Hard Talk

Interview with Zach Goode of Divided By Zero

You may be familiar with the moniker, ‘Ghoulspoon’. Or maybe not. Surely if you’re in and/or into the So. California music scene you have. After securing quite a following under this name, the members decided to start a new era for themselves in the hard rock music genre.

And with this new start came a new sound. Their new album, “The Black Sea” has been released on a new label, ‘Sik World Records’. And what else can I say? But I’m sure you’ll be hearing them very, very soon. “ The Black Sea “ is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time.

JH: Give us the Divided By Zero History. From the beginning.

ZG: Singer Zach Goode and Guitarist Jeremy Ronstadt originally met in Hawaii during high school and moved to San Diego in the early 90’s to form a band called Ghoulspoon. Drummer Jason Vick joined the fold in 1996 and bassist Rice joined in 1998. Ghoulspoon sold tens of thousands of units without the benefit of a manager, agent, or record label to become an independent music success story. The 1999 album “Fever” became the number one selling locally produced album in San Diego and the band won the award for “Best Hard Rock / Metal Band” at the 2001 San Diego Music Awards. In addition, Divided By Zero’s music was featured on Jim Rome’s nationally syndicated sports talk show, “The Jungle”, and on the soundtrack for the video games Twisted Metal 4 and TJ Lavin’s Ultimate BMX. 2nd guitarist James Albers was added in 2002 at which point the band changed the name to Divided by Zero and started a new chapter.

JH: How did you come up with the name and what it represents?

ZG: The name Ghoulspoon was often mispelled and it sort of stereotyped us as a creepy, monster type band. As we matured as songwriters and as a band, we wanted a name that was more accessible. Since a calculator cannot divided by zero but always tries, it sort of represents the concept that nothing is impossible. Plus D – B – Z sounds cool when it’s being chanted by a crowd!

JH: So how’s the album moving along so far?

ZG: Well the album’s been in stores for only a week and has already exceeded our first-week expectations, but the work’s just starting. We’ve been out touring and promoting it and so far most of the reviews have been great.

JH: Now, is there a general concept/theme behind it?

ZG: Well, I don’t want to sound pretentious and say that “The Black Sea” is a concept album, but it is a song cycle with a common thread that flows through it.

JH: Can you explain?

ZG: The Black Sea has a poisonous atmosphere that prevents parasites from eating away at ancient shipwrecks; leaving them perfectly preserved on the ocean’s floor. Using the shipwrecks as a metaphor for our lives as musicians, I see parallels between that and the music business. Thousands of us are waiting to be discovered, trapped in lives of our own making. I began to connect the themes of our songs and explored topics of frustration, disappointment, lost love, alienation, and ultimately, hope and redemption.

JH: Give us in your own words, a brief description/review of it.

ZG: If you read the lyrics, you can piece together the story I’m trying to tell and let me know what you think.

JH: Are you pleased with the outcome?

ZG: I’m very happy with the album. The guys in the band really stepped up musically and played super tight and powerfully. There’s a bunch of amazing drum parts and guitar solos, plus interesting keyboard and sitar flourishes. The album also sounds great due to our producer Mikey Doling and engineer Brad Dujmovic working their asses off for us. Plus, the cover art by Sas Christian is really beautiful and eye-catching, so the overall package is very powerful.

JH: How much time went into the writing/recording process?

ZG: The band did months of pre-production with executive producer Jaysun Chall from Sik World Records. We spent a lot of time picking the right material and honing down the songs to the proper arrangements. We spent night after night practicing to a click track and just getting the songs super-tight. By the time we hit the studio with Mikey, we were able to lay everything down in our first few takes. I’d say 90% of my vocals on the album are first takes. The entire CD was recorded and mixed in 30 days.

JH: What does the summer/future tour schedule look like?

ZG: We’ve been on the road now for a few weeks on the Sik World Rock n Roll Circus Tour and let me tell you – we bring the fucking show to your town! In every city we have a few of the top local bands plus Divided by Zero, Murrugun the Sword Swallower, Hell on Heels Burlesque Troupe, and Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation, plus tons of giveaways from our sponsors Sik World, Electric Lingerie, and Hardcore Watches. It’s a pretty big and risky production, so we’re keeping it to the West Coast for the Summer and hope to expand it in the Fall.

