The Zero Crew
Last month I got invited to not only watch Authority Zero from backstage, but also got a photo pass for some great shots you can find in my full write up of the show here. The other amazing part of it was the guys in Authority Zero were kind enough to sit down to answer some questions for me. I got to find out how the guys met to talking about the upcoming album. They are adamantly excited about it, plus make me super envious of not visiting Japan yet. Thank you again to the guys in Authority Zero for taking the time to do this, and check out the full interview below.
How did each of you first meet and join Authority Zero?
Jason Devore: The group originated back in High School as most bands do. We were excited, bored, looking for something to pass the time, and loved music and skateboarding. We all came together in 1994 through friendship and a common excitement of doing something fresh and different.
Mike Spero: I was singing for band called Down By Fire who Authority Zero had taken on tour during the summer of 2007. I met Jason that tour and a few years later, I hopped in the van with his band when they ended up needed a new merch guy.
While touring and slinging shirts during that time, I met Chris Dalley and Dan Aid. Chris was drumming for Voodoo Glow Skulls who were on a tour with us in January 2012. Dan had (and still does have) a band called Wiredogs in Denver who played shows with us when we’d come through town and I met him at one of the shows there sometime during that same year. Chris drummed on tour with us as a fill-in for Sean Sellers during 2015 and has been with us ever since. After Brandon Landelious’s departure in 2016, Dan joined up and we started touring together that spring.
Chris Dalley: I’ve known Jason for quite a number of years just from touring around the same scene together. Mike and l met while he was doing merch for Authority Zero, and Dan I met on my very first show with Authority Zero in Denver.
Dan Aid: I first met the Authority Zero crew when they toured through Denver four years ago and my other band Wiredogs opened up for them. From there we just stayed in touch, and when their previous guitar player quit, I got a phone call asking if I could fill in for a couple of dates they had booked on the Flogging Molly Cruise, and things have just continued to progress from there.
What can you point to as the thing that first got you into music?
Jason: Skateboarding. Music and Skateboarding went hand in hand as the drive when skating.
Mike: I grew up singing songs in church for as far back as I can remember. I had an aunt who sang in the choir and I remember the first time I heard her sing a vocal harmony. Hearing two voices singing two different notes at the same time was the first time I ever felt really inspired to try to sing. I thought it sounded awesome and I still do!
Chris: My parents are musicians and music lovers of all types of music. So they really instilled my love of music in me from the get go.
Dan: My dad played guitar around me and my sister a lot when we were growing up. We always had a record on the turntable. I remember distinctly watching the first Back to the Future movie. When it was over my dad walking over to the record player and putting on a best of Chuck Berry record with “Johnny B Goode” on it. I’m pretty sure some odd combination of Michael J. Fox and Chuck Berry is responsible for where I am now.
Are you still playing the same instrument you started on?
Jason: I am still singing my face off. I have picked up instruments along the way, though my main instrument is still my voice.
Mike: The first musical instrument I put some real time into was trumpet. For 5 years during elementary school, I played in the school band. Then later, I got my first bass when I was 14 and it’s still the instrument I love playing most. I’m learning to play new instruments all the time, and lately I’ve been working on my piano chops. That one’s tough!
Chris: Drums have been my passion since I was 4, and it still is my love to this day.
Dan: I actually started playing violin when I was 4, then jumped over to piano when I was 6, and then finally settled into guitar.
Jason, over the many years playing now, what is something you have learned from the entire band experience of tours and songwriting? Perhaps something you changed as you experienced more, not including additional facial hair.
Jason: In five words, Patience, Passion, Pain, Joy, and Loyalty
What is your favorite Authority Zero album?
Jason: My favorite album to date is honestly our latest upcoming album. Every album has its place in my heart and is worn on my heart sleeve. With each progressive album I get more and more excited as well as more honest. This new record shines in that expressive way
Mike: The new one, of course! It comes out this summer!
Chris: Is saying our upcoming one being too selfish?
Dan: That’s a tough one. Start to finish I’m a big fan of The Tipping Point, although, having heard the mixes of our new album, I’m very excited to get this one out to people!
Anything you can say about the upcoming album, like in sound or thematic direction of songs?
Jason: The new album is very honest and expressive. Everything came through with a great dynamic between the fellas and myself. We worked very collectively on this album and I think that shines through. It’s a very rock, punk, groove progressive album with a lot of intensity and energy.
Mike: On this record, we definitely explored some new musical territories, but overall, I think we just played and sang songs that we felt were honest. Jason’s always written lyrics with conviction and from the heart I and think he dug deeper on this one than ever before. I’m immensely proud of it.
Chris: If you collectively were to place all of the elements that make the Authority Zero sound, this is all of that in HD.
Dan: It sounds like the four of us. And I know that might seem obvious, but it’s honestly incredibly difficult to make a record where each members influence can be heard, and I think we accomplished that. We had an amazing team of people at the Blasting Room helping to bring these songs to life, and creating space for each of us as players to really be heard.
What was one of your favorite bands to be on tour with over the years?
Jason: There have been quite a few. Pennywise has always been overly kind and helpful. Flogging Molly the same and Zebrahead we’ve always had a blast with as well and the list goes on and on.
