Rock, funk, jazz, blues – everything’s fair game for Crown 10 on its self-titled debut album (released Oct. 7 on SoCal Records).

Leading the groove is former 24-7 Spyz drummer Joel Maitoza, who joined Crown 10 at the request of lead singer-guitarist James Brady, with bassist-vocalist Roz Taylor rounding out the multigenre trio. Crown 10, formed in the summer of 2002, didn’t have to look far for a producer; Maitoza stepped behind the boards at DML Studios in the group’s native San Diego, and Maitoza also issued the album on his new SoCal label, distributed by IDN Distribution.

On top of all that, he also dabbles in artist management.

In a P&P interview, Maitoza touches on his post-Spyz life, his influences and his Crown 10 mates.

Pause & Play – When did you leave 24-7 Spyz, and how did you stay busy between Spyz and Crown 10?

Maitoza – “I was the drummer for 24-7 Spyz from 1991 to 1997. After Spyz, I took a year off from playing drums and started my own production company and have been producing records for artists ever since. I also do session work for other bands that just hire me to do drum tracks for their records. I started managing the thrash/groove metal band Brick Bath in late 2001. They were all close friends of mine for years and I landed them a deal with Pavement/Crash Music shortly after I started working with them. They have done two CDs with Crash Music now and are currently working on their third disc. Just recently, I started my own record label called SoCal Records, which has distribution in the U.S., Europe and Canada. Crown 10 was the first act I released on the newly formed label, but I’m now talking to a number of other acts whose albums I’m planning to release in early 2004, so I’ve kept fairly busy. I’ll never stop playing drums and putting out records. That’s my passion.”

P&P – How did you develop such an appreciation for a variety of musical styles? Is it from your upbringing?

Maitoza – Oh, yeah. When I was very little, my mom used to play piano and listen to jazz as well as records by Herb Alpert and Burt Bacharach. Those musical arrangements inspired me to play piano. She enrolled me into the Yamaha School of Music when I was 4 and I received my degree in music by the time I was 6. That’s when I started playing drums. I’ve always been into many styles of music.”

P&P – Tell us about James and Roz and what they bring to the table.

Maitoza – “James is a great songwriter, which is what I mainly look for in a musician, and Roz has the chops from hell. When Roz came in to audition, it was just sick. That’s when I knew the band was complete. Most of the songs on the debut Crown 10 record are songs previously written by James. I just worked on some of the arrangements with him and produced it. We have already started working on new material for the next record. I can tell you right now it’s gonna be slammin’ because all of us are taking part in the writing process as a team this time.”

P&P – Was there a goal you wanted to achieve with this album?

Maitoza – “We really wanted to make an album that didn’t sound like anything out on the market right now. As with just about all of the previous bands I’ve been involved with, we wanted to keep the element of all our different influences and musical styles in tact.”

P&P – As a producer, how did you approach the album?

Maitoza – “We wanted to keep a loose, live, exciting feel to the tracks and not go the Pro Tools route. It was a focus of ours to make the songs fun to play for ourselves as musicians, but to try to keep the songwriting somewhat mainstream so some of the stuff could be played on the radio. When we play the stuff live, we just have fun and go off. We basically recorded the whole record in about seven days and spent one day mixing. I don’t normally like to work that fast, but we were tracking around other bands that were previously booked in the studio so we made it work.”

P&P – Are you also managing Crown 10?

Maitoza – “For the most part, yes. I have some close industry friends and attorneys I trust that give me advise from time to time, which is great, but I’ve been doing this so long now it just kind of seems natural. I still manage Brick Bath on the side, but now that I’m in a band again full-time and have the new label going, so I don’t think I want to take on any new acts as far as management goes.”

THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “Since I was involved in music at such a young age, I was open to everything. I always hated getting haircuts and my parents would bribe me and say if I would get a haircut, they would buy me a record of my choice, so they bought me a ton of records before I even had money to go out and buy my own. I think the first record I personally ever bought was a bunch of Monkees albums for 50 cents each at a thrift store. They all had the original Colgems label. I still have them. Then it was the Beatles and then KISS. It was all downhill from there. Ha-ha.”

THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Oh boy Š I think the first major arena concert I ever saw was KISS at the San Diego Sports Arena back in the late ’70s. Shortly after that, I saw Van Halen at the same venue.”

THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “I worked at this one company and the hours were 5:30 at night until 5:30 in the morning. Working on machines, lots of noise, alarms going off, very high levels of stress. Your energy had to be on 10 every night during the whole shift. I started getting tension headaches so I started taking aspirin and drinking Pepsi to stay awake. This went on for a while. When the headaches got worse, I went to the doctor; he asked me if I have a lot of stress in my life. I thought he meant my personal life so I said no. He’s like, ‘Well, we are going to have to do a biopsy because your esophagus looks like you drank a bottle of Drain-O and it looks like you have TMJ from grinding your teeth as well.’ I didn’t even think it was from my job because it became so routine. I have since left that job and am doing much better now. I guess you need to know your limits and always listen to your body. It lets you know what you can and can’t do!”


BWF (before we forget): Upcoming tour dates – Nov. 13, San Diego, Porter’s Pub; Nov. 21, San Diego, Brick By Brick.