By Ryan Javier Photos by Jesse Garcia and Ryan Javier DALLAS – One of the most anticipated acts of the 2015 Jack FM/CBSradioDFW annual Throwback, who were coincidentally the headliner, was Back in Black – the quintessential AC/DC tribute band. Back in Black was formed by lead guitarist Mike Mroz and vocalist Darren Caperna, in 2001. Bassist Eric Sykes, guitarist Scott LePage and percussionist Ken "Da Crusha" Schiumo round out this group of extraordinary musicians. What sets Back in Black (BIB) apart from other AC/DC acts, is that BIB performs tunes from both the Bon Scott and the Brian Johnson periods. The reason why they sell out venues and have played before tens of thousands of spectators is simple: Back in Black is the BEST at what they do. BIB is the ultimate AC/DC concert experience. Back in Black is incredibly adept at their craft. BIB is able to precisely recreate AC/DC’s timeless sound, so well in fact that they have even been contracted by 20th Century Fox to reproduce hit tunes from the “boys from down under” for major motion pictures such as Napoleon Dynamite and Garage Days. After an awe-inspiring performance at Gexa Energy Pavilion amidst a screaming crowd numbering in the thousands, Back in Black’s co-founder Mike Mroz (MM) answered a few questions from TTL’s Ryan Javier (TTL) on the behalf of the band. TTL: Thank you for inviting TTL to your performance at Gexa. You guys were incredible! Tell me about your set list for the Gexa show. How did you guys come to choose those particular songs? MM: First thank you for taking the time and the interest in our band that means a lot to us. The setlist was pretty easy to choose, we like to deliver the songs that the AC/DC fans want to hear, so they were all the hits. TTL: Both you and Darren Caperna are originally out of L.A. How did Back in Black wind up in DFW? MM: I was relocated to Dallas for my job in sales for a video game company. At that point I was kind of frustrated with the whole music industry and was ready to give up guitar but then I got the itch again and decided that I was just going to go out and have fun and play AC/DC music all night and not really care if anybody showed up or not, and that's how this crazy thing took off. At the beginning I was flying out Darren (who had relocated to New York) for every show. He and I both saw the potential in the band and he relocated to Dallas. TTL: It’s been said, and most will agree, that Back in Black sounds better than the real AC/DC. The genesis for the whole BIB project was Mr. Caperna’s natural ability to personify Scott and Johnson. But what about the rest of the band? Was it at all challenging to learn to sound and move like AC/DC? MM: Yes Darren is definitely my secret weapon and the reason I put this whole project together. When I first started learning the AC/DC songs I immediately realized how incredible Angus Young is as a guitarist. He has such a great feel but to also capture the energy he expresses when he plays and runs around was very, very challenging. After 15 years, I’m still not even close! Another challenge was finding the right guys that would commit to the sound and simplicity of AC/DC it's such an easy formula but it has to be done exactly the right way. I'm very fortunate that Eric, Ken and Scott are dedicated to delivering the most authentic AC/DC sound. TTL: How do you prepare for live show? What’s your pre-show routine? MM: Darren takes about 5 seconds before the show and starts screaming out a couple of lines from a few of the songs and he drinks about a case of beer! Heaven help us if we show up to a venue and his beer isn't ready! I try to stretch out a little bit so I don’t pull a hammy and absolutely need to do warm ups on the guitar to get my fingers ready. TTL: You guys have performed with such heavy hitters as B.O.C., Grand Funk, Cheap Trick, Bad Company and many, many more. Who was your favorite “big act” to share a bill with? MM: Without question it was with Cheap Trick [which is] one of my all-time favorite bands and it didn't hurt that we were performing in front of 36,000 people for Bone bash in Fort Worth. I remember playing TNT and winning over that incredible crowd and looking to my right and seeing Tom Peterson, Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander all watching us perform. When we walked off the stage they were there to congratulate us, it was pretty incredible. TTL: What’s your favorite song to perform live and why? MM: I'd say Thunderstruck is my favorite song to perform, every time and everywhere [that] we play the song, the AC/DC fans just go crazy and it's really a fun song to play on guitar. TTL: For someone that has never seen you guys live… Describe your show and why one should attend. MM: We deliver an incredible authentic AC/DC experience, we are the only AC/DC tribute that will perform [songs from both] the Brian Johnson and the Bon Scott era. Darren was truly born for this band; he can imitate both Brian Johnson (which is incredible feat by itself) and also the voice of the great Bon Scott. I'm a huge AC/DC fan, but for me personally, it has always been hard to hear Brian sing the Bon songs. Darren does a great Bon voice, and he can do the unique Bon dance moves! TTL: The calendar on the Back in Black website states that BIB have a quote: “Special show!”, in Dallas on October 24th. Can you tell me anything about that performance? MM: Our Secret Show on October 24th will remain to be a secret! We will release details soon but it's something that the public has never seen or have experienced we are very excited about this show!!! All I can say is that it will take the whole tribute band scene to a new level! TTL: Is there an AC/DC deep cut or rarity that you guys would love to play, but haven’t or don’t, and if so why? MM: I would love to add the song Ride On, but our live show is so high energy we are afraid to slow things down. TTL: Mike, you have a music school out in Southlake, Texas called For Those About to Rock. The approach is unconventional in that the students tell you what songs they want to learn, which is what sets your studio apart from others. Tell me about that. MM: For Those About to Rock School was actually inspired after I had formed Back in Black. The kids in my neighborhood had heard of my band and would come over and ask me to teach them how to play all the AC/DC songs. Two great things happened, I realized I love to teach and secondly I was really good at it!! I retired from my job in sales in video games and opened For Those About to Rock School in Southlake. Our focus is to teach our students their favorite songs and place them in bands. Performing in the bands is the great payoff and we've had some great success with our student bands. All Fired Up, the Pat Benatar tribute that performed at [the Jack FM] Throwback fest, are all For Those About to Rock students taught by Back in Black’s lead singer Darren Caperna. We also had a student band that appeared on America's Got Talent; they performed at Radio City Music Hall in the finals. I'm proud to say we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary this September. TTL: Are any other members of Back in Black, besides Darren, involved with For Those About to Rock, or similar endeavors? MM: Yes! Eric Sykes, also teaches guitar lessons in the Plano area. TTL: Are there any charities or organizations or causes that Back in Black would like to plug? MM: Yes we work annually with the Russ Martin Foundation, we perform and help raise funds that he delivers to the families of courageous officers and firefighters in the DFW area that have fallen in the line of duty! – Mike Mroz, Back in Black Visit Back in Black online for info on upcoming shows and more! Be sure to “like” them Facebook and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings by following the band on Twitter.