In this corner, at 6-foot-1, weighing 215 pounds, and playing bass, the one and only Frankie Kazarian!
Well, perhaps that’s not how he’s introduced when on stage with his band, VexTëmper, but it fits.
VexTëmper, a bunch of buddies from around Yucca Valley, California, are about to release their first album, Doom Engine, on April 7th, and Kazarian is pretty excited about it all. And as with wrestling, where he’s been competing since 1998, he goes a long way back with music.
“I’ve been a fan of and in love with music as long as I have been with wrestling,” Kazarian told SLAM! Wrestling. “Growing up in a household where I was subjected to everything from Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, to the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper. It just really gave me an appreciation for music.”
Then in 1987, a 10-year-old Frankie Gerdelman found a band of his own.
“I really gravitated towards hard rock, especially when Guns N’ Roses came out. I was very. very young and they were kind of my gateway band to hard rock and metal,” he said. “I learned how to play bass guitar right out of high school. My first bass guitar was given to me by my grandfather. I always played music but obviously wrestling shortly thereafter became the priority. I still always played.”
Away from the ring, and settled in California, Kazarian made friends with some musicians, and it just grew from there. The VexTëmper lineup includes The Waltz as lead vocalist, Jake Rich on lead guitar, Ed Nemechek on rhythm guitar, Kazarian on bass, and Justin Harvey on drums.
“We have the benefit of our drummer basically has a studio. Our jams could basically be studio sessions,” Kazarian said. “We’re all working, so we all have different schedules, so time together can be difficult. Oftentimes gigs happen on the weekend, which you know is when professional wrestling matches happen. I’ve had to shuffle around that. You know, we make it work — if you’re passionate about something you make it work, you just put the excuses aside and make it work.”
A real challenge was coming up with a name for the band.
“You think about band names, everything under the sun has been taken. We tossed around a couple of different names. What’s going to fit this band’s name? A bunch of ideas were thrown about, and we were just combining words. Vex, temper, and our guitarist, Jake Rich went ‘VexTëmper.’ I went, ‘Wow, that sounds really good together.’ Both of those words have similar meanings, and together just sound like a cool band name. We’ve been able to brand it and make it ours. Honestly, we’d come up with a name that we thought was cool and Google it, and some Swedish death metal band already had that name, so it was really, really difficult to find an original band name.”
The umlauts on the second letter “e”? “That was definitely an homage to Mötley Crüe and Motörhead.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to write and record music that I came out to at Ring of Honor, so that’s cool,” said Kaz, comparing wrestling to music. “It’s a different type of creativity for me. While wrestling and music are both art, they’re both very different but they’re similar if that makes sense. Music I view as completely separate from pro wrestling. I think there have been a few acts that have been very successful in crossing over; Chris Jericho would obviously be at the top of that list.”VexTëmper’s first singles, “MPH” and “Brass Knuckle Justice” came out in early March, but it’s not the first time that wrestling fans will have heard Kazarian’s musical stylings.
The album Doom Engine, from VexTëmper, comes out April 7, 2017, released by Rimrock Records.