In the Hot Seat: Zamboni

Following the release of their latest EP, SUCKS! The Stupid EP, New York/New Jersey crossover thrashers Zamboni contacted me in hopes of a review and interview for my blog.  Recurrent readers of the MusicTalker blog may recall that I recently followed through with half of the band’s request.  My review of the new EP can be found here.

As for the second half of their request, I recently conducted an interview via e-mail with vocalist/bassist Chris Butera and Rob Orr of Zamboni.  The conversation can be read below, consisting of topics spanning from the band’s origin to the new EP to several other pressing questions and answers.

cover artwork

How did Zamboni originate?

Rob: Chris told me about the idea I believe at an Exodus show in the summer of 2010. He said he wanted to start a crossover thrash band with really offensive lyrics and asked if I wanted to play guitar. I said yes and we met up about a month later to jam and see how things would go. After a couple of jam sessions with just the two of us, we spoke to an old high school friend of mine, Nathan Wolff, about playing drums, and he joined as our first drummer.

Chris: I had this offensive crossover idea because I was listening to a ton of Carnivore at the time. I told Rob about it about a month after my old band broke up at this Exodus show. I got the name from watching an old wrestling video on Youtube where Stone Cold Steve Austin drove a zamboni down to the ring and beat up the MacMahons a few weeks later. A few weeks to a month later, we jammed, we clicked, and we gave birth to this ugly little kid called Zamboni.

Have all of you always listened to metal? If not, what types of music have you enjoyed in the past? (Include any guilty pleasures.)

Rob: I haven’t always listened to metal per say, but I have pretty much always listened to rock. I grew up listening to classic rock, especially Pink Floyd. I also did listen to SOME 90s pop, but mostly when I was in the car with my friends and I didn’t much care for it. When I was about 11 or 12, my uncle started getting me more into hard rock/ heavy metal. Whenever I was with him in his car, we would listen to stuff like Black Sabbath or Metallica, and that helped me get into the basic heavy metal stuff. Throughout high school, I listened to a lot of rock and metal, but nothing too underground. Mostly Ozzy, Metallica, some Megadeth, and (sigh) hair metal. Towards the end of high school, I started getting more into Thrash, and I bought the older Megadeth and Metallica albums, as well as Exodus and Testament.

Chris: I didn’t begin to get into metal until I was 13, so before that I listened to all the crap on the radio or whatever “the cool kids” were into because I didn’t know what I liked yet. I was young. But as always, as soon as you hear it, you know what you like. After that I pretty much only listened to metal until 2011. I opened my mind more when I went away to college for a year, so now I listen to everything from country to gangsta rap, which I love almost as much as metal. I listen to NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” album too much. I’ve gotten in trouble for getting drunk and becoming black at parties because of that album.

For each of you, what is your favorite metal album of all-time?

Rob: Master of Puppets will always hold a special place in my heart.

Chris: It will always be the very first Rigor Mortis album for me. To me, that is the best album in the history of metal and it is criminally underrated and unbelievably tough to get your hands on if you don’t have money. I cannot wait for the reissue and the new album. It will be bittersweet though, with what happened with Mike Scaccia and all. I hope his family and friends are doing all right.

Chris, you have a very unique voice, which definitely works with Zamboni’s music. Do you have any major vocal influences that have led to shaping your individual style?

Chris: I’m still workng on my voice to tell you the truth. I’ve been recording with gut instinct for a while, but I’m pretty sure I’ve figured it out from playing live so hopefully I can get it together for the album and hit it out of the park. My major vocal influences are Danzig, Michael Graves, Steve “Zetro”” Souza, a little bit of Lemmy, some Joey Belladonna, Bruce Corbitt, and a tinge of King Diamond, which I would like to bring out a little more.

For your debut EP, SUCKS! The Stupid EP, how did you decide, as a group, to cover D.R.I.? Why did you choose “The Five Year Plan”?

Rob: Well, Chris and I both enjoy D.R.I., and “5YP” is just what we had both learned at that time, so we decided to do that. We also thought about putting the clip from “Big Daddy” in as a joke, which helped influence the decision to put “5YP” on the EP as opposed to another D.R.I. song.

