Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 10th 2010 8:46PM by Sydnie Taylor
The Zs, Sam Hillman [tenor saxophone], Ben Greenberg [electric guitar], and Ian Antonio [drums] create an instrumental sound that is unlike any other. At times it is confusing, at times it is painful, at times it becomes familiar, but at all times it is brilliant. Sam Hillman spoke with us at Spinner.com on behalf Zs who will be making their first appearance at SXSW this year.
Describe your sound in your own words?
I would say angular austere, severe, relentless, but open and fundamentally pretty acceptable.
How did your band form?
Well, Zs has been around for almost a decade. The original group met in school, we were all students at the Manhattan School of Music together. I am the only original member of the group left. Our current drummer is our second drummer, who was also a student at MSM.
How long has the current group been together?
The present lineup is brand-new; me, Ben Greenberg, Tony Lowe, and Ian Antonio. Three of us have been together for three years.
How did you come up with your band name?
Zs was actually taken off of a tee-shirt. One of the original saxophone player's dad was celebrating his 40th birthday and the family had shirts made that said, Zs 40th for his party. There were about 20 shirts left over and we all had one and we kept looking at Zs and well, that is where it came from. The first two years we played in uniforms. The tee-shirts were like our uniforms then.
What are your musical influences?
There are not any really when it comes to cause and effect. Our influence comes from continuing ideas that got started on one record that didn't reach their logical conclusion, a consistent set of concepts in relations to our instruments that are dealing with sounds and stuff. Kind of, you know trying to use every part of the buffalo.
What is your musical guilty pleasure?
Youth culture related music.
What is your biggest vice?
Beatles or Stones?
This will be your first time playing SXSW, do you have any expectations?
Yes, a tremendous amount of confusion.
Anything specific you are looking forward to?
Yes, playing with the Acid Mothers Temple. Also, we will be driving from New York to Austin and I'm looking forward to driving across the South, I've never driven that far south before. I am fascinated by highway culture and how the influence of the local community comes through.
What's in your festival survival kit?
I am a Buddhist and I will be bringing idols and books. There is a center connected to where I study here at home that I will be visiting.
What is the craziest or wildest thing you have seen or experienced while on tour?
We drove from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Bismarck, North Dakota in the middle of the night when it was 40 degrees below with 40 mile an hour winds. We drove a hundred miles without seeing a single car. It wasn't really crazy nor wild, but it was downright treacherous and scary.
Is there any question you've never been asked, that you wish someone would? What don't we know about Zs that we should?
I'm going to think out loud here. We tend to be asked a lot about who is in the group and what it is like to be with a specific label. People do hard core searches when interviewing us, and there has been some really intelligent writing about our group. You hear bits and pieces of the conversation thrown back at you, they get it right on. What people don't seem to ask are questions about what we are doing, or why it is so long and severe? I would like to have more substantive conversations.
With that being said, why is it so long and severe?
We are sort of interested in pushing ourselves to the physical limits of what we are capable of doing. It is not that we are interested in punishing ourselves or audience, but we like to take the listener as far as we can mentally even to the point of boredom. Going to the instant that their mind starts to wander and they leave us for a bit, and then suddenly they are back with us and when they come back it is to an element of surprise that they find refreshing.
Sydnie Taylor is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.