By tomorrow, bands and their fans will be swarming Atlanta, Georgia for the Shaky Knees Music Festival. On Day One, listeners will get a chance to hear Zipper Club rock the Peachtree Stage at 1:00 p.m. at Centennial Olympic Park.
Zipper Club may make indie pop music now, but the band members didn’t start out that way. Mason James hails from the Brooklyn punk band Cerebral Ballzy, and Lissy Trullie had her own killer indie-rock career. Now, however, the two have joined forces, working alongside drummer Damar Davis and producer James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins.
To gear up for their Shaky Knees performance, we chatted with the three musicians all about their latest tunes, what makes them unique, and even what makes them panic.
Vinyl Mag: Tell me about your song “Regrets.”
Mason James: I was writing it in a room actually with my dog at the time, and it’s kind of funny—you can hear my dog scratching his stomach or his chain jingling, and I think it kind of adds a little subtle dog vibe. That was a really cool track for me because I got to experiment with some new stems that we had, and that was kind of a definitive song in the songwriting process for the band. It was a very definitive song for kind of the direction of the sound we wanted to go. The process for the record was kind of written in three groups of four, and that was one of the initial songs that was written. And that song kind of shaped where we went from there—“Breath” came out of that and other stuff afterward.
VM: You’ve said before that Zipper Club’s style is a bit different from the music you’ve made before. What inspired the change?
MJ: I wanted to try new things! I definitely felt a little bit confined—punk and hardcore music can have a lot of rigid boundaries and a lot of people telling you what it is and isn’t in that genre, and I kind of just wanted to say, “screw all that stuff; I want to make what I think sounds cool.” So, if I want to put some weird sounding synth pad or some chimes or some bells or some reverb guitar, then why not? And that’s kind of what we did.
Lissy Trullie: My style of songwriting is not such a leap. Mason played in a punk band; I had my own thing, which is like still sort of pop-ish. It was more experimental and R&B. But I think it was both for us a combo to do something new.
MJ: Lissy and I came together and had a lot of the same mutual respect for a lot of the same bands, and kind of did draw on those influences. So, as a result our sound kind of meshed, and we’re able to collaborate in an awesome way.
VM: What does each of you bring to the table?
LT: I think we just bring our special selves! That’s kind of half the battle, especially when you’re writing together. You know, inevitably you have a view from yourself, a perspective, your voice, your inherent style of what you do. But I think if we’re talking skillset, writing music is my jam. It’s my favorite thing to do. It’s what I’ve always done and what I absolutely love, love, love to do. I love to be in the studio and play around with ideas and experiment with different things.
MJ: I think we’re all very different individuals in a sense. If you go to certain festivals and stuff like that and you hang out backstage, you can see certain people in certain groups, and they all look very much the same in a lot of different ways. You know, they’ve got their matching outfits and all that sort of stuff. We’re definitely not that, and I think that’s what’s cool about this project. It’s much more reflective of the modern world, modern times. We all come from different backgrounds and different musical tastes and different styles. So, I think we all bring a unique aspect to the table that is different than most bands, and I think that’s the cool thing about Zipper Club.
VM: Do you prefer writing/recording or performing?
LT: We love both!
MJ: I think both have their awesome side, and I mean obviously there are not cool parts. I think every band that writes music should love writing music. We love writing music but also want to share it with people, and we try to share it very visually. Our live show is definitely very … we have lasers and have really cool projections and stuff like that. We want to make it an experience for everyone that’s coming out to see our show. We love sharing what we do with people. So, I think they’re both equally as good.
VM: Do you have a favorite venue you’ve played?
MJ: I’m excited to go back to this bar that we’re playing in London. It’s this really divey, shitty bar, but it’s super London and super fun. We’re playing there in a couple weeks.
VM: What part of playing at Shaky Knees are you most looking forward to?
LT: The Pixies, LCD Soundsystem and then I think my friend’s band is playing there—Public Access TV.
DD: I’m excited to see Phoenix!
VM: Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
DD: My favorite song to play live would probably be “Tick Tock.”
LT: I’m going to have to go with “Breath.”
MJ: My favorite would be our cover of “Mad World” we did with Curt from Tears for Fears. That was definitely an awesome live experience.
VM: What’s your mindset like before getting on stage?
LT: “Ohhhh, shit.” That’s my mindset.
DD: It really depends on how our soundcheck was.
VM: Do you have any pre-show band rituals?
LT: We do a little huddle thing. Of course, we always want to play and we always want to play a good show especially, but it really depends on the venue you’re at, and we have a complicated thing happening on stage. So, if we feel like something might not be in the right place, you know, it can really put us into a panic. But, we’re working on that!