Jasun Tipton - Zero Hour

October 24, 2006

When I talked with your brother, you guys had just released Towers Of Avarice I think it was.

Yeah, exactly.

What's been going on between then and now?

Well, obviously a couple of singer changes have happened since then. Now we have Chris who was formerly in the band Power Of Omens. Basically how it worked out is we contacted him to do some live shows and he was saying at the same time that Power Of Omens weren't really doing anything anymore. It just seemed like a good opportunity because he has a fantastic voice and he's a really nice guy. We knew we would work well together so we got him involved in the band and he's in the band now. We've just been writing and doing a lot. We've been playing out and getting ready to do some shows here pretty soon. Things have been really looking good for Zero Hour. We feel like our new album is definitely our strongest to date and we're just really excited about how everything is coming together so far.

So you didn't release anything in between?

We did. There was A Fragile Mind that we did release. It was released about 13 months ago actually and there was a different singer that was involved in that one. Yeah, I know it's crazy. You see, we were waiting for Erik who was just a great vocalist, lyricist, and everything.

Yeah, because I have that record.

Yeah, Towers Of Avarice was just an awesome disc. We waited for a very long period for Erik to come in and do the tracks. We actually finished our tracks Troy, Mikey, and I in late 2002 or very early 2003 and over a year had gone by and Erik didn't even finish half of the album tracking wise. We were wondering what was going on here and Erik went through a pretty bad period. His mom passed away with leukemia and we would always contact him for a band meeting and he would get back to us maybe every two out of 10 emails or phone calls. I think he wanted to do it but I just think he didn't have the energy or he was just going through a really bad state for himself and he couldn't get together to finish the album.

It's pretty hard when you have a death in the family like that . It takes a long time to get over that and sometimes you just don't have the heart.

Yeah, I'm still in contact with him and he just said he's trying to get his life back on track and he's a good guy. I loved his vocals and I loved what he did with our band and unfortunately he couldn't continue because we arranged a meeting to talk to him about getting things together and he didn't even show up.

Oh shit.

Yeah, it just got to the point where in order for Zero Hour to stay as a band we had to continue with a different singer. Then we had this one guy that we were using for A Fragile Mind. Once we recorded the album with him we knew that things just wouldn't work out being with him on the road and doing things in the future so right away we just started thinking we need to get a guy we know we would get along on the road with. A guy we can depend on for doing album after album with us. Just looking for a constant future with a band and Chris was the right guy for us to do it with.

Absolutely because you can't wait around.

Yeah, exactly. Right now it feels great because we've been getting a very positive response and you don't want people to forget about you. You stay out of the game for a while, all the excitement just wears off. We're just happy that the album is being well received and we're just going to do as much as we can to go out and support this album and also looking forward to getting more CDs put out in the future.

Well, you guys put out this album Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond. Tell me a little bit about the record like how you came up with the title and all that.

The title is a guy who basically his brain is distorted with all the images of trying to remember from his past but basically they've just faded away. When we were coming across with the cover of the album, we wanted Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond and as you can see it's a guy who's holding a picture and it's in flames. It's disintegrating and it's very depressing looking at the cover if you may say because it has the feel of like when I was explaining to the artist what I wanted, I said I want something that had the industrial flat of something that's in England that's very dark looking. You can tell by the weather, it's very dark and cloudy and you see instead of rain basically you see all of these pictures being burnt that's sticking to the buildings, all over the floor. It's coming out from the sky and this guy is holding a picture and it's on fire. It's just specs of pictures burnt. Basically memories in his brain that he once had that he's trying to remember but it's being burnt beyond I guess is the best way you can say it.

When you guys did Towers Of Avarice, that was a concept sort of thing if I remember correctly.

Yeah, it was.

Is this a concept sort of thing too or did you guys go in a different direction on this record?

No, it's not a concept. It's just a bunch of short stories if you may say. We love conceptual CDs and we may do it in the future but this one, when we were writing it we were just going song by song. We were just doing a very organic process of going into the studio and just jamming material out. It's just what it came down to. We like going in thinking there are no boundaries to our music. To the material. So we weren't thinking "we're going to format it and have a verse here, a chorus, then a verse again. Maybe a bridge back to a chorus." We decided whatever the song calls for that's what we're going to go for. So some of them are very long compositions and have the mix of where you have a lot of technical material put in and then it goes into a totally different format where you have clean tone passages and it makes the music more dynamic and I feel like when you're listening to the material, you can listen to it for as many listens because you'll find something new with it. And that's what I like with material. I like to think you have the CD and you can listen to it even five years from now. You can put it on and you say "man, this is a cool CD. I'm hearing something that gives me the chills." Instead of yeah, you listen to it three times and that's the end of that disc. That's what's kind of cool. What we try to achieve with Zero Hour's material is just that it keeps the brain thinking and you there's so much to the material that you can get that cold, dark moment. Then you can get the really beautiful, lush, clean tones with the beautiful vocals. It's all over the place on material I would say.

