The other night at Burnt Ramen I conducted this interview with Ed (bass), Matt (vocals), and Josh (drums) of Zero Progress.
INFORMATION: Does the name have any particular meaning?
Josh: I don’t know…we’re not really going anywhere so…
Matt: For me, it was like, it was the summer after my senior year and I really felt I wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t make it up, but that’s why I was pumped on it.
Ed: Yeah, we went to Taco Bell after our first practice and decided we weren’t gonna leave until we decided on a name. We sat there for a long time and Josh said “Zero Progress” and we all thought it was cool.
Matt: I thought for sure we should be Band of Brothers or Blood Brothers, or something corny like that but we decided against it.
INFORMATION: The bay area scene is in a weak and scattered state right now. However, Zero Progress is part of a small resurgence of East Bay hardcore, so what are your thoughts on the current scene?
Matt: It’s too tribal. People only come out to shows they’re playing, only care about bands they’re friends with. They think they can’t like a band if they don’t know the people which makes the scene super limited and exclusive.
Ed: I would say it’s gotten to the point where there’s a bunch of divisions instead of anything that brings us together. Honestly, I think the bay area scene that we’re a part of has been in decline since Warkrime broke up, cause I think Warkrime was the band everyone would agree on. We don’t have a band or something like that holding us together anymore so there’s no real unity.
Matt: Also, there’s no neutrality. It’s either a hate or a love thing. Even if we don’t like each other can’t we still hang out, have a good time, and play shows? We don’t have to be buddies, let’s just play shows and have fun. But it can’t be like that for some people I suppose.
INFORMATION: You guys are playing straightforward HC at a time when most bands are trying to be “experimental” or “mysterious”, yet Zero Progress has been more successful in the past 8 months than Skull Stomp was in the 4 years of its existence. Why is that?
Ed: Yeah, I think we did it backwards which is kinda funny. At a time when everyone was playing more straightforward retro-80’s hardcore we played something a little bit different in Skull Stomp. We didn’t want to be an Adolescents rip off or copy the OC sound, we just wanted to play something that was mean and hard. As far as the mysterious thing, I think Zero Progress plays a straightforward brand of hardcore because that’s just what we’re into. It’s not that I don’t like a lot of the so-called “mysterious” bands too though. I enjoy most of the hardcore bands on Youth Attack but it doesn’t make me enjoy Wasted Time or Violent Arrest any less, so…
Matt: I think it just comes naturally to us to be more straight forward. Especially with me writing the bulk of the lyrics. There are not many deep level lyrics that I write, it’s mostly day to day stuff .
Josh: Zero Progress has songs you can relate to, not abstract stuff, like we don’t have songs about politics or anything.
Matt: Yeah, I think punk is a very crowd oriented, everyone doing it together type of thing so it makes sense to have songs where people in the crowd can feel it.
Ed: That’s a good point, that adds to what I was saying about how the scene is more exclusive and full of divisions and we wanted to do a band that was inclusive.
INFORMATION: What is Gag Reflex about?
Matt: That was the summer of senior year again, everytime I sat down with people it was “What are you doing next?” but it’s like dude you don’t even give a shit, I’m going to SF State, big deal. Honestly that type of small talk makes me want to puke.
INFORMATION: There’s reason to believe your name might have been slightly tarnished by Black America’s recent discovery of and antics over Jerkbooth and other message boards. Are you guys bummed out about that?
Josh: Who cares?
Matt: I think Black America is a band that doesn’t care about anything, I mean they don’t even care about their band. The singer doesn’t go to shows. They don’t really care very much but we care so it’s kinda like hard to be associated with them but at the same time they’re our buddies and we’re from the same area as them so…whatever, they do what they want to do.
Ed: It’s hard not to get associated with them when they’re from the same area and we are friends. We’ve known these guys for like 4 or 5 years, but we don’t have the same thought processes as them and they’re doing their own thing.
INFORMATION: What is the song Out of Touch about?
Matt: Out of Touch is a song I wrote about a show Skull Stomp played with Youth Brigade. Youth Brigade was one of the first punk bands I ever went to go see, I was pretty pumped I guess I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But we played with them at the Gilman and at the end the booker told us they had a $2,000 guarantee. Every dollar went to them and I was just like wow these guys are out of touch with punk and they just came here for a $2,000 guarantee and they’re just old pieces of shit.
Josh: Yeah the singer wasn’t even enjoying himself, he was pissed at the kids there, he was pissed at everyone.
Matt: Texting on his phone.
Ed: And it was sold out, there was like over 300 people there, and you can’t pay any of the bands? They were the only band that got paid and there was a lot of draw for a lot of the local bands.
Matt: I don’t care at all about getting paid, like at the Dean Dirg show, I don’t care if we don’t get paid, they’re from fucking Germany. Youth Brigade is from here, they need $2,000?
INFORMATION: Ed, you’re an Italian hardcore fanatic. Is that a major Zero Progress influence? If not, what is?
Ed: I would say it is an influence, but I try to reign it in because I used the Italian influence a lot in Skull Stomp. But on our new record, there are a couple of songs where there is an Italian influence and it’s faster and hectic, sort of an early Negazione sound, so I’d say it is an influence. Really though, we listen to everything, we’re really into these newer “mysterious” bands too so it’s just a synthesis of everything we like.
Josh: As long as it’s fast!
Matt: Oi is probably my favorite type of music, and I’m trying to bring the straightforwardness of Oi lyrics, into the lyrics.
INFORMATION: Even though both bands are from the same area, there’s a gulf of disconnect between Migraine and Zero Progress. Why do you think that is?
Ed: Well Sean, seriously I’d say you tell me. I feel like as Skull Stomp we were pretty much the black sheep of the scene, but Sean, you and the other Warkrime dudes always liked us and I have a lot of respect for that. The first show we went to, that State show that didn’t happen, the Warkrime dudes were the first guys we met, Max booked us our first show in the city. I’ve always been for trying to make that connection and I think it’s more your friends than my friends.
Matt: I think a lot of it has to do with people offending each other without knowing it. Like for example, we played a show with Migraine at dreamland and there were people standing outside because they were mad at us, and I had no idea why –
INFORMATION: My fault
Matt: It’s ok, just a lot of the time I’m stuck there being like what the hell is going on…I don’t think I did anything. But people get mad and then don’t communicate it or try to talk it out. I think a lot of it is that the Concord kids don’t really go to shows as much anymore, so I think it’s kind of hard to build a relationship if you don’t see them very much.
Ed: I’ve always been for doing more stuff with Migraine and Ecoli. I know Moe who does Which Side Records wanted to do a split release with one of those bands and us but we couldn’t all get on the same page about it. I think it’s a bummer. The more we can all stay together the healthier the scene will be. I mean there’s like 50 kids, we should stick together, not tear each other apart.
Matt: That’s why I think it’s funny that people keep splitting up until there’s absolutely nothing left. There will be a group of ten kids, and then they’ll split and it’ll be 5 and 5 and it’s like, GREAT.
INFORMATION: Cool. Final comments, future plans?
Matt: We have a 7” we’re planning on putting out ourselves. “Zero Progress – Derailed”. It’ll be out hopefully by summer if we get on it. Ed and I are putting it out ourselves on our label Piledriver records. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve been involved in so I’m pumped up to see it get released. Oh, and VALLEY CREW WHOO!
Josh: Uh, we were looking for more shows…
Ed: Thanks, Sean for the interview, and thanks Stressors for being my favorite band.