MUSIC INTERVIEW: Zebrahead
If you haven’t made it in Japan, have you really made it? Zebrahead’s punk rock sound have been carrying them for nearly two decades and they have no signs of slowing down. Their thirteenth studio album, Brain Invaders has made its way to fans today (8th March 2019). Known for their nu-metal riffs and punk sensibilities, we had a chat with co-vocalist Ali Tabatabaee to talk about the new release, festivals and where the punk rock scene is heading.
So, tell us a little bit about your new album, Brain Invaders?
There are so many ways that outside influences shape our individual perceptions and views through things like social media and the news. Each individual story or idea is like a brain invader. Often times, I feel like we are not even aware of how much these influences affect how we think and what we believe. This is the concept behind our new album. We wrote the album on and off for the last two and a half years. The album is a bit heavier than our previous albums and we are excited for everyone to hear it.
This is your 13th studio album to date, that’s quite an accomplishment. How does Brain Invaders compare to your previous records?
Well, as mentioned above, it’s a bit heavier than most of our previous albums. We worked more with loops and samples in the writing process. The album has great energy and we can’t wait to play the songs live.
Brain Invaders was produced by Paul Miner and mixed by Kyle Black, who you also worked with for Walk the Plank in 2015. What was is like working with them again, do they understand your creative process?
It was great working with both of those guys again. I think Paul had a greater understanding of our writing and recording process because of our last collaboration on Walk the Plank. The process went very smoothly. Kyle always knows how to take our songs and mix them in a way that improves each individual track in a way that they stand out but at the same time create a cohesive album.
We know you’re not meant to pick favourites, but do you have a track (from Brain Invaders) that speaks to you the most?
I like You Don’t Know Anything About Me which is the fifth track on the album. We had our friends from Reel Big Fish play horns on the song. It’s got great energy and I think it will be one that our fans will really dig.
All My Friends Are Nobodies is a really powerful track. How do you take that message and apply into to your life?
I think everyone feels at times that they don’t fit in or that they don’t belong. I’ve felt that way and it’s been the people closest to me that have picked me up when I’ve been down. The song is about moving forward and not worrying about other people’s opinions of you.
You’ve been around since the late 90’s, how do you keep your music sounding so fresh?
We are lucky in that we have the opportunity to travel and meet new people and at the same time catch up with old friends we have made throughout the years. There’s so much inspiration from all these experiences and we really try to incorporate them into our songs when we are writing. I feel like inspiration is all around us. All you have to do is try and pay attention.
We’re excited to see you all back on the Download 2019 line up, how do you feel gracing the Donington stage once more?
Download is always blast and we are definitely stoked to come back and play again this year. The crowd is always ready to party and the energy throughout the festival is awesome.
How do festivals compare to your own headline shows?
Festival shows are fun in that you have the opportunity to watch a lot of different bands and catch up with friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Club shows are way more intimate and you really feed more off the energy of the crowed. They are both fun in different ways.
You guys are a big deal in Japan, how do the fans there compare to your US fans?
Our Japanese fans are amazing. They have supported us since our first album and we’ve made a lot of friends there throughout the years. We don’t play many shows in America unfortunately, so when we do play there’s always a little bit of a shock factor from our U.S. fans. One thing I have to say though, is that all of our fans, whether in England, Europe, America, or Japan always come to have a good time and bring with them great energy. We have been very fortunate to have had such a long career and it is all due to our fans. We would not be able to do any of this without them.
Do you think the punk rock genre has changed massively over the years? How do we keep that scene alive in 2019?
I do think it has changed massively. The one thing that is still the same is the fans of punk music’s loyalty and support. I think trends come and go but punk music will always have a huge following whether it’s in the mainstream or if it goes underground. I try and ask friends what they’re listening to because I’m a huge fan of punk music and often times I find the albums I listen to through their recommendations.
Interview by: Caitlin Sharkey
Zebrahead‘s new album Brain Invaders is out now via MFZB Records, available to purchase HERE.
See Zebrahead live at one of the following dates:
Wed 24th – BRISBANE, AU – Crowbar
Thu 25th – SOUTHPORT, AU – Vinnie’s Dive Bar
Fri 26th – NEWCASTLE, AU – Hamilton Station
Sat 27th – NARABEEN, AU – Narabeen RSL
Sun 28th – SYDNEY, AU – Crowbar
Tue 30th – CANBERRA, AU – Transit Bar
Thu 2nd – ADELAIDE, AU – Crown & Anchor
Fri 3rd – MELBOURNE, AU – Bendigo Hotel
Tickets are on sale HERE.
The band will also appear at Die Festung Rockt, Download Festival, Greenfield Festival, Hurricane Festival and Southside Festival.