Zebrahead is currently on tour in Europe. I had a chat with the lead singer Ali Tabatabaee right before their performance at Budapest Park Festival in Hungary.
How’s the tour going so far and how do you like the European crowd?
The tour’s been great so far, I think tomorrow is two weeks since we left home. It’s been great! It’s a festival season – so all the shows have been festival shows and that’s always fun for me because not only do you get to play to a bunch of people, but you get to watch other bands play too, you get to run into some old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. So, the festival season is always I think my favorite to tour. But the shows have been great; the fans have been great. I feel like during the set the fans really show up and wanna have a good time and wanna start the party, so it’s been great. I think everyone’s been happy with everything so far.
Do you have any special rituals you do before every show?
Yeah, for me, like an hour before the show, I will do my vocal warm-ups and then stretch a little bit, and try to pick up some energy. Some of the other guys, like Dan, he plays like an hour before, he starts rehearing and practicing guitar. Ben likes to make sure all equipments are good and ready to go, so everyone has their own little rituals before we play. But yeah, mine is pretty mellow.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on a tour? If you could share one interesting story?
The craziest thing that’s ever happened… That’s a good question! One time we were playing, I think it was in Poland. We played at Woodstock Poland and we had a tour bus and some little VW Bug parked in front of us, so we couldn’t leave. And there were these Hare Krishna monks that were walking by, like 15 of them and they were like: “Oh my God, do you guys need help?” We’re like: “Yeah, we can’t leave, this car is parked in front of us.” So, they picked up a car for us, and all of them were able to move the car by hand in front of our tour bus. And I’ve never met Hare Krishnas before and more than that they fucking picked up a car for us, so that was pretty cool.
Let’s talk about your new EP. You released it a few months ago. So, what makes this record different compared to your previous work?
Adrian is the newest member of the band, and he’s been with us for a couple of years now. But, the fact that we’re getting more and more comfortable with writing the songs together, I think. This, the second EP kind of highlights that. I also feel like the second EP has a little bit more of a range. We have a ska song in there. We have a very heavy loop-filled song in there in middle seat blues and then we also have the really old-school punk vibe in the FLFU song, so I think it’s more diverse than maybe the first EP and also the evolution of working with Adrian and writing together more and more and getting more comfortable with each other.
What are your future plans? Are you already working on something new?
Yeah, I mean, when we’re not touring, we usually write a lot at home. We don’t do well writing on tour ever. I don’t know why. We just never sit down and work together on tour. So when we go home, we try to write on, work on new songs, and we have a few we’ve been working on. And then we finish this tour and we go home for a month and we’re probably gonna get back in the studio and write a little bit. And then we’re gone again for a month. But when we get back, I think in October or November, there’s when we’re hoping to go into the studio, and look forward to these ideas and hopefully have some new music out after that.
Back in 2009, you covered some pop artists like Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears. That was so cool. So, would you do something similar today? And if so, which pop artists would you like to cover nowadays?
I mean, I don’t think we would do that again because we did that once, you know? But there are so many cool artists. We thought that was a cool idea because it was all like girl pop artists’ songs, you know? So I don’t know if we could come up with something clever like that. Maybe, but I don’t know. We haven’t really discussed that.
But I think it’d be really cool to do something like that.
Yeah, maybe. What should we do? You tell me.
Maybe Billie Eilish, someone newer. Or maybe Camilla Cabello.
Yeah, I like both of those ideas. Mental note.
What are your thoughts on the future of the punk scene and how do you think it’ll affect you as a band?
Well, I think it’s different in different parts of the world, right? I think in America there was a decade or more of the transition out of rock music tomorrow or independent style, like guitar-driven music. In Europe, I think punk music has never gone anywhere. In England, in Germany, here – there’s a bit of punk scene. So, I think there’s it’s just going to hopefully keep growing. I think, one thing about people that are into punk music – once they start having kids and stuff, they really like to show their kids the different cool punk bands and so the kids grow up liking that kind of music. I’m hoping it continues to grow in America. And as far as for us, I think as long as there are people that want to come to watch us play, we’re going to keep writing music and touring. So, hopefully, we’ll be doing that in the next 10 years as well.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting a band; something you wish you knew when you were starting?
I’ll take a couple of things. One, play as many shows as you can, even if there’s nobody there. If it’s in front of your girlfriends or your boyfriends or whatever, just get the experience of playing because that is something that really teaches you and you never know who’s watching. You could be playing in front of 10 people and one of them could know somebody at the record label or someone who can get your music on the radio or something. So, I would say play as many shows as you can and then try to learn as many different parts of the music business, not just playing the right music. Learn what the tour manager does, learn about publishing, learn the business aspect of it, because the more you know, the less you’re gonna get taken advantage of. That’s something nobody really tells you when you’re starting out. They say: “Oh, your manager will do this, your booking agent will do this…” But if you could learn how it works, I think it benefits you if you wanna have a longer career.
And for the end – if you’d like to send a short message to your fans, anything you’d like to say to them?
Honestly, I just wanna thank them because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to come and play Budapest or any of these shows. So, we really appreciate them and we can’t wait to do a headline tour, so we can probably hang out with our fans and spend more time with them. So, thank you and we love you and we’ll be back soon.
Visit Zebrahead’s official site for more tour dates.