I just got back from a week in Newfoundland – Canada’s most easterly province, and essentially a giant rock island in the North Atlantic Ocean. Although breathtakingly beautiful it was cold and rainy, and foggy, and cold and rainy some more. But I had music ready and since I knew I was going to be posting this interview with Santa Cruz, California popsters – Jackie Zealous, I listened to their EP quite a bit. Let me tell you it was a welcome respite from the drizzle and grey fog of St. John’s. Did I mention it was cold and rainy?
Jackie Zealous sound like sunshine. It’s like they recorded these six tracks on a beautiful sunny California day, adding some rays to the mix – a musical photosynthesis if you will. The trio play music that’s a perfect mix of a little garage, a little surf and whole lotta pop.
With hints of contemporaries Ty Segall, and Wavves, along with some 60s and 70s pop undercurrents (Beach Boys for sure), there’s also an 80s and 90s jangle vibe here – names like The Thrills, Flaming Lips, Lemonheads, The Minus 5 come to mind. It’s all melted by the sun into lush, bright garage pop. Talk It and California are easily the most upbeat of the six tracks, but on the whole this EP sure brightens up a grey, foggy day.
I used to listen to Pet Sounds in the dead of the Canadian winter to fend off Seasonal Affective Disorder, I think I can now add the Jackie Zealous EP to my winter playlist. But hey, you can still enjoy it on a sunny patio with a cold beverage as well.
Jackie Zealous. Eddie Curzon on Vox/Guitar, Zach Scott on Bass/Vox, and Ryan Lee on Drums/Vox
People say we sound like….
“Charmingly fuzzy”, “sun kissed”, “scuzzy” “surf inspired garage rock”. Those are direct quotes that we simply combined together to create a nice image for the readers.
We are originally from?
Z: Memphis, TN
R: Norfolk, VA
E: Santa Rosa, CA
How did you become Jackie Zealous and what’s with the name?
R: Zach and Eddie have been making music together since their college days. After school, they moved to Santa Cruz mostly for the surf/outdoor lifestyle. I relocated from NY and met Zach randomly his first night in town. The next time Zach and I hung out, Zach brought Eddie over and the three of us started jamming together. We wanted to start a band, but we’re all guitarists so we mainly just jammed on acoustic guitars and recorded some acoustic demos for fun.
The Jackie Zealous name came about one night when Eddie and I were recording acoustic demos. Zach wasn’t there, but we wanted to record his harmony part. While debating whether we should wait for him or not, we mixed up the words and said “na, let’s wait…Jackie’s gonna be zealous” instead of “Zach is gonna be jealous”. At the same time, we were trying to figure out a name and Jackie Zealous sounded cool so we went with it. For the record, Zach is not a jealous guy.
After a couple months of jamming acoustically, my wife, Gina, got me a drum set and a practice space. After that, I started learning drums and Zach took to the bass. Eddie writes the songs and sings so the trio was a good fit.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
E: As far as songwriting goes, I’ve always loved The Beatles, The Kinks, David Bowie. Mini Mansions is a modern band that writes really interesting, catchy songs. Aesthetically, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. Those bands have had a huge influence (and they write great songs too!). Ty Segall and John Dywer are the coolest musicians around today, in my opinion. They are huge influences. They are the benchmark.
Tell us about your live show…
Z: We generally say about two words and start playing. We feed off the crowd, and so far most of the crowds have turned the music into dance, and that’s always fun. We like making people move. It makes us move too. Moving is fun, and important for your health.
E: We haven’t got to the point where we are jaded or nonchalant about live shows. We still get excited, and nervous, so there’s still that tense build-up leading up to it.
What influences the band lyrically?
E: I usually have a general theme or an image in mind but it usually gets twisted and contorted somewhere along the way.
If there was a cocktail created in honour of Jackie Zealous, what would it contain and by what name would I order it at the bar?
R: More of a happy hour special than a cocktail, but still…The Happy Jackie and it would be a pint of Tecate plus a shot of Don Julio tequila on the side. $5 from 5 PM to 9 PM 7 days a week.
