Interview with vocalist Jason DeVore
By John B. Moore
Just a year and a half shy of their 20th anniversary, Arizona punks Authority Zero certainly have no problem changing up their sound a bit.
Their fifth and latest full length, The Tipping Point, digs up traditional punk rock influences and combines them with a little more reggae and rock that many have come to expect from the last couple of offerings. The new sounds were coaxed out of the band with the help of producer Cameron Webb (Motorhead, Pennywise, Social Distortion). The result is certain to appease longtime fans of the group and likely bring over new converts as well.
Singer Jason DeVore spoke recently about the influences of the new record, working with Webb and the addition of a new drummer and guitarist Brandon Landelius.
Stories of Survival didn’t come out that long ago. Are you guys going through a prolific period?
I suppose you could say we are. We just recently released our second live acoustic album as well just before entering the studio to start demos on The Tipping Point. A lot has happened and continues to happen in the crazy world of Authority Zero. Continually inspired both inside and outside of the band, and equally driven by the positive and negatives of each day. We have newly added members that were extremely insightful and came to the table with fresh new ideas as well which has caused a new spark and inspiration.
What can you tell me about the songs on this one?
The songs on this album are extremely driven, high energy, and honest. They were written with a great deal of excitement during a time of added confusion and resistance if that makes any sense. You can feel the tension in the songs, as well as the life and sense of urgency as well. The range of sounds and musical dynamic is a bit of the new and a bit of the old, but something completely new and fresh. We tried to open up new gateways on this one and let things just come together and happen if they felt good and were happening. Extremely excited to get this one out to fans of our past music.
The record definitely has a different vibe to it. Was that a conscious decision?
Not at all. We basically wanted to make a record that had power, paid homage to our past musical catalogue and history, that our fans could relate to and appreciate (but certainly not make the same record we’ve made time and again), and above all make it honest and something we would be stoked on. The elements are all still there, we just tried to be more creative and outside of the box with them. That’s what’s great about the whole process in hopes to grow as a group is experimenting with exciting new sounds and dimension of the music you love. I feel we really accomplished above and beyond our aspirations from when we first began the writing process with this record.
Were you listening to anything particular when writing this one?
Just as prior records, I really try not to listen to a whole lot of music while writing to be sure to make it as honest as possible. This go round I think it was about the same although I definitely popped on the occasional Against Me! some new Pennywise and some Gaslight Anthem. Those are a few that stand out as bands that were really in my ears within the process. There are times that you’d write a certain way and say, “oh shit, I just heard that damn song….sounds awfully familiar, scratch it! Back to square one.” That was more in the beginning phases though. As the writing process rolled on and the songs took on a life of their own they shaped into something completely different than had initially started. It’s a fun process seeing them morph. Kind of surprises you in the end.
What was it like working with Cameron Webb? What made you choose him for this record?
We chose Cameron through a recommendation from the Pennywise guys. Right as we’d had our minds up to go a different direction, we were swayed otherwise to give it a chance and a new experience. I’m stoked we got to work with him. We’d spoke together on working on the last record (Stories of Survival) but things didn’t work out and we just weren’t sure at the time. This go round we thought we’d give something and someone different a shot. After all that’s what a lot of this is all about. Cameron is a different kind of monster, but in a good way. He works in a very abstractly influential way. At first you’re kind of like, I don’t get what he’s doing or asking me to do, or is he actually even asking me to attempt what I think he is? (Laughs) He’s very, very good at what he does and has a unique method of getting the best out of you. The great thing about it is you really don’t realize it’s happening so you can get frustrated and start to stress yourself out. Like it’s inside of you somewhere and he knows it, but you just brain fart and feel you don’t know how to get it out. Once again, in the end you do and you’re somewhat amazed at the end result that you even did it.
This is your first record with Sean (Sellers) and Brandon (Landelius). How do their additions change the band’s dynamic?
They are both very professional and great seasoned musicians from different areas of music. Sean obviously being from Good Riddance and Real McKenzies brought a lot of power and fire to the drums as well as technicality. Brandon comes from and old school Black Flag/Decedents punk scene, but also plays in a jazz surf rock band. All these elements combined with our old school and individual tastes and experience have made for a great collaboration. They have a fresh new fire and excitement to them to write, perform, and be the best they and us collectively as a group can a day to day basis. They equally want to deliver each show as if it were their last and give the kids that show up to the shows what they deserve.
You guys are just a couple of years away from your 20th anniversary. Does the band plan on celebrating in any way?
Nothing yet but keep your eyes out! I’m sure we’ll try and put something rad together.
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