Interview: Californian Rock Band Zebrahead Set to Walk the Plank

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“Walk the Plank is pretty diverse. It has some of the heaviest songs we have ever written and some of the most laid back. We took some chances and I hope people can hear it. I might just be crazy!?” – Ben Osmundson (Zebrahead | Bass Player).

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Californian punk-rockers Zebrahead are set to release their 12th studio album, Walk the Plank via Rude Records October 16th. First breaking ground in the mind 90’s, Zebrahead exploded in the the rock scene with an ingenious mix of punk, rock and hip-hop. Nearly 20 years on they have a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for their cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman under their belt; and have rocked out in countless amounts of countries doing what they do best – playing good old rock music.

It’s not surprising then, that Zebrahead have been able to maintain a solid fan base with a strong loyalty to the band since day one. But on top of that; have also been able to break new grounds and appeal to newer and younger generations of rock music enthusiasts.

Now just moments away from unleashing Walk the Plank, Zebrahead are pushing their sound in a new (unintentional) direction. Whilst it’ll still be instantly familiar to fans of the band’s work, Walk the Plank sees them throwing in softer, gentler numbers to mix the dynamics of the record up and show the band’s diversity. Ahead of the release, here’s what Zebrahead’s bassist Ben Osmundson has to say about it all.

Q+A with Zebrahead’s Ben Osmundson

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1. Walk the Plank is just moments away from being released in Australia, how’s it all feeling? Have the nerves kicked in yet?

Starting to get excited! We have worked for so long on writing and recording the songs that it actually feels weird when they are finally ready to come out. I just hope people enjoy it as much as we do. This one is up there as one of my personal favourites. 

2. You have a massive following in Japan with the album released their first (October 7th). Are you excited about touring back there for it?

We are super lucky to be doing so well in Japan. The crazy thing is, I have always been totally infatuated with Japan and its culture. In college I took Japanese and tried my best to learn how to write and speak it. I never completely mastered it, but hell I tried. My favourite place to visit. Tokyo is like stepping into the future, so it’s going to be awesome. 

3. What was it like recording Walk the Plank in your home town with Paul Minor? 

Pretty awesome. Paul is a very down to earth guy, but really pushed us to our limits and completely took us out of our comfort zone. Felt like a breath of fresh air to be honest. And hell, his studio is 5 minutes from my house. Pretty sweet!

4. The Save Your Breath teaser has already been a huge hit with a punchy punk-rock sound that’s pretty damn contagious, what can we expect from the rest of the album?

It’s very diverse. It has some of the heaviest songs we have ever written and some of the most laid back. We took some chances and I hope people can hear it. I might just be crazy!?

5. I’m absolutely loving the album artwork, what’s the idea behind it and who designed it?

We have a friend Stefan who lives in Austria. We got really lucky meeting him actually, just kinda happened by accident. He just captures our ideas in ways we didn’t know could happen. There is always this vision in your head that is hard to get across. Stefan just gets it and knows where to go with it. 

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6. The title Walk the Plank resembles your ‘pirate style life’, touring and travelling all the time. Does this mean a lot of rum was consumed throughout the making of this record!?

Actually… yeah!!! But more whiskey than rum. We had celebration days and days you just want to forget. Whiskey helped us with both. My personal favourite is rum though….I like those fruity tropical drinks. 

7. You’ve been in the music scene for a good time now with 12 studio albums under your belt, do you feel your sound has evolved a lot as a band?

We never really set out to make each album have a certain sound, so it’s never pre-planned. It just ends up being whatever songs we liked best from the writing process. So any evolution is by accident. We are too dumb to plan anything out! 

8. 2016 marks 20 years of working together, will you be celebrating with any wild shenanigans? 

Anytime we are on tour we get pretty stupid. So hopefully we will be playing lots of shows and doing things we won’t remember!

9. What’s the best and worst thing about working together as a group?

Well, the hardest part is making everyone happy. 5 guys and 5 different opinions sometimes makes for hard decision making. But for the most part we can all come to an agreement pretty fast. The rest is easy. My job is to see the world, play music and drink beer; how could I ever complain!?

