Black Zeros are two Sydney kids — Joe Jackson and Matt Johnson — who make grimy garage music. If you dig super fast drums, screaming vocals and lyrics that transport you back to the pinnacle of your teenage years, it's safe to say you're on board. Their tunes on Bandcamp are tagged with descriptors like pop punk, punk, garage, indie, lo-fi and punk-ass rock wastebasket (?). But anyone who gets music — like really gets music, man — knows it's not about labels and pigeonholing, RIGHT? So be it punk-ass rock wastebasket or whatever other crazy genre, take a listen to their stuff, because it's actually really fun and great.
Last week Black Zeros went on a three day 'BZ Bender' tour, playing the Vice party at Goodgod in Sydney and the one in Melbourne at Liberty Social with New War, as well as a secret show in Sydney with Straight Arrows, Bloods and Gooch Palms. They kept a photo tour diary for us, and we also caught up with singer/guitarist Joe.
Melissa Kenny: Hello! I'd like to open with the same icebreaker you're likely to get from sleazes at the bar. What is your day job?
Joe Jackson: Matt definitely gets asked that question all the time by the sleazy men at bars. As for day jobs, Matt is a full time photographer which is pretty rad, and I just work at a button shop in Newtown.
And how did you two meet, is it a tale of aligning stars and fateful manoeuvres?
If by stars aligning and fateful manoeuvres you mean him marrying my sister then yes!
How did it come about that you're making music together?
Matt's always played drums and has kind of just been helping me out with Black Zeros... For six months now.
What's the funniest label you've every heard to describe the Black Zeros genre?
I don't know... We haven't really heard anything too funny but I guess people always say it sounds like it should be apart of a 90s movie soundtrack like Clueless or 10 Things I Hate About You, which are two of my favourite movies so I'm totally cool with that.
If I tell you that you must define your sound, how would you do that?
I wanted to make a genre called tropical-heatwave but it didn't really make any sense, especially with Black Zeros. But I once described our genre as being chilled-punk. I had definitely been drinking at that point though, and later realised chilled-punk can't really happen either. So now I guess I would soberly describe it as pop-punk.
What music did you listen to in your teen angst phase?
I'm totally going to claim that I'm still a teenager! So you could say punching walls alone in my bedroom and sighing a lot is still relevant. As for what music I listen to — probably a lot of garage bands like Black Jaspers, Interracial Love triangle, Cowabunga Babes, Party Fowl, Thee Oh Sees, Wavves, Happy Birthday, Jacuzzi Boys, and a lot of American garage while throwing in some sneaky Lana Del Rey and Gwe Stefani. And at the moment anything to do with Christmas is the go.
Would you rather bust in on your parents having sex or have them bust in on you?
Totally bust in on them for two reasons: a) hopefully I would be young enough to never remember it again ever, and b) because they would be the awkie ones that feel awkie not me.
Do you get many propositions romance-wise at your gigs? What are your tips for the best ways to navigate these scenarios?
Usually when I get off stage I'm Sweat Midler to the max and feel super awkward talking to people. So I guess that factors in with the best tip to avoid the romanticscenarios — sweat like a bitch and run.
What was the best show on your tour?
Goodgod for sure! I had all my friends there and people were getting pretty wild! Also lets not forget we 'practically' supported Diplo and Major Lazor — come on! Everyone had their clothes off on demand! I tried to crowd surf, but trust me dance music party people do NOT like that at all. Also we had never been interstate and I had never even been to Melbourne before so that was also a good show but it was more tame.
Getting free drinks. I never have money.
The frigging heat — it was a heatwave! Apparently when we were there it was the hottest day and night they had had in Melbourne in 100 years. Or so I hear.
What's next for you guys?
We got invited to play for the Queen, I don't think we're going to do it though. But we are supporting Blood Red Shoes with Step-Panther on the 4th of January at The Hi-Fi in Melbourne and then supporting our friends Bored Nothing on the 10th of January at FBI Social in Sydney.