Thanks guys for taking the time to talk with us at Glitzine.
As per my recent live review I promise not to use the "N word" at any stage during this interview, please feel free to shoot me if I do.
Johnny H. OK, November saw you complete what must feel like your millionth trip up the UK's motorways this year. How did this set of dates go and what do you feel you have achieved in 2007?
Oli Zion: This was the first tour since the release of 'Food', and the difference was amazing. Suddenly there was a reason for people to be there, they had heard the songs, learned the words and were right there in the middle of it with us. We felt a much stronger connection with the crazies this time around because of that.
Johnny: Seems like the previous years of hard work are starting to shape you musically and in your stature.
Oli: We have been putting in the hours on the road throughout 2007 and the results of that are showing all over the UK. There are more crazies branded with the ZC logo cropping up all over the place too.
Johnny: I first saw you in Bristol on 8th June 2005 supporting "Towers of London" (although they did an XFM session instead) and one of my fave powerpop bands "Tsar". That must have been a pretty steep learning curve for a first UK tour?
Oli: It was indeed, it was the first time we had been let out on the road, we were in a Toyota Hiace, and we were sleeping in it each night with the gear, Long is 6 foot 8, he slept across the front seats with his head out one window and his feet out the other! It was us against the world, and it was a massive confidence boost for us.
Johnny: I hope you realise It then took me 6 months to realise you weren't called Zion Chain when I was googling to see where I could get hold of your stuff.
Johnny: I did note that you were wandering round Reading Festival and Download in 2005 as punters (I'm sad like that). So, what was it like a little under 2 years later to be opening the UK's premier metal festival?
Oli: Pretty crazy to say the least. We couldn't get a dinner ticket 2 years before and now were on the main stage! It came right in the middle of a run of dates with Velvet Revolver too, so was a pretty good week. Main stage at Donington was a massive experience for us, hopefully we can use that experience and bring the same kind of stage show to the smaller venues in 2008.
Johnny: I think I've now seen you about 7 times in most types of venues from Cardiff International Arena to that field in Derbyshire, what's been the highlights so far gig wise?
Oli: The highlights come in different shapes and sizes. Obviously sharing a stage with our heroes is a huge highlight, as was our first tour around Europe. All the same when you connect with 200 kids in a tiny venue in the middle of nowhere who take the roof off.
Johnny: And is there any fucker you wouldn't play with (LOL)?
Oli: The boys wouldn't let me put us forward for the Spice Girls support .. I'm not entirely convinced Long didn't have a thing with one of em ..
Johnny: Moving onto your debut full album finally released in late 2007. The frankly superb "Food", was produced by Joe Barresi (Backyard Babies/QOTSA), what was he like to work with?
Oli: He definitely knew how to get the best out of us, personally I was slightly daunted by the stature of bands, (and drummers) that he'd worked with previously, he'd just finished recording Tools album, 10,000 days. But Joe turned all that into positive energy. There were times when he'd give us a bollocking for turning up hung over from our 'acclimatisation' sessions the previous night and he would crack the whip if he had to, but we can only thank him for that.
Johnny: I think he has captured your "live" ferocity, whilst retaining the pop sensibilities that make your stuff so standout amongst your peers.
Oli: Yeah we tracked everything live, and limited ourselves to a small number of takes so we kept many imperfections too. The pop sensibilities are within the songs and melodies and Jose Bolognese brought a sound to the album, which enables those melodies to flow out.
Johnny: I recently described Food to a mate as sounding like Danko Jones jamming with Killing Joke whilst using Turbonegro's backline. (And he went out and bought it). Where do you pitch yourselves influence wise?
Oli: We listen to a lot of different stuff, from QOTSA to Tool, Muse, Dresden Dolls, Bronx, White Stripes (not only for the drumming) but we were heavily influenced by the grunge movement as it was all around us we were growing up, that can not be denied. Joe's influence played a big part in the sound of our record also, of course.
Johnny: You also recorded "Food" in the US, what do they think of Zico Chain over there?
Oli: In our limited experience of playing live over there we have found them to be a lot more open minded than audiences in the UK, touring over there will come towards the end of 2008 but the reception so far has been positive.
Johnny: Are there any tracks from "Food" that still give you a semi solid when you play them or hear them on the radio etc?
Oli: When Radio1 named 'Where Would You Rather Be?' as their track of the week on the rock show, that was a massive day for us, we were bouncing around our flat! Then the same track topped the MTV2 Rock Chart, so there's always good memories of that when we play it live. It has a slightly different feel to the other tracks in the live set too, it's a good one for getting the crazies bouncing!
Johnny: One thing I love about "Food" is the honesty of the delivery, and you seem to take that into interviews guys, I mean Chris telling Kerrang you love "Stone Roses" was a priceless quote. Is being true to yourselves important?
Johnny: Whilst on the subject of honesty, your lyrics seem dominated by sexual deviancy and drugs. Hmmmm, personal experience or wishful thinking???
Oli: LOL! Its not all
about us, some stuff in there is about society and how it affects peoples behaviour,
about what we read daily in the papers etc, but having said that the majority
of it was written on the road
you can draw your own conclusions as to which
Of the newer stuff you've been recently airing live ("About A Boy"
springs to mind), you really seem to have taken "Zico Chain" sound
and honed it even further. What's in store regarding new songs etc? and what
does 2008 hold for "Zico Chain"?
Oli: We're writing the next album right now, a lot of the ideas arrived on the last tour, so it's an exciting process solidifying them into songs. The sound is developing further still too, and will continue to do so as we move through the creative process and begin to have fun with a few boundaries. I reckon there will be some surprises.
Johnny: How are you going to top 2007 though guys??? Having "Velvet Revolver's" personal testimonial on your Myspace page must have been a high. As must be the growing number of ZC tattoos that seem to appear everywhere you play?
Oli: Absolutely, We've come a long way over 2007, but we've only had an album out for three months. We have to keep the momentum up now, get the next album recorded and keep it all moving forward.
Johnny: Sure takes a lot of dedication to get a band tattoo, so before I get mine can you just tell me "What the fuck is a Zico Chain?" (or should that be Zion Train).
Oli: A Zico Chain is a chain of inspirational people the lead you along your path throughout life. It's about not being afraid to wear your influences on your sleeves and being proud of who you are because of them.
Johnny: I usually finish off with some stupid stuff (like "who would you trombone to get a gig with?"), but as I've enjoyed you guys music so much this year.
I'm actually going to just ask you to sign off with the "Zico Chain" wish list for 2008.
(However it must be as honest and complete as possible or we will simply make up this bit up and say you want to play opening for a 3 band bill with a reformed "Ugly Kid Joe" and "Candlebox" ... LOL).
Oli: Is tromboning someone a real thing?!
Wish list eh - More fans, wanna sell a few copies of the next album! Chris has told me he wants this to be the year where his beard joins up in the middle.
Johnny: I'd just like to thank you again for taking the time to speak with us at Glitzine and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a rocking 2008.
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