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Zamboni: Sucks! The Stupid EP

Not too long ago I shot some questions over to Chris and Rob of the Crossover Thrash Metal group, Zamboni. I recently had done a review of their latest effort, Sucks! The Stupid EP, and had plenty of questions for them about some of the positive and negative aspects I commented on. Thankfully, the two were willing to give me some time to discuss their decisions, and shed some light on their upcoming full-length.

Well, first of all, why the name Zamboni?

Chris:
The name Zamboni came from watching an old wrestling clip. My last band had just broken up and I had this idea for an offensive crossover type band, but I didn’t know what to call it. The only thing I knew was that the name had to be ridicolous. I had just started getting into hockey at the time and I was watching a bunch of Stone Cold Steve Austin clips on youtube when the classic clip of Austin driving a zamboni to the ring comes on. As soon as the word zamboni was mentioned, that was it. Then I started telling Rob about it and the rest as they say “is history.”

You said you’re a Crossover Thrash group, and it’s obvious, but the Punk element you bring in seems more like a Horror Punk approach, at least on “World War Z”. Was that what you were going for?

Rob:
Well if by “horror” you mean the look of horror people get when they hear our music…then yes XD. But all kidding aside, we do have influences from The Misfits, so you could say we are kind of horror-punkish. I don’t think it is entirely true because not all of our songs are about zombies or slasher flicks, but it is definitely a major influence.

Chris:
I love the Misfits and all other kinds of horror punk like Cancerslug, Balzac, The Lurking Corpses, etc. and I also love Johnny Cash, Elvis and Volbeat. “World War Z” is about the book of the same name written by Max Brooks and its a journalistic point of view of the aftermath of the Zombie apocalypse. The book is amazing but judging by the trailer, the movie that’s coming out does not look so great – as is usually the case. The lyrics to the song came first and then the music came on its own. I wanted something punky and cool. The vocals I wasn’t sure how to tackle them at first so I kind of just went with my gut so I sang clean.

What are some of the biggest influences you have when it comes to the music you wrote for the SUCKS! The Stupid EP?

Rob:
I think D.R.I. is the obvious one because of the final track on the EP. For me personally, I was listening to a lot of Megadeth when I wrote the music for “Slaughterhouse”, more specifically, the Peace Sells album. The Riff is similar to “My Last Words” off that album.

Chris:
D.R.I. , Megadeth, a lot of punk, old Metallica and for the intro the TV shows Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld. The intro was done just like the arguments on Curb. We took two friends gave them the basic idea of the plot and let them have a fake fight on the spot so whatever they said is what happened there. It is as real as possible and I think that’s why its so funny. There’s very minor editing done to that so what you hear is pretty much exactly what happened.

The production quality of SUCKS! The Stupid EP seems to be all over the place. Mind explaining how you recorded it, such as at what studio, if you happened to record it with a home set up, etc.?

Rob:
Well, the drums for “World War Z” were tracked at Ramapo College, where I go to school. We had a full mic set up (I believe six mics in total), so I was able to multi-track record the drums. “WWZ” was my final project for one of my classes, so I spent a lot of time mixing and mastering it in Protools at school. For “Slaughterhouse” and “Five Year Plan”, we only had one mic to record the drums, hence the subpar quality of the drum tracks. As for the guitars, Bass, etc., we did that in my garage as well, with only the one dynamic mic, which is not ideal for vocals. We did all of the tracking for both “Slaughterhouse” and “FYP” about a year ago, but I never had time to mix it between school and work (I also did not have Protools at home) I finally got Protools and the time to mix them, and I wasn’t happy with some of my guitar parts, so I did end up re-recording part of “Slaughterhouse” and all of “5YP”. I ended up doing 3 guitar tracks for “5YP”, left, right, and solo, but I only did two tracks for “Slaughterhouse”: rhythm and lead, which is why there is a difference in production on all of the tracks.

Chris:
Like Rob said he recorded everything in different places and I was actually in upstate New York dorming at my old college. One of my friends/roommates is an audio production minor who had his whole studio setup in his room. I recorded my vocals and bass track for “World War Z” there and the tracks were sent to Rob. When I came back I did the rest in Rob’s garage. This EP took about a year and a half to do, so Rob’s skills were gradually improving from being somewhat new to audio production to being really good at it. The reason the production sounds all over the place is because it IS all over the place.

Was there any post-production or mastering done to the EP, or was the intent to make this as raw as possible?

Rob:
There was a bit of post production done to the EP. I recently purchased a really decent pair of headphones (20-30,000 Hz frequency response for any audiophiles out there) and so I was able to mix the tracks decently. I didn’t really master it perfectly though, because we did want to keep a bit of that raw, unpolished sound.

