Formed in 1994, Authority Zero have become the de facto torchbearers of the Valley punk rock scene over the past 16 years. The band's new album, Stories of Survival, is set for a June 22 release, but Valley fans can get a sneak preview this coming Thursday night, when the band plays the new album in its entirety at a free gig at (of all places) Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Mesa.
Even if you can't make it to the show, Up on the Sun has procured an exclusive track from the forthcoming album for your listening pleasure. Read on to listen to the brand new track and read an e-mail Q&A with Authority Zero frontman Jason DeVore, in which he discusses the new album, the departure of founding guitarist Bill Marcks and answers the burning question posed by New Times contributor Michael Lopez - namely, why in the hell are they playing at a country bar?
Q&A with Authority Zero's Jason DeVore
Up on the Sun: Tell us about the new album, Stories of Survival. Where and with whom was it recorded? How does it differ from your previous work?
DeVore: Stories of Survival was recorded right here at home in good ol' AZ! More specifically, up in northeast Scottsdale at producer Ryan Greene's studio. We've been working with Ryan for years and have really developed a special bond with him not only as a producer, but as a friend. He's real easy to work with and understands a lot of the ideas and elements that we want to incorporate into our albums (and vice versa), making us proud of the end result. With Stories of Survival I feel there is a great deal of youthful angst and energy behind the songs, even though we're older now. It has been a few years since our last release (12:34) and a lot has happened since then. Both in the world, right here at home within our own lives, and as a band. As with past albums, there is still the urgency for change and perseverance, but also an understanding of self and where we're at nowadays as a group. Much of which [involves] the current state of the music industry and the economy and what it takes as a band to push on and survive in it.
This is your first album without founding guitarist Bill Marcks. How has his departure affected the band? What does new guitarist Zach Vogel bring to the table?
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Bill Marcks is a very old friend and it was hard to see him move on. Bill and I essentially started Authority Zero together back in the summer of 1994 with our other long time friends Jerry Douglas and bassist Jeremy Wood. You can imagine after 15 years of playing side by side with someone you're very close to and experiencing so many life events around the world, that when they're suddenly not there anymore, it's somewhat surreal. Not to make it sound morbid in any way, but it's comparable to the shock of death, I suppose, in some respect. You're never ready for it and you expect when you're a kid starting out that you, as friends, will be doing this together forever - taking over the world and rockin' til you're old and gray. The reality of it is that people change. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, but people change. Eventually, we grow up and long for different things in life and choose to take different paths. All you can do is move forward with the hand you're dealt and do what you love and makes you happy.
With all that has happened it has also brought new life. New guitarist Zach Vogel (Zach V) is a great addition to Authority Zero. He brings ridiculous talent and musicianship and was actually recommended as a guitar replacement in Bill's departure. He's a rad guitarist, kills on vocals, and is a good dude. Not to mention a kick-ass mechanic, which it never hurts to have handy on the road! We're looking forward to many continued experiences and musical ventures with him and Authority Zero. In addition, through the series of events that have taken place in the past few years, it has also brought back original bassist and old friend Jeremy Wood into the band. We're fired up for the new release and more than ready to hit to ground running.
Why did you choose "Get it Right" as the first single? What is it about?
"Get It Right" is a song about constantly feeling like you're fucking up. Life lessons through trial and error. Trusting in people that are closest to you and being let down by them time and again. Through all of that, giving them the benefit of the doubt in hopes that there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the end, the standard result being that you learn lessons hard in hopes that one day you'll "Get It Right" and not have the constant repercussions with the hardships of your "poor choices" and trust. We felt the song had a strong meaning and a was a good straight to the point tune that people could relate to and maybe connect with in their own lives.
Tell us about "Crashland," the song you chose for this exclusive stream.
"'Crashland" is about a journey through life. The lyrics in this song are written as if to be on an actual plane that's going down. It's a story of survival, shedding those things in your life that have been wearing and tearing at you to get on with it and press forward in a new light and a fresh start.
It seems kind of unusual for a punk band to play at Toby Keith's. How did this particular gig come about?
It does seem pretty unusual, ha. Although on the other side of the coin, we're a band that, growing up, played wherever we could plug in and make some noise. Hijacking outdoor school outlets, house parties, you name it. Hell, we even played a "rodeo" consisting of one kid standing in cow shit out in Apache Junction back in the day. I guess to us, the band makes the venue, the venue doesn't make the band. To us, it's always been about the opportunity to play, and with given the situation, an opportunity arose to where we could play a free gig for the fans of AZ at a new location. Local radio station X103.9 presented the idea to us to do a free show for the fans at Toby Keith's. Having worked with the people at the station for many years (and even getting our initial boost from them in early 2000), we trusted in their idea, made some adjustments, heard they had a kick ass sound system and stage, and ran with it. We're all jazzed about the release and especially thrilled we were able to make it an all-ages, free event in our hometown, days before the international release.
We understand that the first 50 people in the door get an autographed copy of the new album. What time should fans show up? Will you have additional copies of the album for sale?
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That's correct! First 50 people through will receive a free autographed copy. That evening, and for this one and only time, we'll be playing the new album Stories of Survival front to back. We'll definitely have additional copies available for everyone that shows up locally to pick up before the album hits stores. Show starts at about 8 p.m., so I think the best bet to get your free copy would be to show up at about 7 p.m. or earlier to be one of the first of 50 in.
What's up next after the album release? Any big summer tour plans?
As soon as the album drops we're hitting the road for a U.S. summer tour. I think the day after it drops we're in Vegas to start the trek around the country. We'll be touring throughout the summer months here in the U.S. and be doing some festivals along the way. Shortly after that we'll be hitting up Europe, Australia, and Japan. We'll be back home doing a show at the Marquee before rolling out for that though! Hopefully be seeing everyone back home for a gig in mid-August. MTAZ!
Authority Zero is scheduled to perform on Thurday, June 17, at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Mesa.