Monday, January 30, 2017

interview: Zero Down

Zero Down has a very interesting sound. They live to celebrate heavy metal of the golden times when the music was fun and young, rocking out with swagger and mojo, riff-driven music and infectious songs. As long your heart is drawn to traditional heavy metal and classic rock, you are the preferred and target audience that this band has in mind. Who are they? What do they want with you?
Don’t you think it’s time to find out more about them? Lenny Burnett, whose destiny is to play guitar, answered these questions about the band.
Hello, Zero Down! Your band is based in Seattle, correct? How is life for your band in Seattle? Has your band had good experiences with the rock scenes in that city?
Yes, we are based in Seattle and all the members have been in the local scene since the late 80s in various bands. We have seen the scene go through different phases with the grunge wave being obviously the biggest, but there has always been a strong metal and punk movement in this town that we have all been a part of. It certainly ebbs and flows but we have been lucky enough to have a pretty consistent following over the years and fortunate to share the stage and camaraderie with tons of great bands. The local rock radio station KISW has always been great to us and clubs like El Corazón and Studio 7 have always been proactive putting on the local bands to open for bigger national tour shows to get us more exposure.
People around the world associate Seattle with grunge rock. For people who are new to the band, how would you describe your music? Have you noticed that you have a certain demographic that likes your music or is it hard to generalize about your supporters?
We are about as far away from a grunge band as you can get. We are definitely a heavily-influenced NWOBHM-band that have tried to bring that style into the current landscape of the metal scene. Think early Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead with our own twists here and there. We certainly resonate with an older crowd that was around for that music when it came out originally in the 80s, but there is a lot of young kids that dig it when they are exposed to it. It’s just hard to getting in front of an all ages crowd these days.
When did the band start? Did you always play the same style of music? How was 2016 overall for the band? I have noticed that your band is associated with some cool shows like Udo Dirkschneider and Uli Jon Roth, and last year I think your band did the Skid Row and Dio Disciples shows.
Zero Down was formed originally by myself, Lenny Burnett on guitar, Mark “Hawk” Hawkinson on vocals and Ron E Banner on bass in and around 2002. It took us a while to figure out what we all did well collectively and develop our song writing into something that represented all of us and reflected the influences we shared. The music was always aggressive and hard, but in the beginning it had more of a hardcore and rock feel to it. Once we added Fred Speakman on second guitar and Tyler Lindsley on drums we definitely started moving towards a more classic 80s metal direction crossed with our love for 70s rock and 80s punk. Over the years Fred and Tyler went on to do other things and we added Chris Gohde (drums) and Matt Fox (guitar). With those additions we definitely moved further into that classic metal sound and our last two releases really reflect that. 2016 was a good year for us as we just continued to play shows to promote our latest release No Limit to the Evil released on Minotauro Records in 2015 and start working on new material for another release hopefully sometime this year. For sure we got to play some great shows with the bands you mentioned and others like Prong, Riot, Grim Reaper, Y&T and more.
In 2015 you had the album No Limit to the Evil. Your music is available at CD Baby. Has that been a good platform for your band? Has it been worth it? Is Zero Down on Bandcamp and itunes and platforms like those? Are those good places to support your band?
Yes, you can get all four of our full-length CD releases at CD Baby but also get the latest No Limit to the Evil at Minotauro Records who put it out. They are a specialized metal label base in Italy that has been around since the early 80s. Really great people who do a great job helping out smaller bands get distributed and heard internationally. Check them out. All these places are good for us. As a small band every opportunity to get your music out there is a good one.
Has Zero Down ventured out of the state of Washington to the rest of the U.S.? If you have, where has the band been so far?
We have mostly just played in the NW and West Coast. We would love to tour the States, Europe and Asia but without any label tour support it just hasn’t been financially viable for us. Probably the only disappointment over the years for us is I think we would especially go over great in Europe.
Keeping a rock and roll band together is difficult, especially as the musicians get to the 30s and the days of careless youth become a memory. Plus, there are fashions and trends that come and go. Often, having a band means losing money. How do you keep motivated after having a band for a long time?
I think we have survived and kept it going together for so long because we love what we do and we are all friends. No matter what is going on in our lives we have this to look forward to escape the adult responsible world and be kids again, basically. All the money we make from shows and merch go back into the band fund so it pays for itself. It’s basically free entertainment for ourselves, more or less. Plus, I think the death of most bands is that they quit writing new music together. We are always moving forward writing new songs so we have something in front of us to get excited about and stimulate the artistic side of this. Believe me, we understand how unique our situation is and that’s why we keep it going.
What are your plans for 2017? Do you have any news that you can tell us about?
We have shows coming up that we are really excited about right now, Piston Ready (CD Release show) at The Funhouse on Feb 10th and Uli Roth (ex-Scorpions guitarist) on Feb 26th at Studio 7. Should be kick ass so excited to start the year off right. Beyond that our big goal is to work towards getting back in the studio to record our fifth full-length release. We have five new songs in the can right now so we are making progress. Hopefully we can get back in this summer and get something new out by end of the year.
What else can you tell us?
We have four releases out entitled Old Time Revival, Good Times at the Gates of Hell, Looking to Start a Riot and No Limit to the Evil.
You can check out updates on us on Facebook and you can get our releases at CD Baby. Thanks for your help spreading the word on us and all the underground bands out there. It gets harder and harder to get heard out there because there is so much available so metal zines like yours really help the scene. Us metal bands can use all the help when can get! Horns high!

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