Normally being knee deep in anything isn’t a pleasant experience. But when it comes to Atla’s NeeDeep, you can expect to be immersed in a mix of dual hard rock guitars, atmospheric keyboards and male and female vocals. The band has established itself as a top rock act in Atlanta, headlining club shows and opening for touring bands like Nonpoint and Sevendust. In 2009 the band won Project 9-6-1‘s Homegrown to Headliner competition, earning itself an opening slot on Mötley Crüe‘s Crüe Fest. NeeDeep won the same contest in 2010, this time getting to play the main stage at Project 9-6-1’s Family Reunion festival headlined by Shinedown. And last October the band got to play the Kiss Kruise. With Kiss. On a boat.
Though NeeDeep has shared the stage (and a boat) with some rock monsters, the band has yet to share a bill with monster wrestling. Until now. But wrestling is not totally unfamiliar to NeeDeep as front man Brent “Jakl” Cloud competed in a Platinum Championship Wrestling show in December 2010 with bassist Lew “The Jew” Litzinger in his corner. Their opponent was the Rev. H. Billy Hicks, with NeeDeep front woman Valarie Santos in his corner as a sexy nun. Though they won’t be returning to the ring at the Wrestling with Pop Culture Anniversary Party, they will be performing in between matches that will involve zombies and werewolves, which should be a perfect fit for NeeDeep’s showmanship. Jakl and Lew talk to Wrestling with Pop Culture about this unique event.
NeeDeep has played some big shows, but also headlined its own club shows. How does opening for national acts compare to headlining your own gigs?
Cloud: The problem we’ve always run into with the Atlanta scene is people are always going to support the nationals. When local bands play a local show, it’s a lot of work because you’re doing all the marketing and promoting yourself. On a national show someone else is doing the legwork for you, so you feel more like a rock star.
Litzinger: I’d say the main difference with playing the national shows is you’re getting in front of 1,000 or 2,000 people that have never even heard your name before. That’s a killer thing. Playing the smaller local shows, everybody there knows who you are and they’re there to support you. It kind of weighs itself out because it’s awesome to play the big shows in front of that many people, but at your shows you’re playing in front of people who know you.
What was the Kiss Kruise like?
Cloud: It was a lot older crowd, man. There was a big generation gap. It was awesome for us to be part of it, but our style of music is a lot different than 99 percent of the bands that were on that show. But it’s cool because this is a band that my parents listened to. Just to be able to say we played with Kiss was probably the biggest thing from playing that.
Litzinger: I listened to Kiss as a child and it was like, “Wow! I’m playing with them on a boat.” I never would have ever imagined that we would playing with Kiss on a ship, so it was pretty amazing.
The two of you were also involved in one of the first Platinum Championship Wrestling shows at the Masquerade. What is your background in wrestling?
Cloud: My friend Grant and I always messed around with wrestling ever since the WCW/NWO days. I thought that was a killer time for wrestling. So we started learning how to do it and we got really good at it for two guys who had never really had the training to do it. Brian McNamara, the guy that owns the Masquerade, came to me and told me about this PCW wrestling event. So I got a hold of Stephen Platinum and told him I’d really like to do this one time as kind of a bucket list thing. So I went to his class and learned how to put together a match. Of course, I yanked Lew into it and said, “You’ve got long hair. You could pull it back and put some black glasses on. You’re going to be my manager.” Valarie, our singer, actually dressed as a nun because my opponent was the Rev. H. Billy Hicks. I was just a demon, a bad guy, and as I’m eye gouging him he’s saying he’s blinded by faith and he’s yelling out stuff like, “The power of Jesus compels you.” I was trying my hardest not to bust out laughing and I had Lew behind me yelling and stuff.
People don’t understand that it takes a lot to hold it together in wrestling. The Rock, for instance. People were like, “The Rock’s going to be an actor.” I was like, “He’s already is an actor. This should be easy for him.” But we had a great time.
Your wrestling gimmick was the Jakl. Why did you choose to spell it that way?
Litzinger: As Lew the Jew, the manager of the Jakl, he really couldn’t spell that well. He was a demon from hell, so he couldn’t spell.
Cloud: Yeah. I’m not really into the writing, man.
Have you guys done any wrestling since then?
Cloud: I’ve been so busy with the band stuff. Wrestling’s entertainment and a lot of people don’t realize the work you have to put in to stay in shape. You can get hurt out there really easily, so you need to be in shape and you need to be practicing your technique all the time. I knew I couldn’t put the time that I’d need to into it, so it wasn’t really worth it to pursue it. Hicks has done some MMA fighting, but he’s won some silver and gold medals in a bunch of different jujitsu events.
At the Wrestling with Pop Culture Anniversary Party, not only will there be wrestling, but there will be monsters wrestling. You’ve played some unique shows, but what do you think about playing on a bill that includes PCW vs. Monstrosity Championship Wrestling, not to mention the walking freak show herself, Amber Taylor from The Sexual Side Effects?
Cloud: I think it’s a cool thing, man. Hard rock goes perfectly with wrestling and I definitely think it’s going to be an exciting event. We’re happy to be a part of it because we’re a different band. We’re not the same band you see where everybody’s wearing blue jeans and another band’s shirt. We wear jumpsuits and stuff, so we’re all about the entertainment. We want to get people off with the optic sensation as well as the ear. We’re all about showmanship and wrestling is driven by that. Us being a part of that is perfect for us.
Litzinger: I personally want to see if Jay Fury is going to be able to fight zombies and monsters.
We’ll see soon!