Exclusive Stream: Zig Zags Will Die Defending “Punk F**king Metal”
“We like heavy metal. We like punk rock. We don’t like anything else.” So says Zig Zags vocalist/guitarist Jed Maheu when asked about his band’s uncompromising sound. His reply goes a long way toward explaining Punk Fucking Metal, the opening track on the Los Angeles power trio’s third and latest album, They’ll Never Take Us Alive. Both the song and album have the kind of feral intensity and raw riffage that made early thrash milestones like Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All so deadly.
“When it comes to metal or punk, I’m not a fan of super-produced, super-tight recordings,” Maheu offers. “I want it to be raw, like old Judas Priest or Iron Maiden — the bands I liked 30 years ago and still like. Music is the one thing where my taste has not changed. I still haven’t found anything better than Metallica yet, you know? Everything else has gotten better in the world, except for that. So I’m just gonna stick with it.”
Sticking with what they like has served Zig Zags well. When their bass player split after the band’s last European tour, Maheu and drummer Dane Arnold simply enlisted their longtime recording engineer, Sean Hoffman. “Sean is into Van Halen and all that shit, so I actually asked him to play second guitar with us years ago,” Maheu says with a chuckle. “But he came to jam with us and was like, ‘I gotta level with you: You guys are too fucking sloppy for me.’ But when we lost our bass player, he stepped right up. Now that we have someone in the band who can actually fucking count, it’s helping a lot.”
What inspired the album title, They’ll Never Take Us Alive?
It came from the title track, which was inspired by those “troubled teens” movies from the ’70s, like Over The Edge. As a 40-year old man, that’s where I’m at in my life! It’s like, how much longer can I, as a 40-year old man, be in a band called Zig Zags and have a song called Punk Fucking Metal without it just being completely ridiculous? So we’re just gonna keep doing it. If people think that’s lame or immature, I don’t give a shit. They’ll never take us alive.
Having Punk Fucking Metal as the opening track seems like a statement of intent. Is that how you meant it?
For sure. I was tired of telling people what kind of band we are, because our first record was on In The Red, which is a garage rock label, and then our second record was on Castle Face, and they have their own thing, and now we’re on a quote-unquote “stoner rock” label, Riding Easy. But we’re a punk metal band.
Some of your new songs, like Killer Of Killers and Fallout, have a distinct Kill ‘Em All feel, which is a difficult vibe to capture. Even your guitar tone is similar to early Metallica. I’m guessing that wasn’t an accident…
No. [laughs] I saw some Facebook comment someone made about us that was like, “This reminds me of when heavy metal first came out — terrible production and the guitars sound like shit. They’re not even playing in time with the drummer.” And I couldn’t really argue with any of those points except for, you know, Who’s your band? [laughs] But I basically tried to use the gear that Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth used when they started out. I didn’t use any new fucking gear or any computer shit. I just wanted to do it the way they did and see what happened.
Is the song Ms. 45 inspired by the great Abel Ferrara revenge flick from ’81?
Yes, and that’s our version of the Me Too movement. Back in our day, if some dude fucked with a girl that was a friend of ours, we’d just go beat the shit out of him. We didn’t publicly shame him on Twitter or something like that. So that’s our Me Too song.
You’re heading back to the UK and Europe in May. The last time you were there was pretty rough, wasn’t it?
Yeah, I got really sick with a lung infection. It was definitely one of those situations where it was like, “Am I maybe dying?” I don’t wanna make it sound dramatic, but it was really scary. I felt worse than I’ve ever felt in my life, and I was in a van, and we had a show every night for two more weeks. We played 33 shows in a row, no days off, and I had the lung infection for the last two weeks. I was coughing up blood everyday. I was miserable. But the thing I learned on that tour is: Always bring your own microphone so you don’t suck in all the opening bands’ gross spit.
Listen to Zig Zags’ They’ll Never Take Us Alive in full before its release this Friday:
Zig Zags’ They’ll Never Take Us Alive drops this Friday, May 10th, via Riding Easy Records, and is available for preorder.
The band is on the road in Europe right now, with dates in Mexico to follow, so make sure to go pure punk fucking metal at one of the following shows:
08 Erfurt, DE @ Tiko
09 Marburg, DE @ Knubbel Marburg
10 Karlsruhe, DE @ Alte Hackerei
11 Cham, DE @ L.A. Live Style Cafe
12 Lugano, CH @ LSD
14 Valence, FR @ Mistral Palace
15 Lyon, FR @ Trokson
16 Paris, FR @ Supersonic
17 Rotterdam, NL @ V11
18 Lohr am Main, DE @ Umsonst und Drinnen Festival
19 Eindoven, NL @ Dynamo
21 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
22 Margate, UK @ Elsewhere
23 Charleroi, BE @ Rockerill
24 Harlem, NL @ Patronaat
25 Groningen, NL @ Vera
07 Los Angeles, CA @ The Factory - album release show
14 San Francisco, CA @ Eli’s Mile High Club
16 Portland, OR @ Highwater Mark
17 Seattle, WA @ Belltown Yacht Club
21 Nevada City, CA @ TBA
22 Ventura, CA @ Red Cove
27 Tijuana, MX @ Moustache Bar
28 Tecate, MX @ Licores La Esmeralda
29 Mexicali, MX @ Taberna Lebaron
06 Nikolsdorf, AT @ Sticks & Stone Festival
07 Wien, AT @ Venster99
09 Bratislava, SK @ Kulturak Klub
10 Berlin, DE @ Toast Hawaii
11 Hamburg, DE @ Komet
12 Erfurt, DE @ Stoned from The Underground
13 Ludwighsafen, DE @ Ein Schoner Tag im Freien
16 Madrid, ES @ Wurlitzer Ballroom
17 Barcelona, ES @ Rocksound
19 Helsinki, FI @ Hori Smoku Summer Boogaloo 2019
20 Den Haag, NL @ Grauzone Summer Special
24 Sheffield, UK @ Record Junkie
26 Lille, FR @ La Gare Saint Sauveur
31 Koln, DE @ Stollwerck
03 Schierling, DE @ Labertal Festival
04 Slavonice, CZ @ Barak
08 Santarem, PT @ InStr
09 Moldeno, PT @ Sonic Blast Moldeno
09 Austin, TX @ Levitation Festival
Fans won’t get to hear The Pretty Reckless’ Death By Rock And Roll in full until next year…
Kerrang! Heavy Trivia will test your knowledge of rock and metal to its fullest, while raising a glass of Iowa No. 9 (naturally)