Zico Chain are back. With a UK tour throughout the UK this month and a download release of 'These Birds Will Kill Us All' it's nice to know that the UK band has not let the horrific state of the music industry get to them. They parted ways with Hassle Records and the new EP will be on Degenerate Music. We caught up with guitarist Paul Frost who told us why the label split was the right thing to do, how birds always look Chris in the eye (the feather variety, we mean) and how thinking about peas, mash and veggie sausages makes him hungry. Actually, if you read this interview, you'll probably end up hungry too - for the band's new music AND some food (no pun intended).




Shari Black Velvet: In December 07 the band wrote in their MySpace blog, ‘This year has been absolutely unbelievable’. You toured with Velvet Revolver in arenas, supported Metallica, played on the main stage at Download and more. However you then ended up splitting with your label Hassle Records and taking time off. How did that time off make you feel? And do you think having such a great year made the label disappointment more of a low point? Do you find that after a high there’s always a low to bring you back down – or vice versa?
Paul Frost: Well the label split was the right thing to do in the long term, you have to think of it a little business-like, and giving away half of everything we’d possibly ever get wasn’t something we wanted to do. Idle hands though are definitely the devil, and we faced some dark times between each other during 08. So it feels good to feel united again now.

SBV: You wrote in a MySpace blog entry; ‘an undeniable bitterness towards the bands who regularly sell out the venues that we can only dream of, and a combined resentment for the drivel and mush that continuously grace the pages of our most-insightful press bibles, we realised that we still had a lot in common’. Not wanting to focus on any negatives, but what particular types of music do you think are ‘drivel’ – and do you think the bitterness and resentment you’ve expressed will help fuel the desire to fight back and win, and achieve the success you deserve?
PF: Definitely, I think it gives you a sense of belief in what your doing, enjoying the music you are creating and wanting to push it forward amidst other stuff around you which you have no affinity with. I suppose one element of popular culture and the music industry too which I do hate is the finicky fad culture, rather than getting into a band’s body of work, into an album, seeing a band develop, these days it’s all about one song on your ipod. Fads come and go quickly rather than bands being able to grow into a career.

SBV: What do you think about the rumours of how much money Simon Cowell and others get for working on shows like X Factor – compared to the money regular musicians, and bands, and people in general who may be equally as talented but just not get any breaks get?
PF: It is what it is, that’s always kinda been the case and will always be that way in a capitalist society, it’s the pyramid shape of global society. You can get a break in the music world, but longevity is harder these days; people don’t have as much long term faith in artists because they don’t generate as much return on investment because music as a product sells less and less, and of course the internet is a major reason for that.

SBV: Have you been in touch with any new labels? Are you finding it hard to get a good deal at the moment with the music business and world economy in general as it is? Are you finding any particular obstacles with regards to labels?
PF: We’re looking at it a bit more now, but these days especially in the current climate we’ve been enjoying and keeping the DIY attitude. Concentrating on making the music first and keeping everything in our control rather than someone else having a controlling vote is very liberating.

SBV: During your off-time you were in the US with your girlfriend Ilse (who is also a musician). How long were you in the US for and what did you do while you were there? Do you think you’ll end up going to live over there full time?
PF: Yeah, long distance is hard I tell you, but love rules out! I get to Los Angeles a lot and must say I feel very at home there. The US is definitely a goal for Zico too. 

SBV: Did the time away from Zico Chain make you realise how much you missed the band and each other? When you’re away from Chris and Oli what do you most miss about them?
PF: Ha, how to answer without sounding very “I love you man”? We’re three very different people and I think that’s what makes it still work, I mean we’ve lived together, toured together, we create together and done so many amazing things, together, so we have quite a brotherly relationship.

SBV: Can we expect any changes with the band now you’re ‘back’?
PF: We’re looking forward to checking out all the new stuff live and I think there will be some surprises for people, as time moves on so does your music, and we’re not aiming to sound the same as we have forever more, we wanna change it up, it’s about expanding what we do and can do.

