WORDS: Yasi Salek
PHOTOS: Rick Rodney
I would tell you about Zig Zags but they talk so fucking much that anything I would say is probably already covered in the epic conversation below. I will just mention that they are probably one of the best bands I have seen live this year, and that if you ever get a chance to go see them play, pound a six pack in the parking lot and take it. Just don’t talk to them afterwards unless you have about five hours to spare.
Here’s an (edited, if you can believe it) chat with Jed Maheu, Bobby Martin, and Patrick McCarthy.
Hi guys. So, tell me how Zig Zags formed. Give me the grand backstory. You can make it up, I don’t care.
Bobby: I was looking for a place to live and Jed, uh, had a place at his house and I ended up moving downstairs. I knew Jed already.
Jed: Cause we had the same girlfriend.
At the same time?
J: No but that’s how we met each other. He dated her after I dated her.
B: Yeah. And so, we all met each other. I moved in and Jed and I just kind of started playing together. We both played guitar so we were sitting there trying to come up with songs, both of us playing guitar, and eventually ended going into a practice space, both playing guitar, and hoping that one day a drummer would just show up. But a drummer never popped into the picture, and Jed and I had grown pretty tired of what we were doing, so we were like why don’t we just rock out on these Misfits songs. I didn’t play drums at all, but I was like okay, I’ll just keep a simple beat. And then totally out of fun, we just kept playing and coming up with songs.
We both were unemployed, and so we were able to just go down to the space every day for months and work out songs and fuck around and goof off.
J: Yeah Bobby had never played drums before so we just sat there and I would just play the same thing over and over for hours on end while he learned how to play drums.
B: It’s funny, when we go back and listen to that early stuff, it’s super basic and raw, but we were just having fun. We were just goofing off and having fun and that’s how the band started.
I think many bands are born of unemployment and boredom. Thus, Zig Zags was born. What was your first show ever like?
J: The first show…oh was it at Satellite? I think that band the Bowery Beasts asked us to play? I don’t know, I can’t remember. Patrick was at the very first show, but it was just the two of us (me and Bobby). We played like three or four shows just the two of us, and we didn’t have jobs so we were like fuck it, let’s go on tour. And we did the West Coast just the two of us, without any records or anything. We just went on tour not really thinking too much about it, and it ended up being really fun.
B: I think the starting show was at the Satellite, that kind of kicked it off.
J: Yeah, our first show was our first day of tour (laughs) at the Satellite. And then, our friend Ryan Heffington, who is a dancer, and does Sweaty Sundays, he was doing a thing at the LACMA that was called Heavy Metal Parking Lot, where they shut down the streets downtown underneath the overpass. We recorded a bunch of music and he had his dancers choreograph a dance routine to our music. And then we played live, outside on the street. Patrick was hired to do the sound for that event.
B: I knew of Patrick, and he had come to the show and was really into it.
B: And Patrick had done a lot of recording and engineering in New York for several years before. When we found out that Patrick knew how to do sound, and he knew about microphones and recording and all that, he became our go-to guy, because we needed someone to do sound for that LACMA thing.
P: And I really needed money. I think Ryan asked me to do the sound for that LACMA thing. I just went to every Zig Zags show, and met them at a party or something.
J: And then we asked him to record us. So he recorded our first ever demos, just guitar and drums. Then we played a show at the Silverlake Lounge and I was really wasted afterwards and I just went up to him and asked him if he wanted to be in the band.
B: We were kind of looking for a bass player. And we had tried out friends and stuff, and it wasn’t really clicking.
P: Then it was another thing of just adding another guitar player, because I didn’t play bass. But I always wanted to play bass in a band. I didn’t have one, but Jed had one, that I still use, and we just started jamming. That’s kind of how it all went down.
Do you guys think you’ll ever do a side project where it’s just three guitars?
J: We did a song with three acoustic guitars, a country song, that’s like all about how we’re so broke and we live in Florida (because Patrick’s from Florida) and we’re so down on our luck that we have to sell peaches back to Georgia. (Sings) I live in Floridaaa, selling peaches at the borderrr, the border of Georgia, and I’m thinking bout you”. (laughs)
B: It’s the last song, the secret song, on the Burger Records tape we put out.
P: I don’t think anyone has ever heard it because I did the sequencing so there was five minutes of silence before it. No one has ever said anything so I don’t think anyone has ever heard it.
J: No but we got asked to be on this compilation, and I sent them that song. And I never heard anything back. After like six months I finally emailed the dude like “hey did you get that song I sent you?” and he was like “yeah, I didn’t like it.”
P: I think it’s a good song. I think if we went to Nashville with that, we could get something going.
