Interviews: They Called Him Zone


On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Rock/Electronic band, They Called Him Zone, from the UK. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that?

Mik: The name was chosen in jest of the archaic music software and equipment we were using at the time to produce our music – even now, the band are still using the same equipment to produce our music e.g. Logic 7 (2004). Settling on the name after a friend said ‘They Called Him Zone’ sounded ‘dark and mysterious – like the name of an unsavoury stranger, you might have met on Myspace back in 2005’ – this appealed to our sense of humour, so we thought, yeah, why not. We’re told it’s a memorable name.

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

Mik: It kind of just happened really, my roots are rock and guitar driven music, until I started experimenting with sound. I think a sequence of events lead to it e.g. buying a cheap keyboard and some synth effects pedals, also replacing a live drummer with samples, plug-ins and machines put us straight into the ‘electro-rock’ genre. Myself and Steve play guitar, so it was inevitable that we were going to incorporate them – I think there’s a lot to be said for the use of bass guitar as well, it’s just not the same when you use synthetic sounds. 

Steve: Yeah, like Mik I’d started to become more interested in working with electronic sounds. The availability of affordable soft synths opened up a lot of possibilities I hadn’t considered before.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

Mik: We met in 2006 I think when our then bands were on the same bill – we kind of formed an allegiance and played together many times after that inviting each others band’s to play on the same bill. We live fairly close and often bumped into each other, but mostly just kept in touch, kind of checking in to see what was happening with our music projects.

4. Each band member favourite band?

Mik: It’s tough to choose favourites. I think genres would be better, I listen to a lot of Electro, Folk, Soul, Americana, Reggae and of course Rock.

Steve: In terms of long-term influences, hearing the Sex Pistols when I was thirteen made me want to pick up a guitar. Josh Homme’s various projects have consistently interested me over the last twenty years. And recently, I’ve really liked Annie Clark’s approach. But there are a lot more people I could talk about of course.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

Mik: It’s all I’ve ever known; you get an idea and it needs to come out. I use a lot of imagery in the lyrics, a lot of that comes from experiences, travelling, films and books I’ve read.

6. Where was your last gig?

Mik: Before Lockdown we played a gig in Northwich – it was a benefit to help rebuild a venue that had burnt down in the area. All proceeds went to rebuild the venue. The solidarity and support that the folk of Northwich showed for was incredibly humbling. Apparently, Bez (Happy Mondays) turned up after we’d played – typical.

7. Where would you like to play?

Mik: Japan, Greece, Italy, North and South America.

Steve: I’d consider anywhere that wasn’t an active war zone. Even then I might, if the local food was good.

8. Who would you like to support?

Mik: I’d love to play with Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails – I think their crowds would understand our dark-pop tendencies and big choruses. These are both huge bands who use a mixture of textures and production styles in their songs like ourselves.

9. Who not?

Mik: I’ve supported so many other bands in previous bands I’ve been in – none of which I’ve particularly liked the music of (2-3 acts aside), but you’re not there to ‘like’ their music; the brutal truth is you’re there to introduce ‘your’ music to their audience. For that reason, it’d have to be the right band to support. Also, many bigger acts charge bands now, rather than paying bands. I was once offered a tour support with a big post-punk band who asked for £100 a show up front – it’d have cost us £1500 to do the whole tour. Of course, it’s great to get exposure and experience supporting bigger acts, but it’s not the holy grail.

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

Mik: The best advice I ever got in the music industry was from a guy called Daz, who used to work for international cult band New Model Army – he said ‘Always carry a Sharpie pen, wash your hands a lot, always eat when you get it given, be polite, gracious and work hard – oh, and don’t waste gaffer tape!’ This advice has worked for me so far.

Steve: I think Iggy Pop had a ‘formula’, but I’m not sure I’d recommend that to everyone!

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

Mik: I think it’s more a case of producers that inspire these days more than bands. I like to read up on producers – how they created sounds and inspired bands they worked with. There’s a science and magic involved in production that excites me much more than any band. We’re self-produced, so when you listen to the band it’s a true presentation of how we want our music to be heard – I think there’s something genuine about that and also DIY in a punk rock kind of fashion.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Mik: Fans flying in from Berlin and Bristol to Leeds to watch us play to 30+ people is a bit surreal, it’s wonderful how people find your music and also overwhelming the dedication and effort they make to support your art. It’s true though they want to take something away with them – I’ve given earrings away in previous bands, but mostly in this band people just want setlists, plectrums and a chat.

13. What do you think of your fans?

Mik: It’s an equal relationship – we sometimes make things and sometimes they buy those things. I believe in respecting people – fans/followers/ friends are a part of what you do.

14. What do you think of our site?

Mik: Well the music on your site streams without buffering, so that’s a good start – that shit is like hitting the top 5 on the first page of a Google search – so well done there. It made me realise how visually driven we are to images when we source new music – I went straight to The Phobics ‘Burnt Rubber’, it was OK. I love the ‘Countries’ section that introduced me to some new music.

15. Something to add?

Mik: One thing that strikes me more and more in the music industry working with other bands and now in my ‘day job’ young people getting into music – we need to break the mould more and free ourselves of the music clichés and stereotypes. I would add a ‘bands do recipes or cooking’ to your website – something that indirectly introduces bands – after all being in a band isn’t about just the music, you’re a gang, team… brothers – it’s so much more and music sites should reflect that and push it further. Dynamics and relationships are usually more interesting than the music 

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