Tuesday 5 January 2016

Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Spotlight: An Interview with Mark Aceves from ZED

On today's instalment of – Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Spotlight – where we interview bands who are appearing on the bill. I'm speaking to Mark Aceves (Bassist) from awesome Stoner Rockers – ZED.

ZED have made quite a name for themselves within the Hard Rock/Stoner Rock scene with releases such as 2010s – The Invitation and 2013s – Desperation Blues. With the latter being released on Ripple Music.

They've won a fair amount of praise over the last few years for their albums and their live performances which makes them a name to look out for in 2016 as they will be releasing their 3rd album later this year via Ripple Music.

Now it's time to catch up with Mark as it's been a long time since I've last spoken to him over at The Sludgelord. So when I was given the opportunity to do this interview, I jumped at the chance. So here it is....

Hi Mark. How are things with you today? Thanks for doing this interview. Been a long time since we spoke. Perhaps when I was still The Sludgelord. Welcome to my new home.

Things are great, thanks for asking! We are glad to see you up and running with the Outlaws site as we were fans of your work over on Sludgelord as well!

Anyway we have been busy the past few months working on our new album for Ripple Music. We are currently getting final mixes completed and will be mastering soon, and hopefully handing it off to the label end of Jan!

For people not in the know, Can you please tell them how the band got together and where it is today.

ZED first got together in '07. Three of us, Pete (vocals/guitar) Rich (drums) and me, Mark (bass), were in a previous band that was on Metal Blade/Prosthetic Records from 98-01 called Stitch that was just all heavy groove metal and after that ended we went our different ways for awhile but got back together after Rich had been jamming with Greg (guitar) for a bit and just kinda pulled Pete and I back into the mix.

How would you describe your music?

Heavy, hook/groove driven blues rock maybe? it's kind of hard to describe as we draw from various influences while trying to establish our own identity. I feel that it took a few years to sort through that process and that we have pretty much defined the ZED sound by now.

You’re scheduled to play Borderland Fuzz Fiesta in February 2016. How did you get involved in that festival?

I met Wayne Ruddell shortly after we signed to Ripple in October of '14 and maintained a friendly correspondence with him via Facebook. When BFF 16 was announced some months ago, I reached out to see if ZED could be a part of the bill and we were stoked and grateful to be added to the bill.

What can people expect from your set at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta?

We plan to bring a good mix of old a new to our set. Some of the new songs from the unreleased album in addition to our staple crowd pleasers that we have been playing for the past number of years. We work hard at playing our asses off and winning the crowd over and since It's our first time in Tucson and we are stoked to be playing to mostly new faces who we hope will dig our vibe.

Which bands are you looking forward in seeing at the festival?

Pretty much every band in the line-up is an awesome act and brings a lot of killer vibes to the festival. Elder, Dead Meadow, Yawning Man, Blaak Heat..... everyone really! All killer, no filler!

Will you be performing any warm-up gigs before the festival?

We are playing in LA the night before with House of Broken Promises and possibly Kyng, then after BFF we hit San Diego with Desert Suns and Nebula Drag.

You will be releasing your new album later this year on perhaps the best Stoner/Hard Rock label out there – Ripple Music. Can you tell us what can we expect from the album.

We are absolutely stoked to be part of the Ripple Family. They treat their bands with the utmost respect, fairness and love like I've never seen from labels. As for our album, we spent about a year writing it and we think that this is a huge step in the development of our sound and where we are as songwriters. I can easily and truthfully say it's our best work to date as everyone in the band has really pushed themselves musically on this one. It's great to be in a band with such great guys and musicians.

Did you do anything different recording the new album compared to your past albums. Will there be a change in sound or is still the same classic hard rocking sound that ZED are known for.

We recorded with Tim Narducci (SpiralArms, White Witch Canyon) again, as we feel he did great work with our last album Desperation Blues. He knows us and our sound and his recording/producing technique is very organic and captures the energy and essence of the songs.

Tim really thought that we should go record drums in a fully dedicated percussion recording environment so we went down to Southern California to the studio of Eric Kretz from Stone Temple Pilots and did all our drums tracks there, which was an incredible experience as we got to talk shop and get advice, pointers and here some great rock and roll stories from one of the most successful rock drummers of the past 20 years. as far as the sound and if it has changed, I'd say our sound has grown and matured in that our focus on this album was around song structure and composition, while not sacrificing the worship of the almighty riff. Some of the biggest riffs we've every written are on this album!

How hard is it being a band in today's world? What are the most difficult aspects in being in a band?

It really depends on what your goals are. If you want to be in a hobby band that plays occasionally in your town, then its not too hard. If you want to do something bigger such as put out records, and play on the road, its definitely harder as the money is a lot tighter than before and bands have ever increasing expenses with fewer channels of income. So the bottom line is, you better do this because you love it and you better be prepared to either live on the road or have a steady day job that allows you to take time off. those are just the external challenges. There are also the internal dynamics of being in a band to deal with which is a lot like being married to 3 other people, which can be challenging at times. If you can get through the first few years without killing each other then you're good long term most likely.

What inspired you to become a musician? Any particular album, band or life-changing event that told you – Yeah, that's what I want to do....

Somewhere between my love for Prince's Purple Rain and my introduction to Iron Maiden when I was 12 I wanted to become a musician and Steve Harris from Iron Maiden is why I chose bass. I would sit and listen to them as a kid and Steve's bass playing just blew my mind so much. Still does!!

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band? Is it a group collective or down to one individual?

Its a collective process. Someone will bring in a riff or a few riffs and as a band we collectively work them out, arrange them and create the song. Doesn't matter who it is, drummer, singer, guitarist or bassist, we all provide and accept input on the song. Then Pete writes lyrics over them, which is usually his part exclusively, but we provide input when we feel its needed. We need to be a true democracy to make the band work.

OK… if you had the chance to put on a festival, which bands would you put on. It can be any bands from any era of music.

I think that for the current heavy rock scene, what Wayne is doing with BFF and what thief does with Psycho CA and Night of the Shred are pretty awesome shows with great bands. That being said, in the town where I live (San Jose, California) I found out a few years back that there was an amazing concert here back in '69 that I would have loved to have seen.

Check out this line-up: Jimi Hendrix Experience/Jefferson Airplane/Chambers Brothers/Led Zeppelin/Eric Burdon/Spirit/Canned Heat/Buffy St. Marie/Youngbloods/Steve Miller/Chuck Berry/Muddy Waters/Taj Mahal/Noel Redding (and Fat Mattress)/Lee Micheals/Blues Image/Santana/Aum/Elvin Bishop/Poco/People/Linn County/Loading Zone/Sweet Linda Divine/Cat Mother/Doc Watson/New Lost City Ramblers

How much better could this have been? It couldnt have been any better except maybe just adding Black Sabbath! and to think this happened in my town!

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans?

Just a huge thank you to everyone who has every bought an album or a shirt, expressed interest in our music or shared a beer with us at shows. We love connecting with people where ever we go and hope everyone digs the new album coming out this year. See you guys on the road!

Words by Steve Howe and Mark Aceves

Thanks to Wayne Ruddell for arranging this interview and to Mark for talking to me.

Zed Links

Borderland Fuzz Festival Links



Early Bird Two Day Pass: BFFEarlybird.brownpapertickets.com
Dead Meadow Single Day: BFFDeadmeadow.brownpapertickets.com
Elder Single Day: BFFElder.brownpapertickets.com