Articles tagged with The Zolas

The Zolas – “Knot in My Heart”

The Zolas
I’m back from vacation! What did I miss? Nothing? Good.

Here’s “Knot in My Heart” by the Zolas. It’s the first single from Ancient Mars, which comes out October 2 on Light Organ Records. I interviewed the band for Exclaim! a few months back and discussed the (then-unrecorded) album. This song manages to remain low-key despite its dance pop pulse.

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The Zolas – “Cultured Man”

The Zolas
I’ve said before that there’s a lot you can learn about a song by looking at its waveform. As you can probably tell by the dynamic waveform below, the Zolas‘ “Cultured Man” has plenty and rises and falls, as low-key, atmospheric verses give way to toe-tapping choruses. It all ends a cathartic dance rock crescendo, as singer Zachary Gray’s voice floats in and out of a gorgeous cloud of reverb.

The track appears on a new spit 7″ with the Liptonians, out now through Light Organ Records. The two bands are launching the single tonight in Vancouver with a show at the Electric Owl, so head on down if you’re free.

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Q&A with the Zolas

The Zolas
Last week, the Zolas released their debut album Tic Toc Tic, a twelve-song collection of bouncy piano rock that’s equal parts catchy and heartbroken, ranging from apocalyptic love songs (“The Great Collapse”) to R&B-infused attacks on hipster culture (“You’re Too Cool”).

The Zolas are currently touring Canada in support of Tic Toc Tic with Immaculate Machine, and on December 18th will return home to Vancouver to play all-ages show at the Vogue Theatre with Hey Ocean!

I recently caught up with singer/guitarist Zachary Gray and pianist Tom Dobrzanski via e-mail to discuss the new album, the tour, and befouling the washrooms at an all-girls college dorm.

CH: Where are you as you answer these questions?
ZG: Between Waterloo and Windsor on the 401. Aaron is driving and Tom and I decided to sit in the back and be productive and then watch movies.
TD: We just dropped Aaron’s girlfriend Mary off at her all-girl residence at Wilfred Laurier where Zach and I snuck in and took shits in their bathroom. There was a piece of graffiti in the stall that read: “’I am really high, therefore I am.’ –Descartes”

CH: Why did you choose to rename yourselves the Zolas, rather than stick with the Lotus Child moniker?
TD: No. You don’t understand, it’s called The Zolas now.

CH: There are a couple of songs on Tic Toc Tic that criticize Vancouver’s hipster/Biltmore scene. As an indie band, do you have any concern about alienating your fan base?
TD: No, because I think even hipsters are beginning to realize how ridiculous they are.
ZG: Tom can say that pretty unhypocritically, but I’m about as much a hipster as anyone. A lot of this album is about being in your twenties and living in Vancouver, and being a part of what’s called a hipster scene is a part of that for me. These songs aren’t that critical of it either. I mean, yeah, what I want more than anything is for us to start behaving like politically motivated young people instead of just dressing like them. But when I was in high school it was cool to dress like a wigger and call girls bitches and not give a shit about anything. Now cool is to dress like a philosophy student who plays in a band and refuses to use plastic bags. It’s not enough, but it’s progress.

CH: There’s a lot of songs on the album that describe failing relationships. What inspired the lyrics?
ZG: It’s what you’d imagine, I guess. Over the last year and a half I lost a big love.

CH: Do you have any plans to expand the Zolas’ lineup beyond a two-piece?
TD & ZG: Yeah. Eventually there will be full-time bass and drums. It’s more about finding the right people. Like right now we’re on tour with Aaron Mariash, drummer of Will Currie and The Country French, who we met in the summer, and there’s talk of a civil union between us and Henry and the Nightcrawlers, whose album 100 Blows everyone should be waiting for. It’s like someone asked Elvis Costello to write the soundtrack to a Wes Anderson movie.

CH: You’ve toured Canada from Vancouver Island to St. John’s, Newfoundland. What’s your favourite place to pass through?
TD: To be totally accurate, we’ve never been to Newfoundland, and we still haven’t played at home in Vancouver or Vancouver Island, (ed: oops) but our favourite city to play is Montreal. Zach and I both have siblings living there, and they have two things I love: 1) excellent music stores, and 2) bring-your-own-wine restaurants. That’s all it takes for me. Plus we’re always well-received there.
ZG: My favourite place to pass through is any provincial border. I love traditions, and we started a tradition this tour of sharing a Cherry Blossom every time we cross a border. It began as a joke in a candy-laden laundromat about how nobody ever ever buys them, and how inappropriate it would be for three guys to share one. I wouldn’t call them our favourite, but they’ve grown on us.

CH: What music have you been listening to in the van?
TD: Mostly jazz today – Avishai Cohen, Brad Mehldau
ZG: Henry and the Nightcrawlers, Fiona Apple, Radiohead. But our jam this tour is “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. We play that song at least twice a day. Tom just bought it on iTunes, actually, so that we can dispense with the MySpace version and fully appreciate the sonics. It’s playing right now as I type this. It’s perfect. The chorus hits so fucking hard.

