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Zozobra interview

By Drew Ailes
Sat, April 14, 2007 1:40 PM PT10,793 views

Drew Ailes caught up with Zozobra mastermind Caleb Scofield last month for some intense questioning. For those unaware, Scofield is also a member of Cave In and Old Man Gloom.


What's going on right now?

Nothing much, I'm in Boston. We're practicing and getting ready for the tour.

With Jesu and Isis?

Yep.

I heard Jesu just got their whole visas worked out.

Yeah, I think they just...I know they're scheduled to finally join the tour when it reaches D.C. or something, which is insane, because they were supposed to be on the whole thing and couldn't get work permits or whatever.

That's what I had heard, too. Mentioning that band kind of brings me into our first question. Touring alongside both of those bands and thinking of some of the moodier songs on the disc, like "Levitate" and "Peripheral Lows," I can't help but wonder if there maybe any sort of Godflesh/Jesu influence that played a role in some of the songwriting?

Yeah, definitely. I've always loved Godflesh and obviously Jesu now. I'm attracted to the more, almost like, industrial sounding type of stuff. With a groove to things where things kind of circle around a beat or a bassline or something. So that's definitely an influence of mine, for sure.

Are there other bands of the same type that you're into as well, like Minsk and stuff like that?

No, I'm not too familiar with a lot of that stuff. I'm still getting to know - I kind of caught on a little late. I found Godflesh because of Jesu, you know? I'm still kind of working my way back and digging around, finding new stuff that's sort of similar to that.

That's definitely an exciting path you're about to chart down, then. Lot of great stuff out there. Kind of getting into the roots of the band, from what I've gathered, things have moved in a rapid pace from the start of Zozobra, having formed and recorded a debut in the same year. Was this a deliberate move or simply the result of a few well-timed coincidences?

Basically, the idea of doing a record of my own songs has been something that I've been wanting to do for a long time now. But I've been so busy with Cave In and touring all the time, I've never had the opportunity to set aside time to write and record. So when we got back from our last tour, which I think was in Japan, as soon as I got home I called my buddy Andrew and booked time with him. I did that so I would have no choice but to actually see this idea through. Things just happened fast like that because I wanted to do it. I didn't want to procrastinate or drag anything out too long. Just got home, got a bunch of songs together, sort of tuned a few up that I had kicking around for a while, and I went and did it.

Did you know that you had the backing of Hydra Head from the start of this?

No, it was my intention to record the record on my own dime and kind of start sending it around to different people to see if anyone would be interested in releasing it. My obvious first choice would've been Hydra Head, and it just worked out that one day Mark was inquiring about whether or not I had new demos he could hear, so I passed those off to him and they kind of just said, "well, we'd love to put it out." So that was that. Like I said, they were my first choice, so it just worked out really well, man. I feel really fortunate. It's been real great so far.

Often times you see people branch off from bands and release something that's a little more personalized, whether it be a solo record or something along the same lines. But just as often, you see these projects completely fizzle out after putting out one great album, and you never hear from them again. As of now, are you fully dedicated to keeping Zozobra active or is this something you're just kind of testing the waters with?

Um, I think the band itself...I'm happy with the way everything is going. Even now, being in Boston and actually hearing it as a band for the first time, you know, being in a room with people playing guitar. It's pretty exciting and I definitely think that I want to do at least another record. More than anything, this is just sort of a test to see if I had the ability or the interest to branch out and just kind of start doing my own thing, musically. Which I'm definitely full-on dedicated about now. So if another Zozobra record doesn't come out in another year or so, something else will.

Some incarnation of your work will be around, regardless.

Definitely.

What bands actually provide the real inspiration for the expansive and "large" sound that permeates the songs? I know we already kind of went over this with the Godflesh/Jesu thing.

Well, I guess I'd have to just, not to be too obvious, but attribute a lot of that to playing in both Cave In and Old Man Gloom. I mean, especially Cave In really just sort of formed my whole outlook on music, whether it be writing songs, recording, or playing live - whatever. It's just always been about sort of no cutting corners at all. It's got to be full on or nothing kind of a deal. Originally I was going to do this recorded at home type deal, and I was like, "what am I thinking?" If you're going to do something, do it right. Make it sound big and make it sound good. That's just sort of my mentality behind it. But definitely Cave In and Old Man Gloom.

Sure, so your personal integrity kind of pushed you to make it as grand as possible.

Yeah.

Now a few people have remarked that a few tracks on Harmonic Tremors resembles a few songs on Cave In's Perfect Pitch Black. Is this something that you notice for yourself and that you're willing to admit, or do you feel that people are being too assumptive with that?

No, I mean, it's kind of inescapable, you know? Had I never played in either of those bands, I'm sure nobody would even think of it, but it's unavoidable. A few of the songs were intended to be possible Cave In songs, so yeah, that's kind of an unavoidable comparison and I definitely don't deny it. I think for me, this is still new, and writing songs on my own is still kind of fresh and I'm still figuring it out. I definitely have a tendency to fall back on old habits and stay true to a form that I've stayed true to for years and years in my previous bands. Hopefully as I sort of grow into my own personality here with the music, it will start to stand out a little more and be much more of a different entity than my other bands.

