Zombie Giuliani – Interview – Thanks for Asking!
Written by Staff on November 24, 2023
Zombie Giuliani – Thanks for Asking, by Liam Sweeny.
RRX: Every comic book hero has an origin story. What is the origin story for the band? (points if you tell it like a comic book origin.)
ZG: As a chronic underachiever, I will pass on the extra points. In 2017/19-ish I was playing in The Machine that Wouldn’t Die, an earlier iteration of Nathan Meltz’s House of Tomorrow project. Before that, I hadnt had a band since My Survival Kit, a project with Chris Skinner, Chris Harvey, Julia Alsarraf, and my wife Victoria Kereszi. That was back circa 2010 before children entered the life picture. After Nathan’s band evolved, I was kind of without a project, but had the routine and the energy to keep live music in my life and was also trying harder than usual to develop a guitar playing style of my own. So, I really just organized weekly jams with friends and invited people in who I wanted to play with. Eventually the ZG ensemble emerged and we made up some stuff that we could remember from week to week. This was right at around the time of Trump’s first impeachment when Rudy Giuliani was really emerging onto the current political scene as the insane buffoon that he is. He was an ideal target for sarcasm and ridicule, and also just a great content creator – the dripping hair dye, shaving at an airport restaurant, press conference at the landscaping joint – you can’t write this stuff. Plus… this guy was like once the “mayor of america”. His path from NYC hardass to 9/11 hero to disgusting clown puppet felt very sardonic and symbolic to me. Initially, I wanted to just steal his name and call the band Rudy Giuliani. But Zombie Giuliani stuck for whatever reason.
RRX: Every band’s first song is a milestone. But so is the latest song. Describe the first song/album you recorded, and also the latest song/album you recorded; what are the differences?
ZG: I think our first jam… the first riff that we jammed on and felt good about, we called ‘Bohemian Groove’. But that one never made the cut for any sort of recording or performance and does not have any words associated with it. Our first official song was “Cars” on our 2020 record, Shitshow. This song fits the Zombie Giuliani formula, like most…. a catchy riff, a simple ‘rantra’ (rant+mantra), and some sort of breakdown in the middle – be it a grimy solo or some noisy part, or both. I think our latest tune written is called “Breeders for Consumerism,” but that one might not even be done yet, so you could say the latest tune was “Precious.” Precious stands out because Chris (bass) pretty much wrote the riff and the lyrics (rantra) were done collectively over text messages… so thats kinda cool or different for us. Most of my lyrics are written by me (Andrew) and are perhaps obviously born out of intense disdain for politicians, billionaires, and war-mongers, and a dystopian frustration with humanity. In general, I don’t think our style has evolved that much from early songs to now – we’ve just gotten better at playing them and hopefully better at delivering a good live show.
RRX: Like songs, every band has a unique feeling about their first show. What was your first show like? Was it your best show? If not, what was your best show like?
ZG: Our first official show was supposed to be March 19, 2020. That didn’t work out! So our actual first show was done on a pile of rubble in the pit that used to be Troy City Hall. We did a DIY appearance for the culmination of Troy’s amazing Flagssss parade which is a queer and anti-fascist re-imagining of Troys traditional Flag day parade put on by an amazing art collective here in Troy. We set up literally on a pile of concrete rubble and plugged our amps into a battery pack. We were in balaclavas, and we probably didn’t sound that great, but it was our official launch and a lot of fun.
RRX: Music genres are difficult for some bands. Some strictly adhere; others not so much. What is your perspective on the genre you play, or the genres you hover around?
ZG: I guess we are pretty officially a punk band. Our individual members (myself included) listen to and enjoy all kinds of music, and I can imagine myself doing all sorts of other projects, but Zombie Giuliani is pretty much on an anarchist punk rock mission. We get called ‘political’, which is fair I suppose, but really our songs are just dystopian poems at high volume, and high speed with plenty of distortion and some intentional shittiness. We love playing mixed bills, but not everyone wants a mixed bill… if we get booked in a hardcore line-up, we probably sound like a pop-dance band. If we play with lighter bands or in low-volume venues, we probably sound like a hardcore band. So, its all relative. I take Minutemen (Watt, D.Boon, and George Hurley) as an inspiration in this regard. I understand the utility of genre, but I don’t value allegiance to genre.
RRX: It’s a lot of fun living in the present, but we all collect memories and give birth to dreams. We’re talking dreams here. Where you see yourself next year? In the next five years?
ZG: I don’t think we planned on Zombie Giuliani lasting this long, so I have no idea. We are all older (2 GenX-ers and a Millenial), with jobs and families, so trying to “make it” as a band, whatever that means this day in age, is not really on the agenda. In my dreams, a tour would be fun, but its not realistic. I have two kids, and I would rather jam out with them in the basement than drive hours every day to play dive bars for gas money. Don’t get me wrong… younger, better people should definitely keep doing that! For now, we want to record another album and keep playing shows and developing our elite base of local fans – who have the best taste in the world, of course!!
RRX: We all get a little support from those around us. And we also can be impressed by our fellow bands. Who do you admire in your community, and why?
ZG: My admiration and solidarity goes out to the besieged Palestinian people and all those who are standing for a free Palestine and against the interests of war, capitalism, and apartheid. I especially appreciate and admire the Jewish voices that join this chorus because the courage required seems tremendous. As far as music scene stuff, I speak for all ZG members to say that we think the local music scene is awesome right now and we are honored to be a part of it. We have loved just about all the bands we end up playing with. It’s exciting to see young bands go out on tour and achieve different kinds of success. Its also exciting to see Gen-Xers like myself, and other parents, prioritizing playing music together. Also, huge shout-outs to the folks who love our music keep coming to shows. You know who you are. Having someone appreciate your art is a great feeling that does not always feel deserved, but we are humbled and thankful for the support.