10. You guys have opened for and collaborated with many cool acts, including Big Reel Fish (which are fantastic live!) what are other bands would you like to work with?

One of my favourites was a song we did with Motorhead. Kind of a dream come true. Some of the guys were out of the country and we got a call to come record a cover and Lemmy would sing on it. Obviously we said yes! He sang on it and then it was nominated for best metal performance at the Grammy’s. Never in my life did I think that would ever happen. 

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11. What was the first record you ever bought?

First I ever bought was Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden. Still love it to this day. 

12. Who was your most influential artist artist that got you into rock and punk-rock music in the first place?

In college I was really into Fugazi. Even though you don’t really hear any of it in our music… I learned to play bass because of the song ‘Waiting Room’. 

13. When you’re not doing Zebrahead, what are you up too?

I tend to find myself at the beach. Typical California lifestyle of surfing and skateboarding. I am pretty predictable! 

14. What are you most looking forward to for the Walk the Plank tour?

Pretty pumped for all the shows and the bands coming out with us. We have MXPX on a bunch of the shows and the Japanese band Man with a Mission is also doing some shows with us. It’s going to be pretty damn fun!

15. Favourite place to tour and why? 

Japan is my favorite. But Australia and Europe and pretty close. I always enjoy Soundwave Festival. It’s pretty much just a traveling party. Everyone is out to have a good time and in great spirits. 

16. It’s been a while since Zebrahead has come over to Australia, when can we expect you back?

Man I really hope soon! It’s killing me. I need to get back and do all the dumb tourist things I always do. When we are there, look for me at the Opera House or getting punched by a kangaroo; I’ll be the dumb tourist every time!

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Zebrahead’s tour dates are below. Check out Zebrahead’s website to find out more or follow them on Facebook
22 Oct 2015 – Essigfabrik: Cologne, Germany
23 Oct 2015 – Markthalle: Hamburg, Germany
24 Oct 2015 – Beatpol: Dresden, Germany
25 Oct 2015 – C-Club: Berlin, Germany
27 Oct 2015 – Musikzentrum: Hannover, Germany
28 Oct 2015 – Lagerhaus: Bremen, Germany
29 Oct 2015 – Matrix: Bochum, Germany
30 Oct 2015 – Cafe Cenntral: Weinheim, Germany
31 Oct 2015 – Dynamo: Eindhoven, Netherlands
02 Nov 2015 – Spectrum: Augsburg, Germany
03 Nov 2015 – Universum: Stuttgart, Germany
04 Nov 2015 – Backstage: Munich, Germany
05 Nov 2015 – Kesselhaus: Wiesbaden, Germany
06 Nov 2015 – Rosenhof: Osnabruck, Germany
08 Nov 2015 – Helling: Utrecht, Holland
09 Nov 2015 – Kofmehl: Solothurn, Switzerland
10 Nov 2015 – Rockhouse: Salzburg, Austria
11 Nov 2015 – Durer Kert: Budapest, Hungary
12 Nov 2015 – Arena: Vienna, Austria
13 Nov 2015 – Gale Hala: Ljubljana, Slovenia
14 Nov 2015 – RnR Arena: Romagnano, Italy
15 Nov 2015 – Le Poste à Galène: Marseille, France
16 Nov 2015 – Jack Jack: Lyon, France
17 Nov 2015 – Boveda: Barcelona, Spain
20 Nov 2015 – Fleche D’Or: Paris, France
21 Nov 2015 – Chinnery’s: Southend, UK
22 Nov 2015 – Academy 2: Birmingham, UK
23 Nov 2015 – Rescue Rooms: Nottingham, UK
24 Nov 2015 – Stylus: Leeds, UK
25 Nov 2015 – Garage: Glasgow, UK
27 Nov 2015 – Club Academy: Manchester, UK
28 Nov 2015 – Brooklyn Bown: London, UK
29 Nov 2015 – Academy 2: Oxford, UK
30 Nov 2015 – Wedgewood Rooms: Portsmouth, UK
31 Nov 2015 – Marble Factory: Bristol, UK

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