Saturday 30 July 2016

Outlaws Of The Sun/Taste Nation Joint Interview: ZED - Back From The Dead And Causing Trouble In Paradise

Matthew and myself had a great time doing our previous joint interview with SlowGreen Thing. We decided to do another one. We thought who should we contact. The answer was pretty simple. We both decided pretty quickly on San Jose Blues/Hard Rock/Stoner Rockers – ZED.

We are both huge fans of ZED and their blend of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock riffs. They have a new album coming out soon called – Trouble In Eden. For this album, they've teamed up with Powerhouse Record Label – Ripple Music – to release the album. Trouble In Eden is a stunning album on every level and it's only going to enhance ZED's already great reputation.

We wanted to find out what's changed since their last album – Desperation Blues and why did they sign with Ripple Music. (Yeah, stupid question I know but I wanted to find out more).

ZED have kindly agreed to this interview with Matthew and myself. So here goes...

OOTS – Outlaws Of The Sun
TN – Taste Naton

OOTS – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. So what can people expect from your new album.

Things are going great, thanks! We are excited and gearing up for the release of our new album “Trouble In Eden” on August 26
th through Ripple Music! I think that when people hear this album, whether they are familiar with us or not, they will really latch on to the big grooves, which is our signature. We approached this record with two things in mind, big grooves and solid song structures. Those familiar with our previous albums will see a noticeable growth in musicianship as well. We spent a year banging the songs around and working out the kinks and it shows! It was a year of blood, sweat, tears, laughter and fights!!

TN - Congrats on a tremendous album in 'Trouble in Eden!' This is a beast from start to finish.  What was your approach in writing this album?  Was it the same or different from your previous two releases?

The writing process for this one was a little bit different because we as a band are always so riff-driven or riff-focused, playing from the gut, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but we have a pattern with our writing where we would slap riffs together and call it a song. What we started doing with our previous album, which really came into fruition on this album was approaching a song from BOTH a gut/feel perspective and a cerebral perspective where we still find and ride the big grooving riffs but we piece them together and arrange them in a more thoughtful way to hopefully create a better song experience.

TN - I may be biased because I'm a huge fan of the band, but it seems you guys pay attention to the details.  Ranging from the interplay of the double guitars, heavy bass lines and drums that keeps the album moving at it's fast tempo, 'Trouble in Eden' will no doubt raise your status in the world of heavy rock!!  With the millions of Genres & Sub-Genres out there, how would you classify your music?

Good question! The funny thing about our music is that when we first started out in ’07, the listeners who really got and understood us were the people in the Stoner Rock scene, who have opened their arms and accepted us above and beyond any other genre or scene. However, when you hear us, it’s apparent we are not your textbook stoner rock band. We are influenced by the big classic rock bands heavily as well, but we also incorporate other styles as well as more contemporary influences. Our stated purpose when we started out was to write what we felt were just great rock songs, and not worry about genres or labels. The only concern was asking ourselves what does the song call for and does it make the song better, even if it’s a cliché. Song is king with us.

OOTS – What did you differently when recording Trouble In Eden compared to your last album Desperation Blues.

When we did Desperation Blues we recorded it all at once in one studio. This time around we got the opportunity to go down to Southern California and record all the drum tracks in the home studio of Eric Kretz, the drummer from Stone Temple Pilots, who has an incredible drum tracking studio on his property. We got to spend about 4 days at his compound working with him and his engineer to make the drums sound HUGE! That was an amazing experience being there and even just hanging out with Eric and hearing some amazing stories about the music industry. Then we brought the tracks back home and finished the rest with our producer/engineer Tim Narducci who did an amazing job on this one as well as Desperation Blues.

OOTS – Did you learn any difficult lessons when recording your last album that you didn't want to repeat with the new album.

Whenever you go in to record an album, there will always be new things that crop up and challenge you in some way, and they are usually things that are completely unexpected, while the things you anticipated as being difficult, you end up just blazing through. Due to a medical emergency that hit our producer, we had to wait about a month between doing drums and recording the rest of the instruments, so the challenge was making sure we played the songs correctly as they were a month before, because sometimes songs are like living, evolving things that continue to change even after you record them! Just doing our due diligence was probably the biggest thing.

TN - Did everyone start playing and singing in the womb or start a little later in life?

