Pulled In By Darkness
An interview with Chrisz Quezadii of Back To Zero
Justin Apathy Stankus
Back to Zero’s music is full of great terrifying melodies and can be heard on rue morgue radio and horror punk compilations from around the country. In 2006 Brilliance through simplicity was found with their debut album Go Go Ghouls and will only continue to grow with these ghouls, especially after the release of their horrifying 2009 masterpiece Dimension Of Fear!
So. Let us begin! Let’s start by first getting your name and position in the band?
Chrisz Quezadii. Father and Giver of life for Back to Zero, I sing and play lead guitar.
How did everyone come together and what inspired you all to for Back To Zero? How did the name come about as well?
It started in 2003 as a project under the name Illuminati, which later became the name Back to Zero in late 2004-2005 with the same members. The name is slowly proving itself, pending on what will become of this world, a full blown zombie apocalypse or a 50.0 Earthquake (joke). Dont want to scare anyone. Well the name just means where ever you are in your chapter of life or just when you feel things are going good that you will end up, or be taken back to where you started. Kinda like a reverse effect on life or evolution.
When you look at the state of the horror-punk scene, it seems to be surviving in the U.S. But when you look across the globe to the likes of Europe for example, it seems to be THRIVING! Do you agree with this statement? Whether you agree or disagree why do you think this is?
I would agree with this statement and it is a great question. We know there is a lot of crappy music out here and a few things can contribute to this, Television Networks, Radio, and the Government can be to blame for brain washing the weak minds of our youth. Kids are taught to follow a set of rules of whats hip and cool at an early age starting with our schools, and then punishing individuals for being different. There’s still lots of great music out here in the U.S. but because they don’t sound and look like all the robots from American Idol/etc. getting exposure will be a bit more rough. Crappy music exists all over the world but I’m not exactly sure why other countries like Europe or even Brazil are keeping it strong. But it’s a wonderful thing to see that they have great taste and do appreciate the music and always show the artist’s that play for them much love and appreciation. The United States needs our youth to grow up with maybe a more anti-government mentality approach in life, a strong love for the macabre, and more radio airplay for horror punk.
Of all the genres to chose from why punk? What about punk rock lured you in and what was you first experience with the genre?
I grew up listening to old rock and roll and metal in the 80s and 90s. I was first introduced to punk rock in my early teens and quickly fell in love with it right then. It was mostly the feeling of being able to do whatever you felt like and not caring what you were told, and having absolutely no respect for authority. I spent what little money I had in the early 90’s on punk shows and cds. The Clash, Social Distortion, The Adicts, Minor Threat, Subhumans, Crass, and the Ramones were just some of the bands that got me hooked. My very early days started out listening to Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest and was later mixed with punk rock. I still am a big fan of the fore mentioned bands to this day. The final topping on my music pizza was when I heard the Misfits for the first time, I was at a friends house and Static Age was playing and I was blown away. It was different from the punk rock I was used to hearing and the things they were singing about had me pumped. It was when I first heard the infamous song Last Caress that the hairs on my arms were standing. I was pumped and excited for this band. I quickly ran out and bought up whatever shit I could find from the band. All my influences were just thrown together in a blender and served raw.
This question could have easily gone with my last question but oh well. So the horror-scene seems (to me at least) to be primarily dominated by Psycho-billy and Rock-a-billy bands, leaving horror punk on the bottom shelf of the three. Why did you chose to go the horror-punk route?
Yeah its popping up all over the place now. There are some big inspirational names behind these genres from Johnny Cash, The Cramps, The Meteors, and the Stray Cats. I am a big Cash and Cramps fan, but again it’s just what I grew up on, being metal and punk. Though some folks have mentioned hearing small bursts of Rock-a-billy in our sound, but that might just be from a little Johnny Cash or Social Distortion influence. We are not a Rock-a-billy band.
Now every horror fan or band obviously has a love or has/had a huge influence from The Misfits and I’m sure you guys see them as a big influence on your band as well, but if you had to exclude them and name your next biggest influence, who would it be and how come?
