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Such groundwork prepares a band for the sometimes-dispiriting stop on a tour itinerary. "Sometimes you play odd places," says Marcks. "We played a Knights of Columbus Hall on this last thing, which turned out to be a fun, kick-back show, but it was minimal people -- 13 kids. We were playing with H2O and we had fun; we were skating around during their set, and Toby, the singer of H2O, did the same during our set. We hauled out old stuff, covers. It was a good release."
The year's extended roadwork has paid off, with 15 stations playing Authority Zero's new album weeks before its release. "We're number five in Jacksonville, Florida, already," says Devore. "Chicago plays us. And St. Louis played us before we went there. People came out to see us, and I didn't think anyone there knew who we were."
The Authority Zero sound somewhat restores the laid-back intermingling of punk and reggae that alternative radio had in the days of Sublime and the Offspring, before the backward baseball caps turned everything into a grudge match.
"We've assimilated all the music they used to play on KUKQ," says Marcks. "That's where I first heard Sublime's Date Rape' before anyone signed them. We picked up a lot of influences from that station, everything from Pennywise to Rancid to Yellowman." What makes the Zeros' approach unique is the way they switch from Wilcox's speed-typist drumming and Devore's rapid-fire enunciation, as well as the way they incorporate a crazy rest period in every song that lets the people in the pit catch their breath.
"When you're at a show and there's the same constant tempo, it gets kind of boring," Marcks explains. "You gotta let the audience loosen up a bit, so it's not as grinding. And when they think there isn't going to be anything left and we stop the whole song, we just rip into the last bit of our song and keep the place in an uproar. We like to keep it like a roller coaster."
"If we do something in rehearsals and someone says, That's crazy,' that's when we wind up saying, Let's do that,'" says Devore. "The album we're planning ahead to do after this one has things going from ska to punk to polka now. Spanish in it, too. We have a couple of country tunes, too. Whatever doesn't make sense, that's what we want to do."
Marcks' personal goal to speak eight fluent languages has spilled over to the other band members. "Currently, I know only three: English, Spanish and Portuguese," he says. "There's a song on the album called L.A. Surf' that's got some Portuguese in it. I teach it to these guys, so they're picking up on it. And our bassist Jeremy knows sign language, so we sign a little at the gigs. It comes in handy communicating across the room in loud clubs. Drummer Jim Wilcox has taken a particular shine to the gesture for I'll decide.' There's a joke with our drummer [that] he'll decide everything. So he'll always give the sign for that. All the other bands we're touring with wonder what the hell we're doing, and they learn a bit of it, too. Everyone starts doing it."
What often gets mistaken for another language is the auctioneer-like speed of Devore's thrash verbiage. "When my grandma first heard Over Seasons,' she asked if Jason was speaking Spanish," says Marcks, laughing. "Naw, that's English. He just speaks really fuckin' fast."
Early in the project, it was suggested that Devore slow down his lyrical mph so that the words would be more decipherable. Luckily, the producer was having none of that. "That's the thing that attracted Dave Jerden to the project. Dave said, I really like what he's doing. It's a fresh idea; it's original.' He loved the arrangements and didn't change it at all, beyond adding an extra amp here and there and changing the tones. Mostly he gave us a lot of room to be extra creative."
Whether success will change Authority Zero is cheekily debated in the group's video for "The Sky's the Limit."
"It's the theme of us daydreaming, kind of messing around," says Devore. "It shows us in Mesa, sweating our asses off in the desert. Then it goes to this weird scene where we're hanging around a pool, and it's real overkill, the way hip-hop videos are, where people flash around their money too much."
"Then we snap out of it," laughs Marcks. "And we're in Mesa, keeping it real."