Interview: Pulse Ultra

(this interview originally appeared in issue #26 of Modern Fix Magazine in 2004).pulse

pulsemain– interview by liz ortega


Canada’s Pulse Ultra is eclectic in many ways. Their hard rock style combined with melodies that flow through your ears so comfortably is probably the reason they stood out at this year’s Ozzfest. Pulse Ultra is not your typical raspy-guitar drenched metal band. These guys are naturally endowed with the skill to make hard rock less unruly and a lot more soothing. Zo Vizza’s voice is strapping yet, he has the capability to ease up and actually croon so soulfully, you’ll be lost in his lexis immediately. Pulse Ultra’s Atlantic Recording debut, “Headspace”, is merely a representation of Vizza’s anxiety in his private life, a rough experience that would soon develop into one of the most concrete albums I’ve come across in a long while. I guess death really does bring forth life. I had the pleasure of meeting with the band during their Ozzfest tour and here’s what they had to say.

-Pulse Ultra is:
-Maxx Zinno (Drums),
-Dominic Cifarelli (Guitar),
-Jeff Feldman (Bass)
-Zo Vizza (Vocals)

Where are you guys from originally?
Maxx: Montreal, Quebec.

How do you like Los Angeles? Is this your first time out here?
Jeff: Yeah, we lived in LA for like 6 months when we were recording the record. I don’t like LA very much. There’s cool people but I think the overall era of Los Angeles is very cut throat and too fake. There’s nice places and nice people but I’m not an LA-kind of guy.

Interesting, there must be areas in Canada that are similar to LA, loud, fast, pretentious…
Maxx: Not in Montreal. Maybe on a smaller scale.
Jeff: There’s a little bit of that… Montreal is pretty down to earth city. It’s artsy and really cool.
Maxx: It’s the best city in the world!

What countries or cities have you played in? Any European adventures?
Jeff: We played Dublin, Ireland for the UK Ozzfest, that was awesome!

This is your first time on Ozzfest, correct?
Jeff: This is our second tour. It’s awesome… it’s a festival and there’s a lot of bands and a lot of scattered crowds. Overall, I think it was a good experience for us to toughen us up a bit and to get us some thicker skin.

Like you mentioned before, Ozzfest showcases a shit load of bands, are there any good bands that you’ve seen while on tour?
Maxx: Well, there’s two bands: Apex Theory and Chevelle.
Jeff: Lost Prophets, Meshugga…
Maxx: And on the main stage, System of A Down, Ozzy, of course… we watch a lot of the other bands, but there’s just too many.

Zo is the lyricist and the music is collaborative, is everyone on the same page as Zo?
Jeff: Ultimately, everyone comes up with their own part and everyone has a say. If we don’t like something that Zo is doing, then we’ll tell him and pitch ideas. But the same way, if he doesn’t like what Maxx is doing, he’ll tell him. We all put in our ideas to make the song as best possible.

Since Zo is not around to speak for himself, where do you think Zo comes up with all these concepts for every song? What do you think motivates him to write with such melody and emotion? Each song sounds so personal and so deep.
Maxx: They’re obviously about his experiences, but I guess anxiety is one of the main themes in the lyrics. I guess that is what drives him, that is what he’s experiencing and what he has experienced. I think everybody has.
Jeff: It’s like everyday things. Picture your life and writing a song about it. You’ll write about the way you perceive things to be. It’s all subjective. That’s the craziest thing about lyrics, it’s all subjective to the person who writes them, but to the person who listens to them, can come up with a whole different story.

Do you all relate to his anxiety?
Jeff: Yeah, I do.
Maxx: I’ve been there.
Jeff: We all relate to that. Spending so much time together kind of brings us into each other’s minds and we kind of understand what the person is thinking and why they act certain ways.
Maxx: Sometimes I can’t believe the lyrics he writes because he’s so stupid!
Jeff: Yeah, he’s like a mongoloid.



He does write great lyrics but he’s a mongoloid.
(Zo walks in)
Zo: I’m a genius in disguise. I just put this outer figure to make you guys feel comfortable. If I really show my true colors, you guys would feel threatened to be around me.
(Laughter–Zo, walks away)

How did Pulse Ultra come about?
Jeff: Me and Dominic have been playing together for 11 years and we went through various bands…
Maxx: They were lovers.
Jeff: Yes, we had anal sex a couple times…

So, the truth comes out!
Jeff: Dominic met Maxx through a friend he went to school with. Dominic heard Zo sing at a Halloween party with our previous singer. Then we just started writing music together. We’re lucky we found a lot of key elements in order to make the band they way it is.
Zo: (In an Italian accent) You’re lucky you found me because without me, you’re nothing!

