Built for Sound

Nino Notaro's life of sound guardin'

"You know, I've been fighting dope for the last 18 years, but [lately] I've been doing good," he says ruefully. "I notice when I am good, I can be really good. But when I am bad, I am fucking hated. And I hope the best for all the friends that I got in all that trouble with. I can't say anything bad about anybody, otherwise I would be saying something about myself. I'll tell you one thing: I never got jobs when I was strung out."

On his first European tour in 1990, he did front-house sound for speed-metal hucksters Forbidden. Run-ins with foreign cops, Austrian drug-sniffing dogs and starch-suited customs agents gave him a quick lesson in etiquette overseas.

"'Hey,'" he says, mocking the voice of a first-time overseas Yank traveler. "'I got the blue passport, I'm an American.' Yeah, I found out really quick that you are just a target."

Nino Notaro: At home with his fish, tats and beer.
Paolo Vescia
Nino Notaro: At home with his fish, tats and beer.

While on tour in Germany with Sacred Reich, somebody handed him a Sepultura tape.

"I look at the tape and go, 'Se-pul-tra -- what the hell is that, a cooking utensil?' I fucking popped it in and the 5,000 German metal kids in the venue started singing to this kitchen utensil band that I was playing through the system."

Sacred Reich played a Halloween show in Manhattan on a bill with King Diamond and Sepultura. Sacred Reich's manager wound up managing Sepultura and brought Notaro aboard as the sound tech.

To describe the sound of platinum-selling Sepultura as ferocious testosterone metal would be but a ginger understatement.

"I met the band in South Palm Beach, and they thought that I was a full-on homo. They didn't speak any English and I didn't speak Portuguese. And I'm looking for a blow dryer. At that point they didn't know that I was there to work for them. It was like, 'Who, the fag? The guy with the hair dryer?'" That was 10 years ago, and Notaro is still aboard.

"I don't have a girlfriend. I have nothin' because I sacrificed it all. Everybody thinks, 'Wow, rock 'n' roll, you got the best gig in the world.' I go, 'Yeah, I got the best gig in the world but can I have your girlfriend?' At one point you have decide if this is what you are gonna do . . . Are you gonna be able to deal with jerkin' off every night and having a good imagination or do you sit at home and ask, 'Would you like fries with that?'"

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