JH: Musically, can we expect much of the same live as is on the album?

ZG: We’ve been playing together for years, so we’re a pretty tight live band but we still play with a sense of abandon and danger that makes it fun to go to a live show. We also mix in some mellow and acoustic stuff, so it’s a real ride. Lately, we’ve been playing most of the album in order, so you kind of get a sense of the flow of the record at our live show.

JH: How about visually? What can one expect out of a Divided By Zero show?

ZG: We have a killer light show and dancing girls, plus an animation festival after our set, so all senses will be satisfied!

JH: Personally I think ‘The Black Sea’ is a great album. I wrote a real suck-ass sounding review for it. Where did you pull your inspiration from for the album?

ZG: Thanks! I don’t think I’ve read your review yet..I already told you the whole concept behind the Black Sea idea, but really at the end of the day what we wanted to do was make an album with great songs that will stand the test of time. Our album may not be the fastest, most extreme thing out there, but in 10 years we’ll still be able to play these songs acoustically and be proud of them. We’ve been around long enough to know not to chase trends and just focus on hte songwriting. I love all types of music and a good song is a good song is a good song.

JH: Did you know going in to ‘The Black Sea’ what the final product would be?

ZG: Believe it or not, I pretty much visualized what the entire album would be like before we started, including song order and cover art. The final product was pretty damn close to what I wanted. Everything that was added along the way, from Mikey’s production input, to new guitar solos, to certain electronica flourishes, and backup vocals all added amazing layers and only added to the final product.

JH: Is Divided By Zero’s sound similar to what Ghoulspoon’s was?

ZG: The early Ghoulspoon stuff was more hip-hop oriented, but this was back in the early 90’s before Limp Bizkit or Kid Rock became popular. They didn’t call it rap-rock back then, so we used to get called “thrash-funk” or whatever. As the years went on, our sound got more cohesive and I dropped the rapping completely. The DBZ stuff is way more melodic. You can still find the Ghoulspoon albums “To Serve Man”, “Medication”, and “Fever”, so check ’em out and let me know what you think..

JH: Tell us a bit about Sik-World.

ZG: For over a decade, Sik World Productions has been the leading producer of attitude-based novelty clothing and accessories for men and women. Sik World Productions’ t-shirts are consistently worn by an extreme variety of high profile recording artists from mainstream stars Eminem, Lil’ Kim, Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and Cypress Hill to metal’s most blistering bands such as Slayer, Chimaira, Every Time I Die, Static-X and Lamb Of God. Distributed around the world in more than 1,000 retail outlets and to thousands of individuals via the Internet each year, Sik World has been featured in numerous music videos as well as publications such as Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Hit Parader, Savage Tattoo, and Metal Hammer.

JH: Was/is there a bit of nervousness involved being the debut release on a new label?

ZG: Not at all. Sik World has a proven track record in the clothing industry and they’re spending the time and money to get the album out there. It may take awhile in this crowded market, but once people hear the album and see the show, the word will spread.

JH: How are they treating you so far?

ZG: So far so good. We’re obviously not going to get the kind of money we would get on a major label, but we are the number one priority and we have to sell a lot less albums to see a profit.

JH: Where would you like to see Divided By Zero in the next year? 3 years? 5 years?

ZG: I’d like to get on some bigger tours and get out to Europe and Japan in the next year and hopefully do another record within 2 years. That’s as far as I can project for now.

JH: Is there anything you would like to add?

ZG: Just that the readers of this interview probably don’t have any idea of the kind of music we play. I’ll just say that fans of System of a Down, Skindred, Faith No More, Incubus, 311, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. will probably like our sound. We have a heavy element with double bass and heavy guitars, but there’s also a lot of melodic singing and mellow parts, plus a little bit of a reggae vibe, so it doesn’t really sound like anything else.

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