Caught in a Reflection

If the following article isn’t Zen enough for you, you can go look at the article I wrote for the current isuse of Tricycle magazine (at your newstand now!) called When Your Guru Goes Bad.

The new Zero Defex album, Caught in a Reflection, is now available for downloading from iTunes! The video posted above is one of the songs you’ll get. Here’s the skuttlebutt on all of them.

ABUSE OF POWER

This nifty little number was presented to the band by lead singer Jimi Imij who banged it out for us on a battered acoustic guitar in his Akron apartment. We pretty much did it the way Jimi played it. It’s our folk song!

TURN IT RED

This was one of the songs from Zero Defex’s early days. It used to go by other names. Sometimes it was called “Just Found Out.” Sometimes it was called Eric. I always liked this one. It has a mean riff and great lyrics. Watch the video and you’ll see! This one is pure hardcore just like we used to do it way back when it was dangerous.

COMPETITION

This is another old one. Mick Hurray, our drummer, brought this one in. I loved it at the time because I was always sucky at sports. The lyrics disparage baseball, football and frisbee golf! There’s a video for this one too.

ROTC

Yet another number from the early days. Once the legendary Randy Blythe of Lamb of God shared vocals on it at a show in Akron. For you non-Americans in the audience, ROTC stands for Reserve Officers Training Corps. They’re a mainstay on American college campuses. I’m sure they aren’t all as bad as the song implies. But it’s such a ridiculous song we had to revive it.

AWAY FROM MY DESK

This was written for us about two years ago by our original guitarist and main songwriter Tommy Strange. We turned it into a kind of DEVO-esque thing, since all of us are big fans of DEVO. I like the sound effects at the end. And the words, “I’m that temporary punk you always fired!”

ANYMORE

This was brought to the band by guitarist Jeff “Ghoul” Hardy. He showed it to us the day we recorded it. Jimi came up with some words. I love the recording on the intro and outro, which Jimi discovered on a homemade record found during one of his many thrift store forays. Apparently the record was pressed up by a school teacher in West Virginia some time in the 1940s. There was probably only one copy made. There’s a video for this one too.

ARMAGEDDON

This is our new hit single! It was brought to the band about a year ago by drummer Mick Hurray who composed it on the piano! This has to be the first ever Zero Defex song composed on a piano. We did a video for this one as well featuring a rather elaborate setting, at least for us. And dancing girls! How often do you get to see hardcore bands with dancing girls?

WAR ZONE

This is another old song. The video we did for this is actually a rehearsal we taped the day before we went in to shoot the other more professional looking videos. In the end we never made a proper video for this one, so I put the rehearsal on YouTube. This is kinda how we played it back in the 80s, but not precisely. Songs like this are probably what made certain writers in Cleveland mock us for writing “war is bad” type lyrics. War is bad! But this song is very good!

NATIONAL SACRIFICE ZONE

This is probably my favorite tune on the album. Zero Defex goes jazz! Seriously! I wanted to do a video for this where we would be dressed in zoot suits playing it at a cafe. The lyrics are a poem by Vince “Rancid” Packard who drew the album cover. He lived for a long time in West Virginia in a region known to some as a “national sacrifice area” because there were so many nuclear power plants it was believed that if someone ever attacked the US, the entire region would become uninhabitable. I like the way Jimi sings this like Tom Waits gargling gravel.

TARGET EARTH

This one’s the video at the top. It’s another very early Zero Defex number. On the cassette I have of the band playing it, it sort of sounds like an attempt at early 80s new wave pop! This was a song they did before I was in the band and dropped before I joined. I’m not sure if it was ever played live until the 21st century reunion of the group. I like it! We should sell it to Target!

TACTICAL FORCE UNIT #5

This is another early song. It was a joke directed at another local band called Unit 5. They appeared in a Cleveland-based magazine called Scene dressed in police riot gear, thus we called them “Tactical Force Unit #5!” There’s a cute video for this too featuring Ronald Reagan!

PROPER ATTIRE

Again this is an older song of ours. This is one I had wanted us to do for our first CD but we passed it up. I even mention that fact in my book Sit Down And Shut Up, so upset was I at its exclusion. I liked this one at the time because a lot of clubs had a “proper attire” policy up in Cleveland. I once got refused entry to one of those unless I bought a dumb polo shirt that they sold up front just for people like me who showed up in “improper” T-shirts. Screw that!

SOLDIER BOY

This one is a new song with old origins. Our friend Joe Morbid wrote the lyrics. Jimi made it into a song and the band played it back in the 80s. Jimi dug up the old lyrics. But by then we’d all forgotten how the original song went. So we rewrote it from memory. I think this is like the old version. But maybe not. It seems kind of slow by 80s Zero Defex standards, so it was probably different back then. I like this version a lot.

DEVIL’S TRIP / MAY 4, 1970

This new song is another of my favorites. I played the sitar, including the intro. Our drummer, Mick, plays slide guitar on this. Jeff shook the marakas and sleigh bells as well as playing the guitar. This is actually two songs that sort of sounded alike so we stuck them together. The second half is about the National Guard shootings at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 that left four students dead and many others wounded. Neil Young wrote about it too. But Neil wasn’t a resident of the town where it happened. The first verse lays out the scene from the point of view of the students. The second takes the point of view of the ROTC kids who shot their classmates and probably regret it to this day. The video for this isn’t really a proper video, but it’s a good way to hear the song before you make your purchase.

