Nachdem No Zodiac 2013 bereits eine erste Europatour gespielt haben und sich auf Festivals wie dem RTS bereits einen Namen abseits ihrer Heimat machen konnten, kehren sie nun 2014 wieder zurück. Mit im Gepäck diesmal die Bands Unit 731 und Ablaze. Wir haben uns vor der Tour mit Erik, dem Drummer unterhalten und ein bisschen hinter die Kulissen der Chicago Heavyweights geschaut.
Hey Erik! Thank you very much for your time and this interview. I hope you’ll have as much fun as we do. Please introduce yourself and the band. What’s the bands history and current lineup? I think you had a lot of changes in the past.
Hey, thanks for asking me to do this interview! Well to start off, my name is Erik Bartow. I play drums for No Zodiac, and have since 2009 when I and our old bassist started the band. No Zodiac started in a garage in 2009. It started as nothing serious but just something fun to do on the side. After a year or so passed, things got more serious. We started playing more shows and ultimately went on our first tour. Ever since then we’ve been hitting it as hard as our schedules allow. Now we’re in 2014 and more active than ever. Yes, we have had quite a few lineup changes in the past. Our current lineup is our new vocalist Connor, and our other new member Chris on guitar, as well as our other guitarist Alex, and bassist Grubby.
So, how are you feeling about the current line up? Could this be the No Zodiac that will last for a few years?
As far as the new 2014 lineup goes, I think it’s the strongest one we’ve had thus far. I would hope that this would be the lineup for the years to come.
You already toured Europe in 2013. Some people might think: “Why are they coming again one year later, are there no other places to play?” What do you say to those guys? Who had the idea to come back to Europe?
To us Europe was one of the best times we have had in our lives and the best tour for us. It’s much more than the tour itself. We really miss our friends out there and cannot wait to spend time with them again. Also the shows were so much fun to us, as soon as we left the last time we were already planning another trip. It was a collective idea to go back; I personally just got the ball rolling on our end.
Let’s speak about your last visit to Europe, especially Germany. Did the tour go well? What were your impressions about the shows, the scene, and the people in Europe? Is there a difference between here and the USA? Why?
Germany was awesome. Every show we played was great. The people are insanely respectful and are very appreciative of what music comes through their city. The scene in Germany is definitely expanding in my eyes and I love it. Yes, there is absolutely a difference between the US and Germany. To me personally, it seemed that everyone appreciated every band and didn’t leave the room when something was going on they didn’t like. This is a growing problem over here. If a band isn’t super hyped up, a lot of kids won’t even give you a chance. Also the way we were treated by the promoters was different. For smaller bands like NZ, showing up to a show and having hot food and drinks ready for us was unheard of. That blew our minds and we’re very appreciative of it. That for sure does not happen for smaller caliber bands in the US. The experience was definitely enjoyable and one of the reasons we’re coming back.
Besides hardcore, what do you think about Germany as a country? What were things you liked or didn’t like?
Germany as a country was awesome to see for the first time. There is so much history involved in the country from wars and to just how old everything is. It was a dream of mine to visit and I loved every minute. For the most part I liked everything a lot. The food was good and the people were nice. The language barrier was the only difficult part but that can be said for any country.
Thinking about tour this year, what are you looking forward to the most? The shows, new and old friends, hangouts, new countries…?
What I am looking forward to most about the tour is to be reunited with all of the friends we have out there. It was hard leaving them last time. Obviously the shows and different countries come second, and I can’t wait to see what this tour will be like and all of the huge shows we’re playing. Every night is a new experience and we’re all literally counting down the days to be back.
You are on the lineup for Ieperfest this year, which is one of the largest Hardcore-Festivals in Europe. How do you feel about this? Are there bands you always wanted to share the stage with?
I can’t even express the excitement I have to play Ieperfest this year. It will definitely be the biggest show I have played yet. We are extremely honored to be a part of it. FUCKING CROWBAR! One of my all-time favorite bands, and not only do I get to see them but I get to see them at one of the biggest fests in Europe. I am also really excited to see Subzero, Ramallah, and Strife. (Markus: which have all cancelled, haha.)
Let’s talk about your touring partners. For this tour you teamed up with Ablaze and Unit 731. Since Ablaze is also a BTL Band and are also your last touring partners, it makes sense to go with these guys again. Who had the idea to ask Unit 731 to join? Did you already tour with them or stay in contact a lot?
We love the dudes in Ablaze and couldn’t do it without them. It was a collective decision to ask Unit 731 to tour with us. We have never toured with them, but have kept in contact over the years. They are one of the best heavy hardcore bands there is, not to mention really solid dudes, and we thought they would fit right in with all of our dumb asses on this tour.
Thinking about two touring weeks with those 2 bands; I can image it’s not always fun and easy. Is there something you’re afraid of or don’t want to experience again?
Touring itself is very unpredictable. You cover lots of ground in very small amounts of time. The one thing I would hate to see happen again is the tour to get shorted guarantee money. People don’t understand that the money we get from our guarantees does not go into our pockets, but towards fueling the vans, paying off travel expenses etc. It has nothing to do with us being greedy or rockstars. When a band our size gets shorted money it’s crippling to the tour. If we can’t afford to get fuel, then we may have to cancel a show….and so on. It’s a big vicious circle.
So thank you again for this interview and good luck on tour. The last words are yours!
Thanks a lot for the opportunity to do the interview. I would just like to say, the scene is yours. If you think that it is dead, do something about it. Book a show, start a band, open a venue. This music relies on the fans, and without the support of a community your favorite bands would not be around. Keep it alive! Shout out to all of our euro brothers 285WW. Shout out to our brothers in Nasty, P.U.M.P.!
We will see you in August!
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