Are there specific things that you're doing to push yourself further in different directions? Listening to different genres of music, reading more music theory, practicing...is there anything you're doing on a consistent basis?

Yeah, definitely. I think in the past years, I haven't really been listening to enough heavy music. I haven't been influenced by a lot of heavy, metal-type bands. So I feel kind of bad, almost, because it's where my heart lies. I've always felt more comfortable playing heavier music and writing heavier songs. So, I'm definitely trying to learn more towards that stuff and refine that sort of side of me, other than trying to write catchy songs or a song that follows a specific format.

That's one thing I'm kind of going through as well. I grew up listening to metal through all the old Earache, Relapse, Century Media, and Nuclear Blast bands. Just today, I was sitting down listening to Dissection, realizing how much I really love it but I don't have a desire to seek out or stomach anything new. It made me feel bad, because it's like you said, it's where your heart lies, so it's almost like you turned your back on a fundamental part of you.

Yeah, and it's tough, because there are very few new bands that come out that I get really excited about.

What was the last heavy band that actually made you perk up and pay attention?

Oh, man. I mean, now that I've sort of set myself on this path and getting more interested, I'm finding all kinds of stuff that went over my head when I was younger. Like all the Harvey Milk stuff.

Yeah, yeah.

I just missed it, for whatever reason.

Everybody missed it. And people are still missing Harvey Milk today.

Yeah, and I hear that shit now and I'm like, "you've got to be fucking kidding me, man!" They were devastating and they have no rhythm or rhyme to their songwriting. It's killer. I love it.

Another great band I'm sure you're familiar with, being labelmates with, is Oxbow. They're another band that's just completely gone over everyone's head except for the people who really have the time to sit down, absorb the music, and take the time to understand why it's so rewarding.

Yeah. Absolutely. Those guys are incredible musicians. I can take an Oxbow record and just listen to the bass for the whole thing, and it's a good listen, you know?

I caught them on an acoustic tour where it was just Eugene and Niko. I just saw them at a small bar in St. Paul and it was one of the best shows I had ever seen. It was just so amazing to see how into the music they were even during an acoustic set. They're probably the next band I'm going to interview after you.

Oh, shit, are you going to talk to Eugene?

Yeah. He's a friend of a friend and I've been meaning to talk to him for a while. I've met him before, but I'd like to have the opportunity to talk to him in depth as I know he's probably a pretty interesting guy.

He's a real personality, you know? Definitely a one of a kind. [laughing]

So I've heard. So now that you've adopted temporary members to complete the live line-up, has this triggered any additional considerations into adding additional members to the Zozobra fold on a permanent basis?

Um...yeah, I don't know. It's weird. I'm kind of on the fence about it. As nice as it would be to always have people to play with all the time and practice with and write songs with, it's tough right now. It almost doesn't make sense. Just, as it is, I live in Los Angeles and Santos lives in New York, so it's hard enough for the two of us to get together, let alone other people. I think for now, it'll probably just stay him and I, and in the future if it becomes more convenient for he and I to get together, then we're definitely going to want to recruit some permanent members.

There's not any hesitation in getting other people involved because you want it to be a solo thing?

No, not at all. It's not like a trick where I want to be writing all the guitar parts or whatever. It's not about that. It's just at this point of time it's more of a convenience.

Hah, okay. Well, you know, some people are like that. They form a band and don't call it a solo project, but when you talk to everybody they stare at their feet and go, "yeah, he fucking writes everything".

Yeah, exactly.

Just making sure it wasn't that kind of situation. We're reaching the part of the interview where things branch off completely into nonsense.

Right on, that sounds fun.

It's not. True or false, in Portugese, Zozobra means "bring your ass"?

Oh, I couldn't even answer that question. I've heard some different literal translations. That would be pretty interesting if that's what it meant in Portugese. I think the literal Spanish translation is, "being in a ship that is lost at sea," and then I've heard also that the translation of it signifies a sick or deathly feeling.

I've read that as well. Well, you are correct. Zozobra does not mean "bring your ass". That is, in fact, what popozao means.

Popozao? [laughing]

Kevin Federline and his stunning 2005 hit.

No shit. [laughing]

So that's what that means. It might not even mean that, I'm sure Kevin Federline doesn't speak Portugese. Another very pointed on-topic question: how would you feel if I told you that a race of reptilian aliens was living deep beneath the Earth's crust, acting as silent puppeteers to some of the world's most influencial leaders.
[silence]
Just speak from the heart. Let it flow, man.

[laughing] I would think that you and I should get together and have a drink, and maybe have a little bit of a talk, man.

Perhaps we will do that, some day, as this is a topic that must be addressed.

I mean, as long as we're talking about people living in the core of the Earth, I could go on and on about that.

Yeah, it's not just those fucking molemen from the Fantastic Four.

Hah, yeah. It's not just lizard puppeteers down there, either. You'd be surprised.

What are other things that are living underneath the Earth's crust?

Well, we'll have to get together and talk about that.