Mike: There are so many worth mentioning. Counterpunch, Drag The River, Rubedo, Versus The World, The Bunny Gang, A Wilhelm Scream, Strung Out, Real McKenzies and The Flatliners are all bands we’ve had great times touring and playing shows with, to name a few.
One time, Drag The River was on tour with us as an acoustic two piece and during the last week of shows they had me and our drummer at the time, Sean, sat in as their rhythm section. I think it’s great when bands on tour end up on stage singing each other’s songs and stuff!
Another time something like that happened was this last spring, when we were on tour in Japan with a band called Hey Smith. One night after a show we were talking with the Hey Smith horn section about how fun it might be to have horns played on our song “Sirens”. By the very next day, they had arranged parts for trumpet, saxophone, and trombone and joined us to play that song for the rest of the shows on the tour! They’re one of the most talented bands I’ve ever seen and joined us on tour through part of the U.S. in February.
Chris: Oh man, so hard but some of my favorites have been Counterpunch, Hey-Smith, Strung Out, A Wilhelm Scream and The Flatliners.
Dan: We did three dates with The Interrupters this past year when we were over in Europe, and each of those shows felt very special. They are just an incredible group of people who make great music, and are always a blast to be around. We always felt lucky when we got to connect with them for an evening. Big hearts club!
What’s a favorite memory performing in this band?
Jason: The first time we headlined a major radio festival called Edge Fest in our home town and seeing the kids flood to the stage from the bleachers as we hit the stage. My mother flew in for that show and was front stage with a crowd of 30,000+ people. Looking down at her face of happiness and pride is forever unforgettable coming from playing in a bedroom as a kid.
Mike: Recording music is my favorite thing about being in a band. Working on this last album was an awesome experience and probably my favorite thing we’ve ever done together. I love the creative process. But, most of what we do is travel around playing shows and some of the greatest moments for me have happened on the tours. We played Resurrection Fest in Spain in 2013 and when we walked on stage that evening, there was a crowd possibly 2,000 people strong there waiting to see us! Who saw that shit coming?! It was a blast.
Spending lots of time on the road brings about interesting and questionable situations at times too. Some of my favorite stories are about things that didn’t seem so awesome at the time, like the time Jason and I got deathly ill from drinking Russian tap water or the year our van’s rear axle almost fell right off, twice! The struggles are just part of it and as time goes by, I’ve begun to develop a greater appreciation for them. In hindsight, the rough times have turned out to be the source of a lot of good laughs.
Chris: Punk Rock Holiday last year as well as Amnesia Rock Fest.
Dan: I’ll never forget the feeling of playing to a sold out room in Tokyo. That whole Japanese tour was an amazing experience, but that night in particular was a pretty mind blowing experience.
What is a favorite place you enjoy to play outside of Phoenix?
Jason: Japan! Slovenia! Love playing everywhere in all honesty. Every place has new and old friends as well as their own atmosphere.
Mike: Denver, San Francisco, and cites throughout Florida like St. Petersburg and Jacksonville have felt like homes away from home over the years. We’ve also been spending our summers touring through Europe and the U.K. lately. We have made great friends in Germany, Spain, Greece and France, as well as in Russia and Ukraine. Some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in the world are in Canada, and it’s been awesome playing shows there as well.
I thought Japan was the most beautiful country I’d ever seen when I was there last spring. We were there when the trees had cherry blossoms and were also lucky enough to do quite a bit of sightseeing on that tour.
Chris: If there is an excited crowd and instruments in front of us, that is my favorite place to play.
Dan: I’m from Denver, so I always love going home and playing The Marquis.
What is a favorite song of another artist?
Jason: “Unity” by Operation Ivy.
Mike: Bobgoblin’s “I Know A Place” is an amazing rock song and one of my favorites. “Airplane” off the Mad Caddies’ newest record is my alarm clock ringtone. “Wait So Long” by Trampled by Turtles is possibly my favorite song ever.
Chris: “Hallowed By Thy Name” from Iron Maiden.
Dan: I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Goblin lately. Really digging the song “Danger.”
If you were to put together a band, like that of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, who would you put in your band and what genre of covers would you perform?
Jason: Mike Spero, Billy Jo Armstrong, and Travis Barker, just to raise controversy. We would play pop rock and all the covers
Mike: Well, The Gimmes nailed it. But, if I ever attempted anything like that, I think I might go for a bluegrass band that only covers songs by The Band. It’d be called “The Cover Band”. I think Jason’s down to join, right J? We’re looking for fiddle and banjo players.
Chris: Wow! I kind of have that in my side band, Implants. We play 80’s metal covers at practice all the time.
Dan: I’d probably have to hit up Herbie Mann and do a Jethro Tull cover band.
If you could live in a video game universe, which one would you live in?
Jason: I was once offered to be a character in a Hugh Hefner Playboy video game back in 2003. I passed on it so I’d probably go back and live there if it were the alternate video game universe. If not that, then Mario Brothers
Mike: Touring in a band makes you feel like you’re in a game of Tetris. You can’t win. You can only hope to break the record for high score. But I like Undead Nightmare in Red Dead Redemption because it’s based in Arizona and that means I’d have the home court advantage when the Zombies come!
Chris: Castlevania, hands down.
Dan: Where in the World is Carmen San Diego.