CH: What’s your dream gig?
ZG: You know, we’ve still never played at home, so I’m going to say at the moment I think the dream gig would be an outdoor festival with all of the great bands we’re lucky to be friends with in Vancouver. Mother Mother, Dan Mangan, Said the Whale, We Are the City, Hannah Georgas, Henry and the Nightcrawlers, Hey Ocean!, Brasstronaut, and a lot more. As far as I’ve heard, our city has never really had a supportive, open-hearted music scene before, and suddenly here it is and we get to be a part of it.

CH: What’s the shittiest gig you’ve ever played?
TD: I think we played the worst by far in Halifax, but it only served to prove the mystifying truth about performing: people tend to like your worst show about as much as your best show.
ZG: Sudbury wasn’t great either. We’re on tour opening for our new friends Immaculate Machine, and they got super sick, and then we slept in the band room under the bar on naked mattresses and questionable comforters. We decided to sleep wrapped up, soft-taco-style, and personally it felt like having unprotected sex with my whole body all night.

CH: What’s next for the Zolas?
TD: Finish this tour and go home, play with Henry more, play our first show in Vancouver (an all-ages show with Hey Ocean! to be announced soon).
ZG: I have to practice piano for a musical I’m doing in February and March called Billy Bishop Goes To War. I also just moved into a special new house between whose walls I’m just excited to exist.
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Lotus Child’s child

The Zolas - Tic Toc Tic
The Zolas are a duo consisting of singer/guitarist Zachary Gray and pianist Tom Dobrzanski. This is the same songwriting team that made up the core of the now-defunct piano pop band Lotus Child, who released an EP and album earlier this decade. Considering that Gray and Dobrzanski chose to disband their former group and reform under a new name, it might be fair to expect them to change their sound; after all, why bother restarting from scratch if not in search of artistic transformation?

It’s therefore a little surprising that the Zolas’ debut album, Tic Toc Tic, isn’t a huge departure from the bouncy piano rock that Lotus Child was once known for. Not to say that Gray and Dobrzanski have stagnated—rather, Tic Toc Tic sounds like a logical follow-up to Lotus Child’s Gossip Diet. “The Great Collapse” is a straight-forward rocker, its upbeat verses giving way to a quiet, fatalistic refrain of “Free what you love ’cause it’s gonna die anyway.” “These Days” is a bittersweet serenade, its swaying groove laying the foundation for a stunning chorus that sounds like it was made for audience clap-alongs.

As well as offering these easily-digestible pleasures, the Zolas have a knack for eclectic song structures, frequently making sudden changes in tone and style. “Cab Driver” starts as a dark, looming pulse before exploding into a manic barroom outro, a honky tonk hoedown that gives Dobrzanski a chance to show off his piano chops. “You’re Too Cool” is a shapeshifting epic, beginning with spiky, angular verses before giving way to a gentle R&B refrain, later followed by a pounding, arena-sized breakdown.

mp3: “You’re Too Cool”

It’s a hell of an achievement for a debut record, but, then again, maybe it shouldn’t really be considered a debut record after all. Whatever the case, Tic Toc Tic is well worth your time (pun!).

The album is out tomorrow via Lotus Child Music Inc./Universal.
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Picking up where Lotus Child left off

Three years ago, Lotus Child seemed to be on the verge of a major breakthrough. The group’s sound combined hooky piano rock with disco-infused new wave, and its 2006 album, Gossip Diet, earned the band a loyal local following. Widespread success eluded the band, however, and it quietly broke up last year.

Singer/guitarist Zachary Gray and pianist Tom Dobrzanski have reformed under the moniker the Zolas and have released a teaser EP, which consists of three songs that will appear on their debut album, Tic Toc Tic, due out this fall via 604 Records. Given that the two principle members are the same, it’s not a surprise that there is a distinct similarity between the two groups; based on three songs currently available, the Zolas are more stylistically adventurous, with songs that feature unexpected changes in tone and tempo. Opener “You’re Too Cool” begins as angular piano rock, soon giving way to an R&B-infused refrain sung in Gray’s impressively glass-shattering falsetto. The song changes pace once more, bursting into a brash arena pop bridge with ’60s girl group backing vocals.

The EP’s two remaining songs are equally as dynamic: “The Great Collapse’ is driven by jaunty arpeggios, which contrast against Gray’s bittersweet lyrics (“Free what you love ’cause it’s gonna die anyway / Those golden days will be fossilized endlessly”). “Marlaina Kamikaze” is a tense, unsettling breakup song which swells to a bouncy chorus with group sung call-and-response vocals. It’s a catchy tune, building off the strengths of Lotus Child but with a darker and more challenging sound. It’s tough to develop too much of an opinion about a band with a recorded output of only three songs, but this is a promising start for the Zolas.
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