Your music is so huge anyway.

Right on, right on.

It's so technical and stuff. It's always amazing to listen to that because I still pull out the Towers Of Avarice CD every once in a while.

Yeah, I love that CD. That's a great CD.

I think it's great when somebody can sit there and say that they like their own music because a lot of times people are like "oh my God, I can't stand to listen to that anymore." But you put it out.

Yeah, exactly. We were interested in bands back in the day like of course King Crimson and Pink Floyd where they had long compositions and then Pat Metheny Group. They're a jazz band but they have a lot of prog elements where they have long compositions and everything is very dynamic. Then you have so many bands that influence you as well like Cynic, Dream Theater, Tool, Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan, and all those different styles like new age, classical, jazz, and metal all into one. I think I answered that one. The thing is, there's so much you want to say and you try to do it with a few sentences here and stuff like that but you can really go deep into what the band is all about but that interview would take two hours probably.

I've had some interviews like that before.

Well, there you go.

Stuff like that always come out good. What were you guys thinking about when you decided to do this new record apart from just having diverse material?

I think what we were just trying to do is just throw the whole kitchen sink at the listeners. Just give the best of our abilities and also push ourselves not trying to make it easy in any way because sometimes it can take us two weeks to figure out a part that's just 45 seconds into a song. We're really meticulous in what we put on the album because there is a lot of material that does get scrapped. For this album there's probably 30 minutes of material that we ended up just saying "aw man, that just doesn't sound right." What we tried to do is jam out the material and push ourselves all over the place and in the end you try to find material when you listen to it back if it totally grabs you. If you say "okay, I can see where this is going and I can appreciate this and think is going to be really long lasting material" and then there is some stuff where you go "man, that's just throwing a bunch of stuff and it's not even making any sense. We're scrapping that song." We were really just really meticulous into the jamming process, making it organic, and listening back and making sure we like it ourselves. I think that was the best way we formatted this material.

Well, if you could pick three songs off of the record that you feel really describes the band as it is now, what three songs do you think those would be?

Okay, that's pretty easy actually. "The Falcon's Cry" is just an amazing song. It's very deep and it's all over the place. You can hear the vocals where it has whispers and it's almost like a keyboard at times where it's layering over the music being another instrument and then you have the vocals also telling the story. That one goes a little deep for me because my brother helped write the lyrics with a guy that we were working with at the time. This guy Shawn who we ended up keeping the lyrics and my brother how he went on a trip to Oregon and took a drive up this hill and it was pitch dark and when he got to the top of the hill there was this breathtaking view he could see. We remembered a similar story where a buddy of ours named Manny, his dad was suffering from Parkinson's Disease and they said he can't do anything anymore. He can't drive and he can't do this and he didn't want to believe into that because everything was very depressing. They'd make him go to these meetings and he just didn't want to do this anymore. He went out and bought a motorcycle. When he was younger he used to always ride his motorcycle up this hill and get to the top where he saw this beautiful view and he did it and he just started crying and feeling like they told him he couldn't do this. He wanted to just prove to himself he can do it one last time. To just ride his motorcycle up to the hill and just see something beautiful that's something that we take for granted sometimes. It's a pretty powerful song if you listen to it that way. Then there's "Evidence Of The Unseen" which is just a fantastic track. I think it really displays the musicians in the band, what exactly we're all about. Like they incorporate the technical stuff and also get really metal chunky if you might say with the riffs where you can bang your head to because we are a prog metal band. Then you have these beautiful clean tone passages where you have the vocals doing a bunch of different things as well where you have a whisper here and then a voice joins making almost a chant and those two songs are very powerful. I like them all but the third one. It's like saying which child do you like best. I hate to do it that way. "Face The Fear" is a good track too. Really just sonically how that came together. The production on that is amazing and how all the instrumentation interacts because that would be the most technical track I would say on the album. Or "Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond" is extremely technical too where it has that insane bass and guitar formatted soloing process that goes into the middle of the song. I really like "Embrace" as well where it has sort of the Middle Eastern sounding acoustic going on with the chording on that and then you have a Chinese scale going against a panatonic scale where they're harmonizing each other and you have the vocal chanting of Chris. Check out the album and you'll understand. That's hard to just pick three songs now but hopefully that's the best way I can answer that one.

