Give us some background. Where are you from originally, where are you now, how did you get there?
NoManZero started as a project between myself, and a former band-mate, Ron Luke as an effort to get signed to a major label in the late-90s. We got some “spec” deals from local professional studios that shopped us to the big labels but we missed the boat as that Seattle type of sound was not longer the hottest thing on the market. But we still liked the sound a lot and didn’t feel compelled to chase whatever was new at the time so we stuck with it after a year or two break that allowed me to get my Masters in Music Technology from New York University in 2002 which obviously kept me musically sharp during that time.
Ultimately, we financed the album ourselves ($15,000 of pure analog 2”tape recordings) and we finished it up in 2007. However, my former band-mate left the band not too long after due to forces beyond his control and in the end, I was the last one standing from the original 3 man line-up that recorded the album. It took till now to line-up a solid band that can tour the record. But all is well that ends well so no complaints and ultimately, things worked out for the better and usually do if you keep your head together and don’t panic.
What Genre would you classify yourself as?
NoManZero is 90’s style alternative rock with some classic rock thrown into the mix. We are a hard rockish guitar band but not as heavy as the most molten metal the scene is seeing now…as no cookie monster vocals. Our current singer sings throughout the entire song which doesn’t always happen these days.
What is it that drove you to pursue a career in music, and what it is that drives you individually as a musician?
Like most people in this biz, the pure joy of listening to your most favorite musical stars is a real influence. Guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen brought me (and millions of others to this day) such fun and excitement as a kid that I basically didn’t want that party to end. It seemed to be something I had a knack for and I just like being in a band. It’s a blast and I would recommend it highly if you are willing to get it together which takes a lot of work continuously over a period of years.
What struggles have you faced with having your music heard and getting your name recognized by outside markets?
NoManZero and virtually any band face the hurdle of an over saturated market.
A rock band making a recording is very, very common these days. But we met this challenge by employing a producer known for working with world class acts and taking the time to get the best out of the songs we had ready to go. And I see the next question and that will explain a rather unique approach we took to get our music heard in outside markets.
What kinds of things do you do to promote yourself?
We did something that to our knowledge and the people we worked with had never been done. We worked with a special group of Chinese dissidents to craft songs that promoted freedom in China and simultaneously expressed a rock attitude that we were comfortable with. This was following in the footsteps of giants before us like John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix that stood up for things they believed in by involving their music. That led to videos being made of our songs that have broadcast on the alternative free Chinese community TV network, New Tang Dynasty Television which broadcasts worldwide. These videos are out there on some sites still and hopefully we can get them on to a site controlled by you guys too.
I should say so that all involved with this saw it as a “win win” situation. NoManZero knows how many amazing and talented bands there are out there and we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the pack. And we did but we also like playing in front of crowds that like to have fun and will freely admit that we are not really any different than other bands who get into this for the fun that it really is. But we were lucky to have been offered the opportunity to support a good cause while having a good time.
Is there a predominant message you hope to get across In your songs?
As it turns out, the general theme of this record, “Global Warning” seems to be pretty up to date even though some of the songs were originally penned back in the 90’s. That general theme is that full-on corporate or institutionalized greed can breed some very bad things that ultimately stop a huge number of people from enjoying this life so beware and take care of yourself. That over arching message grew to include the Chinese situation I referred to earlier. Interestingly enough, as our country continues to slip deeper and deeper into debt with China as of late, this album is more current now in regards to the message than it was when the songs were written. The musical style may owe a certain amount to the 90’s but music is all over the map so that doesn’t have to be considered a bad thing.
What are your thoughts on the future of the music industry and where it’s going?
Well to be honest, and this is not meant to try and get into Beat Play’s favorite list, but sites like this have taken over the industry. Everyone knows the business has de-centralized and that it is a new game. It is NOT “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” as The Who said back in the day. There is a new boss and in most cases, look in the mirror and you will see that boss. We are an independent band and call the shots. That has allowed us to write controversial songs that are banned in China and our videos are not G rated…they show what really happened in China to students who rallied for democracy. What’s going down in Iran right now is a apt parallel to be honest.
Are you currently unsigned, and do you plan on staying independent?
After our initial experience in the 90’s with professional recording studios shopping us to the major labels being a failure, we turned our back on the big business as an option for NoManZero for good. We are unsigned and will remain that way.
What are your reasons for being an independent artist?
Well in our case it’s a bit different but a large reason is we don’t want to be censored by an outside authority who decides what we can write songs about. The other reason is that we already paid to record the album, and with digital distribution, we likely stand to better having 100% of the proceeds come back to us rather than 80% going to a record company for minimal promotion. The days of multi-million dollar advances are over from what we can see.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Personally, I really like Alter Bridge. We had a chance open up for them in NYC at Washington Square Park where I went to school at NYU, but the permit fell through. But those guys, Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden, Hinder, Fuel…all guitar driven bands are at the top of my list including the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Do you ever feel that people will be missing out on your music because you are not signed to a major record label?
Likely that is the case but bands can’t depend on a major label to do everything for them. Staind sold 2,000 copies in the Springfield, Mass areas as an independent band and that helped cement them into a deal. Creed did the same thing in Florida. So we responsibility to get our music heard is our own shoulders. If we can’t make things happen on our own, no major label would be able to as well. And by the time a band is rolling, they may very well want to stay independent because they have done the work and will be reaping all the rewards rather than splitting them up with a big company.
Your art can be very experimental. Do you ever wish there was an easier way to access the music you sample from, or wish that you had access to a huge library of undiscovered music, which is updated everyday by itself?
Certainly, time is in very, very short supply for NoManZero these days. With all of the obligations of writing new songs, rehearsing, keeping up with technology and booking and playing live shows, we don’t have time to look around for undiscovered music. So having this be a simple process done for us that gives back good music we like would be wonderful thing.
What would you say if I told you that there’s a new force in Independent Music that will give you all of the power of the Major Labels and more, while at the same time giving you complete control over all aspects of your musical career, and you will never have to sign a thing?
Three words…..BRING IT ON!!!
And you would have access to the worlds first ever audio component auction, where pieces of songs are sold off at auction prices to be repurposed in other songs. What kind of impact do you think that would have on your music?
As long as our message in our songs was not changed, it sounds like something that could work out well for all involved.
The only catch is you have to choose to use it to your benefit, or not.
Exactly, each situation is unique but being open minded to new things is a very good thing in this business.
It’s called Beat-Play.
Honestly, all of us in NoManZero are really looking forward to seeing this new paradigm come into existence and appreciate you checking out what we are doing now.