Raising the bar

By BOB GULLA  |  January 16, 2008

How do you quantify the differences between the band’s past work and Line in the Sand?
There are a lot of differences. For me, as a songwriter, lyrically, this is the most diverse. The Wait and Take Me Home focused thematically on breakups and relationships, this album has a wider palette, which was not a conscious decision but the songs just came from different places. That probably comes from taking the next step in life and with the band. Some of the songs deal with war, a prison break, a homeless guy preaching peace. Those kinds of narrative songs are new.
From a musical perspective, this was the first album we wrote without live performance in mind. On the last two albums, we wrote songs and played them live for months before recording them. On this album we did all the writing and it gave us a chance to work with other instruments. Dan’s now doing electronica and hip-hop stuff, we’re using keyboard, accordion, sound effects, and we’re taking these new sounds and building songs around them. We’ve never really experimented with sounds like this before.

Has this new approach changed the band’s chemistry?
I think it has. We’re not as tied to the recordings, so we can experiment with changing the songs for live and using different instruments. It’s fun for us to learn to use these new things and change up our performance.

Over the last five years Zox has constantly been on the road. How has the band been getting along?
We’ve come a long way. We understand more about who we are and who we want to be as musicians. You get to place where you understand this [rock and roll] world pretty well and you’re comfortable enough to express yourself in a different way. The band gets along really well. We were all living together in the same house for the last album. We came off the road and there we were, together again. Now we’re all in different places and people are doing different things in their free time. We still see each other almost every day and we have the same group of friends. But we all communicate in different ways, and learning how to communicate with people who communicate in different ways is a tremendously valuable skill. We spend an ungodly amount of time together. Now we’re in a good place in that we have come to an understanding and are pleased with it.

What does the immediate future hold for the band?
We’ve got a bunch of in-store and radio performances surrounding the record release [on Tuesday, January 22 at 3 pm on WBRU and at 7 pm at Newbury Comics in Warwick]. In February we set off for the Midwest for a couple of weeks with Matt White headlining. Then we’ll be back on the East Coast for a handful of CD release show in places we have strong audiences. Then we go to SXSW and the West Coast through May and Europe for June. After that, fingers crossed, we’ll head to Japan in July for our first trip over there. So in a general sense, we plan to tour pretty heavily and get the record into as many hands as possible as we head off into the great unknown.

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