You guys always go all out though.

Yeah, but we try. We really try. We enjoy doing this music. We would be faking it doing some other type of music. We love doing progressive metal material and that's not really the in thing to do is being a prog metal band. It's something we love being a part of and we love writing and creating music. It's something we'll be doing for a while here.

Prog metal does have a huge fan base so you don't always have to be into the in thing.

Yeah, that's true. What is great is that the fans are so loyal. It's funny. You can be playing a few shows and they'll go from show to show. They'll travel miles to come see you at the next show and it's great because it keeps the genre alive and the support is much needed so we can keep continuing to do these CDs. We don't make a lot of money doing this. If we were saying we're making a living we would have been out of this a long time ago but it does help that they go out and do this so we can still keep creating by them purchasing the CDs. We can still keep doing this.

You and your brother put out an instructional DVD.

Yes, we did this with Chops From Hell and it came out awesome. Both of the DVDs. My brother and I were actually taping each other while we were doing the project and kind of critiquing each other but it's great because you always think of when you were kids and you were watching instructional videos before and you're thinking "man, it would be awesome to do something like this." Troy and I were approached to do this. I remember Bobby from Out World actually brought it up and asked us if we ever thought of doing an instructional and yeah I think everybody thinks about it but actually doing it is another thing. Then Chris from Chops From Hell was excited for us to do it and the finished product came out awesome because we threw a ton of really cool licks together. We didn't go in saying "all right, we're just going to put a lot of filler information there." I think we're proud to say that I think every lick you can gain something out of and apply it to your playing and make it your own. There are a lot of good formats on both the DVDs that I think people would benefit out of so we're very proud of doing it.

Well, I guess you guys are going to do a little bit of touring here coming up. I guess it's just going to be a little jaunt to the East Coast I guess.

Yeah, we're going to go to Texas and do something there. We're going to New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and we're just going to do some shows which we're very excited about. We just want to do whatever we can to support our new release and this is the first time we're going to be out on the East Coast. We're excited about it, yeah. We're excited about it. Then in April we look to be going to Europe and doing a festival and some touring out there. We're trying to push ourselves to get back out and do as much as we can and there are a couple of other festivals that have gotten in touch with us and we'll see if we can work those out because we'd like to play anything we can get our hands on.

Oh, I bet. I wish you guys could do a larger tour in the U.S.

Oh yeah, that would be awesome. We're going to try as hard as we can to make something happen. It's not east to get a prog metal bill out there because you have a lot of other bands in these different genres who can get together and set up a tour. I tried contacting some progressive bands and it's tough. A lot of them do have day jobs and things so it's tough in that way but we want to go out there. The only way you're going to see if people are accepting your material and gain some new fans is going out there and trying it out. We're willing to do that.

That sounds good.

Yeah, it should be cool. We love doing it so why not.

I guess Sensory Records has a full length version of "Evidence Of The Unseen" for people to listen to.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. There is a full length version on the Laser CD. It's the Laser CD Group and you can go and check it out. I believe it's www.lasercd.com and then he's got sound files or www.lasercdgroup.com. Definitely check out "Evidence Of The Unseen". That's a powerful track. I think it's over eight minutes long so you'll be able to get a nice listen of what we're all about. If you definitely dig that, you'll definitely dig the album.

Well, good deal. You should definitely have people do that.

Yeah, exactly.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Just thanks to everybody who has been supporting us and we're coming out to the East Coast. We'd love to see everybody if they can check out www.zerohourweb.com or our MySpace page, www.myspace.com/zerohourband. You can find also the links at our website and it will tell you all the information about the shows we're doing and we'd love to see you all out there. Come up to us. We're all very approachable cats and it's going to be a lot of fun.

You and your brother sound so much alike.

Yeah, we're twins so that's what will do it. Yeah, we're pretty dead on. Even my mom gets us confused. We're pretty good on that on the phone.

Thanks so much for the interview.

No thank you so much. We appreciate you spreading the word about us. That's metal.

Zero Hour