Come the end of this week New York City’s own Zr. King will be releasing the follow up to their 2014 release. With Musically & Morally Bankrupt on its way, they were nice enough to sit down with ZO to talk about the new album, calling on a Saturday, and more!
Kendra: We’re several years into the band. Thinking back to the first practice to the last one you may’ve had, what’s changed for the better in terms of sound, style, communication, and all that jazz?
Zr. King: Well, the older we get, the deafer we get, and the louder we get. So now 7 years in, we’ve passed the brutality threshold and we figure in due time, they’ll be able to hear us coming from across the Atlantic. Or Pacific. Or both. We’ve played together for so long now, there isn’t even really a lot of communication needed to get things done. We often gravitate to similar sonic mindsets when we’re writing, working on new tunes, or rehearsing. We’ve always just done what we enjoy and make music we like playing. That’s worked out well for us, so we aim to continue to do it so long as we’re having this much fun. That’s always been the guiding principle – take it seriously but have a blast. If the former outshines the latter, we’ll go skateboarding or start a roller hockey team or something.
Kendra: We’re about to hear for ourselves when Musically & Morally Bankrupt drops May 17th. Being a group of guys who love rock n’ roll, I’m sure you also appreciate a nice beer from time to time. With that, if you had to compare your upcoming release to a brew, which would it be and why?
Zr. King: We do enjoy a nice beer from time to time, if by time to time, you mean now and immediately after we finished the last one. Comparing it to this album though? That’s a feat. We need to do this track by track:
1. Welcome to Bearizona: That’s probably a Tecate. The kind of beer you drink in the desert heat after screaming through Death Valley in an El Camino with working air conditioning. So you’re still cool as ice. But you need a beer. Typical day.
2. Don’t Call Me On Saturday: This one’s for all the dance floor chieftains out there. What do they drink? Probably something citrusy, or with a sourness, like a goose. We say Otra Vez by Sierra Nevada, final answer. Unless we’re talking about your friends icing you, because this song would be a pretty epic soundtrack to that kind of nonsense too, so grab some Smirnoffs you jackasses.
3. Edgebot Planet: this is a behemoth of a song, so it needs a behemoth of a beer to pair with it. We’ll go with a Dale’s Pale Ale for this one, but in the stovepipe can. You know, because more is more.
4. At A Distance: this song is dark and brooding. Like a Guinness. Also pairs well with whiskey. So we choose Guinness. Paired with whiskey.
5. Ships In The Night: Nautical theme, calls for nautical theme beer: Heavy Seas. Back in the early 2000s, Heavy Seas made an incredible Belgian abbey-style ale called HOLY SHEET. It was incredible. And seasonal. Griffin looked for that beer for years and still can’t find more of it. If anyone has a connection to get us some, we’ll give you free stuff. That’s a promise.
6. Telamon (the greater): This is a song about the Trojan War, and it’s the longest song on the record. So we need something that will last. And in enough quantity for an army. Therefore, this song is several cases of PBR. Also, RED FANG: if you are looking for a Zr. King tune to cover, choose this one and make a video for it. Please. We’ll even supply the PBR. Not kidding.
Kendra: I hope it was something from the ’90s because when I pressed play on “Welcome to Bearizona” I was five-years-old again hanging with my older brother, listening to his favorite rock bands. Did you pull inspiration from the likes of Alice in Chains or any of those formative bands from then?
Zr. King: “Bearizona” definitely has an Alice in Chains vibe going with the weird vocal harmonies on it. That just kind of happened; the song was written instrumentally long before the vocals were added to it. The main riff started off as a Metallica-meets-Pantera-fired-through-a-nautical-cannon kind of thing. Lamb of God’s bassist John Campbell once described bandmate Willie Adler as a “good time guitar player” who finds something that leads to a good time and just keeps playing it over and over again. That pretty much sums up the genesis of the riffs that comprise Welcome to Bearizona. We’ve peeled a lot of paint, and annoyed a lot of practice-space mates, with them riffs.
Kendra: That song is great, but I love the moves my body did when listening to “Don’t Call Me on a Saturday.” What’s the story behind that? Are you really just peeved by phone calls on the weekend?
Zr. King: “Don’t Call Me On Saturday” is just a straight up license to have a good time and shake your ass. It’s not so much that we mind phone calls on the weekend, we just may be too busy doing the aforementioned ass-shaking to pick up the phone. I mean, this track has more than enough to distract: Walken-approved cowbell, backward snare drum, a sweet Hammond organ section before a searing guitar solo. It’s basically the sonic equivalent of the greatest party ever: fireworks, high heels, secret entranceways, overflowing drinks, kittens, zero cell phone signal. But at a groovetastic ass-shaking tempo, with Godzilla playing bass. Rest assured, there will be plenty of tacos at this party.
Kendra: I mentioned fond memories with my own brother but lord (and our mother) knows we could never work together. Brandon and Griffin, do you ever get into arguments that only brothers could that leave everyone else in the band on the outside, like…what’s going on with them?
Zr. King: It’s funny in a way, Griffin and Brandon’s moves with respect to each other on that type of wavelength specifically are quite understated. Arguments typically fly so far under the radar that the other guys in the band don’t even know they’re having an argument, or just did. Sarcasm helps a lot too.
In all seriousness, they don’t really argue that much – in fact, they often share the same opinion, so if anything, it is challenging to be in a band with the two of them and have to go against that type of hard line. But Matt and Medley have stuck around, and the band is still tight with D-Pain (the original drummer), so it can’t be all that bad. It comes down to people you can depend on. If Brandon and Griffin actually do redline, it usually explodes with violence rather than words. But that’s a once every few decades type of thing. Last time that happened, it was 2002 and a hotel room in Hong Kong was destroyed. That’s not even a joke.
Kendra: You’re NYC-based now but when I listen I hear the Sunset Strip calling your name. Ever consider a move to LA or are you an east coast ride or die band for life?
Zr. King: We’ve thought about going to California. What’s it like to live a mile from everything and always be an hour drive away? The more we thought about it though, we already know what that’s like living in New York City. We definitely would love to go out and play the west coast, and everywhere between here and there. It’s a tough living though, and we all have other careers to make the doughnuts, so to speak, so we don’t do long-range touring as much as we’d like. If the right opportunity presented itself though, we’d jump. And that could mean anywhere – LA. Texas. Vesuvius. The future is incredible, we always say.
Kendra: With the album out in this week, are there any plans to tour by summer?
Zr. King: We’ve got a handful of shows lined up throughout the summer, hopefully, some big party/festival deals too – so there will be ample opportunity for our tri-state area friends, fans, and family to come out and boogie down with us. We’ll hopefully pick up some out of state shows too. And we have invited out to Dave Grohl and the Red Fang dudes if either needs an opener for their next US tour. We are also inquiring on pyrotechnic lessons with Till Lindemann from Rammstein. So basically, anything is possible.