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Zero Hour - Technical Perfection

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by The Metal Chick, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. The Metal Chick

    The Metal Chick In the Dragon's Den

    Mar 31, 2003
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    Chicago, IL
    [IMGLEFT][/IMGLEFT]by Amanda J. Carlson

    If there’s any band that puts intelligence into metal, it’s Zero Hour. Their intricately arranged song structures and mind-boggling skills have put them in a genre of prog metal so few have ventured into. I’ve always wondered how such music could be crafted, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask guitarist Jasun Tipton a few things to find out what makes them tick…

    How do you come up with such complex songs? Does this style come naturally, or do you push yourselves to accomplish it? How hard (or easy) is it?

    The style does come naturally but at the same time we are pushing ourselves. Troy, Mikey and I have always been into technical players’ material and it does help us with direction. Some songs come together in a week but others can take months and months to write. Zero Hour has a certain sound to our ears and there have been many songs written that in the end didn't hold up. If it doesn't have the overall presence we listen for, it won’t make the disc.

    The Zero Hour style is in the same vein as Spiral Architect. Do you consider them an influence? What do you think of their music in comparison to what Zero Hour does?

    I enjoy the Spiral Architect CD and those kats are very talented. I wouldn't say they’re an influence because we were writing our material before we heard S.A. Zero Hour and Spiral Architect are on the same label (Sensory Records) and have a way of putting together technical formats. At same time both bands are very different in the way we approach the overall song structure and passages. We have been compared in the past and that's cool by us, it's good company.

    Despite the strong similarity to Spiral Architect, the music of Zero Hour is unique in the world of progressive metal. How cool is it to be one of a kind? Is that something you strive for?

    It's great to hear people say we have our own sound. It's the best compliment you could ever receive. We have many influences from Meshuggah to Pat Metheny. We always wanted to standout and have our own voice.

    Has anyone in the band had formal music training?

    I did Classical piano for 5 years before I even picked up the guitar. Mikey played drums in Marching bands for years. Troy was always a ripper on bass and took lessons for a little bit but really put it together all on his own.

    A Fragile Mind feels heavier and darker than Towers of Avarice. Was this your intention? If so, why?

    Before we started writing for A Fragile Mind, Troy, Mikey and I got together and said one of the elements we wanted for the next disc was to be heavier. Being a little more direct with the heavier groundwork and a good mixture of tech.

    Reading the lyrics of A Fragile Mind, the overall mood of despair and desperation, as well as certain lines appearing throughout the album give me the idea that this is another concept record. What’s the underlying story about?

    The story is about someone dealing with depression, addiction and trying every experiment to be rid of his demons. We never meant for it to be conceptual; it just took shape that way.

    As the main writer of lyrics, has new singer Fred Marshall had a different effect on the writing than Erik Rosvold, the previous singer?

    Erik’s writing is more outside of the box than Fred's. Fred follows more with the grove of the music.

    Any particular reason why there was a change in singers?

    Mikey, Troy and I had finished recording our tracks in Feb. of 2003. Over a year went by and Erik maybe finished about half of the CD and it just got to the point where we needed Erik to really finish the material. We would call and email Erik to setup a band meeting but he wouldn't respond to our emails. He probably answered 2 of the many, many, many emails we sent. The label said we were becoming a financial burden and we couldn't wait for Erik any longer. It just got to the point in order for Zero Hour to continue as a group, we needed to find a new singer.


    Zero Hour hasn’t done a lot touring. Is it in your plans to tour in support of A Fragile Mind? Where would you most like to play?

    Zero Hour will be looking to play as much as we can in the middle of 2006. At the moment we just finished writing all of our next CD Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond. So we want to record the new CD and put together a live set. We look forward to playing everywhere and that means festivals and touring.

    Do you think you’ll play at this year’s ProgPower USA? I’m sure that’s a secret, but I have to ask because with an awesome album like this out, it would be amazing to see you there. If you’re not going to play this year, though, is it something the band would like to do in the future?

    Thank you so much for the compliment and we do look forward to playing Progpower USA in the future but it's not going to happen in 2006.

    The most impressive thing about technical prog is how sometimes each musician is doing something completely different at the same time, and Zero Hour has that down to a science. How do you accomplish that without the music sounding horribly chaotic?

    That's awesome you notice that and it's something we always push to do in the band. Our engineer Dino always says, “You know, people might not always notice all the differences the three of you push against each other because you guy's make it sound so easy.” It's second nature to us and it's something we love doing in ZH.

    Not that it really matters, but I’m just curious: both A Fragile Mind and Towers of Avarice are pretty short albums - about 45 minutes total running time - the latter only have six songs. Any reason why you keep it short and sweet?

    It's due to our recording budgets. We want the CD to sound just as clean and technical sonically. Sonically it would suffer due to our budget if we did push the running time any further.

    The songs on the latest album are also much shorter than one might expect in prog. Any reason for that, or do the songs just happen that way?

    We wanted to try some shorter songs for this disc and at the same time some just happen that way. We always want to do something different with every disc and will continue to do so.

    Anything else you’d like to share with Zero Hour fans?

    Zero Hour fans RULE and we look so forward to playing out and chatting it up with you all in the future. METAL!!!

    Official Zero Hour website
    Official Sensory Records website
  2. Kenneth R.

    Kenneth R. Cináed

    Oct 28, 2004
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    Hallways of Always
    ZERO HOUR is the definitive band for progressive metal these days! Excellent interview with an excellent band.

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