I really have a new favourite band, Zig-Zags, their Running Out Of Red LP saved a day for me when I lucked onto it and it has taken me to some great places ever since. They’re ferocious, funny, and, umm, freaking great! You want proof?
Jed Maheu was kind enough to take time out from wielding his axe to answer a carefully crafted bunch of very serious questions from me – you want to know about US politics, Brexit and Billy Ray Cyrus? then you’ve come to the right place, brother. Hell, there’s even some technical guitar sound bits in there just to prove that I’m a heavyweight rock interviewer type.
How do you make an LP sound simultaneously so now and so 70s? Well the lyrics are all pre-internet and most of the equipment we use is old too and we’re old, and I was born in the 70’s so there’s that. I guess ’cause now sucks so why try to sound like now?
When you recorded ‘They Came For Us’, did you realize what a Godlike moment of genius you’d created? Haha dude, we all had to get stoned including the engineer cause we couldn’t get the tempo right. We kept trying and it wasnt feeling right then everyone got high and nailed the fucker first try. I remember being very aware of how my fingers felt on the guitar strings and then the first time I listened back I thought the song was like a half hour long.
Tell me something technical about the guitar sound please, so this looks like a proper interview done by someone who knows about flangers and reverb and suchlike. Well it’s the amp mostly. I bought the amp right before the band started and it’s kinda shaped the sound. It’s a music man HD150, super fucking loud. No preamp tubes so it’s sounds like a solid state. Like Greg Ginns gear or some shit. It takes pedals real well so you can really fuck with the sound but the secret is the built-in Phaser. It says Tremolo on the amp but I never heard no fucking tremolo sound like that so I call it a phaser. It’s a signature of the Zig-Zags sound.
What’s the most rock and roll item in your wardrobe? I have a turquoise encrusted concho belt. Its real deal native american. Once when I was broke I tried to sell it on eBay but its hard to sell real native american stuff on there without filling out a form. I also have a Gold Record. I also tried to sell it on eBay once but they wouldn’t let me due to some copyright bullshit.
Do you think rock and metal can get more caught up in nostalgia sometimes than is healthy for the scene? Oh yea, the way these clowns dress and they’re like acting like they’re in a biker gang while texting on their iPhone. Get over it. Its like people who do those civil war reenactments. This is Rock and Roll reenactment. It aint the worst thing in the world cause ya know Maiden and Minor Threat rule so I would rather sound like that, but you can’t pretend that Limp Bizkit never happened and now you’re dressing like it’s fucking Woodstock, or some shit. I call my local biker gang “The Baristas”.
So US Politics, from what I read, the big debate is whether transgender lady-man dudes should be able to buy assault rifles in the men’s room of their original gender in Indiana – where do you stand on this issue? I’m bored talking about guns. I grew up having them my whole life, so yea. Can the govt just do one fucking thing and keep them out of the hands of crazy people? Is it that fucking hard? I see crazy dudes and I cross the street. If one comes into the gun shop lets at least get the dudes e-mail first and if he wants to shoot his dick off so he can rise in the ranks of women’s tennis than at least we’ll know how to contact him to say “Good Job Ma’am”.
Out on the road do you guys all get a bit crazy and stay up ‘til 11pm some nights (like Black Sabbath used to)? We used to but as the music got faster and gnarlier we had to stop getting drunk before the show, so usually we don’t start drinking til after we play which is like 1, and then at that point you’re not drunk enough to do anything too stupid.
What’s the most METAL album in your collection? P.I.L “Metal Box” The whole thing is totally metal.
Was your band name a deliberate attempt to cosy up to ZZ Top in, neurotically alphabetized, record collections? I always heard that if you name your business with like a lot of A’s you’ll do well like “AAA Bathrooms and Fixtures” so I was thinking about doing the opposite of that.
What’s the best city being in the Zig-Zags has taken you to? Prague, Berlin, Paris, Austin, Vienna, Portland, Seattle, San Antonio, New York, Barcelona, Bilbao, and some other small French town that I can’t remember.
What music can you guys all agree on? Is there any music that’s banned in the van? I think we all like country music, like 70’s country and shit like that. Uhhh Steve Miller and Led Zeppelin aren’t really allowed but that’s not me. We don’t listen to tons of metal or punk shit cause it’s too stressful and makes me wanna circle pit in the van. 90’s hip hop is always a solid choice. The new stuff I have a hard time following.
