Zero 7 Interview

Sam Hardaker of Zero 7 talks about the debut release, the Garden, their inspiration behind the music, working with José González and Sia Furler, and how the experimental electronic band will have it out on the summer touring front. Let Zero 7 come through for you in this dynamic conversational tradeoff!

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Zero 7 Interview

Mike Rudolph:  Zero 7 is a very unique collaboration and the music is experimental.  Your debut release, [the Garden], is a lot more upbeat than past releases?  What can you tell me about the music on the album?

Sam Hardaker:  It’s a different time and we really enjoyed it this time.  [On the last record] it was a struggle and this time it was a completely different atmosphere.  Having been through [the experiences over the first two albums] it has proven to be helpful.  This time around we felt a lot more comfortable. 

Mike Rudolph:  What is it that influences your songwriting?

Sam Hardaker:  Primarily, I think it was just the fact that we didn’t want to struggle or labor over the songwriting process.  This time, we just would go over to Henry’s [Henry Binns, other founding member of Zero 7] place, got into [the music] and got a good momentum going on.  This was a completely different and more enjoyable time than the last time.

Mike Rudolph:  Usually things come together a lot easier if you don’t try so hard.

Sam Hardaker:  Yeah.  The first time we made an album, it just came together almost by accident.  We released a few EP’s all at different times, we got a record deal and [the record company] then wanted to put all of the music out on a full-length album.  So, we recorded three more songs and put together our first record, [Simple Things].  The second record, [When It Falls], was the first time that anyone ever just said, “let’s make an album.”  That attitude created a very difficult atmosphere and this is a very typical situation for the second album scenario.  This was a beneficial experience and it forced us to learn a little bit about how we wanted to do things, the same or differently, on [the Garden]. 

Mike Rudolph:  What would you say the message is behind the new record and what inspired you to write the latest songs?

Sam HardakerI don’t think that there’s ever been a message really.  At least, not consciously.  It’s more a selfish approach and we are just trying to satisfy ourselves I suppose.  So, there isn’t a message and I guess that’s kind of a copout.  We had a really great time making the record and that’s all there is to it. 

Mike Rudolph:  The music sounds like you had a good time making it as well. 

Sam Hardaker:  Yeah.  [He says with a smile]

Mike Rudolph:  What is the music scene like back home in England and how does your music resonate with the people?

Sam Hardaker:  It’s doing pretty well.  I have no idea as to where it fits in with the scene.  I have never been too interested in being part of a scene.  There are a lot of new bands coming up and I am not sure where we fit in. 

Mike Rudolph:  You say you’re not trying to fit any specific genre of music.  What would you call your music? 

Sam Hardaker:  I don’t know.  People call our music all kinds of shit, but none of these terms resonate with me.  The music that [Henry and I play is just what appeals to us].  We are both into many different kinds of music and that most likely plays a part in our inspiration. 

Mike Rudolph:  It is to my understanding that you guys like all kinds of music.  What kinds of music are you into?

Sam Hardaker:  We grew up listening to a lot of similar stuff.  In the time we were growing up in London, hip hop was on the rise and groove-oriented music was popular.  Some of the old records from the 70’s became popular again due to the use of samples in hip hop music.  I personally listen to a lot more electronic music and Henry listens to a lot of folk and classic rock.  At heart, we like a lot of soulful music. 

Mike Rudolph:  On your latest album, the Garden, you worked with José González and Sia Furler.  What was it like working with them?

Sam Hardaker:  It was wonderful.  Their presence and musicianship really helped to create the atmosphere on the record.  They both were coming from different countries and each time one of them arrived, it would give us the inspiration we needed to create more material. 

Mike Rudolph:  José just played a show here in Los Angeles.  It was amazing.

Sam Hardaker:  We just finished a UK Tour over here with both José and Sia.  Now both of them have gone over to the US to do a bit of their own touring.  We will hook up later in the summer to do the Zero 7 tour with the both of them.  At that time, we will also do a KCRW show as well. 

Mike Rudolph:  KCRW… they are doing something great for music around here.

Sam Hardaker:  We’ve done sessions with them before and they seem to be one of the better radio stations to work with.  They have invited us to do shows a couple of times at the Hollywood Bowl. 

Mike Rudolph:  What does Zero 7 have planned for the summertime?  Festivals?  Mini-tours?

Sam Hardaker:  We will be performing at a bunch of festivals all over Europe.  We just did a two-week tour all over the UK in support of our latest album.  That will take us through to August and we will come to the US.  The live stuff is really quite different to what we have been doing and we are really pleased with how it’s worked out.

Mike Rudolph:  I am excited to see how it all unfolds in a live situation.  What will the live show be like?  If someone has not seen you guys at all, how would you explain your performances?

Sam Hardaker:  This time there is a stronger electronic element to our music.  We have a couple of laptops that will be running samples and loops in sequence with the live instruments (i.e. drums, bass guitar and keys).  José and Sia are constantly involved.  If they are not the lead vocalists, they participate in other ways by singing back-up vocals, playing percussion, etc.  We also have a little bar on stage and if you really have nothing to do, you can go and have a drink [a devious laugh vibrates my inner ear].  It gives everyone a reason to be on stage!

Mike Rudolph:  That’s a good idea.  Why didn’t I think of that?

Sam Hardaker:  Sometimes it can feel like you’re in some kind of fucked up cabaret thing with people coming and going on stage.  It can feel a little bit disjointed and it feels more inclusive if everybody is just there for the whole stay.

Mike Rudolph:  When you’re playing up on stage, what is it like for you guys?  Is there some kind of spiritual release?  What does it mean to you?

Sam Hardaker:  I’ve never experienced anything like this.  I didn’t grow up playing in bands and I’m pretty new to this.  Even though I have toured with Zero 7 a few times now, it’s still a very thrilling experience and I’m in that space where it blows me away every time.  What I really appreciate is having all of these other people around.  I am not stage material otherwise.  Without all of these other people making me feel secure and fun on stage, I wouldn’t do it.  Somehow, when there is a bunch of people experiencing it together, it’s really special.  I don’t think that Henry and I would tour just the two of us because it would be rather boring. 

Mike Rudolph:  What are your favorite musicians and what records are hitting home for you?  What’s in your stereo?

Sam Hardaker:  It’s not new, but I have been into this band called Talk, Talk.  The vocalist, Mark Hollis, has a solo album.  It is an incredibly beautiful and intimate record.  I just bought a record by an artist called Dabrye.  He’s a producer from Detroit that makes great techno [compilations].  He makes this kind of weird electronic hip hop.  There are a lot of conscious hip hop artists and the music is going into some interesting places.  There is nothing else at the moment that I am in love with at the moment. 

Mike Rudolph:  That being said, what is your take on the music business?

Sam Hardaker:  I am not that involved with the music business.  I am involved in as much as I need to be in order to do my music.

Mike Rudolph:  Well, thanks for taking the time out to talk about your music.

Sam Hardaker:  Thank you.

Video: Zero 7 in the studio

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