Innovation continues to provide us with sounds we’ve never heard the likes of before – the latest mix of genre breaking style coming from LA-based Zweng, whose moniker could be used just as well to describe their sound. Just sample their latest release, “Notes From Needle, Vol 1”, a stripped-down collection that the band says is “an attempt to get to the soul and core of the songs; meaningful words, memorable melodies and pure hearts behind it all.” Needless to say, Zweng prides itself on its insight, its ability to tap into the thinking between the ears of their listeners.

As mentioned before, it isn’t easy to classify Zweng. Zweng themselves say “A lot of people say ‘retro sounding’ or ‘classic yet fresh’ when they describe our sound.  I think that ‘soulful’ is something I describe the sound as, especially live. I’m trying to write timeless songs here, songs that don’t spoil with age, so hell maybe I can call them ‘good’.” Lot of passion there. Check out “Notes From Needle, Vol 1” and prepare for an epic tour (if they can pull off the “International Waters Tour”). You’ll have to get into the XXQ’s however, to learn just what that’s all about. Read on!

XXQs: Zweng (PEV): How would you describe your sound? 

A lot of people say  "retro sounding" or "classic yet fresh" when they describe our sound.  I think that "soulful" is something I describe the sound as, especially live.  I’m trying to write timeless songs here, songs that don’t spoil with age, so hell maybe I can call them "good".

PEV: Based out of Los Angeles, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up?

 I dug old school 60's stuff, Motown classics, Beatles and Brit invasion, Patsy Cline and Mammas and Pappas.  Also a good dose of CBGB style late 70's rock like the Ramones and "Blank Generation".  I know Jon Hakakian, the producer and keys player grew up in the downtown LA electronic music scene more than I did.  He has a whole side to him that’s all electronic, and glitchy; which he brings into our sound at times.  We kind of view Radiohead as a good example of the genesis these fusions can create: classic foundations mixed with modern electronic colorings.   

PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live Zweng show?

At best: a spiritually altering, soul quenching journey into the realms of new possibilities.  At worst:  A really fun, crazy time.  We are working a lot to get our live sound ready for full-on interstellar take off.  Tray tables and seat backs in their up-right and locked positions kind of stuff.  There is a ton of power in our songs and players.  We sometimes look around at each other with a little twitch of hesitation, like "Woah, this thing could be really f-ing powerful!". You can actually hear something we made while warming up at our first rehearsal, called "Gimme Something", here:

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage? 

Ahh, this feels GOOD!

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

It’s funny, because its usually after some heart-breaking, frustrating or troubling experience that the songs come to me.  Though music is meant to be uplifting, so trying to find redemption in heartbreak seams to be a theme in my songs. "City Something" for example was written while sleeping in my van one night in LA, feeling very lonely, but oddly free.  Experiences that I take from my life or my travels often lead to songs, places like Africa and New Orleans, where I have spent time and found a lot of unique influences.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, “Notes From Needle, Vol 1”. What can fans expect from this?

We took a more stripped-down approach on this album, in an attempt to get to the soul and core of the songs; meaningful words, memorable melodies and pure hearts behind it all. They should expect to be very pleased, it’s raw, yet subliminally beautiful and powerful.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

We haven't gotten to tour yet! It nags me every night.  I swear, some people dream of mansions and swimming pools, I dream of tour busses and juke joints.  I have done a lot of traveling on my own, mostly because I have gypsy blood, and I can't sit still.  So I am working to get us out on tour very soon.  We will have a lot to offer live, so I'm looking to find some touring bands that need support to start working with.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

Ya, when I get the power and money I’m going to do something called the "International Waters Tour'".  I want to buy a huge yacht or war ship and outfit the back with a massive stage.  Then we can just dock up to all the port cities and rock out from the boat.  SF, LA, Long Beach, San Diego, down through Panama and over to the East Coast. Take the party with us back out to sea when we're done, no laws, International Waters baby!  Just pirates we got to worry about. 

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Well we have been working to build a scene where we are, with the people we are with.  So we push the envelope a lot, throw insane parties where we play music and make costumes, like the Animal Party, or Chocolate Party (that’s next...)  Like I said I travel a lot, and am working on a novel, so that takes me around a bit.  I paint when commissions come my way as well. Steve Riley, our drummer is a full-time studio musician, so he's drumming non stop. And Jon works as a producer full time; he just worked as an engineer on Stanley Clark's latest Grammy winner in fact.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

I want to work with Jack White.   We have the same souls, I can feel it.  My Paracelsus Blues Conspiracy EP, which I recorded in New Orleans, has a White Stripes vibe. I know we could sit around comparing influences and songs for days without end. The universe would really benefit from a collaboration between us, so hopefully it figures that out soon and puts us in the same room before too long.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

Ya, Zweng.  We are working really hard to bring people meaningful music on record and live.  I hope it won't be too much longer before people check into what we are up to, because I know we are on the pulse of something great.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?

Astronauts... We all want to go to space.

PEV: So, what is next for Zweng?

Well as the album name states these three songs are only Part 1 of the Notes From Needle album.  So we are getting ready to record and release the Part 2, and are booking shows for the Fall and Winter.  We also have a few singles up our sleeves, so be on the lookout for those. is the place to go to keep posted.  Thanks guys!

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