I wish I started earlier!! I think we all started playing music seriously in our teens, and it just grew from there. I had piano lessons as a kid but was never really into it. When I was about 12 I saw Back to the Future and suddenly wanted to be Marty McFly with a red strat and I was saving up my money to get one, but then I discovered Iron Maiden and was immediately fascinated with Steve Harris as a bass player and decided to go to bass! I haven’t stopped since!

Matthew with his ZED collection

TN - Title Track 'Trouble in Eden' & 'High Indeed' stand out to me as both are superbly written both musically and lyrically? They both seem to have a similar theme?  Where/How/Who is Eden?

Glad you picked up on it. The album as a whole has something of a running theme, which the album and song title, Trouble in Eden, represents. That being that this world, which was once Eden, a place of paradise, is in serious trouble, at the hands of humankind. Whether it be the ecological disasters that have happened and will happen because of humanity’s abuse of land and resources, the manmade plagues of war and poverty driven by people hungry for power, or our own internal struggles and battles we fight daily. Just look around and see there IS trouble in Eden. And we wanted the cover art to convey the same thing, which is why we chose a representation of the Hindu goddess Kali, who in her duality is the goddess of destruction as well as a gentle mother, and in her hands are things that represent life and death, good and evil.

OOTS – The album is being released by the fine folks over at Ripple Music. How did you hook up with them.

Funny story! The first guy to ever write a review of us was Bill Goodman, The Evil Engineer, who gave our first album its very first review back in 2010. He had told me about Ripple Music and how we should hook up with them way back in the day, but for whatever reason, I never followed up on it. Apparently, he had also told them about us, but they didn’t follow up on it either. Fast forward 5 years and our album Desperation Blues has been out for awhile and I start looking at online record distributors and see Heavy Ripples, which is Ripple Music’s independent distribution vehicle.

So I reach out to them about our album and we make an agreement, so when I send it to them, Todd Severin, who is the label owner, listens to our album and luckily dug it enough to make his partner, Pope, listen to it and finally after Pope listened to it, he dug it too. Then they came out to a show we played in their area and said they wanted to work with us! We were stoked! So then a few weeks later, we signed a deal, and then had to start busting our asses because we had no new songs written, and a record to deliver in a year! We were a little late, but hopefully worth the wait!

TN - How is the local music scene in your hometown of San Jose?

The scene in SJ I’d say is recuperating. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s it was a really vibrant and thriving scene, but the city ordinances as well as both the gentrification and influx of tech workers who are just not rock oriented, caused the closure of some key venues. So from then until the last couple of years, it was very hard for local bands to find an audience, however I feel that has really begun to change over the past couple of years with a renewed interest in live music and live rock for that matter, San Jose is definitely on the way up again. I’m very optimistic!

TN - You guys are touring The West Coast in support of the album.  I look forward to seeing you guys play Los Angeles at The Viper Room.  What can we expect with a live ZED show?

ZED live shows are usually pretty energetic. We try to bring the energy AND the volume to the stage and really punch the audience in the gut sonically! We also have a lot of fun with it!

TN - Will there be a bigger tour that hits other parts of America?

Yes that will be in spring or summer 2017 once we’ve marketed the album a little bit.

OOTS – I'll add in another touring question. Will you guys be coming over to Europe soon as you have quite a few fans over in Europe.

Absolutely! We are planning to come over summer 2017 to try to hit the festivals and do some touring city to city! We love Europe and the rock fans there are amazing!

TN - Who did your album artwork?  It's pretty amazing!  

I usually do all the artwork for the band myself, but this time I wanted some outside input and an outside perspective on our vision, so we collaborated with a good friend of our named Kiren Bagchee of Kiren In Digital Studios. We basically told him our ideas and the vibe we wanted and he hit it out of the park! His work is beautiful and organic and he has a great eye. We are totally stoked on what he did for us.

TN - Thank you for your time.  To the readers in Los Angeles/Orange County come party with me October 20th when ZED plays The Viper Room!!

Thanks Matt! We Cant wait to see you all and party!! Its gonna be a rager! Thank you for supporting underground music!!

OOTS – Well guys thanks for doing this joint interview with Matthew and myself. Best of luck with the new album. It's a great album. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

First, thank you Steve for being a longtime advocate for us heavy rock bands in the underground. We appreciate all you do!! Secondly, thanks to everyone over the years who has taken the time to listen to, purchase merch or see the band live! The friendship, feedback and good vibes you give us really make it worthwhile, especially when to going gets tough!! We hope to see you guys soon!

Words by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and ZED

Thanks to ZED for taking the time out to talking to us. Trouble In Eden will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Ripple Music on August 26th 2016.

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