Following the release of their latest EP ‘Mainstream Propoganda‘, we got to have a chat with the previously BBC Introducing backed group, Big Zero about their music style, somewhat old-school recording process and exciting future plans!
So your latest EP, Mainstream Propaganda is now out, how does this EP differ from your earlier releases? What ideas are the EP based around?
Our last EP, “Escape from Uncanny Valley”, was our take on how humans are utilising technology in the modern world and what the future held for robotics. With ‘Mainstream Propaganda’, BIG ZERO has turned their safety-goggled attention to the way society is using communication, the media and advertising to create a conforming consumer culture; these themes are most prominently felt in ‘Buy Synthetic’ and ‘Turn Up Your Radio’. Interlaced within the EP is ‘Disco at the End of the World’, a jovial tune discussing the apocalypse as described by a mixture of scripture and thermodynamics, and ending with ‘Mental Arithmetic’, a historical look at the impact of the number 0 on human progress; as Tobias Danzig said “In the history of culture the discovery of ZERO will always stand out as one of the greatest single achievements of the human race.”
How did the recording process go? I heard you guys do something quite different when recording and shooting new material…
Here at ZERO HQ we like to resurrect dead formats. Starting with the recording process, we like to record everything played live directly into an 8-track cassette recorder. The limitations of the 8 track really work for us and force us to focus on capturing the best full band performance.
From there we transfer the recordings into the computer for extra production and mixing, but by starting on the tape it gives the tracks an extra level of analogue magic.
BIG ZERO have always concentrated their efforts on making their music videos distinct, often shot on old school VHS cameras, what got you started you off on this tradition?
We’re huge fans of old sci-fi/horror movies, and really wanted to bring some of that texture to our videos…but with no budget.
The way we see it, everyone now has access to a high quality digital video camera on their smartphones, so for us to present something different we look to obsolete technology.
Using VHS cameras and tape takes a lot longer, and we’ve suffered from tapes snapping and getting chewed up in the camera (we kept some of the damaged footage in the video for ‘Hardwired’ right at the very end) but it’s totally worth it.
The lead single ‘Tear It Up and Start Again‘ was released on Record Store Day, do you guys feel that their is a significance in the recent rise in vinyl as a form of listening to music?
As avid cassette and vinyl collectors ourselves, we believe the rise of vinyl was inevitable; humans can only handle characterless functionality and clinical ease of use for so long. There’s nothing sexy about a CD, it’s just a glorified USB stick; you can hold a piece of vinyl, you get no such comfort from a download. Art is what made us distinct from our hominid brothers and sisters, and the comfort of holding and owning something is a basic human desire. The reanimation of ‘dead’, physical formats was inevitable.
Tell us about the abstract television mini-series that is being released right now, reminds me of something out of the Mighty Boosh!
Towards the end of last year we were driving to a show and listening to ‘Please Please Me’ by The Beatles. We started talking about how great that record sounds and how quickly it was all recorded. So we challenged ourselves to write and record a BIG ZERO Rock N Roll album in three weeks (two weeks writing, one week recording). We met our deadline and the next logical step was obvious; book flights to the Spanish Tabernas Desert and shoot an episodic, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, future-western adventure series. It was just the three of us, 3 vhs cameras, a tripod, a rental car and a whole load of ideas. We stayed in a cave in the middle of nowhere and sneaked into different desert locations everyday. We didn’t realise until we arrived that the locations had been used to film scenes from Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones.
What’s in store for BIG ZERO next then?
Our new EP ‘Mainstream Propaganda’ was released on iTunes on May 20th through Do Yourself In Records, and we’ll be releasing a limited cassette shortly after on Tapeheads Recs.
In May and June we have been invited to open up at a couple of shows for one of our big influences – weirdo pop legends Bis!
- May 27th – The Deaf Institute, Manchester (with Bis)
- June 10th – Sub89, Reading (with Bis)
- July 16th – Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading (with Bennet)
New EP ‘Mainstream Propoganda‘ is OUT NOW. Give it a listen on iTunes.