Zlang Zlut are an interesting proposition, as they are concurrently a traditional Hard Rock band and also quite unusual due to their use of cello. Either way, Crossbow Kicks is a riotous collection of instantly-likeable Rock tunes that get you moving whether you want to or not. I decided I needed to know more about this intriguing band…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
We are Zlang Zlut, a two-piece rock band with a cello/bass pedal player and a drummer/singer from Basel/Switzerland, we play rock’n’roll. Bite this bullet!!
Give us a bit of background to Zlang Zlut
The cello player (Beat) is in his late fifties, me (Fran), the drummer/singer, I’m in my late forties. We’re both classically trained professional musicians, loving rock’n’roll. We’ve known each other from jobs in classical music and teach at the same music school. We’ve jammed and gigged in other formations before, but this duo has been the most rocking version of our common efforts.
What are your influences?
I’d say it’s a wide range beginning from classical music to jazz and blues to pop, rock, hard rock and heavy metal. We’re really open, but of course the most direct influences are stemming from the great 70’s hard rock bands like Purple, Sabbath and Zeppelin, AC/DC or Judas Priest, to name but a very few. Me personally I’m into loads of ’90s bands too like Helmet or The Melvins, but the list is really endless.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
I really love the first Wolfmother album and Andrew Stockdale’s solo album, the first two Black Country Communion Albums, Billy Gibbons’ new solo album, all of Mark Lanegan’s albums, and a great duo from Nashville, The Black Diamond Heavies. And, oh yeah, Karma To Burn are phantastic, too.
It’s really not something we planned with any sophistication, it really just happened naturally. Beat truly HATED all existing attempts of using cello in rock music to date, so I guess when he plugged his cello through a distortion pedal into his bass amp, he was ready to make a different statement, or maybe less different, but purer, depending on the angle from which you look at it. We don’t think too much anyway, we just play, and we play what we love to hear.
Give us a bit of background to Crossbow Kicks – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?
Most of the songs ending up on the album had been tested live in concert before, so the songwriting was a natural process of composing and performing. Because of the fact that our experience as a two-piece is growing, we get more security in what we do and what we can do. Still we’re trying to keep challenging us. I think we found a healthy mixture of adventurous and fun songs. I also like the fact that our music gets harder and more intense, but still keeps breathing. We’re pretty proud of this record.
How do you go about writing your songs?
It’s either Beat who comes up with a riff or two, we jam, record, I’m trying to find lyrics to the vocal lines in my head, we arrange, play, arrange, play, and at some point we try to have a version that we start playing live. There and later in the studio we might keep changing the arrangement, but even after recording it it’s not carved in stone and we’ll change it if we feel it ought to be. Beat’s songs are always fun to play. Whereas when I come up with a song I mostly come up with the finished song worked out on my computer, so then starts the whole process of trying to talk Beat into playing what I’d like him to play, which means tough night-long negotiations, haha. After several months of fighting tooth and nail, the song is there and slowly gets welcomed into the repertoire.
How did the recording process go?
We went into pre-production last may, recorded all the basics of the songs in one day, then I recorded all the vocals at home. Then we gave the files to Fredy, our label-boss. He gave us a severe and honest feedback, so then during the summer, we kept re-arranging the songs and I re-wrote half of the lyrics. A week before the studio we rehearsed day and night to get used to the changements and in shape and ready for the recording. The basics were done in three days, the lead vocals in two days, I did the all backings at home over two more weeks, then VO Pulver mixed the whole thing and we had two or three more sessions with him for adjustments.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
My personal favourite is “Now”, because it has everything I feel a Zlang Zlut song should have, a cool riff, a dramatic chorus, dynamics, space to improvise, a challenging arrangement and a great cello solo. No wonder it’s 8 minutes long! 😉
What does the future hold for Zlang Zlut?
Who knows? I mean, let’s face it, times are tough for this kind of music, and it’s a daily struggle to get heard in the global cacophony, but as long as we keep growing and loving what we do, there are plenty of rewards on the way.