Mike Zito is a busy man these days. As the founder of Gulf Coast Records, Zito has plenty to keep himself busy, but he also will be releasing another new project on March 17th, Blood Brothers, a new album with Albert Castiglia produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith. Allison Scavo caught up with Zito to discuss that project and more.
So I’ve seen a lot of hype about your new album coming out. Do you want to tell me about it?
MZ: About the New Blood Brothers album? Absolutely. It’s called Blood Brothers. It’s Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia. The name of the album is Blood Brothers. Comes out March 17th on our record label, Gulf Coast Records, which is awesome. That’s our own label. We went out on tour last year. Albert and I always play together. People always want us to play together. We’ve been friends a long time, so there’s a lot of times where it’s like, oh, you know, Mike’s gonna be a town. Maybe Albert will show up, man, you know, vice versa, that whole thing.
And so, We went out last year, like, well, what if we just took a bunch of shows and go out? And then what if we put everybody on stage? And it was just kind of like a, a trial run that we figured would be a good time and we could kind of test the water. So that went well. Of course people really liked it and we had a good time.
And so then that led to, okay, so let’s, let’s make an album. So we got a good buddy, Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith to step in and take the realm to produce the album, which was a big deal. It’s certainly a big deal because Joe has a very famous name.
I mean that’s like a feather in your cap. Me and Joe have been friends for a long time and he’s really gotten into producing and I have made enough albums now, it’d be real easy for me and Albert to go in the studio and just jam and make like a bluesy rock and roll record where there’s just a bunch of notes and bravado and, and all these things. But I felt like we should do a lot more than that. Like we should really try to utilize the fact that we have two guitars and two drums, and we should try to write and record music that requires us to do more than we do, like when we’re on. You know?
MZ: And I thought we need Joe and Josh, especially Josh, when it comes to arranging, like, we need you guys to step in. We need somebody else that’s not one of us and go, ‘hey, hold on. Let’s try this. That’s not working.’ That kind of thing. So, you know they were a big part of making it a very musical.
AS: I love that.
MZ: Yeah. It turned out so musical we’re. We went in the studio in September and we made the album in Louisiana. And it couldn’t have turned out better. So we’re really excited now for it to finally start to come out and to get to go play these songs because I have a feeling this music and these song, they’re gonna take on a whole new life live. They’ll come literally to life. So that’s kind of the deal. Yeah. So it comes out March 17th.
AS: How long you been doing this? How long have you been traveling?
MZ: 25 years. I traveled back in when I was in St. Louis course. I do a lot more now, but I mean, I did then, I mean, did Department of Defense tours and tours. Traveled around here.
AS: Has there ever been a time where you actually missed a show due to travel issues?
MZ: You know, not really but I’ll tell you. So in 2018, I was on the Ruf Records Blues Caravan tour with Bernard Allison. And the young girl named Vanja Sky, and she’s still active and touring in Europe. She’s European. It was a bigger tour, you know, where we had three artists in the band and the tour manager and, you know, it was six, seven people on tour and they’re hard, long, four or five week tours. Plus 30 plus shows and, and you know, it’s planes, rains, and automobiles.
AS: Oh yeah.
MZ: Like sometimes not a lot of sleep. And so, yeah, all I remember is we were trying to get from England to Germany. We were at London Airport. I don’t remember which, but it was like we were barely getting to the airport on time because of traffic and then we got to the airport and then people had a lot of other things to like check in and bags and, you know, not that it’s better or worse. I always kind of travel with what’s on. I’ve just had so many suitcases and everything lost over the years. My wife makes fun of me. I mean, I’ll wear the same clothes for a week. I mean, when you’re on the road like that, it’s so difficult. So I would just have like a little roller bag in the guitar and I’m just going.
So I tell them ‘I’m going, I’m going to get on. I’ll see you guys at the gate. We gotta go. We’re gonna miss this flight and miss this show. And so I go ahead, I guess thinking I’ll get on the plane and try to hold it if there’s an issue and the boarding comes and goes and they lock the door and I am the only person on the plane. No one else is there.
So then I land. I don’t remember where. It was in Northwest Germany. I land, get picked up and there’s nobody else and they bring me to this theater and there’s like 300 people that night. 7:00. It’s like, no, so nobody else is gonna be there. No one’s gonna make it. And we get word that they won’t be there till maybe 8:30 or 9:00 if they’re lucky.
So they’re like, can you entertain this all? Alone. And I was like, well, yeah, I needed an acoustic guitar. You know? I went out and when you’re with the band and they don’t speak a lot of English and you just come out and play and do your show, everything’s great when you play in full acoustic and you kind of need to talk to everybody and understand maybe what you’re trying to get at.
It was funny. I mean, that’s not the most exciting story.
AS: No, that’s hilarious.
MZ: I get out there and played at least an hour, 75 minutes. Alone. And then right when I was finishing here came, “No! How did they?”
So I finished, they ran in, we took a 10 minute break and then everybody ran on stage and we did a whole other show.
AS: Oh my gosh.
MZ: And it is literally – probably one of the most boring road stories I can tell.
AS: No, I love it.
MZ: But that’s about it. A pretty good example of just like, yeah, this is what happens.