Well-respected, well-received and well-reviewed are the boys from Mesa, Arizona formally known as Authority Zero. It’s been 15 years since their debut album, A Passage In Time, hit the masses and there have been almost as many personnel changes as well. However, regardless of the time that passes by or the current lineup of the band, Authority Zero is still producing at the highest level, all while staying true to their original sound and style.
The band consists of Jason Devore (vocals), Mike Spero (bass), Dan Aid (guitar) and Chris Dalley (drums). The Pier was invited to chat with all four of them on the night of their Album Release Show.
Catching up at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona, we sat down with the guys for a half-an-hour to discuss the new 13-track-album ‘Broadcasting To The Nations,’ their first on Jacksonville’s Bird Attack Records. The album officially dropped on June 2nd, 2017. The spirits were high and so was the energy as we exchanged stories and laughs ahead of the bands performance for their loyal and excited hometown fans.
Interview: Authority Zero
The Pier: First of all, we wanted to say thank you for giving us the opportunity to sit down and chat with you guys. I grew up here in the valley and have been listening to you for years so I’m especially stoked.
Jason: Of course man. The Pier has been super helpful with promotional stuff throughout the years so thank you to The Pier as well.
The Pier: Because of all the member changes in the band, Jason you had mentioned that this album was essentially written twice. One time with Mike (Spero) and the previous drummer and guitarist and then once again when Chris and Dan joined the band. Because of that, almost all of the pre-production was done before stepping into the studio. Do you guys prefer that approach where everything is super structured and organized going over a more extemporaneous, on the fly type of writing and creating?
Jason: To me, what was really awesome about this one, as long as it took with the process happening two times over, was that because of that time-frame we were really given the opportunity to think things through and get to the point where we felt comfortable with the songs we were playing and felt strongly about the way the songs were coming out. A lot of times you have different ideas you go to the studio with and then you get in the studio and you really figure out what the songs sound like with the producer and what-not. But this one to me felt like one of the more well thought out and well put together albums in quite some time.
The Pier: Absolutely, it definitely shows on the album. We got to listen to the pre-release and it’s excellent! Did the guys at the Blasting Room have a lot of creative input or did they more so get to kick back and enjoy the ride because so much of the pre-production was already done and the album was already so structured and put together?
Chris: From the get go, they were always giving ideas as far as tempo changes and simple symbol hits or fills or a simple bass drum pattern. And there was four of them working around the clock with us. They were as invested in the project as we were and it made us feel even more close to them and I think it really showed on the record because they put as much love and care into it as we did.
The Pier: That’s awesome! They said some really great things about you. They talked about just hanging out after hours and really creating that family setting throughout the process and not just making it about business.
Jason: Bill was on tour with The Descendants in South America and he basically just got off the plane and cruised in and started bangin’ out vocals. We did thirteen hour sessions each day and at the end of each session, he could have easily just gone home to his wife and family but he was so rad to stick around with us for an hour and tell us stories about his history and experiences. It was a really cool family vibe.
The Pier: I’m sure that makes a big difference for you guys to be even more motivated to get in there and do your best work when you see them putting in that level of care and passion.
Chris: I don’t want to record anywhere else to be honest with you. I’m spoiled now.
The Pier: Jim Lindberg of Pennywise said some really great things about you guys as well.
Jason: Thank you Jim! [Laughs]
The Pier: He said “Authority Zero are a great American band. They bring it every night they play and on every album, and this album is no different. It’s melodic hardcore at its best!” However, you guys are a lot more than that to a lot of people. On the select songs you accent and emphasize the more reggae/ska sound, you also embody that style of music at its best as well. From what you’ve seen in the evolution of that sub-genre of reggae music, are there any bands that you guys have taken notice to or are there any bands that you would consider touring with?
Chris: The Interrupters are a major force right now. We all actually became close with them in Europe. We did three or four shows with them. They’re a band that you’re watching grow and get astronomically huge. It’s been really fun to watch that as time goes on.
Jason: It’s happening on a rad scale for them right now and it’s a super cool thing. Rancid is taking them under their wing, Green Day is as well and its awesome because they’re really such a great group of people and their sound is great. Every song you hear from them you’re like “that’s my favorite song!” “Wait, that’s my favorite song!” “Never mind, that’s my favorite song!” [Laughs]
The Pier: Sticking on the theme of reggae music and that sub-genre of reggae/rock/ska, we were wondering down at The Pier if any of you guys remember the first time you heard a Sublime song and what kind of impact it had on you?
Jason: We’ve been playing for a long time and they were such a strong influence on the entire reggae/ska/punk rock collaboration genre that’s happening right now. I don’t think anyone could deny that. I don’t remember exactly but it could have been “What I Got” on MTV. That introduced a lot of us to their band. After that, their music kind of spread like wildfire.
Chris: I saw them play at the “Weenie Roast” in 95’. I had never heard “Date Rape” even though that was what blew them up and got them on KROQ but the song that blew me away was when Gwen Stefani came out and they did “Saw Red.” I remember thinking, “this song is amazing!” It was everything you would want from a reggae/ska/punk/party band and it had all of the elements of what Authority Zero also does, which is the reggae/ska/punk thing. And Gwen’s voice, which is so unique added with Brad and the two meshed together so well. It was really cool to see.
Jason: Those were two rare vocalists. There was a video I saw, I think it was of No Doubt playing and Bradley came out and did a little cameo, free-styling an impromptu type of deal and the melodies that were going on were super powerful and they sounded so well thought-out without probably having thought it out at all.
The Pier: That is too cool, It’s really great to hear those stories about the early innovators in the genre. This next question is about the track, “Summer Sickness.” It’s an unbelievable song and we’re going to be featuring it as our “MP3 Leak of the Week” coming up here. It’s got a super cool sound starting out with the whistle in the intro…
Jason: Let’s talk about the whistle! Mikey take the reins!