SBV: When can we expect the next full length Zico Chain album to actually be released – and what will it be like?
PF: It’s gonna melt your face off, give it a massage and then shove you into the mosh pit again. Release wise, we need to record it first!

SBV: You’ve been in the studio working with Dave Eringa – who’s previously produced music by Manic Street Preachers, Toploader, Idlewild and Ocean Colour Scene. Why did you decide on Dave to do the production duties and how was it working with him?
PF: Dave’s great and a top rock producer in the UK, enough said on that. We had a blast with him too, great guy and incredibly funny, and that goes a long way when everyone is tired and grumpy at 4am, and he has the ability to bring you out of it.

SBV: Are the songs you recorded exactly as you wanted them?
PF: Yeah they rock, those tracks will out for download in late September.

SBV: You’ve done a video for ‘These Birds Will Kill Us All’. What’s the meaning behind the title and the song?
PF: Birds always look Chris in the eye, and he believes they are plotting something! Now he’s very scared of anything that flaps.

SBV: Ilse’s been vegetarian/vegan for a long time – and recently you’ve become vegetarian. How was it being a meat eater while Ilse was vegan? Did you ever feel guilty for eating meat?
PF: Well after cutting out meat for quite a while it was so awesome to see the alternate view, and having the way you think about food and cooking change and learn was really cool.

SBV: What made you finally become vegetarian and how do you feel now you are one? Are you glad you made the switch?
PF: Well very quickly when together we would always be eating and cooking vegan or vegetarian dishes, and loved what I had and what I made for us, I’m most definitely the cook! Then in February this year, suddenly three months had gone by without eating any meat at all, and I decided to keep going with it. Eating vegetarian is so easy, and I’d encourage anyone to do it.

SBV: Why did it take you so long?!
PF: I think when you get into it, it takes a bit of time but then you start to get it more. It’s not so much a time thing, if anyone does something different, no matter what, it’s still ace that they are doing that irregardless of the time it took to get there.

SBV: Have you read much about the cruelty that goes on – or did Ilse inform you about it? What do you think about the process that goes into meat product – factory farming and all of that stuff?
PF: I think my big hate with it is the farming aspect, it’s all about money, animals get treated so poorly just to make the profit margin bigger for the meat industry, and that’s that worst part; ethically any person would at least want their food to have had a decent existence, but we turn our heads away because we get a cheaper product, but mainly the business is just trying to squeeze the most money out possible without any regard for the suffering they cause.

SBV: Is anyone else in Zico Chain vegetarian?
PF: Nope, although Chris does love falafel, maybe too much.

SBV: What are your fave vegetarian items of food and what were you surprised to find existed?
PF: Ooh, who’s hungry?! Well the thing is I don’t think of it in terms of ‘vegetarian food’ these days. Most people would eat a great pasta dish for example and not think ‘ooh that’s veggie’! And if you want meat type products there are many faux meats available, a lot more in LA it has to be said than here, although in London it’s easy to get stuff like that. So take peas, sweet potato mash and onion gravy with veggie sausages, mmm. I must mention recently in LA at Real Food Daily a restaurant there and I had The Club sandwich, which was rather awesome, and contained the closest thing to bacon I’ve had too. And pizzas, curry! All are just as good adding veggies and losing the meat. I must say for the late night tour feed it would be falafel and 99% of kebab shops serve that too. Ok I’m fuckin’ hungry now!

SBV: What would you say to anyone who eats meat who’s never tried to be vegetarian or even thought of being vegetarian?
PF: I’d say lose the preconception, people sometimes say, “well, what do you eat?” Just look at your plate, remove the meat and ‘everything else’ on there is a good starting point. Maybe think of dishes that you would eat without thinking about that don’t contain meat and do that for a bit, then your mind will give you ideas especially if you like to cook. Maybe have a veggie day a week.

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