Z: It would be called the Zealot and it would contain an Olympia, orange juice, and a half-shot of Bulleit Rye…on ice with a lime wedge and one of those umbrellas.
E: The Lunar Landing. I’m a sucker for alliteration. Amaretto and Coffee. I try to find any excuse to drink coffee.
Our most memorable gig ever was….
Z: We played a basement show at a co-op in Berkeley with Pistachio and Bear Lincoln. Something about hot and crowded basements makes playing music really fun. It was packed out and everyone was dancing.
E: We played Bottom of the HIll in SF with The Jerfs. It’s a great venue with a lot of history. They have old show calendars on the wall and we saw that Queens of the Stone Age and Pavement had played there. Our eyes got wide.
R: Our first show at the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz was definitely a memorable one. We played with some good friends (and another awesome band from Santa Cruz), Watergate Sandals, and a ton of our friends came out to see our first hometown show.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
Z: 1950’s Jazz scene SF Kerouac style
E: That’s really hard. It’d be cool to see the beginnings of the neo-psych/shoegaze scene in the UK in the mid-to-late eighties.
R: I’d have to go with the 60’s. Classic rock and motown are obvious reasons to want to visit that era, but there was also a ton of really cool salsa going on at the time. I’d love to go back to the 60’s to some salsa club in NY to hear, see, and dance to someone like Ray Barretto.
Growing up, at home we listened to…..
E: Early on, it was a lot of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Neil Young, Pink Floyd. All the titans of rock.
Z: Jesse Winchester, Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Elvis, Buffalo Springfield, Bob Seger, Townes Van Zandt
R: Beatles, Elton John, Madonna, Dean Martin
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
R: I recently saw The Donkeys from San Diego and am really diggin them. Also, a band called Happyness from the UK that we’re pretty pumped about playing with on Aug. 7 at the Crepe Place.
Z: I have three CDs in my car and my radio doesn’t work. Beta Band-the Three EPs, Kinks-Village Green Preservation Society, and T.Rex – Electric Warrior. Been that way for about a year, I need to go to a record store.
E: We played a show with Naomi Punk and I’ve been listening to them a lot. The new Mini Mansions when it came out. The new Thee Oh Sees album is really good. I’ve also thrown on “Psychocandy” and “The Idiot” and “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” and “Songs of Leonard Cohen” like, once a week for the past few years so I guess those count too.
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Z: Ty Segall is coming to Santa Cruz in August, that would be awesome.
R: Radiohead – I have so much respect for them as musicians and how they’ve stayed together, changed their sound throughout their career , and influenced the music industry in a positive way. I am also really into recording and audio so I’d love to chat with them about gear and how they make some of the crazy sounds they make.
E: Thee Oh Sees. They’re frenetic. John Dwyer writes great songs too.
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you guys…
Z: I like surfing alot, walking around tide pools, throwing and catching things, and sampling cheap beers.
R: At the beach drinking beermosas and playing fetch with my dog, Crosby.
E: I like being outside. I have a nice porch with a couch so it’s a nice space to relax and unwind with a book or a guitar. We all live close to the beach – we’re there all the time.
If you were asked to pick a Jackie Zealous song for a movie soundtrack, what song would you choose and what movie?
E: “If You Please” for the utensil-lifting scene in “Gummo”.
Z: “Feel it” for Bodhi’s first surf scene in Point Break would be sweet. Or maybe “Saviors” when Sam Wheat follows the light and leaves Molly behind. Anything with Patrick Swayze really, I think he woulda dug Jackie Zealous.
R: “Lucky Girls Lucky Boys” for Little Mermaid when Ariel comes out of the water and sings on the rock. I’d also recommend timing the ”I never said I was much of a man” lyric for when the wave crashes into the rock at the end of the scene.
What’s up for 2015/2016?
We’re going to record a full-length album! Keep playing local and semi-local shows and include some festival dates as well.