Zao (VO)

interview ZaoWho said christian people can't play metal correctly ? Not me. Take for instance Zao, this great band from Pennsylvania who formed in the mid-90s is responsible for a bunch of great albums betwen extreme metal & hardcore. Their new one "The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here" (Ferret) has been recorded by Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, Neurosis). So you can expect a really heavy & twisted sound to bang your head on. Here's an interview in june 2006 with drummer Jeff Gretz.

>Zao seems to be Daniel Weyandt on vocals & Scott Mellinger on guitars plus some always changing new musicians for each album. Why, are they 2 kinds of strong personnalities to work with ?
No. They are fine to work with. Dan and Scott have said a million times, they don't kick people out, people just leave. Zao has had some bad luck with people that come in, I guess, expecting it to be different than it is. It's hard work, a lot of people aren't cut out for it. Luckily, right now, everyone is on the same page. So... it's all worked out for the best.

>Who are these 2 new guys responsible of the brand new Zao album ?
That would be myself, and Marty Lunn on bass. I've known the guys since before they were in Zao and they finally asked me to play, Marty booked some of the very first Zao shows way back in the day and was the bands tour manager for years and finally moved up to the bass position.

>Let's talk about this strange title : "The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here". What does it mean ?
Whatever you want it to mean. "The Fear" is whatever you are afraid of. People are often controlled by their fears. Our hometown for instance, people are afraid to leave it. It's a really small town and it's sort of like a curse. If you're born there, most people die there. They just won't leave. Afraid of the outside world I guess.

>You recorded this new album with Steve Albi
interview Zaoni. What kind of production were you searching for ? This sort of sound with a real chaotic side remains me Today Is The Day.
Yeah, pretty much that was the idea. We didn't want it to be pretty and polished. Too many metal records sound like pop records anymore. We like metal records that are dirty and in your face and ugly. Leave the pretty stuff to Justin Timberlake.

>Musically speaking Zao plays an original crossover between hadrcore, grind & metal. What bands are you found of ?
Most of us rarely listen to current metal, we all like stuff like Slayer, Carcass, old Metallica, old Megadeth, Neurosis, Danzig. But in the van when we're on tour, you're more likely to hear us listening to stuff like The National, Johnny Cash, Yes, Queens of the Stone Age, ZZ Top, we listen to it all... It all affects us in the end.

>Let's talk about this beautiful cover. Who did take the picture, who had the idea ? What's the meaning behind this artwork ? Any connection with islam foundamentalists ?
A photographer named Jeff Gros took the photo. Asterik Studios did the layout and the concept. We wanted something striking and "non-metal" looking for the cover. The black figure is "the fear" again, like the title, you can make it anything you want. Whatever your personal fear is, that is what is under the sheet. We never made the islam connection, but you're not the first person to ask about it... Weird, we never got that out of it.

>Lets' talk about religions now. Zao never hide its catholic behaviours. But what kind of faith do you practice ? Are you real catholics & go to church or is it more for you a kind of spiritual quest ?
No one is catholic. A couple members are christian, but it's more of a personal thing, we don't really put it in the music or the lyrics really. Even then, if it is, it's always more of an abstract way. You don't have to be
interview Zaochristian to get stuff out of Zao's music. Not at all.

>A song like "American Sheets On The Deathbed" seems really critical upon US society.
More on the current government. I can't wait until we don't have to play it anymore because then that means that things here are taking a turn for the better. We like living in the US, but we don't agree with how our government treats the rest of the world sometimes.

>Let's talk about the other texts on this new album. what are the subjects you write about ?
Aside from the politics thing just mentioned, which is really only 1 or 2 songs. They're pretty much all over the map. There are a couple songs inspired by horror films, we're all big fans. And there are some more "personal" -type songs from Dan, which again, we like to sort of leave open so people can attach their own experiences to it. I hate when bands spell out all of their songs, it tends to ruin it for the listener I think.

>Do you have a tour planned for these next weeks/months ? Do you think you'll come in Europe ? What kind of bands woud you like to play with ? Would you share your stage with satanists ?
We have touring being planned indefinately, always have tours in the planning stages, we don't like too much time off. We will be back to Europe, I don't know when exactly, we'll see how the record does over there and what the demand is, but yeah, we'll be back soon. We'll share the stage with anybody if we either a) like the music or b) get along with the people on a personal level... So yeah, we'd never turn down playing with a band based on their religious angle... We're not that close minded.

>Lats words are yours. Thanx for your time.
Pick up "The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here", and we'll hopefully see you all soon at a show. Bring us food.

Interview done by DJ In Extremis

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