When you’re sitting on the John …

Die grandiosen ZEX aus Ottawa sind zurzeit die heißeste Band, falls der Geschmack Richtung ’77-’79er Punk und ´79-’82er NWoBHM tendiert. Auf zwei 7inchs und einer Kompilation auf Tape konnten sie ihre Fähigkeiten beweisen, so dass ein Interview mit der illustren Clique (Gab Sex: Bass, Tasha: Drums, Gretchen Steel: Vocals, Jo Capitalicide: Guitar) dringend auf der Prioritäten-Liste stand. Here we go …

Hello from Germany, can you tell us something about the beginning of ZEX?
Gretchen: Jo and I had a dream of what our ideal band would be like. Edgy, over the top, controversial and classically punk! With that, Zex was born! We just needed to find our bass player and drummer.
Tasha: I moved back home to Ottawa after living in Halifax, Nova Scotia for about ten years. Jo and i had been talking here and there about starting a band when i got back. We have known each other for almost 15 years. A couple weeks after i moved home, we started jamming. We learned about seven songs that jo had written. He pre-recorded them for us.
Gab: I had worked with Jo on a music video for his band IRON DOGS, and while we were working together he mentioned that he was planning on starting a project and needed a bass player. I signed on and we started the band.

What was your intention to start ZEX?
: I wanted to be in a band. I wanted to give people a real show. Something to remember and take home with them. I’m so tired of seeing people stand around playing instruments, there needs to be action! Something to really freak your mind.
Tasha: I didnt know Gretchen very well before the band started. She was fairly new to Ottawa as well. There were a lot of people in Ottawa i didn’t know. I had been gone for so long and the Ottawa punk scene grew drastically in that time. I didn’t know Gab at all until we started jamming. The intention upon starting ZEX for me was to finally play good music with people who gave a shit about making good music for punks that like good music. Soo many bands i have been in have nothing to show for it and just played locally. I wanted to tour! These kids seemed willing to give a lot up to be on the road. All I ever wanted to do is live in a tour van.

What’s your Message with the band?
: Stand up for what you believe in and live for today. because there may not be a tomorrow. Fight to the very end!
Jo: Don’t waste your time with bullshit like drugs and booze. Slay your enemies, steal from your boss, eat healthy, exercise, get laid, drive fast cars, hop trains, see the world, play mad solos, listen to great records, stud your jacket, riot in the street and fuck a lot of hot people.

Who is the main-songwriter or did you write everything together?
: Jo is the brain. We both write lyrics and sometimes combine our ideas for topics and lyrics. We have a similar way of looking at things, so we have a good understanding on what we’re trying to get across message wise.
Tasha: Like i said, seven of them were pre-recorded for us before we jammed. Gretchen even had vocals recorded.
When it was time to write new music, it’s the same as most bands. Jo came up with riff or sometimes a full song. Gab wrote a bass line, I bashed the skins and Gretchen started writing more lyrics. It comes together pretty fast with us.

Can you tell us something about your own musical influences, and the influences of all band members?
: I think we all listen to somewhat different music. I personally have always played in hardcore and faster punk bands, so this was a bit of a change. I personally draw a lot of my inspiration for bass from bands like NoMeansNo, MINUTEMEN, and FUGAZI; but I also love classic punk like COCK SPARRER, THE RAMONES, MINOR THEAT etc.
Gretchen: I got into punk at a young age. First bands that blew me away we bands like THE DAMNED, SUBHUMANS, DEAD KENNEDYS, DISCHARGE, BLACK FLAG, THE RAMONES, IGGY and THE STOOGES … You know, the obvious ones. My obsession with 77′ punk and UK82 took over my life. It became all i cared about. Nothing else seemed important. It stuck.
Tasha: ZEX’s music is very 77-82 uk power pop influenced. For example: VICE SQUAD, SCREAMING SNEAKERS, X-RAY SPEX etc.
Jo: Same shit everyone else likes.

Who are your musical idols?
: Hulk Hogan and his traveling Boot Band
Gretchen: …. is it inappropriate to say GARY GLITTER?
Jo: Uli Jon Roth, Rikk Agnew, Ritchie Blackmore.

Do you have you idols outside the music business?
: The Ultimate Warrior, John Rambo, Dolph Lungren, and Mr. T.
Jo: James Honsinger.

How would you describe your style?
: It’s like DREAM THEATER, but punk.
Gretchen: 77″ Punk has claimed my soul. But UK82 and post punk is definitely next in line. I dont find I fall 100% under any category though.
Jo: Not really trying to emulate anyone.

