Festivals, Interviews, Music
Jun 23, 2014


Chocolate and peanut butter. Abbott and Costello. Bacon and everything. Some things just go well together no matter the apparent differences. Such is the case with whiskey and Heavy Metal. It is also the case with Rockstar Mayhem Festival co-founder John Reese and Coldcock Whiskey co-founder and Zeiler Spirits CEO Rick Zeiler.

Press Pass LA was able to catch up with these two just a few weeks before the giant countrywide four stage metal-themed concert series kicks off in San Bernadino on July 5.

As a lifelong metalhead and self-styled whiskey aficionado, I was intrigued to hear not only about a festival that brags some of the biggest and best names in heavy metal music but also to talk about Coldcock American Herbal Flavored Whiskey who is one of the sponsors of the show.

First up was Reese to talk about the festival. “It’s been going on for seven years now, and this one is tracking to be our biggest year yet…since Ozzfest was free in 2007 we felt that it had run its course, and we put together a lineup featuring Disturbed and Slipknot. This year we have four stages with some great bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Cannibal Corpse.”

I asked about Reese’s background in music, and I quickly realized I was speaking with someone largely responsible for some of the best shows I have ever seen, “I have over 26 years experience, I started in a security company, then I was the tour manager for Gun’s N’ Roses.” He then proceeded to rattle off a who’s who list of awesome metal acts that he has worked with over the years. I was too dumbstruck to keep up. I’ll put it this way: If you are or have been a metalhead in the last 20 years then you absolutely have been to at least one show this gentlemen put together.

Speaking of metalheads, I asked Reese why he stuck with metal, citing his earlier quote that Ozzfest had “run its course,” why stay with a genre that seems to be in its nadir? “Other forms of music come and go. But metal will always have that loyal following. They say once a metalhead, always a metalhead, that term does not apply with other music, you don’t hear people call themselves danceheads or rapheads.” I can certainly appreciate that, I still listen to the first metal album I ever bought.

Another thing about metalheads, John noted, is that many of them are military. That is why they have started the Metal of Honor charity program to raise awareness and financial support for various military non-profits. “A lot of military come to our shows, so we wanted to come up with a charity and raise awareness for them.” he said, “We want to give back on every tour, so we came up with something that is best for military charities. We have a big installation at every show, and every show has one hometown hero, who gets up on stage and shares their story with the entire audience.”

They also give to the Pathway Home (PTSD rehab facility), Hope for the Warriors (military family assistance, veteran transition assistance, employment preparedness), and the USO.

John represents his genre well, even when asked about his favorite band, he was not able to narrow it down, “I’m about stuff that hits you over the head, anything that kicks you in the ass I’m a fan of.”

Next I talked with Coldcock co-founder Rick Zeiler whose own background influenced me in a different way, “I worked for Jagermeister for 19 years, the last 14 as director of marketing, so it was a natural transition to this.” He must have been really good at his job, because I used to drink a lot of it. So I asked how did Coldcock start? “We all had day jobs, and we all got together and decided to start a whiskey. It started with the taste, and it tastes amazing.” But why whiskey? “Whiskey is an acquired taste, and it never set well with me, I liked the idea of whiskey, but hated the burn. So we created a product that has that whiskey/bourbon taste going down, but with a tea-like aftertaste. So we created something totally different, with half the sugar (of regular whiskeys), with a variety of herbs and no sacrifice to taste.”

The world’s first herbal whiskey is infused with green tea, hibiscus, ginger, ginkgo, eucalyptus, cinnamon and more.

Zeiler gives much credit to John, his background in music and their friendship for their success so far and for bringing in bands with their innovative owner-sharing program, “For me having John and being able to turn to him has been great, he’s been a mentor and a friend…Every single (musical) contact came from John not only (for Coldcock) to write a check but to represent a brand and want to own part of it. That’s why it was important early on to find local and regional bands without representation and create a profit sharing program for bands to promote in exchange for ownership units in Coldcock Whiskey. If you’re an up and coming band, that’s a win-win.”

As for bands that Rick is excited to see on the upcoming Rockstar Mayhem tour, “I’m excited to have Body Count (with Ice-T), it’s the first time they’ve been together in 20 years.”

Coldcock boasts a few big name investors including Kerry King (Slayer), David Draiman (Disturbed), Ashley Purdy (Black Veil Brides), Miles Doughty (Slightly Stoopid), and Raul Bianchi (The Expendables) to name a few.

For more information about the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival touring all summer go to: http://rockstarmayhemfest.com

To find out more about Coldcock American Herbal Whiskey including availability or for sponsorship applications visit: www.coldcockwhiskey.com/#