You guys are with a major label, do you feel you have accomplished a great deal since the beginning until now? Is there still more you’d like to experience?
Maxx: Yes, definitely. There’s a lot more left to conquer. I think we’ll always be nothing. No matter how many records we sell.
Jeff: Obviously, we’ve come a long way and there’s still a long way to go. In terms of ourselves, we can always grow, expand and evolve.
Dominic: I agree totally. I got what I’ve always wanted and now it’s a whole new thing that I want to get. Now that we’ve achieved what we have now, there’s obviously going to be a lot more that we want to achieve. It’s all about steps.
Jeff: You earn what you have. If you get everything handed to you, you don’t appreciate what you have. If you work for everything and take it step by step, you appreciate it more.

Is music in something you see yourselves continuing for the rest of your lives?
All: Forever.
Dominic: I don’t want to do anything else.
Jeff: I actually want to work at Subway. No, I want to do this forever, for the rest of my life.
Dominic: We can’t complain about what we have. This is the life that not everybody can have, you’ve gotta be a lucky son of a bitch. There’s a lot of crap, but the crap that we face is nothing compared to what most people face in their everyday life.

Do you get discouraged?
Dominic: Everyday. You get discouraged when you kill yourself, literally, and there’s someone standing there, flipping you off, not willing to listen and you just want to machete his face in. That’s the way I feel. It’s like, what the fuck is wrong with your stupid brain that you don’t understand anything, you worthless sack of shit–DIE! It sucks. It’s like, you’re such a disrespectful piece of shit. It’s ok if you don’t like our music, but you have to be mentally inferior to do that. And we have to face that every day. It gives us thicker skin. Fuck them! I get very angry… very violent. I’m going to start bringing machetes when I’m on stage.
(Dominic starts rambling about how he is going to orchestrate a mini Lord of the Flies at their shows so that any disrespectful youth that is not willing to give Pulse Ultra a shot, will be decapitated. )
Dominic: Pretty much. I come from a very violent background.


What do you regret not taking advantage of?
Dominic: It’s still so early, I think we’re getting everything we’ve always wanted. We take it as it comes. I regret being to nice in the beginning. Maybe I should’ve been a bigger asshole. I become an arrogant bastard little by little.
Maxx: That’s why we beat you up at night, in your bed, when the lights are out.

What artist influenced you musically?
Dominic: New Kids On The Block. That was my early days. I had the NKOTB pins and everything.
Jeff: I loves Guns ‘n Roses. That was the first band that made me want to play in a rock band.
Maxx: We’re all into a wide, variety of stuff.

Is there a style of music that people would never think you would be into?
Dominic: Yes, Madonna.
Jeff: Cold Play, Radiohead, Mid Eastern music, classical…

Middle Eastern Music?
All: Fuck yeah!
Dominic: Armenian music. Because of the Apex Theory guys, we got into a lot of Armenian music. There’s a lot of good stuff. The reason why they sound so different is because they listen to that stuff. This cultural ethnic music that doesn’t have anything to do with what’s happening now and that’s why they are the most different, original sounding band on this tour. I think by listening to that stuff, you don’t get influenced by everything that is happening and you make it your own. That’s what we, hopefully, want to do with our next record. We want to listen to more Folk music and ethnic music, from all backgrounds.
Jeff: There’s so many artists and so much music, you shouldn’t be limited to like one type of sound. There’s so many beautiful realms in music to explore and you shouldn’t limit yourself. Listen to everything because there’s good music in every genre.

How does your stage attitude differ from being offstage?
Dominic: The way we are on stage is the way we could always be in real life.
Jeff: Obviously, on stage, you get a different side of your personality. You get out all the frustration you have built up inside. You can’t always do that in normal surroundings because you’re stepping on other people’s toes. On stage, it’s us. Tt’s me, him, Maxx, and the mongoloid. If you don’t like it, go fuck yourself.

Should we leave it at that? Or is that not really what you are trying to tell your audience?
Jeff: No, our overall message is for people to have an open mind and maybe realize that there’s more to life than being fucking angry all the time. Hopefully, we can open people’s minds. It’s up to people to open up and be receptive of what we’re giving them. It’s not fuck you to everyone, because we’re not like that, but if you like us, thank you for being open minded. If you don’t, good, then don’t.

And your take on the many that are struggling to be where you are professionally? Any advice?
Dominic: If you don’t want it bad enough, don’t do it. Leave it for people that want it bad enough. Get the fuck out of the way.

Man, you are an angry one.

Dominic: I know! If you want it bad enough, practice and make it your life. Really work at it and don’t follow people, be yourself, be original and do something new. If you don’t do that, all you are is fucking something to make a record label money and you’re just copying something else and you know it’s going to work and it’s bullshit and I think they should fucking be eradicated.
Jeff: You play music because that’s what you feel and you love it. You need to practice and work on your own craft.
Maxx: Yeah, same thing he said. I’d like to give a shout out to Taproot.

Thank you very much. Good luck on your tour with Taproot and all your on goings.
All: Thank you.