How do you define Punk in 2014?
: While there is definitely a style that I think can be characterized as “punk”, and I’m sure a lot of people could argue about what that is and means, I personally feel that a lot of non-punk bands draw some pretty significant influences from the punk movement, even if they don’t sound anything like what punk “is supposed to be”. Whether you want to call it punk or not seems a bit irrelevant to me because I think the genre has existed long enough that to play any sort of rock or alternative rock music well you need to have some knowledge of punk music, and certain things have been appropriated by other genres of music. I also don’t think punk has ever had one specific sound, but more of an attitude and aesthetic. I don’t think punk will ever be what it was in the late 70’s and early 80’s but it’s imprint on music can really be felt in other things, and for that reason I feel that punk will always be an evolution maybe not necessarily for the better, but an evolution nevertheless.
Gretchen: Garage rocking hipsters breathing my air. Standing cross armed at my shows on their cell phones, pissing me of!
Jo: Essentially a lot of punk-influenced music played by non punks.

Was the NWoBHM also an influence for you?
: The lines are blurred between those early ’79-’82 NWOBHM singles and ’77-’79 punk records.

The best NWoBHM Band for you?

How is the scene in your area?
: Ottawa’s punk scene is pretty small, but there is a fairly big music scene that encompasses most alternative rock music. Ottawa is often skipped over on most band’s tours, because we are between Montreal and Toronto which are much bigger music cities.
Gretchen: Garage rocking hipsters breathing my air … Oh, did I say that already?
Tasha: Ottawa has a better wider spread scene than it did 10 years ago. Its pretty active in getting involved with music. There are great punks here. Crazy punks.
Jo: Frankly its on at he decline. Alot of places to play for once, but attendance and participation is dwindling.

Which harder music styles are hip in Canada?
: Ottawa has a lot of Garage Rock and indie bands, these bands have some faster and heavier tendencies than a lot of the indie bands I see from Toronto or Montreal, but there is no shortage of them.
Tasha: There is a lot of dbeat and hardcore dominating the scene right now. There used to be a ton of street punk. Some good power pop. But its considered smaller than montreal, toronto or the vancouver scene.

What bands can you recommend from your area?
: SHACKLES, THEE NODES, ASILE… All good bands.

… and from the whole country or worldwide?
Tasha: NAPALM RAID (Halifax), TALK SICK (Montreal), TERMINALS (Toronto), LIFE CHAIN (Halifax).

Who come with the idea of doing some 7inchs and maybe later a full-record in these days?
: We all wanted to just make a bunch of records. It made sens to release some singles to make way for the full length … Jo found a couple labels willing to put them out for us, so it worked out well that way.

Are single songs – today – more important than a full length album?
: I would argue that in a lot of way they are. I think people have much shorter attention spans with the internet. Whenever people ask me about our music they always mention the songs they saw in our music videos, and to a lesser extent the stuff on our bandcamp page. While I love listening to full albums, I know even for myself I’ll often only listen to three or four songs by one band in one sitting.
Jo: Yeah, exactly: the general public’s attention span isn’t big enough for a whole album. Your better off having one popular music video than 10 Lp’s of great songs.

Will this be the future of music, like in the 50s/60s, to release singles?
: I dont think 7″ ’s will ever become that popular in the „mainstream“ that we, as a whole, would go back to the way it was in the 50’s or 60’s. Digital is easy. The world likes easy. Records may be making a comeback, but they have always been a huge part of punk. And they always will be. But i think its just a trend for now while u see top 40 bands with vinyl.

Why are your release on many different labels?
: Different labels want to do different things, we want our music to be accessible to everyone, so by going with different labels we can reach different audiences.
Gretchen: More carriers spreads the disease faster and further!

How did you finance the video?
: I direct and edit all of our music videos with my music video company called Billy Darts Productions. Our music videos were both shot by Shawn Descarie. We are currently working on a short tour documentary of our American Tour and some new music videos for our new album.

How did you sleep before the video shot?

Tasha: We had a lot of fun. Those two are the funniest pair but really know what they are doing. The videos look amazing!

What are your next planned steps?
: We tour South East Asia as of February 2015 as well we’ve got some dates in Australia.

Most horrible Canada-Band of all times?
: I guess we’re guilty of giving the world NICKELBACK and Justin Bieber.

Three things Canucks do better than US Americans?
: Maple syrup, beavers and tobogganing.
Tasha: Better beer, poutine and better stripclubs …
Jo: Its all the same.

What would you change, if you could be prime minister for one week?
: Eliminate the military, legalize drugs, force police officers to be elected by the people they arrest, massive electoral reforms.
Gretchen: Make clothing optional.
Jo: If you where prime minister for just one week, you would accomplish nothing as your just the facade for CEO’s with special interests.

… last famous words?
: „When you’re sitting on the John, and the toilet paper is gone. Be a man and use your hand“
Gretchen: „Fuck her right in the pussy!“
Jo: Definitely „Fuck her right in the pussy!“

That is just what I was going to say.