with Lynch Mob.

They’ve never played at The Canyon - Santa Clarita, but had a successful show in 2018, when they opened for Metalachi at The Rose in Pasadena. They’ve also played The Canyon - Agoura Hills. They’re favorite show, however, was a battle of the bands held at the Whisky a few years ago.

“I consider all of our shows kick-ass,” Barba said, promising a high-energy show at The Canyon. “We’re a rockin’ band and people enjoy us.”

“It’s going to be a hype ass show,” Blade said of March 23 performance.

Tickets for the show are $20-$34 and available at www.ticketmaster.com

In the meantime, check them out and like them on Facebook or listen to them and see some videos of live performances on their BlakVoid OFFICIAL page on Youtube.com

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