Chris: To be clear, this isn’t our debut EP, we have another one called “Mother of the Resistance,” which really isn’t that great anyway so that’s all I’ll say about that. “SUCKS!” is much better.  As for the D.R.I. cover, we decided to do it since the crowd response for us playing that song live was unbelievable. A lot of people loved our version of that song so we said “why not?” and put it on the EP.

The differences between your songs “World War Z” and “Slaughterhouse” show that you have versatility in the music you write. Do you have other songs written? If so, how similar or different are they to every other song you have written so far?

Rob: We do have a few new songs written, and to some extent they are similar to some of our previous songs, but are unique in their own way. When I sit down to write, I try to write songs that I know will fit our style and sound without them sounding too similar to our other songs. One thing that I think helps us sound unique is the fact that Chris and I write separately and then teach each other our songs. This method allows us to use our different writing styles to their full potential.

Chris: The reason those two songs are so different are because “World War Z” is an older song. It’s actually the first song we ever did. “Slaughterhouse” is more technical because we wanted to get thrashier and I think Rob did a good job of bringing that to the table. Our writing styles are different yet similar, so when we blend our ideas together you get something really interesting. Every song is different in its own way. There’s so many different influences between the two of us that show up in our writing. There’s things in there that you’d only find in show tunes.

Judging by the radio skit on the EP, you guys seem to have fun with Zamboni. Is there any difficulty in balancing the fun with the business aspect of playing in a band?

Rob: I don’t find much difficulty with it. When we are sending Emails out for business or speaking to promoters, it is a totally different atmosphere than when we are just goofing around at rehearsal.

Chris: Business is a pain in the ass, but it’s something you have to do if you want people to know you exist. The band is all fun and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The day Zamboni stops being fun I’ll run for President of Molossia.

How many concerts have you played so far? Are there any shows booked for the near future?

Rob: We have played five shows thus far, and we would like to play some more in the coming months, although none are booked yet. All of our shows so far have been in New Jersey, so we are looking to do some New York shows next.

Chris: Four of those five we’ve booked and ran ourselves including the “Thrash Bash Barbicue,” which we are planning a sequel for the coming summer. Two of those shows were for helping out touring bands like Six In Line from Sweden, Sonic Pulse from Massachusettes, Insinnerator and Terrorist from Texas. One of them was Midian’s comeback show, as well as our first show, Bomb Scare’s first show, and Condition Critical’s first show (which they KILLED). If you’re a band coming through that needs help with a show in the NY/NJ area, hit us up. As for the future nothing yet, but we want to branch out to other states and eventually tour.

What would be your ideal band(s) to tour with?

Rob: I think the obvious answer would be Suicidal Tendencies or D.R.I., or even The Misfits, because we draw a lot of our influence from those guys. However, in terms of reality and who we can feasibly tour with (at least at this point in our careers), I would say our buddies in Ego Kill, Bomb Scare, and Condition Critical. We have played local shows several times with those guys, and we really get along with them, so I think doing a tour with them would be pretty awesome.

Chris: Anyone and everyone. We want to do a tour with Bomb Scare really bad. I think we could have a ton of fun on the road with Sonic Pulse as well as our boys Toxicology. As far as established bands go, I would love to go out with Ghoul or The Misfits and I think we could raise some hell with Deceased.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Rob: Check us out at Zamboni.Bandcamp.com, follow us on twitter (@ZamboniMetal) and like us at  Facebook.com/Zamboni666!

Chris:  To fans: Support every local band you know unless they’re assholes! To bands: Don’t let promoters walk all over you. If you get jerked around by a bad promoter, tell EVERYONE you know so those “promoters” either learn how to actually promote or quit because nobody wants to work with them. Pay to play shows and “ticket sales” are killing the scenes before they can crawl. START BOOKING YOUR OWN SHOWS AND BUILD YOURSELF A REAL SCENE! D.I.Y. OR DIE!

Those interested can find a free MP3 download of Zamboni’s latest release, SUCKS! The Stupid EP, here: http://zamboni.bandcamp.com/album/sucks-the-stupid-ep

For further information regarding the band, check them out on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/Zamboni666

https://twitter.com/ZamboniMetal

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