When he was Kazzer several years ago, Mark "Kaz" Kasprzyk enjoyed some notoriety in the mid-2000s, including a Juno Award in his native Canada as New Artist of the Year. But after overcoming debilitating drug and alcohol addictions, Kasprzyk opted to create a new entity, Redlight King, this year.
"I started work on a third Kazzer record around 2008, but by then I wasn't able to function as a human being and put a sentence together," recalls Kasprzyk, 34, who hails from Hamilton, Ont. "That third record fell apart because I was in the bag. I was lucky, and I got out of it.
"After that, I decided that instead of trying to force the issues I was going to change gears and adapt a newer style. I wanted a band. Kazzer was a band, but it was me doing all the writing and everything. I wanted to change the core of what I do."
Kasprzyk moved from Hamilton, Ont., to Los Angeles and built the rootsy sound that blends his rock and hip-hop influences. He also raised some eyebrows by becoming the first artist to get permission from Neil Young to sample a song -- "Old Man" -- for a track of the same name on the first Redlight King album, "Something For the Pain."
"That's always been my favorite Neil Young song; my father and I were always in turmoil, so it really spoke to me," Kasprzyk explains. "I came up with the song and thought, 'I'll never put this out, but it's kind of rad.' Then I played it for a couple of people and they all said, 'No, you've got to put this out...'
"We tried to get it to Neil through various people...and when he heard it, I heard he listened to it once and said, 'It's great. Let's put it out.' It's a real honor. I've never spoken to him, but I get all these Neil Young hardcore fans who come up to me and shake my hand, so the song was received really well."
Everlast and Redlight King perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Hard Rock Cafe, 45 Monroe St., Detroit. Tickets are $20. Call 313-964-7625 or visit www.hardrock.com.
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