Mike: I don’t really remember why you started whistling but we were doing pre-production at Underdog Studios here in Mesa. We were all there laying down music and then Jason and I went in for a couple weeks and just kind of worked on vocals and stuff and when we got to that song, Jason was whistling for whatever reason, but I don’t think he knew we were still tracking or that we could hear him in the control room or anything. I heard it and was thinking “well that’s bitchin’” and Kristen (owner/engineer/producer at Underdog) goes, “wait, you should whistle.” So you (Jason) ended up trying some shit and the more and more we heard it we were all thinking – “fuck…. We should whistle on a regular basis” [Laughs]
Jason: We never whistled on any song in the history of all of our songs so we were like “Well, why not?”
The Pier: It fits perfect and brings that Southwestern vibe. Dan, you even hit that acoustic strumming pattern during the intro to further create that Southwest feel and bring it all together.
Chris: Another thing that Dan did was bring in his buddy “Squids” who helped take the song to another level.
Dan: Well Mikey had come up with this melodic part and had heard it played on a horn. So my buddy Squids from Denver drove up to Fort Collins and brought a sax and a trumpet. He’d been laying down some parts on the saxophone and we were like “wait, we thought we talked about doing trumpet.” And he didn’t tell me until after he tracked the trumpet on the song, but he hadn’t played in over a year. He developed a callous on his lip that split and turned into a scar and he couldn’t create the embouchure, so he hadn’t actually picked up his trumpet in over a year. He showed up for the gig like “yeah, I’ll play trumpet but please just let me play sax and we’re like no, play the trumpet.” And he crushed it. [Laughs]
Dan: And that’s what you hear on the record. It was the first time he played the trumpet in over a year.
The Pier: That’s a pretty awesome story about the song! The lyrics seem reminiscent of the early trials and tribulations of the band, all while pushing a positive message of determination and perseverance. Would it be a stretch to say that this is one of the most auto-biographical songs in the catalogue? Does this song more or less chronicle the evolution and story of Authority Zero?
Jason: I think so and intentionally as well. There’s obviously references from “One More Minute,” “Revolution,” “Find Your Way,” “Mexican Radio.” It’s kind of talking about then to present time and what we’ve gone through and been through, while highlighting the situation that we are still really enjoying playing and that we have a lot of fun together. It references those things, kind of saying: “these were all a part of our history and here we are present day still doing a lot of those same things.”
The Pier: This is your guys’ first album on Bird Attack Records out of Jacksonville. Are you guys happy with that relationship?
Dan: We met Garret in Slovenia and then he came out to our show in Vegas with his wife who helps with everything at the label. I remember going and getting dinner with them and the next morning we all sat down in a casino and it was one of the only times in my life being in music where I sat down with someone across the table and had them say “I want to be a part of this project and here’s what I think I can bring to this team.” It was amazing.
Jason: He (Garret) saw the same vision that we were seeing. With the first couple of records it was the major label stuff and it was like “go sign this record label thing! Okay cool, right on. Now go put the records out.” But the way he communicated to us made it clear that we were all on the same page and we were back and forth bouncing ideas on how we wanted and hoped the direction of the record to go.
Chris: Everything we asked him, he didn’t hesitate at all. He just answered it to the point. He was very upfront and forward with us. There were never any question marks going through our heads.
The Pier: That’s certainly hard to find in today’s day and age. That’s pretty exceptional.
Dan: And all the bands that have signed up with them are a testament to what they are doing right now.
Chris: Legendary bands: Guttermouth, 88 Fingers Louie, Belvedere. All across the board these are bands that we respect and we love so it’s pretty awesome.
The Pier: What are the upcoming plans in regards to a tour for this album? Are you guys playing a big multi-city tour or is still in the developmental stage?
Mike: We’re planning for early August through the end of September and we’ll be in the states. Generally, since we’re here in Arizona, we take the 10 (I-10) heading east and start in Texas. We hit Louisiana, and generally spend a lot of time in Florida. Lately we’ve been spending more time on the east coast up north, which is kind of nice. So we’ll be making our way up and then we’ll go through the Midwest on our way back home and hopefully we’ll be able to see everyone. And I think we’re taking a band with us?
Jason: We think so. We’ve been talking about it but nothing is set in stone as far as someone jumping out with us or not.
The Pier: I know you guys get great reception in Japan. Who is the band that you guys play with over there? Did they come to the states to do a cross-promotional type of tour with you guys after you played there?
Dan: Hey-Smith. They’re a Japanese ska band out of Osaka…. Amazing.
Chris: Yeah, that’s the thing about it. When we went out there, I had only seen videos and knew they were really a great band but when we opened up for them I remember saying “I’m glad we’re not following this band, they are amazing.” And then when we set up this thing out here, I was like, “oohhhh… we need to practice!” [Laughs]
Jason: Yeah when they came out with us, we were like “shit, now we have to follow these guys!” They’re just a powerhouse of sound. They’re more than just a ska band… they’re like metal/ska/core… they’re like Metallica met Reel Big Fish and really meshed together. They’re super intense.
Mike: They kind of do what we do, in the sense that they try and not be defined by a specific genre. They just play and it ends up being what it is and it’s fantastic.
The Pier: We really appreciate the opportunity to catch up with you guys today and we’re looking forward to any new developments in the Authority Zero world. Congratulations from all of us on the release of your new record, Broadcasting to the Nations! You can purchase that album on iTunes by clicking HERE!
Listen: Authority Zero – “Summer Sickness”
Listen: Authority Zero – “First One In The Pit”