It’s Time for The Zolas

by Laura Melvin

Deep in the underbelly of the Vogue Theatre, down a long corridor lined with countless doors, I met up with Vancouver band The Zolas before their December 18th show with Current Swell and Hey Ocean!.  Founding duo Zach and Tom sat with drummer Aaron and bassist Henry in a small dressing room with beer and ibuprofen, cracking jokes about “pill-poppin’” before going on stage to perform tracks from their album, Tic Toc Tic.  Luckily, the band had some time to sit and chat before being rushed on stage by a frantic organizer trying to get the show rolling.

What’s a ‘Zola’?

Zach: It’s the name of a French writer named Emile Zola.  He’s the father of naturalism, which was writing about regular people for the first time.  He sold like hundreds of thousands of copies to rich people… books about hookers and mining towns and regular people.  They were stories about underclass people being devoured by the upper class.

Why ‘Zola’? What’s the significance of this particular author?

Zach: It’s about just being a nerd, really… He also wrote a lot of interesting essays to the young people of France about not being so damn racist and being less apathetic about life in general.

Why is Vancouver making a name for itself now in the Canadian music scene when traditionally it’s been Toronto and Montreal?

Tom: There’s just enough going on… What’s going on now is that there are just a lot of good bands.

Zach:  And they’re good in they’re own way.  The reason we’re doing so well is, ten years ago, people listened to very regimented types of music.  Some people listened to rock; some people listened to pop; some people listened to rap.  That was it.  There was very little bleed [between genres].  And now it’s almost a stupid question to ask ‘What kind of music do you listen to?’ because everyone says they listen to everything… except country.

Aaron:  Part of it, too, is there’s a lot of feel good music coming out of Vancouver and it doesn’t stick to a certain genre.  It just feels good.

The Zolas don’t necessarily think of themselves as a feel-good-Vancouver-band, but, as bassist Henry puts it, “the bands we’re talking about don’t necessarily sound the same, but you can play them all on the same radio station.”  They are part of a growing list of Vancouver bands, including names like Said The Whale, We Are The City and Hey Ocean! that demonstrate a great deal of diversity in their sound.  If The Zolas combined playlists of the latest Grizzly Bear album, jazz musician Avishai Cohen, MGMT, and classical composer Gustav Mahler represents the wide-ranging musical tastes of local bands, it’s no wonder Vancouver has so much to offer.

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