Accomplice: Andrea of Headbanger Salon and The Iron Wolf
All murder photographs by Andrea of Headbanger Salon
Promo photo by Nicholas Mack
I shall begin this interview with your mortal, drummer Jeff. Now...Jeff, while I could ask you questions about such things as your drumming technique and other trivial musical details, I would rather talk to you about something of far more importance: Your wee wee.
Everyone has told me of the sizeable organ you have. Why don't you tell me more about it.
Jeff: Well, my wee wee has about 30 years of experience. It has a fairly sizeable resume. It's probably about 8 1/2 inches long
Jeff: It basically looks like a 16 oz pepsi bottle (Everybody laughs)
Do you find yourself heterosexually inclined or...open to... experimentation?
Jeff: I see myself as basically heterosexual but you know, if the right opportunity arose...
AT LAST!!...A straight, mortal male that I can work with! Woo Hoo!...Well....before I loose my ability to focus, allow me to turn my thoughts to the band. How did you get the name "Zao?"
Dan: The name was invented by the old lineup - which I think you should also kill
Is anyone here from the original lineup?
Dan: No. We're imposters (laughs). Zao has been together 10 years. This lineup has been together a little over two years. Scott and myself have been in the band 8 or 9 years.
I am a relative newcomer to Zao. But the first thing mortals would always tell me about you guys was your Christian stance. Can you tell me about that?
Scott: The Christian thing has been taken way to a point of....as a band, I don't think we stand for anything. We're kind of like a band that sings more about personal things, things that has happened to us in our lives. There are some members of the band that consider themselves Christian, but extremely liberal Christians.
Scott: Marty and Dan are the resident Christians I guess. Jeff and I are the resident heathens (everybody laughs).
So is the band trying to shed the image?
Scott: It's not like the band is ashamed of it or anything. It's just, for us, it's not really a big deal. Some of us are some of us aren't. Are songs aren't about it usually.
What about the very first lineup?
Scott: The first lineup had bibles on stage with them. I think the original lineup was in a bible group together; a Christian study group. They wanted to form a band. They did and there main purpose was to go on stage and to minister. When Dan and I joined it began taking a turn toward more personal things.
So, you two were responsible for corrupting the original, pure Zao (everybody laughs)
Scott: Christian or not, I think it's stupid to stand on stage and tell people what to think. I think that's the main thing. We don't want to be pushing people or telling anybody what to do. I don't know what the heck I'm doing. I'm just the dude playing guitar, so I can't be on stage telling anybody how to live there life.
Usually bands with your foundation have a very zealous fanbase that expects certain things or certain behaviors
Marty: There's not a lot of pressure on us. I think we've evolved past a lot of that stuff. There are a lot of bands out there that have a lot of worries about that kind of stuff...
Do you ever get the zealous fan?
Marty: (Everybody laughs) Yeah, yeah...last night there was a girl that said she listened to one of our records and was actually able to heal people with one of her hands. I guess if you stopped the tape of our music, she would lose it, but as soon as the music was put on again, she would regain the ability to heal.
That's quite a compliment
Marty: Actually it is. We get those kind of fans every once in a while, but for the most part, are fans are just everyday kind of people...and awesome to us.
Tell me about the Zao discography
Scott: Zao's discography is much like Jeff's penis (Laughs). It's long and
Scott: (Laughs) Yeah!...We have ten records out. I personally have been on six. Dan's been on seven and the other guys were on the last one - which in my opinion is the best. Certain fans like certain records.
How has the sound evolved over time?
Scott: We tend to change a lot. As an artiste, I think you don't want to stay the same, so we do change our styles a lot. It's always Metal and heavy, but it's still like different every record. For example we have a record called Liberati, that's extremely messy and just, gross. But then we have a record called Parade of Chaos which sounds like Black Sabbath. The new record is really, really fast, almost Punk orientated.
Which album showed the greatest departure
Scott: The self-titled record was the biggest departure, only because it incorporated electronic aspects. The drums were all electronic. A couple of things were keyboard driven. It's possibly everyone's favorite record though. The biggest song we play now is from that record.
