volume 10 issue 2
Zombie Apocalypse NOW! Just call them undead on arrival. In an ironic twist fitting of the final frame of a George Romero film, the Kalamazoo four-piece Zombie Apocalypse NOW! will bid farewell to one of their own just as they give life to their debut EP, Forbidden Tales of SCIENCE.
“Write songs about what you like, be it relationships, politics, zombies, superheroes, or giant robots. We prefer the latter three.” Their CD release show Feb. 5 at Papa Pete’s will not only be the premiere of the long-delayed six-song disc – the group’s first proper release after issuing two free demo recording – but also the band’s final performance with vocalist/ rhythm/punk guitarist Dave Andrews. Andrews recently got a job on the other side of the state, and his new career is the only reason for his awkwardly-timed departure. “It’s an amicable parting, and the door is always open for him to come back,” vocalist/lead/ metal guitarist Travis Stickel told Recoil about his band’s strange position. “Ideally, we’d like to record another free demo of some of our newer songs and perhaps do a small tour to promote the EP, but without a second guitarist, we really can’t make any definite
plans. However, if there are any up-and-coming guitarists who enjoy songs with nerdy premises, we’d love to hear from you.” Zombie Apocalypse NOW! began in the fall of 2006, after bassist/vocalist Jay Stuart’s previous band, The Janissaries, disbanded. He and Stickel then joined forces as fellow zombie movie fans and musicians, coining the term “antizombie rock” to describe their unique punkrock sound. “Though it can be applied literally to our zombie-themed songs, in a larger sense anti-zombie rock is about making music about whatever you want to,” Stickel said. “Just because you’re in a band doesn’t mean you have to write songs about only politics or relationships or any of the standard songwriting clichés. Write songs about what you like, be it relationships, politics, zombies, superheroes, or giant robots. We prefer the latter three.” Their current lineup, including Andrews and drummer Darin Bluhm, came together in May 2009. Each of the band members is influenced by something different. Stuart and Andrews take heavy influence from punk bands like NOFX and Bad Religion, while Stickel has more metal and hard rock influences like Helmet and Black Sabbath. Bluhm pulls inspiration from his extensive and eclectic LP collection, including everything from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana
Brass to Primus to The James Gang. “Somehow, we’re able to take all of these influences and distill them into one cohesive rock unit,” Stickel said. Considering their upcoming CD release show will feel like something of a bittersweet celebration, Stickel said the best band’s best show so far remains their qualifying match at WIDR-FM’s “Fight For The Tuna 2009,” the three-week battle of the bands determining the local opener for last fall’s Barking Tuna Festival in Kalamazoo. Although they ultimately didn’t win the slot, Stickel said it was the biggest crowd they’d ever played for, and the huge positive reaction from everyone there, along with the thrill of winning and moving on to the finals, was indescribable. “It was like validation for all the years of torment and taunting in school for being a nerd,” he added. Their debut EP, Forbidden Tales of SCIENCE, found ZAN! breaking away from the single-afternoon basement recording sessions of their two demos, by
heading into a professional studio for the first time. “The great thing about being in the studio is being able to add and layer parts to create a much fuller, more realized song, and I think that really comes through on the EP,” Stickel said. Recorded at The Strutt Studios, off and on over three months last summer, and mixed/ mastered by The Strutt’s Ben Lau (formerly of Kalamazoo punk/ska band Nice Try) and Andy Catlin (of Kalamazoo band Toro & the National Guard), the six-song Forbidden Tales had gotten scheduled for release last December, however the band put things on hold while waiting for the finished album artwork from their friend Scott Rosema of Temujin Studio. “With how awesome the art turned out, I think it’s all worked out for the best,” Stickel said. Zombie Apocalypse NOW!’s will release Forbidden Tales of SCIENCE Feb. 5 at Papa Pete’s in Kalamazoo. For more info, check out myspace.com/ zanowband.– Eric Mitts