Zr. King is an explosive sonic collision of raucous swagger, anthemic hooks, and a relentless live show.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Griffin Lotti - vocals & guitar
Brandon Lotti - bass & vocals
Matt Thompson - guitar & vocals
Medley Shabazz - drums and more drums, & vocals
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Zr. King? How long has the band been around?
Griffin & Brandon played with New York rock outfit Social Hero for over a decade prior to starting Zr. King. Matt and Medley were in New Jersey’s The Minor Lift, and Medley still keeps time with a few other acts, notably Cancion Franklin & The Family Band. He was also a drum line instructor at Rutgers University, so if you like getting down to that type of stuff, he’s your guy. Griffin started working on the first riffs that became Zr. King songs in the early 2000s, and the band started in earnest in 2012.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
We had a list of band names a mile long, and one of them was Zombie Robot King. That abbreviated was Zr. King, and that looked pretty cool to us. Plus the domain name was available, which any band knows can be a major pain in the ass. Added bonus: there isn’t anybody between us and ZZ Top on the album shelf. Yet, at least. Zsa Zsa Gabor never made a rock record, right?
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
The final product, at least musically, is pretty much always a collaboration - but the origin of a song can come from any one of us. Things usually take shape in a rehearsal jam if we all get excited about something, or one of us will come in with a skeleton and we build the rest up from there. Griffin writes most of the lyrics, and usually maps the vocals and harmonies out after the instrumentation is solid.
There aren’t specific topics or themes that we focus on (at least not intentionally) - everything is fair game. For example, our latest single Welcome to Bearizona was inspired by the Percy Shelley poem “Ozymandias” which has roots in history (the story of Ramesses II) and is a pop culture touchstone (e.g. Breaking Bad). The lyrics are centered on the idea of time itself as protagonist - the great equalizer of all humankind. The more we grow, learn, and live, the more we’ll have to write about.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon, and Red Fang. The latest Slash record is pretty good too. Can’t go wrong with Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, or Muse. Spacehog. Zeppelin. ZZ Top. If it grooves, we’re into it.
We always like to check out what our peers are doing too; Cancion Franklin released a new EP recently called Stone For Stone that we’re digging. Fire up your El Camino for a drive through the Tucson boneyard and throw that record on; there’s magic in that.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
Everybody in the band has a different comment for this one, so let’s break it down:
Griffin: The Refreshments at Irving Plaza in ’96. Brian Blush played a Les Paul. Tonic and Dishwalla on the bill too. That night changed my life.
Matt: Misfits on Halloween in ‘96 at the Birch Hill in NJ. Small club, dead center, first live show, first pit. Never been the same.
Brandon: Stone Temple Pilots. Secret show, Irving Plaza, April 2000. Front row. Kept us waiting for two hours. Opened with Crackerman. Trajectory altered.
Medley: Tony! Toni! Toné! My mom taught at Stockton University where they performed. Show was solid but the way they controlled the crowd blew my mind. Kinda made me uncomfortable because it was love making music and I was there with my mom and a bunch of horny co-eds. But those uncomfortable experiences define your adult life.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, etc …
It’s always preferable to have time to warm up, play some guitar exercises, and run some vocal harmonies. That’s not always an option - most of the time, it’s set up, line check, rock out, tear down, grab a cold one. Your first song often IS your warm up. But we just make the most of it and have fun.
Though we’ve certainly done a few “go out to the van and sing some songs” warm ups before a show. The challenge there is usually to avoid drinking too many beers in the van. Or having to talk your way out of getting arrested because your van is weirdly parked in a post office lot next to the venue and the cops think you’re doing a dope deal. But that’s a story for another day.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
We wrote and recorded our first album in a matter of weeks; that was definitely a high note. Releasing our second album is another major highlight. We have a ton of good times, it’s hard to nail down one as the definitive best. We’ve got another couple dozen songs we’ve yet to record, so there’s lots still to come. Our eyes are firmly focused on the horizon, but our feet are grounded in how awesome it is to be able to write, record and get out to play in the moment with this group of guys.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Current tour? Put us on a bill sandwiched between Eagles Of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age, and that would be a-ok with us. Or, do the Foo Fighters need an opening act? We’re game for that. Basically any group we could go out with and rock daily. Clutch and Red Fang? Sure. Mastodon with Primus? We’d do that. Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers? Well, we like tequila and we love Mexico, so that works too. Led Zeppelin with Zombie Bonham? That’s a bucket list opportunity right there.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Our second album, Musically & Morally Bankrupt will be out on 5/17/2019. You can connect with us on Instagram (@zoctorking) or at our website: www.ZrKing.com. We’re on the Facebook wall too. If you’re in New York City, look us up. We’re always down to party. Thanks to Kill The Music for interviewing us!