INTERVIEW WITH ZERO SYSTEM / BLOODJINN SINGER JOEL COLLINS
When news of the new band Zero System surfaced — featuring two members of North Carolina’s Bloodjinn — I was naturally curious, as Bloodjinn’s This Machine Runs on Empty was one of my favorite records of 2007. So I went straight to the source, emailing their singer Joel Collins to get the scoop, and he agreed to answer some questions about the new band, the old one, and what its various members are up to on all fronts. The interview, after the jump.
How did the new project Zero System originate?
Zero System formed in April 2008, after Kyle Rakes and I were on a break with our full time project. He had a few songs written and recorded that were a little different than what we were used to playing together, so I decided that I would go into his studio and lay down some vocal ideas, mainly just toying around. After locking myself away to write lyrics and talking about ideas for a demo, we finally made the plunge to give it a shot.
Other than Kyle, how did you hook up with the other dudes in the band?
I had recommended my friend, Justin Reich, when we were discussing possible members and singer ideas. I really wanted to just try Justin’s voice up against mine in a recording atmosphere. He has a really powerful voice, so it was really interesting going into the studio not exactly knowing what we were getting ourselves into. Basically we went with no intentions of forming a band. After hearing the first song we wrote, “Reaction”, we decided we had to step this project up to a full line up. Justin immediately started telling us about his friend Trey Harding, which they had grew up together in the Winston-Salem, NC scene and had also played in a few bands together. After meeting Trey and practicing, it was just solid. Kyle recently brought in a guitarist and friend named Malcom Paschall, who is the newest addition to the Zero System line up.
How does the music of Zero System differ from that of Bloodjinn?
It’s a lot different in many ways. It’s still heavy, but we have a more dynamic, melodic side in Zero System. Bloodjinn is more technical and focuses on hitting grooves, breakdowns, solos and having flashy guitar work. With Zero System we try to write catchy, but yet really strong songs. Something with a lot of feeling and energy.
How do you approach writing songs differently for a new project?
It actually was kind of hard at first. All we have known is really Bloodjinn’s style of writing, but with Zero System, Kyle took a whole new approach in his guitar playing. He has always been a great song writer, so he started studying more ways to write catchy, powerful and hook-oriented style songs. It’s like he is writing songs for both Justin and I separately. It’s really cool how we all bounce ideas off of each other, with kind of focusing on one other’s style, we all bend and support each other when we blend the personal styles we bring.
This Machine Runs on Empty seems like it was well-received critically, but not as much by the masses. Why do you think that is?
It baffles me honestly. Everyone is different and music changes like most girls change their underwear. We were happy regardless. The album had great reviews, we got to tour, we met a lot of cool folks and people got a chance to hear a new record after so many years. Industry-wise, it made impact for sure.
Bloodjinn has had something like 22 different members. Do your farts really stink or what?
Funny story, sometimes when we all had bad catering on tour, we would all wind up letting off bombs in the van left and right. Our goal was to turn the grey interior to a nice tan color. It didn’t really work, but we really tried. On the up and up, Justin from Zero System has joined Bloodjinn on bass, and we have re-added Mckenzie Bell (ex-He Is Legend) on guitar in Bloodjinn also.
Some of the members, including yourself, have other forms of business that you maintain daily. What do you guys do?
We definitely do different things. Justin actually runs a design company under his name, Justin Reich Design. He is currently doing work for Bleeding Through, War Of Ages, Zao, and more. He honestly stays so busy with that stuff. He’s also the most punctual guy I’ve ever met. He has a schedule from the time he wakes up ’til the time he goes to bed. It’s bizarre. Kyle has his own recording studio called Attack Time. He’s been working hard on the new Bloodjinn lately, and just finished a project for a band called Return The Hero. Which leads to me. I own Forsaken Recordings, which is a record label distributed by Koch. I spend a lot of my time working for that, aside from any other outlets I have. Trey has his own contracting business. That guy can build stuff like crazy. So hopefully, we have everything covered. :-)
What’s next for Zero System — tour? Full album?
We have well over half of an album written so far, and we are still working like crazy. Our plans are to begin hitting the clubs in December full force, with hopefully by that point an idea on when and where our album will be released. We are trying to do things the right way, so until we feel like we have the arsenal of tunes and the best stage show we can have, we will be working hard non-stop weekly to get prepared. We can only hope that our name continues to grow rapidly in the mean time.