There’s no way you’ve been into melodic punk rock, skate punk, or ska-punk and somehow missed Authority Zero. This legendary Mesa, Arizona melodic punk rock group goes strong for more than two and half decades, toured the world several times, and released countless full-lengths, EPs, and singles. Authority Zero is famous for tirelessly spreading the positive message even in these troubling times. The group recently released a brand new material called Ollie Ollie Oxen Free, so I sat with Jason DeVore and discussed this material, the recording process, the new guitar player, and all other cool stuff. Enjoy!
Hello, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. How are you doing?
Jason: I’m doing well thank you for asking.
Your new album is called Ollie Ollie Oxen Free. Could you please elaborate on the name for those readers who’re not familiar with the phrase?
Jason: The album title stems for the old game “Come out come out wherever you are” and dates back with the actual title many many years. It seemed fitting with how congested, locked away, sacred, and separated the world has been over the past couple of years. It’s almost a cry out to everyone to hopefully feel something positive and safe to break out of the shells they’ve been trapped both in their actual houses and within themselves.
It is your eleventh full-length album, besides several singles and EPs. Lots of artists and musicians lose inspiration over the years, but your new album sounds fresh. What’s the key for the band to keep vital and relevant after decades of performing, recording, spending time on the road? Where do you get your inspiration for the new material?
Jason: We just simply love playing music and love your fans and family around the world. That in itself in extremely driving and inspiring. We try and keep it fun even as hard and grouling as it can get sometimes. There’s always going to be something to write about with life’s ups and downs and changes in life. This past year was certainly no different and if anything brought new inspiration trying to seek out the good in all the bad.
How you usually write compositions? Is there any proven formula for each recording, or you tend to experiment whenever you record new material?
Jason: Really we just start writing and whatever comes out domes out! We never really plan for any given song to turn out a certain way and that also helps to keep it motivating and fun for us. We just go for it and before we know it there is a completed song for the most part. Each typically starts out super simple and by the end has morphed into something totally different. Pretty cool how music works!
Your recordings almost always call out the crowd to stay positive, focused, and make the best of life as much as possible. Is it hard for you to keep things positive sometimes?
Jason: Oh absolutely. I’m only human as well so when times get tough I will lyrically end up writing to myself to help me get out of a funk. With that I’m always hopeful someone can also relate and that it can make them not feel alone.
Where are you getting your daily/weekly dosages of positivity? Could you share your secrets for a happier/healthier life?
Jason: I just try and stay focused but not take everything overly serious at the same time. That can cause a lot of unnecessary stress in your life which isn’t good for you nor the people around you. One day at a time and being thankful for all the good things in life rather than focusing and being eaten away and consumed by the bad.
Can you reveal some of the themes of your latest material? Are there any tunes you could already set as your favorite ones?
Jason: Thematically there seems to be an inner woven thread, although it was unintentional. It mostly ended up focused on the highs and lows of recent times as a human being and as a band in trying times. Some of my favorites are “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free”, “Fire Off Another” Seas and Serpents” and “Fully Operational”.
What are your favorite tunes to play live anyway? Also, what are your favorite works? Any particular Authority Zero album that stands out above the rest?
Jason: This album is really one of my favorites over the years. Not sure if that’s just because it’s fresh and new or because of the song writing itself. A combination of both I’m sure. Favorite live songs would probably be “A Passage In Time”, “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free”, and 12:34.
Cameron Webb produced your brand new album. How was it working with him?
Jason: man Cameron is just awesome. Great person and a killer producer. I call him the mad Scientist of production. Right when you think things are stagnant or moving in one direction, he’ll sudden break out and that’s when shit gets really cool haha. He’s just all around a killer and well rounded producer.
Eric Walsh is the latest addition to your band? How’s the new guy fitting in, and does his playing style differs from the old guitar player?
Jason: Eric fits RIGHT in. He’s an old friend of ours as well as touring buddy and he absolutely shreds. An amazing guitar player with an infectious positive attitude and personality. He brings it all to the table as far as guitarists go and we’re lucky to have him as part of the team. No real comparison between guitarists as everyone who has been in the group has brought something very unique throughout the years. In turn I suppose that would also be another thing that keeps us motivated and keeps things exciting, fun, and interesting.
You guys have a lot in common, and Walsh is not a complete stranger. Could you please tell me something more about it and how you decided to pick him as your new guitar player?
Jason: To myself, Mike, and Dalley, he was instantly a personality we thought would mesh well along with his playing abilities and diversity. This is the first time ever we’d actually promoted the band looking for a new guitarist so it was a bit out of my personal comfort zone. That to me always seemed to end up possibly shell shocking our fan base, although collectively we felt it best to take that road to find “the right guy” and see if we were somehow missing something that we’d not payed attention to with an outside talent. We had over 150+submissions from around the world which blew our minds and almost from the beginning to the final call to him it just felt natural and right. We all knew each other, had seen each’s work ethic and stage presence on the road, and all in all we were just stoked on him so it seemed like a no brainer.
Recording processes are always full of anecdotes, just like touring. Any funny stories you would like to share from these recording sessions?
Jason: The recording actually was done as a three piece before the entrance of Walsh to be the glue and forward motion as a four piece. Our bassist Mike Spero ended up doing (and writing) a good 3/4 of the end all guitars along with myself and Dalley on Drums. That in itself was funny but in a cool way as I had never done a Zero record like that so it was oddly exciting given our written content. Honestly aside from that it was just naturally fun and grinding it out. We all had a blast and it was super laid back and simple which I think helped shine through the record. I suppose me eating Pick Up Stix literally almost every day for lunch and leftovers for dinner would be my highlight besides recording with my buds lol.
You recently played some live shows? How was it for you to get back on the stage and play after a while?
Jason: It was very exciting. Was great seeing people out again and getting along so happily. Everyone was smiling ear to ear, singing along like they hadn’t sang in years, and just loving life. The comradary of it all made me feel so full and grateful.
You also announced the North American tour, could you tell me something more about it? Any plans for touring Europe in the nearest future?
Jason: Yes and we’re stoked! We’ll be hitting the Weat Coast of North America in December and The East Coast and South in mid January. Huge talks of doing our European tour that has been on hold this coming Summer in 2020 so we’ll see how things roll. All around as with most bands, we are ecstatic to get back.
Here’s the last one. Any tunes/artists/bands/writers you could recommend to our readers? Anything that comes up to your mind at the moment.
Jason: I personally have been loving a lot of our friends bands new music that has been banging out. Some killer groups I would highly recommend to anyone reading is In The Whale, Counterpunch, Chaser, Fayuca, Rubedo, if looking for “new and upcoming bands with slayer new records out this year as well.
That’s it. Thank you so much for your time. Anything you would like to say to your fans and readers of this interview?
Jason: I and we love you. Words can’t show our gratitude foe your support. More to come!
Be the change you wish to see in the world