Hmm I guess I would have to say Janet Jackson (joke). I was influenced from a wide variety of great artists long before The Misfits. The Misfits obviously paved the road for horror punk and are indeed a huge influence on our sound yet we do not only base our sound on them. The solo work from our music is also influenced from metal. I would probably say that Motorhead has been a big influence for us, crossing the 2 genres together with a fast punk metal sound and if I had to add one more it would have to be the very early beginning of Social Distortion, the Mommy’s Little Monster album dropped a little turd on our sound you could say.
The band has been together for 7 to 8 years now if I am correct? If this is wrong then please correct me. During your time as a band what have you learned? Or maybe in better terms what is the most important thing you’ve learned thus far?
Yes 7 years sound about right. Basically we found that there are right ways and wrong ways of doing things in the music business, and everyday you have to learn how you should have properly done things when you did something the wrong way. Mentors are for showing and teaching you the ropes of how the music business works, and taking all the help you can get is good from anyone and anywhere. Promotion is very important and I wish we could have done a little more of this in our earlier days, otherwise how else are people going to hear about the shit you have going on? You can never have too much promotion, for the music scene today is very tough you really have to stick with it and keep working at it no matter how bad it might be sometimes. Stay positive and continue to write great music that has great meaning and comes from your heart. Also don’t drink from sick people when your touring, always stay healthy and positive!
What are your favorite bands to share the stage with?
We have played with lots of great bands! The Adicts were a lot of fun, and T.S.O.L. was a wild one ride ending with a big riot of punks, leading police to shut down half of Hollywood as they shot rubber bullets and tear gas at us! Wednesday 13, Youth Brigade, Michale Graves, Koffin Kats, Rusty Eye, Blitzkid, The Other. There is nothing more great than sharing the stage with someone you have been listened to for years!
What is your personal view, as well as the band’s view on religion? With most bands in the scene when I listen to them 98% of time I hear the usual being murder, necrophilia, ghouls, horror movies, and of course
killing your girlfriend. Most of the bands don’t seem to put much focus on religion. How do guys feel on the subject, and does religion play any part or have any influence on your music?
Religion can be a sensitive subject for many, and I have no problem with it. Our songs do touch on the subject of acts of man and the evil things they are capable of/doing. I like to write a lot about things people fear, but only in cases where they have been proven to be true. We do have a few songs that are more Sci-Fi but only because we wish and hope that they are true. We can only hope a zombie apocalypse is at hand! Hauntings have also always been very interesting to me as a child and still are today, I always loved reading about them and watching films about it. Music can be a very powerful tool to describe or to educate, and how bands choose to do it is up to them. We do not have any songs about necrophilia, the closest we would have to this subject would probably be our song Filthy Whore. Which is about the love and hate for prostitutes from a serial killer’s perspective. You probably won’t find us writing a song about pulling out our cocks and giving it to some dead woman. We wrote our first zombie song in 2005 titled Zombie Marathon for the Go Go Ghouls demo which had great meaning, being 100% inspired by the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead film which was also a few years before many of the newer bands picked up on it if that counts for anything. Yes you hear lots of zombie songs now especially with all the newer bands who undertook a zombie song writing spree, zombie here, zombie there, zombies in fucking underwear. Basically we would never insult anyone’s religion or tell someone to go kill their parents in a song. Back to Zero’s song writing focus is based mainly on true stories, events, the world’s history, and some Sci-fi. This is stuff we love to write about and will continue to do for future albums. If any of these do focus on religion so be it, it shall be written.
Your top 4 favorite horror movies, go!
The Shining, Psycho (1960), IT, and An American Werewolf in London (1981)
What are your top 3 favorite horror-punk bands currently in the scene?
Shadow Reichenstein, the Crimson Ghosts, and Blitzkid
What is your favorite song to play live? Also what is your favorite album out of the two so far?
This is tough, they are all just so fucking great! I guess it would be a tie between Flooded and Lycanthropy, but there are a couple that we have never played live so this can possibly or basically be a “To Be Continued” question.
Can fans expect any new tunes sometime soon? Any EP’s in the works? Can you spill some guts on the subject!?
