The Bucket Playlist’s interview with The Zebecks

‘Our song’s dark and grungy… I randomly put my fingers in places on the guitar that sounded nice!’

by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist

Elgin, Scotland-based energetic and jangly indie rock band, The Zebecks, will unleash their debut EP, ‘Out of the Dust’ on 6 August.

The bands consists of Daniel Thomson (vocals and rhythm guitar), Hayden Peace (lead guitar), Max Robertson (bass) and Aiden Smith (drums). Thomson and Smith have been friends since they were small and met Peace in high school, who happened to know Robertson. Their name is something of a happy accident: ‘We were in a record shop looking at band names, we got to the ‘Z’ section, they had ZZ Top and The Zutons and afterwards we looked up words beginning with ‘Z’,’ Smith said.

‘It’s a mix of the different influences we have’

‘Out of the Dust’ comprises five tracks, ‘Violet’ and ‘Concrete’, from which the album title comes, both of which have already been released as singles. In addition, the EP features an instrumental track, ‘Aztec Gold’ and ‘Phoney Town’: ‘It’s a demo, so people would expect it to be raw but it’s quite varied, it’s a mix of the different influences we have,’ Thomson said.

‘Violet’ was written by Thomson in the summer of 2019 and was inspired by the lessons and experiences he learned as a teenager. ‘I was walking back from my girlfriend at the time’s house, I saw a really nice sunset and wanted to write about it,’ he said. ‘Originally, it was slower until Aiden wrote the drum part!’ Robertson then embellished the root note bass riff, which completely transformed the song, they said.

It kicks off with a jangly guitar line: ‘The goodbyes and the skies of violet then the summer night went dark and quiet. She said “You gotta wake up”. I said “You gotta look back”. She said “We gotta break up”. I said “Babe, I don’t want that” but I got all of your colour stuck in my head.’

They shot the video to ‘Violet’ on Roseisle Beach in Moray, decked out in colourful shirts that give them a summery vibe: ‘The plan was to film it on a nice sunny day in Scotland,’ Thomson laughed. ‘But you don’t get many of those in Scotland!’

‘I was really inspired by Fontaines D.C.’s single ‘I Don’t Belong’

‘Concrete’, on the other hand, is very much a product of lockdown: ‘The thing about ‘Concrete’ is that it’s the one we wrote most recently,’ Thomson said. ‘We wrote it in lockdown when we couldn’t get together. I was really inspired by Fontaines D.C.’s single ‘I Don’t Belong’. Our song’s dark and grungy, the chords are quite weird power chords – I randomly put my fingers in places on the guitar that sounded nice! The bass is the second instrument to come in, it builds and builds.’

The song is about moving away from home and all the uncertainty that brings. ‘I moved to Glasgow for uni in September, Aiden did, too, so it’s about that, moving away and growing up, the dynamics with your family and relationships,’ Thomson said. ‘In the video we did for it, there’s not a single shot where we’re all together because of restrictions.’

As the song goes: ‘Out of the dust, I fall further than ever before. You choose to justify it and I choose to ignore. My soul on a sleeve. My life on a leash. Oh no, I’m flying again, never as high as I’ve been before.’

My favourite track on the EP is ‘Aztec Gold’ which erupts with a hooky, jangly bass riff and the lines “Well, I think I’ve found my Aztec Gold, with kings and queens I will not fold. I want you and you alone to hold and forgive me if I’m being too bold.”

‘It’s the only song I wrote with the boys in the room’

‘Dan came up with the guitar line, it’s very rhythm-driven,’ Smith said. Thomson agrees: ‘It’s the only song I wrote with the boys in the room, I got a couple of verses down in rehearsals. It’s the one song I couldn’t tell you what it’s about, it just came out of me. I was inspired by The Beatles, there’s also a bit of aggression behind it and other random stuff that comes together.’

The last track on the EP, ‘Phoney Town’, references growing up in a small town in Scotland: ‘It’s rooted in the fact that we’re from somewhere with a small town mentality,’ Thomson said. ‘It’s about clowns, so it’s about a place that feels too serious and trying to make it less serious by chucking a clown in it! It’s a curveball!’ I tell them that the song would make for a great video because there’s a real story behind it. ‘Oh yeah,’ Smith laughed. ‘There’s a lot of directions we could go in!’ As they set the story in the intro: ‘ Well, I took my shoes to a phoney town and I saw your face on a lonely clown. He had a fag in his mouth and a frown on his lips. I took a drag from it now and the sun, it eclipsed.’

Musically, they’re all fans of The Libertines, who they are going to see in December. ‘Our guitarist, he likes Mac DeMarco and shoegazey stuff,’ Smith said. Thomson has other influences: ‘I’m quite into punk like The Sex Pistols, Idles and Joy Division. We’ve been inspired by different bands and that’s why all our songs sound different, we don’t wear just one thing on our sleeve.’ Thomson’s favourite guitarist is Joe Strummer from The Clash: ‘I’m a rhythm guitarist and rhythm guitarists get overlooked,’ he said. ‘Joe Strummer couldn’t play lead guitar. He could have five fingers on the guitar or none at all!’ Smith’s favourite drummer turns out to be Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys: ‘I learned so much from listening to them,’ he said.

Locally, they are fans of indie rock band New Mode and The Roov, who they describe as a disco band and whom they’ve supported. ‘We moved down to Glasgow for the music scene,’ Thomson said. ‘Me and Aiden went to see The Snuts, they were amazing, it was in a small venue in Aberdeen. I bumped into Jack (their lead singer) in Glasgow and got a photo with him, it was a real fan boy moment for me. I’d like to see Glasvegas as well (a Scottish rock band).’

If they could hear one of their songs on any TV show, Smith picks Peaky Blinders. Thomson has other ideas: ‘I think our music would sit really well on the Skins soundtrack (a British teen comedy-drama series that followed the lives of a group of teenagers in Bristol), all the tracks on there encapsulate the show. They play songs by smaller bands, so it would be great for us!’

(Photo from left to right: Hayden, Aiden, Max and Daniel)

this story first appeared on: https://inthebucketplaylist.com/ on July 17th 2021

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