By paul

Paul: Hey Ben, how are things in the Zebrahead camp right now?
Ben: All is really good. Been super busy doing stuff for the covers album but that is all winding down to calmness about now.

Paul: How do you all spend Christmas? Do you try and spend time together as a band or do you all split off and see family members and friends?
Ben: We all head out to different sides of the planet. Everyone has huge familes all over the country so it would be next to impossible to meet up. Although, we are playing a holiday show at the house of blues in anaheim, california on the 27th. So, techncially we are meeeting upight??

Paul: What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year? What have been your all-time best and worst Christmas gifts?
Ben: You know what…we are lucky enough already that I am cool with what I got. I get to play in a band and tour the world for a job so I think it is time for me to be a little grateful..actually a ton grateful. Best gift of all time was a pocket vagina last week given to me by a magazine in Japan. They thought it was a gag gift and I thought it was amazing.

Paul: You’ve just released a covers album in Japan – why release a covers album and why only release it in Japan? Who in the band came up with the idea?
Ben: It was actually our drummers idea. After we finished the last album, “Phoenix”, he just wanted to take a little time to just have fun. Writing and recording albums can be a little stressful and he thought it would be a good way to have fun playing other peoples songs and not worry about anything. It came out in Japan as a proper release, but is available on itunes and www.pantyraid.bigcartel.com everywhere else. With the way the record industry is falling apart these days we thought it would be best to keep this cover album to mostly those places. In most places the next album will have a proper release, but this was just for fun and not anything else.

Paul: How on Earth did you choose the songs? Are they personal favourites of the band members or was there any outside interference/injokes etc? Are there any songs you wished you could have covered for the record but couldn’t, for whatever reason? Likewise, did you record any but leave them off the record?
Ben: I really wanted to do that Celine Dion Titanic song??..so I could play Leonardo De Caprio in the video…but sadly I am to fat to fit the role so the song got cut. Mostly we tried to pick the songs that sucked the least. We learned about 50 and narrowed it down from there. But we only recorded the amount on the record. We can never agree waht should go on an album so we just put everything. It is that catch 22…if you put every song people will say some should have been cut….if you have a short 10 song album then people say you should have included all the songs …cause b -sdies are dumb..you never win…so we just go with all the songs anyone in the band likes.

Paul: Which is your favorite version and why? Why choose ‘Girlfriend’ as the first single?
Ben: I think my favorite is “Beautiful”. Just seems to fit our band really easy. The first single just sounded fun and funny. What is better to point and laugh at than 5 fat dudes learning avril’s dance moves. One of the most annoying songs of all time re-created for your pleasure…kinda a theme here.

Paul: Have you had any feedback from any of the original artists?
Ben: Not yet. Think we are a little under the radar for most to even know we exist. But I would hope they would at least crack a smile?

Paul: When can we expect you to record new music? Any plans for new material in 2010?
Ben: we are working on that as we speak. The covers album was kinda a between albums thing and we already have about 16 demos right now. We want to be recording some time early next year. Hopefully we can stay on that train, it would be fun to have a new album next year.

Paul: Likewise, what are your touring plans for 2010, especially here in Europe?
Ben: we come back to the UK on march 16th -30th…then off to japan for punkspring…then back to europe for 3 weeks and play at Groezrock. A pretty cool schedule so far. I think we might be coming back for some summer festivals in the UK/Europe area this coming summer again? Not sure…but wishful thinking!!

Paul: You’ve had a number 1 single in Japan – why do you think the Japanese have caught on to Zebrahead more than any other country?
Ben: We just got lucky there. We had an A and R guy who really cared about the band and went out of his way for us. Went to an extent of going into radio stations dressed as a zebra to get their attention. He didn’t care if he looked like an ass. It really does help to have people care about what they are doing. There are millions of great bands that no one knows about because they haven’t had that one lucky break. I always say if you don’t know anyone important and feel like no one cares, just play shows. You never know who is watching. We had no connections what so ever, and just got lucky being the right place at the right time. We have been lucky that way. Met a lot of really cool people who have helped us out and kept us going.

Paul: Here in the UK the Christmas ‘number 1’ – the top selling single the week preceeding Christmas – is causing a bit of a storm. Every year for the past five or six the winner of the TV show X-Factor, the UK equivalent to American Idol, has gained the top spot. But this year people have fought back and an internet campaign has seen Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’ currently outsell the X-Factor winner. Is this indicative, do you think, of how the internet has become a positive tool to counter the mainstream media? Do shows like American Idol have a valid role to play in terms of encouraging people to start bands or is Simon Cowell simply the spawn of Satan?
Ben: I read about that and think it is amazing! Good choice in songs to make a run for the money with that show. I think personally that Simon Cowell is providing a service that most people want. I personally want nothing to do with that show or American Idol. But sadly there are more people who think that is good than not. I guess I will happily remain in the minority of thinking that stuff sucks and is just crap.

Paul: Have your experiences on a major label put you off working with them again in the future? What advice would you give to a band starting out – do bands still need label help, at any level, or is DIY culture coming back with a vengence?
Ben: I really like the whole DIY culture. Even when we were on a major we still did everything ourselves. The whole idea is to take control of your future and not to let someone else fuck it up for you. Get control or your own domain names/ keep your merch rights / and don’t let anyone convince you that you are the next big thing. Keep playing music because you like to play music not because your going for that cool “what is in Now” sound. If you chase the latest thing you are always going to be one step behind. Fuck it. Play what u like and people will like it. There are tons of great experiences from being on labels and tons of not so good. I truely think it is what u make it. So don’t want to sound to down on the system. I just think that a lot of times you can be heard more and the way you want to be heard better on your own sometimes. That is for everyone to decide themselves. But, labels are not totally necessary at all!

Paul: You’re well known for the energetic live shows you put on. With the internet levelling out the playing field, is it still as important to tour and play hard every night, or can bands get away with a heavy internet presence and nothing else?
Ben: I would hope that bands will continue to tour. That is where the fun is…seeing people connect with this music you wrote on the toilet in your house. Without that …..the fun would be sucked out for me. We are here to have fun and touring is where it happens…you will never hear any of this “it is so hard to be on tour” bullshit form me. The super hyped always fizzles if you can’t play live. I guess, unless you are from X Factor or American Idol??

Paul: If you have a festive message for our readers please leave it here!
Ben: Happy Holidays guys…see you in a couple months….Drink a beer for me!
Ben from zebrahead

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