Photo Credit: Zinskē
Sounding Board: So how did Zinskē come together? Did you all grow up with music?
Chris: I started playing music when I was twelve, I just an active fan of music starting around twelve or thirteen. I’ve played guitar regularly since then and writing songs since around that time.
Emily: I started off by playing piano when I was five, but started with guitar around thirteen or fourteen cause I saw Josie and The Pussycats, like the live action films. I’m serious- that’s why I wanted to form a band because I was like “look, they are girls and they’re best friends. They have sleepovers and are rock stars.”
So me and my friends were going to form a band like in Josie and The Pussycats. My friend already played upright bass and was like “I’m playing bass”, my other friend said “I’m playing drums, and Emily has to play guitar.” So I had to play guitar and didn’t start playing bass, until after I had graduated college. They are pretty similar though.
Derek: My parents had a really visceral connection to music, when I was three years old. From there, it went from guitar and I started playing drums at twelve.
Kevin: Yeah, I was about the same age when I started. I think I wanted to be in a band, before I wanted to play music. I don’t know, does that make sense? Anyone can play notes- that’s easy, but being in a band is where it’s at. I’ve been living that mistake ever since.
Sounding Board: haha yeah, so you all really had a solid experience with music from a young age.
Emily: Yeah, I still haven’t had that Josie and the Pussycat experience yet…they get like a makeover from their label..
Kevin: I feel like Doug was the show that really inspired me to start a band. Doug and Skeeter start a band with a banjo and a trash can.
Chris: They actually had pretty good music too.
Kevin: Yeah! It’s all about like, other people taking artistic, creative control over things and all his friends get involved, they all want to be in the band. It’s not his artist vision anymore and ends up like this Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” type thing. It’s a pretty good episode.
Emily: See, that’s deep.
Kevin: It was just him and Skeeter playing with only a banjo and trash can by the end of the episode. The show had a great soundtrack.
Sounding Board: Haha yeah, I guess inspiration can come from a lot of different places. Did you guys just meet through past projects within the Philly scene?
Chris: Derek and I met through another project that we had with our friend Matt, who I went to high school with. Derek went to Penn State with Matt and worked on that, then Derek and I kinda did stuff on our own. I wrote songs and had demos written going back to 2013 or 2014, so we started recording those and at the time, they didn’t really go anywhere. Some of the stuff was kinda like folk music, which I’m kinda glad I didn’t go through with haha
I went through that whole thing and didn’t think it was good enough. Some of the stuff we did that I felt was harder, we used for this project. So when I tried to start this project, it was me and Derek. I knew Kevin through mutual friends of friends and Kevin knew Emily.
Kevin: Emily and I played together before.
Emily:I was told that I was just in this band. Then I was like “I guess I’m in this band now”
Chris: You were told?
Emily: Well because you were like “Come to the practices” and I was like “Sure” and then you were like “You’re in this band” and I was like “Okay”
Chris: Right on, haha
Sounding Board: And you said you had your old, folk project, so how have your individual past projects compared to Zinskē?
Chris: Well the stuff that I had been doing, it was just what I was into at the time. I still love that music, but I don’t think I’m suited to play it. I’m a big fan of 90’s grunge and alternative music, so that was my favorite stuff to play and listen to. I wanted to play more that type of stuff and felt it was more marketable now, so it just made sense and I felt I could do something with that.
Kevin: I think I join bands because I don’t like to do stuff on my own. I’m pretty discombobulated and if I don’t have someone to bounce ideas off of, it’s not really productive for me.
Chris: You need like traction?
Kevin: Yeah, like people bringing me something or doing something with that. I love bringing ideas to someone else. I struggle with an isolated experience, I like working with bands. I played in Little Big League for a while and um, I mostly work for bands. I do mostly tour managing and stuff.
It’s nice to play though too.
Sounding Board: Yeah, just being with other creative people and working in a team, I understand that. Emily, what about you?
Emily: Right now, I’ve in like five different bands. I can’t actually always remember all the bands that I’ve been in. My friend was like “Remember that band we used to be in?” and I’m like “Oh yeah…”
The number since I moved to Philadelphia about nine years ago, is probably like ten to fifthteen..I just keep busy. I feel like at times I join bands because people tell me I’m in them. The first one I was in when I moved to Philadelphia for school was a two piece. It was like in a big, lecture class, history of music. We had to share our favorite three artists, this one guy said one of his was Spaceman 3.
I was like “That’s a good band” and he started following me around. I was thinking “This dude is weird, he’s probably on drugs.” He didn’t stop following me around and then we became a two-piece. We lived together for a long time, but we still play in a band together, a different one though. I’m not saying he’s weird, he’s a good friend. I just kinda fall into projects; I’m not a very good starter.
Sounding Board: So more like a joiner?
Emily: Yeah, Which kinda sounds bad..
Chris: Nah, I felt like that for the longest time, I just wanted to settle in and do stuff. I think I feel more comfortable doing stuff like that.
Sounding Board: And how long have you been playing together for?
Chris: We really haven’t even played that many shows. We started about eight months ago, so it’s pretty new.
Kevin: We probably so played out starting like four months ago.
Chris: It’s kinda been a minute. Kevin is tour managing, Derek is mixing and travels a lot. Then Emily is playing and more active than all of us. The plan I think this year is to really hit the ground harder and get moving to play a lot more shows, at least in the tristate area.
Sounding Board: For the EP, how did those tracks come together or did you have them already?
Chris: Well there’s a few of them. Three of them, I’ve had for the past four years and the other two I wrote more quickly over the past year. It was kinda a weird start because those had already existed, then brought everyone in and it changed from what we had initially to make it better. So we kinda reset using those as a basis and then recorded them.
