THICK AS THIEVES:
SCOTT WEDDLE OF AMELIA TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT THE BAND'S NEW CD 'A LONG LOVELY LIST OF REPAIRS', WORKING WITH PRODUCER MARK ORTON, AND BEING AT PEACE WITH THE WHOLE RECORD
LUKE MULHOLLAND TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT HIS LATEST CD 'FURTHER', THE CHALLENGES OF BEING AN UNDERAGED ROCKER, AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE.
LIKE FLOWERS THROUGH THE CONCRETE:
MARC PANNI OF LOS BLANCOS TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR LATEST CD 'JUST THIS ONCE' REELING IN THE AUDIENCE AT MAKING FOLKS RECONSIDER MUSICIANSHIP(READ MORE)
A BIT OF TITILLATION:
SCI-FI-VIXEN AND AUSSIE SOCIETY WOMAN JANE BADLER TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT HER DEBUT CD 'THE DEVIL HAS MY DOUBLE', FINDING HER VOICE, AND DOING SOMETHING ORIGINAL. (READ MORE)
SOUND AND VISION:
JEFF SHAPIRO ON CIAM TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR CD 'ANONYMOUS' MERGING ART AND MUSIC
AND APPEALING TO OTHER SENSES (READ MORE)
ALYSSA GRAHAM TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT HER LATEST CD 'ECHO'TAKING THE LISTENER ON A MUSICAL JOURNEY AND FILLING PEOPLE WITH A SENSE OF HOPE
|ROCKWIRED INTERVIEWS ZO2
IT'S ALL ABOUT CHEMISTRY
Z02 TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT THEIR NEW ALBUM 'AIN'T IT BEAUTIFUL'
THEIR UPCOMING IFC TV SHOW 'Z ROCK'
AND THE CHEMISTRY THAT KEEPS THEM TOGETHER
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
Truth is about as strange as fiction. No wonder they ain't scripting TV shows anymore! The story of a band that plays birthday parties for kids by day, and gets lost in New York City's rock circuit by night, with all of its dope and ass, sounds like the brainchild of a television writer in desperation, however it's actually the true story of New York rockers ZO2 who have released their latest CD 'AIN'T IT BEAUTIFUL' and are the subjects of a forthcoming television series Z ROCK (a semi-reality show which also stars JOAN RIVERS, GILBERT GOTTFRIED, and JOHN POPPER of BLUES TRAVELER) set to air on IFC (INDEPENDENT FILM CHANNEL) on August 24, 2008. It's all to easy to dismiss the whole project as simply a grittier, more testosterone-fueled version of THE MONKEES, but after viewing the pilot episode of Z ROCK, I must declare that the show is funnier than shit! While press is eager to describe the show as CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM for the rock set, I can't help but make the inevitable comparison to THIS IS SPINAL TAP! - had that movie been stretched out into a ten episode series. Given the knack that the band has for improv (the show is unscripted), I had to ask myself if these were actors or if they were a band. "The thing is that a lot of people are saying that this whole thing is just like THE MONKEES but the truth of it is that we are a band first." reassures vocalist/guitarist PAULIE Z. "We've never acted before and never wanted to act. This is going to be the first show ever where there was a real band and then it became a show. THE MONKEES were obviously put together for the show. They didn't even know each other before the show. So we're very happy to say that we are the first to do something."
With all of the hype about the show, it's easy to forget that the band has an album out. 'AINT IT BEAUTIFUL' (RIKER HILL RECORDS) is a blistering set of melodic hard rock in the vein of 1970's era KISS. With producer BOB HELD at the helm, the band tears it up with the opening track 'ISOLATE', conjures up memories of ZEPPELIN's 'DAZED AND CONFUSED' with 'SHE BELIEVES', shows off a FREE-like swagger with the title track, and gets the lighters out for 'COMIN' HOME'. Cock rock like this, is most definitely some kind of wonderful.
ROCKWIRED spoke with PAULIE Z, DAVID Z (bassist), and JOEY CASSATA (drums) over the phone. Here is how it went.
'AIN'T IT BEAUTIFUL' is a great CD! It brought me back to a time when I actually had hair. How is it different from the first album, 'TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS'.
PAULIE: A couple of major things. One, we were able to play the songs on this new record live before we actually recorded them. That was very helpful because we were able to hone in on what songs and tempos worked better with the crowd and it gave us a chance to throw in things that we might not have thrown in, had we not tested the songs out. The first album, like anybody's first album, are just songs that you've had your whole life and you put a collection together. It was a little bit less consistent than the new one. Another factor was that we tried specifically to go for a live feel as we were recording so we went for a bigger drum sound and a more direct bass sound and a little less slick production. It's like what they used to say about KISS.
