'Coming Through, Loud and Clear!'
The Orange County, California-based punk-rap outfit Zebrahead was formed in 1996 by vocalist/guitarist Justin Mauriello, guitarist Greg Bergdorf, bassist Ben Osmundson, and drummer Ed Udhus. Inspired by acts including Fugazi and the Descendants, the group found themselves uninspired by the local trend towards ska-punk, and instead began incorporating elements of hip-hop into their sound, eventually recruiting rapper Ali Tabatabaee to join their ranks.
After issuing the EP Yellow on the indie label Dr. Dream in May of 1998, Zebrahead signed to major label Columbia to release their full-length debut Waste of Mind, which appeared later that same year. Playmate of the Year was issued in mid-'00.
Three years after having released a full length album, MFZB appeared in 2003, and shortly afterwards lead singer/guitarist Mauriello exited the group to pursue other interests (namely start a new band I Hate Kate). However, Zebrahead was soon back in action with the addition of new vocalist/guitarist Matty Lewis (formerly of Jank 1000) to their line-up.
In 2006 the band recorded the song "With Legs Like That", which features on the WWE Wreckless Intent Album, and is currently being used as WWE diva Maria's entrance music.
Zebrahead spent summer 2006 on the Warped Tour while their new album Broadcast to the World was released in Europe on July 3rd through the German based record company SPV. The album which had come out in February of the same year in Japan, went gold in just over a month's time.
The rest of 2006 is being spent touring Europe and the US as part of the Broadcast To The World Tour.
Hey! La Habra! I'm from Fullerton. Did you guys go to Sonora?
Yep, lovely Sonora High School? Ladera Vista? Where did you play in La Habra? Ben Osmundson - "We never really played in La Habra other than back yard parties as there really isn't a venue! Closest ones are really in your town of fullerton!!!"
What made you decide to join together instead of staying with your respective bands? "We really were looking to do something that no one else was doing. Everyone is in a ska band or a pop punk band and we thought it would be more fun to create our own niche."
That was a great catch landing a deal with Glenn Ballard. How did that come about? "By accident really. I think someone from his label saw us play and he decided to take an interest in us. He really was a cool guy."
How did you feel when it happened? "Was really stoked. Couldn't believe someone that big even knew who we were! We knew no managers and no one at any record label so meeting people all of a sudden was a little weird ... dumb luck ... right place at the right time."
That's great that Ron Jeremy is a fan of your work. Thinking about doing a soundtrack? :) What was it like meeting him? "It was like meeting one of the greatest professional television and film actors ever! He was actually a really cool down to earth guy. Kinda what you would expect, I believe????"
Since most of your tours are not in the U.S., what made you guys think of becoming a Euro band as opposed to a U.S. band? "I am not sure. We have been in Europe a lot lately especially the UK because we seem to be gaining more momentom over there. And it is damn fun to be a tourist there!!!! But we are coming home to tour the USA this fall so all is good. We won't forget where we are from. Before this everyone was asking us why we are always in Japan and now it is Europe! Hey, hopefully next it will be Australia so I can hang out there for a while!"
Switching from Columbia to SMT.com seems like a big change. What brought about that change and how has the difference been? Did everyone agree to the switch or did it have to be a split decision? "Everyone agreed on the change. Columbia Records is pretty much gone. Tim Devine was always the person who fought for us to get stuff done at Columbia and when he was gone it made no sense to be somewhere where no one cared as much anymore. We have found a home with a new label all over the world and found a label in each part of the world that really cares a lot. So it is really cool to have like six different labels in the world 'cause you know in each territory you have people who care ... 'cause they are the ones that signed you! Not someone who just got handed a band that the USA signed and don't want you!"
When you guys tour together, what is it like being on the road? "Actually, really good. We buy bikes everywhere we go and go ride around like tourists. Today we are in Cologne, Germany and I am going to ride to the Dome ... which is really cool!"
Do you have a lot of arguments or it is it pretty tame most of the time? What kind of experiences do you have together? "Things are pretty tame these days. Everyone seems to get along better than ever and we are all just stoked to be doing what we are doing!'
What was the best venue you played in Europe and why? "I really like the Electric Ballroom and The Astoria in London, England. Truly great places."
Does culture affect how your performance is or is it pretty much just Zebrahead the whole way through? In other words, do you adjust your concert performance per country, where the culture varies, or do you attract the same type of people throughout? "Not really. It doesn't affect things. We might learn a few words in a foreign language but other than that it really doesn't change. People get the same jokes everywhere!'
Where does your inspiration come from? Do ideas for songs come spontaneously or is it a conscious effort? Do you guys write collectively or does a few of you get together just to brainstorm and then one of you hammers it out? "We all write together and also apart. Inspiration kinda comes from everyday life. You can only write good songs when you are honest with yourself and write from what has happened to you. When you make shit up it is obvious!!"
What are your future plans? "We are going back to Europe in March. Doing more touring in the USA this summer and then maybe off to write a new record after summer???? Not really sure. Maybe a little Home Depot or Bed, Bath and Beyond?!'
If you could re-record any '80s song (possibly even chessy!) which one would it be and why?! "I am totally open to it! Love the 80's. It will happen soon!'
Finally, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Sure! I saw 'March of the Penguins' and it truly bummed my world out! What depressing stuff. I love all animals though."
Interviewed by Brian J. Hong
If you would like to win a copy of Zebrahead's new CD, just answer this easy question: Three years after having released a full length album, MFZB appeared in 2003, but according to the band what did those initals stand for?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 1st with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: ZEBRAHEAD SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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