I think this is a great album. It was recorded by Rich Katilla III at his studio Kat Scratch Records in Cleveland. The studio is in what had once been a storage unit behind a Giant Eagle supermarket in Mentor. We would drive an hour up there on Sunday nights and record till way too late while munching on pretzels from the Giant Eagle. It was a beautiful thing!

This was the first time I felt like Zero Defex in its reformed incarnation really came together and did something incredible like I always knew we could. It’s the kind of album the band probably would have made if we’d been able to keep it together back in the olden days. We were never really a strict hardcore band. Hardcore punk was what we all wanted to do at the time. But none of us were really that committed to it as a musical form. The jazz, folk and psychedelic touches on this album reflect a lot of the personality of the group.

Rock on!

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20 Responses

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  1. Mumbles
    Mumbles May 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm | |

    Very awesome, congratulations. The release of a new record is always cause for celebrations. Rawk!!

  2. UngKwan
    UngKwan May 7, 2013 at 6:22 am | |

    Is there a copy of the Tricycle article not hidden behind a paywall?

  3. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer May 7, 2013 at 8:32 am | |

    UngKwan,

    I’d imagine that Tricycle magazine is trying to get money for the work it puts into an issue.

    Cheers.

  4. Mumbles
    Mumbles May 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm | |

    Thanks for dropping in all the ZD videos, Brad. I think I’m liking War Zone best right now but they all work for me. I like the little fills the guitar player is doing, what sort of set up does he use? I see he plays an SG…He gets some incredible sustain sometimes. I will likely buy the lp, its well produced and what I’ve heard here sounds great, but I need to get the new Pornography one, too, http://www.amazon.com/7-Minutes-in-Heaven/dp/B00CFCMIVU and The Replacements “Songs For Slim.” Need a whole lotta downloads..Nnnnnnrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…way down inside, honey you needa…

  5. Tutteji
    Tutteji May 8, 2013 at 2:44 am | |

    This is truly awesome stuff! And I am impressed by your way of integrating spirit and marketing. Your work also seems quite similar to that of Chuck Genkaku Johnzen Roshi, whose memoirs just came out. http://tuttejiorg.wordpress.com/new-book/chuck-genkaku-johnzen-roshi/

  6. Picard
    Picard May 8, 2013 at 11:03 am | |

    Article Preview
    To access this entire article and all other member-supported
    content, join Tricycle as a Supporting or Sustaining Member
    JOIN TRICYCLE

    (Stellar video)

  7. UngKwan
    UngKwan May 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm | |

    I used to have the online subscription to Tricycle, but I didn’t renew it because it mostly sucked.

  8. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm | |

    Thanks, Tutteji!

    “In this lyrical and affecting memoir, Chuck Genkaku Johnzen Roshi describes in introspective detail and lyrical prose his years as a Buddhist monk, culminating in the solemn ceremony where he became a fully transmitted Zen Buddhist teacher.

    Following an attempt to blow up the zendo of a competing Sangha, his Dharma Transmission was soon revoked, however…”

    Tricycle is all things to all paying subscribers, they deserve what they get and I hope they keep delivering, although I’ve decided to receive no further emails at this time.

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm | |

    I don’t know why they rub me the wrong way. Ok, I do know: they constitute a distraction, a dilution, and pablum-izing of Buddhism and Zen, that leaves people thinking they know something and should buy another issue to know more. Am I fantasizing completely here or just partially… at least Brad is willing to expose himself in a bunny suit jumping up and down to chordless expulsive existentialist tirade punk without embarassment, I’d like to see the tricycle staff where the soft slam takes place (I don’t want them to get hurt, I just want to see them show what they’ve learned in a crowd that’s having physical fun, that’s all- yes I’m evil).

  10. anon 108
    anon 108 May 9, 2013 at 4:14 am | |

    I finally got around to clicking on your “Target Earth” video, Brad.

    I liked it. Short. Catchy. Fun.

    If I find another window in my busy schedule I may watch it again.

  11. Zafu
    Zafu May 9, 2013 at 12:16 pm | |

    I like “Middle Age Teenager.” It’s very… zen.

  12. boubi
    boubi May 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm | |

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjUhStSxK6Q

    japanese version, for better enjoying the way they talk … and … :)

  13. boubi
    boubi May 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm | |

    @0:40:00

  14. boubi
    boubi May 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm | |

    1:45:00

  15. Mumbles
    Mumbles May 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm | |

    Almost exactly one year ago, I left a job (don’t worry, I had my present one waiting) by performing what I just now found out sort of has a name… an “Irish Exit” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Irish+exit -now, this exit I pulled off was elaborate: I was part of the administration of this particular company, had paintings on the wall of my office and many other personal effects that had accumulated over time, however, about a week before the day I left I started taking home my stuff that people wouldn’t visually miss, until there was only a facade that amounted to a small car load on the “exit day.” That morning, I had to time it perfectly, and almost blew it early on walking past the facility manager with an armload of stuff headed for the back door and parking lot where my car was parked, but he was busy, and simply greeted me on the run. Finally, I tossed my keys on the desk and locked the door behind me. It was 9:30 a.m. I lost over a week of accumulated vacation time, and had to pay 1/2 a month of health insurance out of pocket but the rush of the whole subterfuge and deployment of the exit, and the absence of the usual goodbye bullshit was well, well worth it.

  16. King Kong
    King Kong May 10, 2013 at 7:51 am | |

    CAUGHT IN A REFLECTION ??

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMAIsqvTh7g

  17. Shodo
    Shodo May 11, 2013 at 6:34 am | |

    Gentlefolk…
    I propose we start a nuclear war … at the gay bar… with Lincoln. :3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XNFokmDKrE

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