And after the release of the first album, you actually got to tour with KISS and POISON.
DAVID: That actually came about after we got the first album into PAUL STANLEY's hands and we were hoping to get maybe one or two dates out of the tour and when they called us back and offered us the entire tour, it was actually unbelievable. We didn't believe it until we actually got there and played the first note of the first song of the first show.
You guys are the first band that I've interviewed that has a television show about them.
PAULIE: Are you saying you've never interviewed THE MONKEES before.
I've interviewed MIKE NESMITH, but that was obviously well after the fact.
PAULIE: The thing is that a lot of people are saying that this whole thing is just like THE MONKEES, but the truth of it is that we are a band first. We've never acted before and never wanted to act. This is going to be the first show ever where there was a real band and then it became a show. THE MONKEES were obviously put together for the show. They didn't even know each other before the show. So we're very happy to say that we are the first to do something.
How did this television project evolve from you guys just being a working band to a band that's going to be broadcast on TV, acting out the "life" story?
DAVID: What we used to do to make money to afford to be on the road was perform at kids birthdays parties and we'd perform children's songs and we met a gentlemen from the WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY who found out the we were a real band as well. He came to see us live and we introduced him to our manager and the idea sort of spawned from that because the reality of us being kids entertainers by day and rock musicians by night was just too good to pass up and once people heard that we did that, they thought that a TV show could definitely be made around it and our manager BOB HELD kind of pushed that idea onto this agent and we kind of took it from there.
Wow! This isn't the sort of situation that I come across when I interview a band. It sounds exciting.
PAULIE: It's kind of a first all around for everybody, I think. This is a first for the network (IFC), and the first for this kind of band. I think that people are really picking up on this and are enthusiastic about because it is something different. It's not the same old story that is heard a million times.
Before your publicist even told me about you guys, I think I remember an interview with JOAN RIVERS (who plays your manager in the show) talking about the project. And if I understand correctly, the show is improvised, correct? It's not scripted.
PAULIE: The way we describe it, the show is heavily outlined and the dialogue is pretty much improv. He call is a hybrid show. This show is an actual comedy where everything is planned ahead. They do write out what's going to happen in the beginning middle, and end and there is character development, but instead of writing everybody's individual lines, we just put ourselves in that situation and we play off of each other.
DAVID: It's a rock n roll version of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.
Before the show, and before the formation of ZO2, each member of this band has some very interesting backgrounds. DAVID, you played bass for the TRANSIBERIAN ORCHESTRA.
DAVID: Yeah, I was with them for seven years and it's an amazing thing for me to say that I couldn't do it this past year because ZO2 was taking off. Thats big because TRANSIBERIAN ORCHESTRA was playing arenas and 2000-seat places and to say that I couldn't do it this past year because I had a lot of things to do with ZO2 is incredible. I think it's a huge testament to what we've been doing. I was able to move forward with my own thing.
And PAULIE, you've done some stuff with HOWARD STERN and this ZO2's ROCK ASYLUM.
PAULIE: I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from doing these parodies of songs for HOWARD STERN. ZO2's ROCK ASYLUM is a festival that I started basically out of frustration. In New York we are one of the top bands. We do very well, but there was this one instance where we were late for a gig and our time on stage was cut in half and I was like 'This is ridiculous! there's no band that's on after us, we should still be allowed to play our entire set.' From then on, I wanted to own my own night, and ARLENE'S GROCERIES is a place in Manhattan which i sour home away from home. They gave me a night once a month and with that I started this ROCK-A-THON thing and it's very successful.
Explain the bands name.
PAULIE: I'll give you my story about the name, DAVID will give you his and then JOEY.
PAULIE: For me the name ZO2 is the formula for our success. It describes the chemistry that we have and I'm really big on bands having chemistry. And because me DAVE's last name begins with Z, the letter has always been special to us. ZO2 is the formula for our brand of rock n roll. When you put the three of us together, thats what you get and DAVID has a different spin on it.
DAVID: The names got a deep meaning for me as well, because me and PAULIE, our dad and uncle had a band back in the seventies called Z and oddly enough they had an Italian drummer named JOEY, just like us. Our band got together at the end of 2002, so for me the name was a way of saying Z 2002.
JOEY, what's your version of the story?
JOEY: The original name of the band was actually 'JOEY'. Then the second incarnation was JO2, but then they outvoted me so we used the Z instead.
PAULIE: We try to avoid the letter J at all costs.
So how did the band begin?