When do we get to see you come over and play in Liverpool? We are down 100% to play anywhere anytime as long as someone can cover whatever the cost of getting us there. Which maybe hard now thanks to Brexit.
What superpowers would you opt for and why? or do you have any already? Be cool to be able to eat as much as you want and not get fat. Not sure how you could help others except ya know just being somebody that folks look up to and maybe that would be enough. Sorry man this question is super personal, so it’s hard to answer.
How much do your songs change for you and take on their own life when you play ‘em out live every night? Mainly just with little guitar fuckerys every now and then. We write so much all the time that I think we need to really look into putting the songs together in an order that really puts on a show ya know? Not just playing shit randomly. Then once that feels right you can start improvising based on people reactions or just the vibe of the place ya know?
I love ‘Running Out Of Red’ – you really rescued a shitty day for me when I bought it and as a tribute I’ve now developed a real detailed, angry, very expressive modern dance routine for most of it (still finding the moves for ‘Meat Man’ a bit elusive) – can we go out on tour as an arty cultural multi-media experience? So you would be like our version of “Soy Bomb” I would say yes but we need another mouth to feed like you guys need to leave the EU…oh wait.
I’m a big swearing fan, I still think it’s real funny and clever and ‘Running Out of Red’ really delivers on the cussing front. Was this a deliberate attempt to target the obscenity demographic? Oh man I love swearing just to swear. It’s like my friend’s son who is 7 when he swears it cracks me up. I think it’s really childish and fun too. I swear like a motherfucker when I’m driving in LA and I yell super fucked up shit at like old lady drivers like I’ll scream “Cocksucker Motherfucker”, or shit that just comes out wrong like “Dumb dickless motherfuck shit lips” and I pound on the steering wheel.
I know you released a split single with ‘em, but have you ever played live with my faves The Shrine? Or my all-time faves Fu Manchu? Played live with the Shrine a bunch of times but not in like the last year cause their schedule is so crazy and ours is sometimes crazy. Never Fu Manchu.
Is ‘My Lighter’ a true story? Dude it’s a true story every fucking day man. Whenever you’re smoking you need a light and my shit is strewn all over the place. Plus dudes used to carve shit into their Zippos in Vietnam so it’s a take off of that.
How much of the year are you able to spend out on the road? This year about 3 months total probably which has been the most so far. I’d be stoked if we did like 6 but ya know the demand has to be there. I think were just getting started honestly.
What’s the most star struck you’ve ever been meeting someone? Billy Childish? Or James and Lars from Metallica? I met the guitarist from Georgia Satellites once and that was cool. Gwynyth Paltrow? I meet a lot of famous people cause I live in Hollywood. Billy Ray Cyrus used to practice right next to us and then one time I was doing some comedy shit on the Tonight Show back when Jay Leno was the host and so I went down to his dressing room to say hi and so that was cool ya know just to be on the same level as a true artist like Billy Ray Cyrus.
When are you going to release a huge 70’s-style rock Christmas single? I did a children’s record all about food, and one song is a rip off of like the velvet underground waiting for my man but it’s this kid and he’s trying to score chocolate chips so he can make the cookies, but ya know it’s really about drugs. And obviously we would do a Halloween record dude.
What’s next for Zig-Zags? US Tour, then European tour still sorting out the dates. We just demo’ed some new songs that I’m super fucking stoked on. Just get heavier and thrashier…and uhh were gonna open for Trump on all his campaign spots just to ya know get these dick-lickers out there pumped up before Jesus Christ comes back to earth and tells us all how bad we fucked shit up.
… But until that time, about mid-December 2016 by my reckoning, it’s your duty as a 1537 reader/as a human/ as a sentient being, hell, even as an amoeboid life-form dwelling in the sump oil of our end-times to rock 70 shades of shit out of Running Out Of Red. Zig-Zags are a great band and deserve all your support, go and treat yourself and all your loved ones to copies of the album – I know how much your grandma would love singing along to ‘No Brains, No Balls’. True story.
675 Down (still)
PS: This is older, but equally brilliant – how much do I want to see these guys play?!