The CD of Anthony Zaro was quite a surprise for me, I hadn't heard anything of Anthony Zaro and so the high quality of the album took me by surprise. So I took the chance to send Anthony a couple of questions... Here we go!
If I would have heard Anthony Zaro on the radio, I would have bet it's an American band / artists. What are your influences? Which bands impressed you and led you that way?
For me it's always difficult when people try to judge me and my music by just one album. If you are a songwriter you see yourself differently, coz you have all the ideas and even some unwritten songs in you. And so you are ahead of the current release. But I admit that From A To Z partly sounds American. On the other hand there are songs like Betrayed Me or How It Ends which are based on British rhythms and some harmonies are close to Russian folk songs. I was at the International School in Stuttgart and so I speak American English. I would describe my music as multi-cultural and I think that describes me as well. I'm not a rocker from L.A., my roots are scattered from allover Europe - from East to West. But I listened to bands like Aerosmith... These days I think that the Beatles are my main influence. In the past I listened a lot to the Beatles, but when you see us live, you get a blend of reggae, blues, funk and rock. You will hear references to James Brown and other legends who also influenced me and my music. I think as a young artist I am, the orientation is still in me. From A To Z is a good 'compilation' of what I wrote the last 2-3 years. But 2-3 years are a long time in the life of a 23-yrs. old and so there is progress. I keep writing and leave it up to the listener - and it's background - to categorize my music. I won't commit myself to anything yet...
How did you find the other guys? And how long did it take you til you entered the stage together?
With Pierre, my drummer, I'm working right from the start of the Anthony Zaro-project. We met incidentally, but it was guiding me... us. He's the kind of drummer who combines groove and emotions and that make the songs come alive. In 2007 we tried out several line-ups, then Nick (bass) joined us. Nick and Pierre played together in a band at age 14, so it was a kind of reunion for them. Kaiser (guitar) we got in touch with through an online forum and since the end of 2007 this is the line-up. We started full force and played live, we just had 3 weeks to prepare our first live show. Mid-2008 we found time to take a breath and for 3 months we worked at the arrangements of the songs and the live set. We are a young band, but our time together was very intense.
You took part in some competitions and one got you on the billing of Rock am Ring 2008. Please tell us a bit about this experience!
The year 2008 was a very good year for us and we played a lot live - regarding our status as newcomers and that we have only a short history. But that was our intention, we wanted to rock the stages! That was also our motto when we played competitions and it worked out. Beside playing Rock am Ring - we were in the top 20 of more them 1,200 bands applying for it... and it was an amazing show - we got into the top 10 at all the live competitions we did! Lately we won 'Baden-Württembergs Best' of HitRadio Antenne 1, a competition where you had to present unplugged versions of your songs.
The album was recorded with guitarist and producer Andy Susemihl. How was it to work with him? And will you work together in future?
My publisher Oliver Alexander called me one day and told me about Andy and that I should contact him about a cooperation. At that time I was quite busy and so I forgot about it. A few months later I found the note with Andy's phone number and called him. The next day I visited him in the studio and instead of going to know each other we worked on some of my songs. Sometimes you meet someone and it feels just right - and that's how it was with Andy. It felt right and with his experience and feeling for music he was able to understand what I, a young songwriter, wanted to express. We worked on the songs for quite a while, and we didn't made any compromises. We have the same philosophy. I think this wasn't the last time we worked together and that From A To Z wasn't the last album we did together. We became friends and we stay in touch.
Was it difficult for you get find a platform here in Germany? We don't really have rock radio here...
It's the same everywhere. Allover the world the music markets are suffering from an overkill of bands / releases. With the songs from From A To Z we were presented at more then 40 radio stations nationwide, even some big ones like NDR and SWR aired them. We also did some interviews for radio. That's quite good for an independent band who had only a debut released.
As a newcomer you have to do one step after another, you have to build up a team you can work with for a long time. Sure, the band is most important, but also the people you work with. For me the most important thing is that the people who saw as live, remember us and so to build up a following. Radio 'success' is just a gimmick now. To expect people to go crazy about us just because they heard us a few times on radio is naive. You get attention when the people feel that you do everything to reach out. And that needs a lot patience as well as organization and sometimes incidents, beside that you need time to work on songs, to develop as a band and to grow with the people you work with. Sometimes I have to force myself to slow down, you can't do everything at a time. Everybody I work with understands this and nobody is about 'the quick buck', something which is impossible for a newcomer. Specialized radio channels won't do it, you have to deliver quality instead of hot steam - and sooner or later the people will pay attention. For me sustainability is the key to success, even in a short-lived business like the music genre.
Do you think there is a chance for you to get on the American market? Have you got some reactions from the States through MySpace?
Like I said, it just works, if you do it step by step and for us it starts here in Germany, not in San Francisco. Sure, there will be a lot people in the States who will like my music, but they like my music here as well. Nobody left running after one of our shows thinking 'what a bullshit!' And in America the competition is much bigger then here. People always think it's easy, coz the German market is flooded with imports, but I think that's excuses people use when they fail. Beside that I think my background the Russian market or any Eastern European market is more suitable and so I would try to expand to that markets. Everybody looks to America and forget about other music which is great, but for the Westerners harder to get.
The songs seem to deal with every-day-life... Do you want to write about something people are able to relate to? Or do you think that this kind of music isn't made for serious topics?
I think everybody who read the lyrics of Disappear won't say my lyrics are generally about daily life. Is it part of daily life to talk to your own soul? Or God? Beside that my songs sometimes have a kind of hidden message behind the every-day-story, some truth about us as human beings. Betrayed Me is a good example, if you get the irony and self-irony then you understand that people project their shallowness onto deep feelings, onto their whole life. 'May be it's time to admit once and forever: you're a pretty girl, but we just cannot share a life together'. That is the attitude towards life many people in this country do have. To try something and if it doesn't work, then try something else. They don't fight for their beliefs. In English you can easily tell the truth with only a few words. Sure, you need to know the language and that's something I expect from my fans. I like to talk with fans after a concert and I had some very interesting and partly even philosophical talks. I love it - and that's why I write songs!
Sure, all your songs are somehow special to you, but would you please name 2 which give people a good impression about From A To Z? Is there a songs which is important to you?
How It Ends: This one is about a spaced out artist who don't get along with women. The 'artist' presents himself totally overstated, but also in a funny way. Disappear (my favorite one!) is the total opposite - a song about someone full of self-doubt and doubts about what's important, essential in life. The 11 songs at my album From A To Z cover everything between the inner and outer world.
What's on the schedule for Anthony Zaro in 2009?
A lot of shows with the guys, new songs and even more hard work! I should also get my diploma done in aerospace engineering... And then I'll start to conquer the with Anthony Zaro the music scene at Neptune! But not before 2010, coz then the conditions for spaceflights are better for my self-constructed rocket! :)
Sounds good and perhaps Anthony Zaro will get us closer to the music of the East... Anyway, it's no waste of time to listen to the album and if you can catch them live, take your changes. Much more to come from Anthony Zaro!
I have to thank Anthony for his answers at full length and for his honesty. His answers show that some 23-years-old have higher goals then the next party!