PAULIE: My brother and I have been in bands for many many years and at one point we sort of separated and did our own thing. Then, DAVID had met a producer named BOB HELD who is still with us today and he's also our manager, our A&R, and our babysitter and everything pretty much. He had met up with DAVID and suggested that DAVID start his own band because he really saw the potential in DAVID being a young bass player who could sing. He was a whole package. Then, DAVID calls me up and says 'PAULIE, we've gotta get the band back together!" and I'm like 'Okay!'. We finally knew someone in the music industry and that was motivation enough and at the time I had been playing in a bunch of cover bands just for fun. JOEY was in one of those bands with me and I knew he was a great drummer so I suggested him and everyone said yeah and it started like that. From there, we started writing material for the first album.
Now is BOB HELD essentially RIKER HILL RECORDS?
PAULIE: Yeah. Actually, our management team is consisted of BOB and his wife LYNN LENDWAY. They met up with a couple of investors and created RIKER HILL RECORDS, so they are the creative side of the company and the investors are the financial side of it.
They sound like a good label. I interviewed FIXER a few months back.
PAULIE: Yeah, good buddies of ours and a great band.
Explain, if you can explain it, the creative process.
DAVID: I think that everyone has their own process. For us, what'll happen is PAULIE and I will come in with an idea and we'll bring it to rehearsal and then we'll throw it out there and then it gets forged between the four of us, including our producer BOB HELD and it'll turn into something a lot more concrete than what it was. From there it'll go through many changes. Some songs come quickly, some songs take forever.
PAULIE: Like some girls come quickly, some girls take forever.
From this album, what tracks sort of stand out for you and why?
JOEY: My favorite is SHE BELIEVES. Its got that whole 'DAZED AND CONFUSED' vibe and another favorite of mine is COMING HOME because I actually get to sing lead on a little bit of it.
PAULIE: And that song is my least favorite for that particular reason.
How about you PAULIE?
PAULIE: My two favorites are 'SHE BELIEVES' and 'AIN'T IT BEAUTIFUL'. I think those two epitomize the range of the band; the light and the dark. 'SHE BELIEVES' is this bluesy heavy rocker that I can sink my teeth into and 'AIN'T IT BEAUTIFUL' has that old school rock 'ALL RIGHT NOW' kind of feel to it.
So that part of the show Z ROCK is true. You guys really were a kids party band.
DAVID: Yes. It beat waiting tables and doing a 9 to 5 gig. It paid great and we got to make our own hours, which allowed us to go on tour whenever we wanted. Even though it was for kids, we were still playing music. We went in and did rock n roll songs at a kids party.
And it's also made for some good comedy as well.
PAULIE: Definitely! How could it not? The two worlds are so different that it can't help but make for interesting television.
PAULIE, why don't you talk about JOEY and DAVID and tell me what you think each of them sort of brings to the table creatively, musically, and personality-wise.
PAULIE: Do you want my honest opinion?
PAULIE: Well, nothing really. I'm not even sure why they're here.
Okay guys, now tell me what you think of him.
PAULIE: You know whats funny is that me and JOEY just got to see THE POLICE do an interview on THE ELVIS COSTELLO SHOW, which is going to be airing on IFC later in the year, and it was amazing to see the three of them so tense because you could feel the tension. I'm very thankful that I'm in a band like this. As much as we give each other crap, we are really are tight. We're very symbiotic, where bands like THE POLICE are a bunch of personalities that don't work very well together offstage. On stage, they are amazing. If you look on the liner notes of our CD, next to my name, I put vocals, guitars, and passion. Next to DAVID's name is persistence and JOEY has patience. That sort of summarizes what each of us brings to the table. Now I'm afraid of what they're going to say about me.
Okay DAVID, lets hear it.
JOEY: PAULIE can be a little high maintenance, every now and then. I don't mean physically. I mean mentally.
I know, I've seen the hair.
PAULIE: That's bullshit! This interview is over!!!
I'm sorry PAULIE!!! I meant to save that for the end of the interview.
PAULIE: I took all of that time coming up with nice things to say about them and look what they did! They have nothing nice to say about me.
I guess your first answer was right.
PAULIE: It was.
You guys describe this show as CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM for the rock set, but it seems more SPINAL TAP to me.
JOEY: Yeah, we get that comparison a lot too. We only compare it to CURB because its filmed like CURB.
Are you guys worried that the show will upstage the band or the album?
DAVID: No. I think in todays day and age, with radio being the way it is, that bands really need that other venue to get their music heard and seen by the viewer. I hate to use these comparisons but HANNAH MONTANA/MILEY CYRUS and JONAS BROTHERS, and GENE SIMMONS and BRET MICHAELS all have these TV shows that have rocketed their careers to a totally different level, whereas if they were just on the radio selling records, the outcome would be totally different, I think.