Steve Moore of Zombi answers our Questions of Doom
Can't get enough of Zombi's new album ‘Escape Velocity’ - it has the cryptic ring of the lush and yet jagged and disturbing soundscapes that they specialise in. It is music that overflows with the ambiance of strange and sinister places and has the potential to induce eerie visions of how surreal and monumental life can be. For myself, 'Escape Velocity' is nothing less than astounding. We had no choice but to get Steve Moore in to discuss Zombi's past and future, his solo work, and exactly how he manages to make daily life cinematic.
What are the secret origins of Zombi?
SM: The very first incarnation of Zombi was a free-jazz/noise drums and alto saxophone duo. This was like Spring of 2001, maybe earlier. We only did that once or maybe twice. Later that year a buddy of mine was booking a show at the Mr. Roboto project in Pittsburgh, it was short notice and he needed an opener so I said I'd put something together. So I called Tony and we came up with the idea of being a
drums/bass guitar duo with both of us also playing synthesizers, sort of like a John Carpenter meets Goblin vibe. Back in 2001 it wasn't quite as common to find bands citing JC and Goblin as major influences - it was almost like we were doing something "original." We wrote a half hour worth of music in like 3 or 4 rehearsals, played two shows, then recorded our first self-released CDR. At least one of the tracks was recorded in Tony's kitchen. That's about it for the secret origins.
Does the title 'Escape Velocity' hold any significance to the music within and if so, what?
SM: None whatsoever.
What have Zombi been up to in the 2 years between Spirit Animal and Escape Velocity?
SM: Individually we've busy. Tony's been touring like a madman with Gil Mantera's Party Dream and Maserati. Seriously all over the place. He also recorded a fantastic album under the alias Majeure, and did a solo European tour. I did a solo album with Static Caravan late last year, 12"s with LIES and Kompakt, a 10" with Mexican Summer, relased a couple film scores on vinyl with Permanent Vacation (under the alias Gianni Rossi), and did a bunch of remixes. And got married and had a baby.
Would you say there's a marked difference between your earlier output and the more recent work - to me i hear a lot more kraut, new age and italo influences vs a more goblin/claudio simonetti sound on the earlier records, is that simply a change in what you're listening to or a concerted effort to change things up a little?
SM: It's a little of both of those things. But also I think we've just become more confident in what we do. We're not afraid to explore our influences. When we first started playing together we were coming
from a no-wave/post-punk background, and Pittsburgh in general was still recovering from the math-rock explosion of the 90's - I think you can definitely hear that in Cosmos and Surface to Air. We called it prog rock but it was really math rock with synthesizers. But also we've both been exposed to so much amazing music just through being in this band. People love to play their most obscure and awesome records when you go back to their place after a show.
You seem very busy with other projects between your solo stuff, Titan, Lovelock, Miracle, Gianni Rossi, how do you decide which to work on and do any take preference!
SM: All the Lovelock stuff I wrote years ago when I wasn't working full time and didn't have a baby - that was before Gianni Rossi and Miracle and in between Zombi's Surface to Air and Spirit Animal albums. I haven't written anything as Lovelock for years and probably never will again. Gianni Rossi is just something I do for filmscores so there's always a deadline. I love deadlines, it's the only way I'll finish anything. Miracle is the kind of thing that Daniel and I can work on slowly in our spare time. Same with Zombi actually.
What has been the greatest misconception of your music?
SM: Good question! Off the top of my head I'd say that people need to get past the whole black-gloved killer thing. Our music isn't intended to conjure images of violence and/or misogyny. It makes me feel weird that it has that affect on some people. But really who am I to tell someone they don't "get" my music? Maybe I don't get it.
The cover of Escape Velocity is very evocative - for me - it feels like an unreleased movie poster - does the cover bear any impact on the music or was it random imagery?
SM: The cover came after the music. Once we had rough mixes of all the tracks we gave them to Jeremy Schmidt. We didn't have any ideas in mind, we just told him to have fun. We wanted to see what he'd do on is own with only the music as a reference. We think he totally nailed it.
Your music often projects films into my subconscious and makes daily life seem cinematic. Does cinema have an impact on how you write music? And if so, do you have any particular films that hold
influence on your musical projects?
SM: I like how you said it "makes daily life seem cinematic." I've always loved film scores for that same reason. In high school my friends were listening to Slint and I was trying to hook my tape deck up to the TV so I could record Patrick Moraz's theme from the movie The Stepfather. Film scores take me places other music doesn't. So I try to build my music the same way, more in terms of plot points than
verses and choruses.
Do ideas explored in your solo work have any impact on Zombi material?
SM: I start off almost every new idea with Zombi in mind. Then if it doesn't end up fitting I have to figure out which alias it'll work for, or come up with a new one.
You've remixed and been remixed, does this process hold any inspiration for you when writing your material?
SM: Yeah, I always come up with these "great" ideas when I'm remixing somebody, ideas for new songs, then when I have a few minutes to work on my own music I can never remember these ideas.
What are your essential records?
SM: "Miami Vice: The Original TV Soundtrack," "Weird" Al Yankovic "In 3-D," Slayer "Seasons in the Abyss," Steve Winwood "Back in the High Life"
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