As I write this it is the night before the dawn of a new era, a new paradigm - maybe a zombie apocalypse. If you are reading this, future citizen, I must say congratulations on your survival. Hopefully the world you live in is a glorious golden and sunny utopia free of strife and worry. Even if it's a full on global clusterfuck when New Year's Eve comes around and the streets are overrun with hopped-up flesh eaters, you must band together, arm yourselves to the teeth and find a way to 38th & Illinois St. You will find refuge in the hallowed punk rock ground of the Melody Inn New Year's Eve and see the very first Punk Rock Night appearance of The Zero Boys.
Twelve years ago, on the eve of the impending Y2K meltdown, The Zero Boys were playing at Moe & Johnny's. The boys threw down a legendary performance that included original guitarist Terry Hollywood's last appearance with the band. When the clock struck midnight and we all realized it was gonna be OK, the release of everyone's pent-up fears and anxieties turned into relief and then euphoria as the band ripped out a poignant and mind-destroying version of "Civilization's Dying." It was one of those perfect moments you can relive forever.
I recently had an e-mail exchange with the band's lead singer, Paul Mahern (a.k.a. Paul-Z) where we discussed the gig, as well as the upcoming NYE PRN meltdown.
NUVO: The last truly classic line-up played at Moe and Johnny's on the eve of the Y2K disaster. Now you'll be playing in the fresh aftermath of the Mayan calendar thing. What is it about this band and paradigm shifts?
Paul Mahern: Everything is always dying and being reborn. We are going through a great shift right now and joy and easy are the new way. The Zero Boys have been waiting for this shift since 1979. Love is the new punk.
NUVO: What memories do you have of the 1999 show?
Mahern: It was a blast, and it was amazing to play with Terry that night. I'm glad we got to do that before he passed from this physical world.
NUVO: The Zero Boys will play for the first time at the Indy punk rock capital, the Mel. This is exciting stuff, a milestone! What can we expect?
Mahern: We are super excited to play the Mel. You can expect us to give 150% to the crowd that night. We will play all the hits and some very punky new ones.
NUVO: Whats the line-up gonna be for this show? any special appearances?
Mahern: The line-up will be Dave Lawson on guitar, Scott Kellogg on bass, Mark Cutsinger on drums and me on vocals. Special appearances are everyone who wants to sing along. At this point our fans own these songs as much as we do and we get a ton of momentum from the folks up front.
NUVO: Seems your last Euro tour with this line-up was a big success. How has this changed things for the band?
Mahern: The tour was great and the new members bring a ton of excitement and power to the flow of the band. The tour was a great way to establish this new chapter. We played a ton of shows and the reaction was amazing. The tour has kicked us in gear again. "Easy and Joy" is our new motto.
NUVO: Are you recording for a new EP, LP or something else? How's that going?
Mahern: We have an EP coming out in the spring and a new album to follow in the fall. We will be playing at least four new songs on NYE. You can see a video of our song "Detroit Boys" on YouTube now. (Editor's note: See the video above.) We have been having a great time writing together.
NUVO: I notice you asked Facebook fans for a song title. Did you write it? Also, how have your approach to songwriting changed since you started?
Mahern: We did write a song called pro dirt that was a suggestion from Facebook friends. On this record, we have been intentionally writing fast and not second-guessing ourselves. We just set up in the studio and as soon as we have an idea we record it. It takes us about two hours a song from concept to final master.
NUVO: How is this different from the way songs on Vicious Circle were recorded?
Mahern:I think it's very similar to Vicious Circle, except we didn't have a studio to work in so we wrote and recorded on a four-track and then went to the studio and made the record in a day.
NUVO: Indy's other hardcore titans are playing across town; feeling a sense of competition?
Mahern: Who's that? Ha ha, just kidding. Toxic Reasons have always been and always will be one of the best rock bands. They are our brothers, and I bow down before them. I would not want to compete with that. We do things differently than they do -- it's apples and oranges.