Interview: Zero City are on a quest to “show people who we are”

A spirit of versatility and commitment to expanding their sound defined ‘Contortions’, the new album from prog-rock band Zero City. 

We’ve now had a week to let the Melbourne/Naarm band’s debut album marinate, and while it continues to get better with each listen, we simply had to catch up with the creators themselves for an even closer look into their stellar project. 

Zero City 'Contortions'

Below, Zero City stop by to talk about all things songwriting, collaboration, and their desire to “show people who we are with our first real body of work.” Catch that below, and scroll down to listen to ‘Contortions’ on Spotify. 

HAPPY: What are you up to today?

ZERO CITY: At the moment we are taking a hiatus from playing gigs as we have a big album launch at the leadbeater hotel on Friday June 28. We hope everyone can make it down!

HAPPY: Tell us a little about where you live, what do you love about it?

ZERO CITY: We are all from Rosanna/Heidelberg. It’s a great place in the suburbs with lots of grass and nature.

We all met at Viewbank College except for Declan who went to Marcellin, but Noi knew him from primary school and Michael knew him from cricket.

The thing we love about it the most is probably that we are all so close to each other. It makes it easy to organise rehearsals and always catch up. 

HAPPY: What are some of your biggest musical influences?

ZERO CITY: The new UK post punk scene is a huge influence on us, but we pull influence from many places. We all love classic jazz from the 50s and things like that as well as Afro beat with influences like Fela Kuti.

We even love Michael Jackson and the Beach Boys and Beatles. We credit a lot of our melodic influences to those kind of bands.


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HAPPY: The album seamlessly blends chaos and melody. How do you approach songwriting as a band?

ZERO CITY: Usually someone will bring in a very small idea and then we will just jam over it for ages.

Then when it comes to actually introducing a form and structure to the song, we kinda just cherry pick the best things we have done from the past jams. It’s a great way to do it however it does take a while to really build up a track.

HAPPY: What inspires your lyrical content?

ZERO CITY: The band has two lyricists. For Noi it’s about staying cryptic and vague, mostly because he doesn’t want people to know what he is saying. He finds it a little cringe.

Lyrically though, Lou reed and Bob Dylan are some older inspirations and are big inspirations in terms of vocal delivery.

But with the actual lyrics, the influences are more modern with influences like Isaac Wood, but also older influences with Ian Curtis. For Declan it’s keeping focus on what the song is saying. Whatever emotion or story that is.


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HAPPY: Live shows are a crucial part of the Zero City experience. How do you translate the energy and diversity of the album to the stage?

ZERO CITY: Funny enough, for us it was more how do we bring what we do live to a recording. It was all about recording high energy takes and keeping it as raw as possible.

So yeah it was more about translating what we already have live to the recording. However, we try and make sure we go all out on every show, no matter how many people are there. Keeping a good energy is the most important thing for us live.

HAPPY: Melbourne’s music scene is thriving. How has it shaped your sound and development as a band?

ZERO CITY: The Melbourne music scene is great at the moment. We have many friends through out and it kinda creates this friendly competition.

We see what other bands do and we will sometimes do something similar, for example we started playing some more headbanger songs because we saw how good it was live.

This friendly competition also makes us work a lot harder and faster when it comes to releasing music because it’s almost like we don’t wanna be left behind.

Zero City 'Contortions'

HAPPY: ‘Contortions’ is a strong debut. What are your aspirations for the future of Zero City?

ZERO CITY: We definitely wanna get to work on another album and get back to gigging pretty regularly again. We are always working towards the next step, such as playing better gigs and trying to do as much as we can with our recorded music.

Our aspiration for zero city is just to keep on playing music because that’s what we all love to do most. We also have a big Japan tour planned for the end of the year.

HAPPY: What are you most excited about sharing ‘Contortions’ with the world?

ZERO CITY: We are really excited to share the music, it almost feels like a time capsule of us right now that we can always look back on.

We are excited to show people who we are with our first real body of work out and we hope people enjoy it. I think the main thing is just getting those tracks and ideas out there though.

HAPPY: What makes you happy?

ZERO CITY: Playing music makes us happy.