We are actually in the works for a new album this year! The story boarding has already begun, and the order of our releases did not work out the way we had originally planned due to a split in our original lineup in 2007 when Jon Young left the band. In 2006 we released a 9 song demo titled “Go Go Ghouls” the tracks were of low quality recording, having only been around for 1 1/2 years, it was recorded in an non-studio environment and totally d.i.y. but it sounded ok to release as a demo so we proceeded. Our 2nd release was Dimension of Fear, a full length studio album released on Sep. 6th 2009, with completely all new tracks which halted the the Go Go Ghouls release. We do not have a release date for the new album as of yet, but we will be working overtime to be sure to have it done by the end of the year or hopefully sooner. Seven tracks off the “Go Go Ghouls” demo will be re-recorded in high studio quality this time along with around 6-7 new tracks. The album does not have a name yet but these things will fall into place once we begin the artwork process. This has been a long awaited release for us and we are very excited to finally get the ball rolling now that Jon Young has rejoined the band! It will be very good to finally see these tracks make its way digitally and physically throughout online and offline retail outlets such as itunes, interpunk, etc. If you do own the 2006 Go Go Ghouls demo then save it for good keeping, for there were only 500 copies made and we don’t ever plan on releasing or making anymore. You might find these recordings years from now maybe on itunes but that’s about it.
Your 2009 release, “Dimension Of Fear” is my favorite release from the band so far, and on of my favorite songs (my sister’s as well) is found on this album, Lady of Death. What were your main influences on this record, and what was the main influence for Lady of Death and what is the song referring to for those who may not know?
Very Good! All things horror inspired the writing process for Dimension of Fear. I have always been a big Twilight Zone fan and you can see it in the the albums artwork, which also helped in the writing for the track, “The Unknown”. We can also thank Mr. Jack The Ripper for helping us write the song, “This Horror”. Lady Of Death is basically part two of Demon Girl off Go Go Ghouls which continues the story of a lost soul’s love for a girl who can only bring him death and misery, and to anyone else who falls for her, they will be damned to hell. Lady of Death can be compared to the similarity of the comic book character Lady Death by Brian Pulido. If you have not read it then check it out! There is also a Lady Death motion picture which I enjoyed very much, a great anime film, definitely watch it!
What is a day in the life of Back To Zero like?
A lot of reading, watching films, playing guitar, song writing, and screen printing!
This is one of my signature questions. So your band is HEADLINING the GREATEST Halloween party in history! You get to chose 6 and only 6 supporting horror-punk bands (past or present). Who are they?
The Misfits, Balzac, Shadow Reichenstein, Blitzkid, Nim Vind, and the Crimson Ghosts
Are there any big tours in the works for Back To Zero? East Coast maybe? North Carolina perhaps!?
There are shows in the works, and we will be doing the Cancer Sucks 4 benefit show this year along with some shows around California and Nevada. All our shows are booked by us so please be patient and bare with us til we are working with a professional booking agency which will happen following the release of the new album later this year. There is nothing more great than releasing a new album and a great tour to back it up!
Inevitably now that I am in the closing segments of the interview I have to ask. Who were/are your biggest influences on you personally and your band and why?
Jimi Hendrix for making me want to pick up a guitar and play this shit since I was just a little boy. Vinnie Paul for making our drummer start hitting pots and pans with sticks at an early age. All the greats Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karlof, and Lon Chaney for giving great inspiration to horror cinema today and all of us. Everybody who fought or lost their lives for freedom in world war 2.
In closing I sincerely thank you for taking the time to do this interview, and before we finish this up is there anything you would like to add?
Music wise, don’t take what’s just served to you on the radio, look outside the box, and go out and find it! Don’t live your life to be so easily programmed to what others want you to be. Be your own individual and stay positive.
– Thanks, Justin
Thanks Chris! You can check out Back To Zero at their Facebook/Myspace http://www.facebook.com/backtozero or http://www.myspace.com/backtozero! Check this band out, your ears wont be disappointed, and if you come across Go Go Ghouls or Dimension Of Fear be sure to pick it up!
– Justin Apathy!