Do you pull things from your entire history? Or is there some stuff you just don't touch?
Jeff: We mix it up pretty good. We don't touch the early stuff, with the original lineup, because no one on stage had anything to do with it. We'd be basically be playing cover songs. Also, some of the message in those songs is not something we really want to push right now. We tend to lean heavily toward the new records, but we still try to do maybe a song off each record.
How does the length of time you've been together work for or against you?
Dan: The only hard part is if a band like ours keeps playing the old songs, people say, "Oh, they can't write anything new. They're only recycling their old stuff." Yet, if you don't play the old songs, people get mad because they want to hear the old songs. It's kind of hard in that respect. Sometimes when we play our new stuff, people just stand there and stare at us.
When you toured and played with a band like Throwdown, did you get pissed because you've been around longer than them, but yet, played on the bill underneath them?
Marty: Absolutely. We hate those guys (everybody laughs)
How has Metal changed since you began?
Scott: Metal has went...in my opinion, from the feelings you kind of have when you're a loner and not popular, to a....Metal has become a glamour thing in my opinion. Before, when I listed to Slayer or Metallica, they were ugly. They were ugly bands and their recordings were ugly. They didn't have, pretty, little singing parts, you know? I think Metal has almost found a mass audience again and it's catering to that mass audience more than it used to. For me, the true essence of Metal was for people on the outside.
But don't you want to become more and more popular and sell more and more records?
Scott: No, not us. I think we enjoy the pain of being a lower seller of records (laughs). We enjoy not being big, we enjoy being just what we are.
What would happen if some fluke happened and suddenly you got big? Would you break up?
Really? How intriguing...
Scott: We're the type of people that...I don't give a shit (laughs), I really don't. I mean, I love our fans and I hope our fans enjoy what we do, but when we write our songs, I'm never thinking in the back of my mind..." OK, if we do this, we'll sell 10 thousand more records." If we like what we've created, we use it.
You don't want to lose your mortal head up your ass though
Scott: Right. I mean, you don't want to lose your fanbase, so maybe you do cater to a point to the fans, but at the same time, if your fans aren't willing to change with you, why do you need 'em?
Do you receive any pressure from your label to be conform more to a...certain musical trend?
Scott: Not really, no. Carl (Ferret Records President) kind of lets us be ourselves. That's what is neat about the label. He knew what he was signing when he signed Zao.
He knew he was signing a bunch of slackers! (Everybody laughs)
Scott: He knew he'd have his hands full with a band that doesn't cater or change for other people. I think that he respected that. I know any label wants to make money. We sell a decent amount of records. I don't think it's a loss for them....I hope (laughs), but I would rather have our band's integrity in tact rather than to just change to make someone happy.
Tell me about the new record
Marty: The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here has been out about five months now. It's the fastest selling Zao record ever.
Why do you think that is?
Marty: Because Jeff and I are on it (Laughter) We make the band.
What makes you prouder of this album than previous Zao albums?
Marty: Because it's the only one I'm on (more laughter)
Dan: I think this is one of the better because Jeff came along and was willing and able to experiment with some of the ideas we had. For the first time, we got to write a record without any boundaries or limitations. There are Punk parts, Grind parts, Metal parts...even a little Hardcore. This is the first record where we got to showcase ourselves in a little better of a light. There was a little bit more freedom and openness in the songwriting.
Very well then...Any final words, mortals?
Scott: I just want people to know that as a band, we're just trying to be ourselves. We're just happy to be doing what we're doing
Dan: My final comment is for everyone to keep Metal ugly. I mean, let's look at the good bands here. Was anyone really attractive in Metallica?
Well...I thought once James cut his hair off, he was kind of butch looking
Except he has never shown much of a bulge
Dan: Well aside from James and his lack of...package, all the best bands were made up of ugly, ugly people. Metal shouldn't be attractive. It should always be ugly.