INTERVIEW: Zebrahead – Groezrock 2017

We met up with ALI, MATTY and DAN from Zebrahead while we were at Groezrock this year which lead to an interesting conversation about their musical inspirations, signature drink and touring the world.

With your music being influenced by rock bands such as Fugazi and Descendants, what inspired you to consider a fusion of rap?

When we initially started, the other guys in the band were in punk bands. I’d go to the rehearsal studio to watch – I was friends with the bass player Ben, I just used to go wait for him to finish so we could go out and stuff. I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop music like Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys – so he would start playing Cypress Hill basslines during the hardcore breakdowns. One day he asked me to come do a Cypress Hill rap. There was like four bands rehearsing at the same, playing a show together and they asked me to get up and do a rap song. This was right when bands like Rage Against The Machine were getting big. We did that one song and the crowd responded really well – then we started writing more songs together.

That’s when they stopped throwing tomatoes at us.

After touring twelve albums, what keeps you guys motivated for each and every show?

Whiskey, that’s the only thing.

We’ve noticed you guys aren’t often seen without a drink in hand! What is your signature drink?

We all agree on this one! It’s called a Highball, it’s a Japanese drink. Fizzy water with Jameson’s whisky. It’s really delicious.

Speaking of Japan, Zebrahead seem to have taken the place by storm. What’s been the key to your international success?

I used to be a male model in Japan, so I think a lot of people saw that and thought “Let’s go listen to his band..”

He’s a very handsome man.

Ed, well he was a pro-wrestler – a real contender! It’s crazy because Matty was a top male model, and Ed was a sumo-wrestler and they just started hanging out in Japan. A real mash-up!

Japan is known for its unique gig etiquette. How do your shows translate over there?

In Japan, they get rowdy too – we just make them get rowdy!

We have to ask them to stop spitting at us! It’s like, stop throwing chairs!

Sometimes they try to beat us up.

Who would you love to take out on tour?

Van Halen for sure!

Probably the Beastie Boys.. in 1988?

Justin Bieber would be fun , he seems like a really down to earth dude – really mellow and not a dick at all. I think he’d probably fit with us well. I’d like to go throw eggs at neighbours with him./

I wanna go to the Bahamas and play this really cool festival that my buddy Ja Rule told me about. It has really great food.

I’m pretty sure we could sort this one out. We’d recommend changing your identity though.

Okay, we’d play reggae and call ourselves.. The Bahamamama Boys? We’ll go with that one.

No.. Twisted Fister!

That took a turn..

Okay, so in the past you’ve done some pretty amazing covers. If you were going to cover a song, which song would it be?

The Final Countdown – that’s the world’s greatest song!

Or, would we do The Boys Are Back in Town?

No way – then we’d always be drinking! It’s our drinking game on the bus. Whenever you hear the word boys, we take a shot. If we need to get drunk fast, we take it straight to the bridge. Then you get fuuucked.

Have you thought about taking this to a pre-show interlude? Get the crowd sat down with a shot in hand. Bring it to Slam Dunk!

That’s a great idea! Yeah! I’m gonna give you credit for that one. We just need to get a liquor company to sponsor it. Wait, we’re playing the Fireball stage! Fireballs amazing, unless you have so much you start bleeding out of your eyes. Throwing up fireball is great. It doesn’t even taste bad.

Sounds like it’s going to be a unique performance! How did the show go today at Groezrock?

It was the greatest show ever! We gave money out to everybody.

There were naked midgets. Oprah was there.

It’s never gonna happen like that again. No one even filmed it.

Wow! we really did miss out. What else do you guys get up to?

The Macarena! That’s another thing we do on the bus. When the bus is moving and people have been drinking, we do the Macarena – but you can’t touch the walls of the bus. The bus swerves quite a bit, so whoever is left standing without falling or touching anything wins a drink. It’s different every time but our drummers pretty great at it.

Oh, and we have a new game! It’s this shocking game. You hold a handle and when it goes green, you get shocked. If you hold it too soon, you get shocked. I get shocked every fucking time. You can’t fucking win! I bought it for my 10 year old nephew, he played it once and was like.. I don’t wanna play this anymore. So I stole it back and took it out on tour.

They don’t let Uncle Ali round anymore..

Ever indulged in a game of tattoo roulette?

Ed did that to me. He was getting a tattoo in Tokyo and I was getting mine next. He grabbed the gun and just went [zzz] on me. I was kind of pissed because I didn’t want that on me!

Ouch! Maybe we’ll try a low-key game, follow our lead on the story. We can see a tiny Penguin in the doorway – why’s he here?

You mean Phillipe?

You’ve got it.

So the story goes – years ago before the festival, Phillippe lost his family and he ended up at this festival. This small Mexican family came here, took Phillipe in and eventually Phillipe ended up fathering several children in the community. Because of his golden sperm, they created this small Phillipe statue. If you rub it you get pregnant, or so the legend says.

Finally, what’s one question you’ve never been asked?

..Why’s Philippe the fucking penguin here?

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ZEBRAHEAD on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Interview by Hannah Smith.