It’s fair to say that the return of Ed Zealous last summer generated a significant sigh of relief amongst Belfast music fans. Purveyors of dazzling electro-rock EZ have been treating us to delightful slices of infectious beats and punchy hooks. We have been so wooed by their recent offerings that it is bordering on straight up infatuation. With an irresistible new single and whispers of an album we hid our blushes to find out more.
❝Fail to build a distinctive identity that stands out and you risk being ignored in the abyss of online music.❞
► When it comes to a label where does the band’s future lie?
Stephen: Well Fandango and Fierce Panda have been really supportive so far with the single and we’d like to see where all that takes us. The DIY approach is certainly attractive and our history is one of a cottage industry approach to pretty much all aspects of what we do, be it production, artwork etc, but we’re at a place right now where we really want to concentrate on playing great shows and starting a label is probably something that requires more time than we can give it.
► Do you have a favourite remix?
Stephen: We just did a remix swap with an Australian band called Grafton Primary that we’re pretty proud of. We were already well into GP so it was an honour for us that they remixed Medicines and they absolutely smashed it. If you haven’t heard it yet you can check it out on our Soundcloud. As far as other favourite producers go, Siriusmo, RAC, The Twelves, Alex Metric, Oliver, Jacques Lu Cont, Boys Noize and Napt, to name a few, are all doing amazing things remix wise and are people I’d love to have remix an EZ song.
► How much is the visual style of your music videos, music sleeves etc. important to the band?
Paul: I feel in this digital age when record sales are being conquered by merchandising and gig tickets, that image means everything. Fail to build a distinctive identity that stands out and you risk being ignored in the abyss of online music. Obviously the tunes come first but having a strong creative visual identity helps transcend our music to a deeper place, so it’s important that all our online and physical designs reflect this across all boards.
► Is it true that most of it is created in-house by band members?
Paul: Pretty much all of our band art, merch design, posters, online identity are done by myself or Pete. We also get very heavily involved in art direction for photo shoots & videos. So yeah, most of it is done by EZ.
► Outside of the band, Paul you head up Ogopogo Design and work with various people involved in music in Northern Ireland. Is it harder to brand your own band compared to a business or a club night for example? Or do you enjoy the creative freedom?
Paul: Coming up with Ed Zealous art ideas and designs is definitely more of a process for me than most bands or business’s I’ve worked for in the past. Most of the time when a client comes to me with a brief, I get smacked in the face straight away with a few solid ideas which I always exceute, with EZ its more of a complicated process made more difficult due to the fact that the music is more personal to me. I guess when you are eating, sleeping & breathing Ed Zealous 24/7 its hard sometimes to see what it actually is stylistically as well.
► Is there any bands who have impressed you through their visual style?
Paul: Big fan of Tycho’s (Scott Hansen) work – also known as ISO50. His branding is always tight, even his instagram posts are in keeping with his overall identity. I’m also a lover of Stanley Donwood’s work for Radiohead.
► At this stage of the band’s career what do you think has been your most memorable live show?
Peter Llyod: After completing the album we shifted our focus to creating a live show that would really blow people away, and we feel that we’ve really lifted that side of our work to another level. After a lengthy hiatus to make the album & develop our live set, we returned with a sold-out show in Voodoo, Belfast last October. There was an incredible energy between the band and audience, and it was a great feeling to receive such a great response to what was a largely unfamiliar set of material to most people in attendance. Then at the beginning of 2013 we we’re asked by Two Door Cinema Club to open for them at an impromptu homecoming Belfast show in the Limelight to kick off their European tour. That was a great occasion and again the response from new listeners was really positive so that one deserves an honourable mention also!
► Are we more likely to see people throwing shapes or moshing out at one of your gigs?
Peter: Hopefully a little bit of both! With the album it was our intention to create an off-kilter, banging pop dance record that sounded like a band with elements of electro & house production, & our live show reflects this blurring of genre boundaries. Just before christmas we performed in the Mandela Hall at the ‘Benefit’ event to what was perhaps a little more of a ‘rock’-orientated audience than your average Ed Zealous show, & our set was really well received with plenty of dancing, moshing & everything in-between!
► What have these recent releases been leading up to? Is there an EP or Album in the works?
Peter: We have a 10 track album completely finished, mastered and ready to unleash on the world! ‘Medicines’ and ‘Diamonds for Eyes’ (an album teaser we gave away before christmas) are a great introduction to the band for new listeners and offer glimpses of how the full-length is going to sound. We’re currently working out some of the finer points of the release but expect to drop the album proper early this Autumn.
► Might any of your older tracks feature?
Peter: This is a question we’ve been asked quite often recently with the impending release. Some of the older tracks still stand up as great pieces of work, but when the time came to make an album we felt it was more appropriate to record the songs that documented the ‘here & now’ of the band & that we’re a true representation of us as artists in that moment. Not to mention that our more recent work reflects how much we’ve grown as songwriters & these tracks are easily the best we’ve ever written.
► You recently have worked with Producer Eliot James, what was that like?
Andrew Wilson: Working with Eliot was just a pleasure. A friend hooked us up with him a while back and he did a quick mix of an early recording of Diamonds for Eyes. Recording relationships have always been a mixed bag, but this one little home demo came back – which he later admitted he mixed in like an hour or something, and it was just spellbinding. There were no questions about wanting him for the album.
Overall, making the album had more of a DIY ethic than the blistering production might suggest. We worked tirelessly on demos at home, slicing and dicing them till they felt right, and these ended up being the templates that went to be worked on in Start together with Rocky – another legend. Its a running joke in the band that a lot of the album was made on Steve’s absolutely knackered laptop – which had wires hanging out and was held together in places by bits of tinfoil. We were so skint from the time put into the album that Steve couldn’t pay his phone bills – I remember driving round his neighbourhood one night with him to try and poach someone’s wi-fi from out on the street so we could download a manual for a synth, mental. Its a beautiful miracle how far these crazy fractured sessions made it – through Start together and then to Eliot, who just knew instinctively what we were trying to achieve sonically, and did the business with little or no direction. I wish all working relationships could be so seamless.
► How are the next few months shaping up for Ed Zealous?
Andrew: Next up on the live front is our single launch party this Friday April 12th at the Stiff Kitten, Belfast, where we’ll be joined by the outstanding Wonder Villains & Go Wolf. We have a few special things planned for that show & Not Squares will be rounding off the party with a banging DJ set so we really can’t wait for that one! We’re also looking forward to returning to Dublin for a headline show in Whelans later in the month. Beyond that we have a UK tour & some summer festival appearances in the works, and we’re finalizing our release plans and artwork for the album. That’s all we can divulge with you at this stage but keep an eye on our social media for more news & announcements very soon.