On the heel of their ‘No Heroes No Honeymoons’ album release, we talk to Zach about a few things, including the music scene in Berlin, recording at a legendary studio in DC, and working with one of the more fascinating labels out there today.
NT: Tell me about the new record, ‘No Heroes No Honeymoons’. It sounds like a pretty serious title.
ZV: The record is actually really old to me. It took a lot of time writing and re-writing over a bunch of bare drum tracks to figure out what kind of songs were gonna come out of it. It was also the first time I wasn’t working in a band with set members who all share ideas democratically. It was a lot of trial and error and bouncing ideas off my friend/producer Nick Anderson and Jake Cregger, who is also a good friend of mine and played drums on the record. We finished mixing the day before I moved to Berlin. As far as it being “serious” I am not sure, but I will say that I try to be sincere when making music. Sincerity is scarce nowadays and I think that’s kind of serious overall.
NT: Zulu Pearls was originally formed in Berlin around 2009, has it been tough adjusting to life again in the US?
ZV: Zulu Pearls has actually been around 2005-06 in some form or another, with me dragging it around until we’ve gotten to this point now, which I consider to be the starting line. This year I’ve been back and forth from Berlin to the U.S. more often than ever since I’ve moved, but it’s not a big deal because I return to my parent’s house and hang out with my friends at home, all while working on the band in general. It’s really quite nice, I feel pretty lucky to be able to do that. The only thing that is hard to adjust to is the constant advertising everywhere, extremely loud and in your face. That really bothers me now, but I don’t get bent out of shape.
NT: With the immense popularity of the DJ/Electronic scene in Germany, Is it tougher for younger bands to find success?
ZV: It’s hard to find decent bands in general I’d say. Germany isn’t exactly renown for it’s guitar groups, and in Berlin there’s a lot of little international bands doing there thing here and there, but everyone is really fragmented. There’s no cohesive scene to speak of. There are lots of interesting things going on, with people from all over the globe, but you don’t necessarily know about it if you don’t run into it yourself. If a band in Berlin is successful and not from Germany, I would assume they already had a lot going on and decided to move to Berlin for their own reasons. I definitely couldn’t recommend starting a guitar based group in Berlin, though I got lucky and met some really great people who are in the band today.
NT: You recorded in the back hallway at Inner Ear Studios, that place has seen everyone from Jawbox to Minor Threat. Did you get to channel some of that old DC hardcore?
ZV: Yea, the drums were tracked in the back hallway when Nick (Anderson) had a room in the back hallway for a while. It’s the last shot in our “No Heroes No Honeymoons” video, which is basically where the Zulu Pearls of today was born. Aside from that the record was recorded in basements. I really have nothing to do with anything from the DC scene in general. I never got into any of the classic DC bands or Dischord stuff and since then I haven’t seen anything in DC that I was that into. It was always a frustration for me, but I’m always into what my friends are doing. They have a band called the Tender Thrill, which I think is great.
NT: You guys have played some pretty good size gigs in Europe, alongside bigger acts like Destroyer, and The Big Pink. How has touring gone so far in North America?
ZV: Well, one of the benefits of there not being so many other local Berlin bands is that we’ve been able to meet a lot of people and fill a lot of opening slots like those, which has been great. Touring over here or over there or anywhere for that matter is a main priority we’re working on. We’re ready to go but we still mostly get by on our own or working with the label, or on favors. Lately though, it’s great getting to come home and see my friends and family on top of playing shows and spending more time in New York. We’re excited for CMJ.
NT: You are a fan of 70’s guitar rock, but you ended on the Cantora Label. They have some pretty modern bands on the roster. How did you end up working with them?
ZV: I’ve sort of known Will from Cantora since high school and watched them do their thing from afar. I think he was doing the same and we were eager to get things rolling. It’s nice already being familiar with the people your working with. Cantora itself I don’t even know if you can call a traditional “label” because they’re also doing a lot of tech. stuff and new media shit that I just can’t wrap my head around. They’ve been extremely supportive so far and it’s a pleasure figuring things out with them.
NT: Can you name five records continue to be an inspiration to you?
ZV:The Clash – London Calling
Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby
Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
Los Zafiros – Anthology
Fleetwood Mac – Mirage