Music News

Night of the Living Shred

There's more than one Zombi out there. Down in Texas, there's a tinker-punk Zombi. Across the ocean, there's a Finnish black-metal Zombi. And then there is Pittsburgh-based Zombi, whose endless touring has probably logged the most miles on that name. The East Coast two-piece -- comprising multi-instrumentalists Steven Moore and A.E. Pattera -- beats its doppelgängers not only in Flying J points, but in musical scope as well. The duo, which released Surface to Air earlier this year on Relapse, intersects somewhere between a prog band doing metal and an electronic band doing rock. It's all instrumental, and totally addictive. We chatted with Moore recently about Zombi being out of step with its labelmates and capitalizing on a noticeably retro sound.

Westword: Being on Relapse, which is generally known for producing heavy-metal-type bands, do you guys ever feel like the black sheep of the family?

Steven Moore: We haven't really felt out of place, because we're basically out of place anywhere we play. We almost never fit in with the other bands on the bill. But anymore, it doesn't even really seem to matter whether we play with Cephalic Carnage or Supersystem, because the response is always good.

The whole '70s throwback revival thing is pretty big right now. What do you think of that, considering that you guys have a very '70s, prog-rock-influenced sound?

I think there's a way of doing it and still be original about it. A lot of bands are doing it and trying to be very authentic with it, you know? To try and replicate what has already been done. But that could be fun, too. I mean, to see a band that sounds like or dresses just like, um, Grand Funk Railroad -- that could be fun. But where is that going to take them? Where is that going to take music? There's no substance there. When you're just copying another band, there's nothing. Sometimes it's just regurgitation.

Another thing that's been popular in music lately is to write these epically long songs. Do you think, then, that you've come along at the right time to do what you do?

[Laughs] Yeah, we have a couple of long songs. I think that the bigger issue, though, is that we're an instrumental band. If we can get someone to sit and listen to us for forty minutes and enjoy us even though we don't have any vocals or lyrics -- that's the hurdle.

Have you ever considered getting a vocalist?

No. Never. In going back and looking to all these prog bands from the '70s and '60s, very rarely do you come across one with a singer that isn't an ass or really annoying. And I won't name any names, but it just totally kills it when you're listening to this great song, and the vocals come on and you're like, 'Ewww.'

Okay, I'll say it. I'll name names. Rush. Rush had these great parts, and then Geddy comes on and it just ruins it. Some people hate Rush just because of his voice. So we didn't want to risk it. I mean, what if we had a singer and people disliked us because of it?

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Tuyet Nguyen