J: It’s like a Jimmy Buffet song. That’s what happens when we all get drunk and pick up guitars. We start writing country songs.
P: I think ultimately we want to have a hit.
Can’t wait for that country-themed Zig Zags album.
J: It’s like Ween.
What songs or artists do you guys listen to the van on tour that might surprise people?
B: Last time we played we listened to an 80s Fleetwood Mac record, that one with “Tell Me Lies”.
J: We listen to a lot of Steely Dan.
B: Tears For Fears.
J: Shit, what else. A lot of country music. We all like The Band, and 60s rock stuff, classic rock.
B: Ted Nugent.
P: We listen to Marc Maron a lot.
It seems like a lot of bands listen to Marc Maron a lot. Almost every band I interview says they listen to his podcasts in the van.
J: Well, we did music for his show. He lives right by us, and our friend John has a podcast, and he was a guest on Marc’s show. And I got an email from Marc saying “I heard you guys want to do some music for my show.” So we wrote a bunch of music for him. It’s just funny because it’s not like Zig Zags songs, it’s like goofy little jingles to go in between the interviews. We weren’t thinking about it, but now we’ll listen to the show, and he’ll be interviewing like John Fogerty or someone, and he’ll be like “music by the Zig Zags!” and it’s just like this totally goofy song that doesn’t sound like us. Then people will email us like “I heard you on Marc Maron, and I love the song!” But it’s not at all what we sound like.
We like doing that stuff though. We have a side band called PB&J, for Patrick, Bobby, and Jed.
A side band with the exact same members?
J: Yeah, it’s basically the same band, but it’s a classic rock band. We did music for a film under that name.
P: I never really listened to any punk music or anything. I was just really into Black Sabbath, and like oldies music. When I was a kid, my dad’s really old, and I was listening to like, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. I didn’t hear about Led Zeppelin or Neil Young or anything like that til I was like 26 or 27. So when we started playing, I was really into like Spacemen 3 and Sonic Boom and stuff like that, and these guys were turning me on to all this punk music and heavy stuff. And when I first heard like Hawkwind, I was like, what the fuck is this shit! This is amazing! So I have no background in this at all.
J: We listen to a lot of Public Enemy. When we’re driving after a show usually. When you’re playing punk rock all night, then you kind of just want to listen to hip-hop. Public Enemy is something we can agree upon.
Let’s talk skateboarding stuff. You guys seem to do skateboarding stuff, like events and such. Do you guys skate as well as do skateboarding stuff? (I like saying “skateboarding stuff”)
J: I don’t skate anymore, I used to skate a lot when I was a kid. These guys skate, sort of.
B: When I was a kid, I was super into skateboarding. I’m from Maine, so there’s like nothing there. The older kids were all rocking their Vision Streetwear stuff, and I was just taken by skateboarding. I would just roll around, but my parents couldn’t afford to buy a nice board so I had some shitty one my parents bought me at like Sears or something. But I always loved the fashion of it, and the attitude. It was just so cool when you’re ten years old.
J: I’m from Oregon, Patrick’s from Florida, and Bobby’s from Maine, and I think a big thing growing up in small towns in those places, skateboarding is like the way to be different. That’s the only way to be different, if you don’t want to play sports or whatever. I think that’s also why we all kind of gravitated towards California. Skateboarding is such a natural activity that goes along with music and punk rock.
P: I grew up in Florida is near Jacksonville, where Kona, one of the oldest skateparks in the country is, and I used to go to Powell/Peralta demos and stuff. All the older kids I knew would give me copies of Thrasher, and I would learn about music from there, or watching skate videos, I would hear songs.
That’s how I found about Korn when I was like 12.
J: Yeah that’s how I heard Pixies for the first time.
P: Skateboarding is creative. You drive down the street, and you see something, and you’re like oh, I can skate on that. It’s a different way of looking at the world. It makes you interact with the world in a different way, like you can do anything you want with it.
J: We’re like, way deeper in interviews then we are in real life.
What’s coming up next for Zig Zags?
J: Next is a full length album. We have three singles out right now and our goal now is to do a real album. If we do anything, I just want to do an album.
P: We keep getting 7inch offers but we are making ourselves say no, because we really want to do a record. Now we’ve got fifteen songs so we can get it done.
J: We’re gonna go out to New York in the Fall and maybe do some East Coast dates, and then we have some folks in Europe that maybe want to bring us out. So we’re trying to make that happen. We don’t have a van or anything, we just roll around in a truck, and we’re all super tall so we’re pretty squished. And it’s a stick shift, and Bobby’s just grabbing Patrick’s dick all the time, listening to Public Enemy at 3am. It’s rad.