Do you feel that having a proper studio album with a better quality may enhance your sound, or do you think it might take away from the goal of Zamboni?

Rob:
Well the goal with our debut, which we are working on now, is to have a polished album without taking away completely from the raw, garage band sound. I want it to sound decent on most sound system (cars stereos, laptop speakers), but I also don’t want it to sound super over-produced like a lot of metal bands have been doing lately. The challenge is to find a happy medium between the two.

Out of curiosity, why were the vocals handled in such a clean manner as opposed to having a harsher approach?

Chris:
I used to sing more aggressive in previous bands until the band before Zamboni. The guitarist wanted me to sing clean because harsh thrash vocals had been done to death, especially in the “New Wave of Thrash Metal.” He made me sing clean and I enjoyed it. Zamboni was a little tricky to get the vocals because I didn’t know how I wanted to sound. I never thought the idea of this band would get off the ground, so I never thought about the vocals. They were just something that happened naturally and I’m still trying to find that “sweet spot” in my vocal tone.

Why did you guys decide to do a cover of “The Five Year Plan” by D.R.I., as well as include the audio sample from the film “Big Daddy?” [originally sent question with “Anger Management,” a mistake I realized shortly after]

Rob:
We both love D.R.I., and we have been playing “5YP” live for a while now. The crowd response to it has been pretty good, so we decided to put it on the EP. We decided to use the clip (which was from Big Daddy BTW) because one day we were in the car talking about the song “Five Year Plan” and that scene came up where Adam Sandler’s girlfriend leaves him for the guy with “old balls” because he has a five year plan. We thought it would be funny to put that at the beginning of the song, and than the short clip at the end where Sandler says “maybe it’s a ten year plan” after he sees his ex and her boyfriend working at Hooters. It was just put in for comedic effect.

I read on your Facebook you guys are working on your debut album. Any information you can drop at this time, such as any track names or the album name?

Rob:
Well we can’t say too much about it, but it will have 10 songs, including a few never-before-heard songs and a few old favorites. Also, there will NOT be a cover on the album, because licensing is too much of a pain in the ass for now. But never fear, we are planning on doing more covers in the future.

Chris:
The only thing I will give away is that all of the songs on the infamous “Blood on the Ice” demo are going to be re-recorded for the album because they deserve it. The demo is so bad that the only way to bring any justice to the songs is to re-record them for the album so people who have not seen us live can finally know what the hell they sound like. The new songs are pretty intense sounding. We do have some pretty big plans for the album though.

How about the songs on your EP? Will any of those make it to the full-length?

Rob:
Well this is up to Chris whether he wants to censor me or not. The short answer is yes, but I don’t want to go into much detail as of yet.

Chris:
The two Zamboni songs on the EP are going to be on the abum as well as this song “Norman Bates” that we’ve been playing live for some time now. I think it’s pretty obvious what it’s about. The song was originally supposed to go on the EP but it just took too long to get recorded that we decided it would be better off on the album.

Is the full-length album going to be an independent release, or are you guys going to be backed by a label of some kind?

Rob:
For now it is going to be an independent release through bandcamp, as well as possibly iTunes if we can find a cheap aggregator to distribute it.

If you’re not backed by a label, are you guys interested in getting picked up by one at some point, or are you planning to stick with the self-released format many bands are doing nowadays?

Rob:
I would like to be picked up eventually, it will make recording, promoting, and distributing the album a whole lot easier. Obviously we want to also get the best deal possible, and won’t just jump on any contract that is offered to us without first making sure we can still have rights to our own music.

Chris:
I would like to get picked up, but only by the right label. We are not looking into getting screwed over financially and we want to keep the rights to our music because theyre OUR damned songs. Otherwise if we can find a way to make money and do what we want without a label, then we won’t bother. Lich King isn’t on a label and they seem to be doing just fine so why can’t we or any other band for that matter? The internet can be a very useful tool if you use it right.

Is there anything else I didn’t get to touch on you want to mention?

Rob:
Check us out on zamboni.bandcamp.com, facebook.com/zamboni666, and youtube somewhere. Also, we have shirts for sale; $10, buttons, 2 for 1$, and patches which come with the shirt.

Chris:
You can only get the merch by coming to see us play for now, but eventually they will be for sale online. On that note I will wrap this up with a word of advice for bands and all people. Do what you want, don’t take shit from anybody, learn what you want, sleep when you’re dead and FEAR THE ZAMBONI!

Alright, thanks guys. I appreciate your time, and hope all goes well with the EP and the impeding full-length. Take care!

Interview conducted thanks to Zamboni.