Interview: ZEX U.S. Invasion 2015


Photo credit: C.T.

Ottawa’s very own ZEX is currently embarked on a 38-stop U.S. tour spanning all of May and half of June. Ottawa Showbox caught up with guitarist Jo Steel via email to see how things were going and chat a little.

How is the tour going so far?
Jo: Van problems, but so far still good. No insane brawls or arrests or anything like that! We’re currently living it up at a Motel 6 in Georgia.

What are the coolest and strangest things to have happened so far?
Jo: An armadillo just walked up to me on the side of the highway.

You have toured Asia and this is your second big American tour with ZEX, what did the previous tours teach you to maybe improve things this time around?
Jo: I’ve been out on the road a lot over the years. There was a time where I didn’t bother bringing a cell phone, GPS, laptop, map, and even venue addresses.

What, if any, are the main differences between shows in the United States, Asia, and Canada?
Jo: Well Canada and the U.S.A. are essentially the same. Drunk idiots that make small talk to you. Shows in Asia have different etiquette, but ultimately its quite the same.

What is one of the wildest or strangest venues you have played while on the road?
Jo: While in Indonesia, we played at a big outdoor market in a rainstorm and all simultaneously got shocked.

Which town or city resembles Ottawa the most as far as musical community goes?
Jo: I really couldn’t tell you.

Do you guys get more love or more flak for being Canadian while on the road?
Jo: I’ve been called a “Canigger” before.

It has been eight months since your debut release Fight for Yourself, any new music or new videos in the works?
Jo: Any day now, we will have a new single out called “Fear No Man”.

I have seen your music described many different ways, usually some mention of old school or retro punk, but how do you want it described?
Jo: ZEX is what happens when you really don’t care about fitting in a genre.

One of the pillars of punk rock was to give a voice for those who didn’t fit in. The scene has always been pretty dominated by men, so as a female-fronted punk band, do you encounter ignorance and sexism from within the scene?
Jo: Oddly enough, the most flak we’ve gotten is from so-called feminists telling Gretchen (lead singer) to cover up.

What do you think are the main reasons for lack of accessibility and acceptance in the punk world?
Jo: Most people are into punk for the party or for the looks. Then you get people who dabble in the odd slogan, but ultimately, not too many will step up to the plate once it comes down to it.

When will you be done invade our neighbours’ to the South and come home to rock us?
Jo: We’re back in Ottawa in time for Ottawa Explosion. Playing Thursday June 18 at the House of TARG  in the Uncle D Records showcase with Flying Fortress, Cross Dog and Goat Horn. More details here.

Do you have anything else to add?
Jo: “Fear No Man” out summer 2015 on Loud Punk Records.

Check out ZEX as they invade the United States from Albany to New Orleans, from Tijuana to Salt Lake City. No one is safe. Check out the video for “Wanderlust” to see footage from their last U.S. tour.