Not the right interview for that. So, I read on Santos' Myspace profile that he wants to meet Chevy Chase.

Is that true?

Is that true? And if so, why? Isn't that guy just a washed-up, bastard asshole, with a bunch of illegitimate children?

That's questionable, man. I think that depends on who you ask. But let me ask him. Hey, is it true that you want to meet Chevy Chase?

Santos: Yeah.

Why? Isn't he just a fucking...shitty...asshole...washed-up comedian?

With illegitimate children!

With illegitimate children?

Santos: [mumbling]

You're being interviewed, man!

Santos: Ohhhhh.

He's gotta get his interview pants on. I think I just woke up him from a nap.

I don't think he should really be in a clear state of mind to answer this question. If he thinks too much, he'll change his mind and won't want to meet him.

He just looked at me like I'm fucking crazy and went back to sleep.

So he didn't put on his interview pants after all?

No, I don't think he's got it in him right now.

Alright. I was hoping he'd put on a pair of pajama pants with martini glasses on them.

[laughing] You know that Myspace is just about meeting women anyways. He's just trying to tap into the whole huge female Chevy Chase fanbase.

[laughing] Yeah, they're just aching for more...

He's cornering the market, man.

I'm sure he's already got them cornered and they're holding out a knife. Alright, Caleb. Another rhetorical question. Well, rhetorical now - we don't know about the future. Say that Thor, the hugely successful artist, is on a rampage, doing line after line of cocaine and throwing cars every which way in the middle of a giant music festival with two stages. On one stage, Stephen Brodsky's Octave Museum is playing, whilst on the other, Adam McGrath's Clouds are playing. Thor has thrown a car in each direction, giving you time to only save one band. Which one will it be?

[laughing] Oh man. That's a terrible question to ask me, man.

I'm sorry. We're Lambgoat. We need a hard hitting interview to sell the advertisements.

You know what I'd do? I'd probably let the car drop on the Octave Museum, only because I know moments later it would be lifted off by Stephen and smashed over the head of Thor because that motherfucker has a line, and when you cross it, you'd better look out.

Okay, I'm satisfied with that.

Did I do that okay?

Yeah, I'm very satisfied. It was very diplomatic.

Make me choose between my friends...

You can only choose one! Alright, last questions. Did you hear that Captain America died?

Yeah, I heard it's bullshit, actually. Yeah, man. Adam just went today to the comic store to get it, and the girl told him not to even bother because apparently he got shot in the back of the neck but survived it.

See, that's what I fucking told everyone. I said it was going to be just like when Superman died, only nobody will give a shit because it's Captain America.

That's exactly what I told him three days ago when he was fucking on the verge of tears. I was like, "dude, do you honestly think they're going to do away with Captain America?"

It's going to be the end of the Avengers!

[laughing] Yeah.

Did you ever play that Captain America and the Avengers arcade game?

No, I may have, but I don't recall it.

It was a good one. They translated it to the Super Nintendo and it was not as good all of a sudden.

Yeah, that tends to happen with arcade games.

Exactly. Every time you'd lose it would go, "AMERICA! STILL NEEDS YOUR HELP!" Exactly like that.

[laughing] Like, embedded in all the small children's subconscious.

"Shit! Better join the army!" Yeah, that's what you'd see as the counter was ticking down. Alright, are there any albums you demand for your faithful fans to pick up?

They can go buy any and all Hydra Head releases, because those guys owe me a lot of money. Support Hydra Head.

Alright Caleb, are there any last words for this interview?

No, I think this was pretty thorough, man. Thank you.


11 comments

Post Comment
the oil_ 4/14/2007 1:59:49 PM

first post, zozobra rules brah


i_wouldnt_count_on_it_ 4/14/2007 4:44:04 PM

this tour was amazing.


notorious_dob_ 4/14/2007 7:20:06 PM

first he says, "i've always loved godflesh, and now, of course jesu" then in the next question he says "i found godflesh because of jesu" what a poseur


surfjam_ 4/15/2007 12:55:35 AM

i like the oldmangloom song zozobra


sweetzombiejesus_ 4/15/2007 7:18:58 AM

'Nother solid interview, drew. We have to start calling you "INTERVIEW-DREW", naw meen? It was my idea to ask him about Captain America. You should have asked him what it's like to play in a nu-metal band. He lied about not being influenced by SPINESHANK.


postrock_is_dead_ 4/15/2007 4:28:35 PM

POPOZAO~~~~~~


e_h_ 4/15/2007 5:52:44 PM

this interview blows, get some better questions


AndrewChrz_ 4/15/2007 7:02:10 PM

Drew is a great interviewer. Nice work.


HardcorePantyLiner_ 4/18/2007 8:17:07 PM

HXCBro1: "Dude, how's the 'dude who's not Stephen Brodsky''s new band?" HXCBro2: "So so, brah". HXCBro1: "Bummer"


amongdan_ 4/24/2007 3:10:03 AM

should have asked why he didn't mention Floor as an influence.


tim_ 6/12/2007 7:02:56 PM

michael scofield from PRISON BREAK!!!!!???????