Sounding Board: You guys have been based here for a while, who would you say are some of your favorite artists from the city?
Chris: I would have to say Mannequin Pussy is my favorite Philly band.
Emily: Boyz II Men. Boyz II Men rule, I was just throwing that out there.
Chris: Mannequin Pussy is my favorite local band to see. Creepoid was really good, when I would see them. I think their last show was with Mannequin Pussy. When I first saw them, I think that’s what made me turn toward a more harder sound.
Derek: Spirit of The Beehive is a good one too, they are really cool.
Sounding Board: How would you describe your music? I read different descriptions that people had, some said pop-rock, while others said it was just a harder, garage rock sound.
Chris: I’m going to deflect because I know what they sound like to me and what influences me, but I’m not sure what they sound like to other people. Derek mixed the whole thing, I think he may have a better insight about it.
Derek: The first stuff we wrote, I feel was more grungier. Over the years that Chris and I started working together, getting to see the evolution of one of the biggest allures to me was with the new stuff.. it’s heavier. When you strip it away, there’s a basic pop song at the core.
Sounding Board: Yeah, I definitely felt it was a very layered set of songs.
Emily: I usually go with 90’s college radio, which I think can mean a lot of things. If you’re into music, you kinda get the idea.
Derek: It definitely has like a Pixies vibe to it.
Chris: At one point, I was trying to get a cohesive sound; you kinda need to reference something. I had a list of twelve bands that I thought the stuff should fit in this type of range.
Derek: I love that the Pixies were your grounding point, “like this is a cohesive sounding band”…it’s like the most successful, least cohesive sounding band ever, haha.
Chris: Yeah, but they are one of the best, so.. they are one of my favorite bands.
Derek: That’s what I love about these songs though.. they are kinda..
Chris: It’s gonna sound really lame to say an edge, but it has to be biting in some sense, even if it’s sprawling. There has to be some part that people love.
Sounding Board: Have you guys seen The Pixies play?
Chris: oh yeah, several times. I saw them play at the Electric Factory and they sounded great.
Emily: I saw them in New York on their first reunion tour and I remember because you weren’t allowed to really dance. They were kinda strict about about it. Not like The Pixies, but the security people and it still was fun, but kinda weird.
Chris: I mean it’s kind of a trite answer because they’re the band that spawned a million bands, but that’s just the music that I started listening to when I was younger.
Kevin: That’s like Kings of Leon…
Emily: Okay, we are going to talk about this. I loved Kings of Leon in high school and their first two albums are fucking awesome! I was so into them and I first saw them at this motorcycle bar in Virginia, I saw them play and their guitarist was eighteen at the time- I was so in love. They were a dirty, fucking band and I remember I wasn’t allowed to buy the CD without my parents, it had parental warnings on the first two albums..
Chris: They’re like Sugar Ray…
Emily: Those albums are so good though..
Chris: Sugar Ray came out with like good, hard music and then fumed out
Emily: I still listen to those two albums. I’m still trying to find the first EP on vinyl, they are kind of expensive.
Chris: The Sugar Ray?
Emily: No haha, The Kings of Leon one. It’s “Aha Shake Heartbreak” EP, it’s real good!
Kevin: Weren’t they a band that were a band before they knew what music was and figured it out?
Emily: Their story is amazing! There’s three brothers and a cousin. The father was like a traveling tent minister and they weren’t allowed to listen to music, I think they had a fucked upbringing and there was some darker stuff. Then at like fifteen, they were taken away from their parents and sent to Nashville. Then they formed the band and I do remember they were very young. He was young because I was like “He is only five years older than me, so we could get married”
I was like “I’m fifteen and he’s only eighteen, so it could happen!” They are all married with kids now, all about that family lifestyle. I’m not really about that, so maybe it wouldn’t have been a good match.
Chris: Also, all their sex is on fire.
Emily: That was a rough album. The first few albums were really good, garage rock and they were one of the few bands that I learned to play guitar from. Those first two albums were life changing, so I can’t hate on them.
The first two albums are not family friendly, but are pretty good and I had them when I was young. I don’t think my parents cared and remember being shocked because of them say “fuck” a lot on it.
Sounding Board: It’s obviously natural for a band to change over time, but I think when you have been around for a long time, it can be hard to maintain certain aspects of how things were in the beginning.
Emily: Yeah, but they also got signed to a big label and I think that was part of it too.
Sounding Board: Going back to “Screw the Golden Years”, what do you think was the hardest track to record and which one was your favorite?
Chris: The most difficult song was “Radiator.” To get the end part was pretty hard. There’s the end part, when the lead kicks in and I had recording something, then Kevin came up with a part. Getting the recording to match the demo that I came up with was the hardest and took a while. I had to go back to Derek and it took four or five times, then we finally got it at the end.
Derek: “Contact Solution” was probably the easiest, recorded that from scratch.
Kevin: Yeah that took like a day.
Chris: That and “Hey, Chief” were the two that I had where I was like “hey, we just gotta fill this out a little bit, like rip it out”. We gave equal time on the others though.
Sounding Board: So is the upcoming material another short EP or is it going to be a full record?
Chris: Yeah, we are working on an LP now and I’d say we are at EP length right now. Hopefully, we can get someone to help us put it out on vinyl, some sort of backing. We are looking forward to new songs and sort taking it in a new direction. I think the new stuff is going to be a little less heavy. Still stuff to be done and keep it to have an edge to it. The newer stuff is a lot softer.
Don’t miss Zinskē play with Sløtface and Dulls on January 24th at Everybody Hits. Listen to “Screw the Golden Years” EP now: