Interview for Time Bomb fanzine, done February 2005, but printed 2005
1. Ok, to start with could you just quickly introduce the Zatopeks, and give us a brief history of the band?
Will: We started as a piss-take Ramones-core band in Birmingham in 2001. Me, Seb and Pete were playing in 3 1/2 Inch Floppy. Originally we were going to sing in our own made-up language and the first song we ever wrote was called "Ssk Meen Hend". Thank fuck we ditched that approach early on. I was just playing the top string of the bass with my thumb so we got Sammie in and gradually started writing some real songs and gigging a lot. We did a European tour in 2003 and after that Spider joined on second guitar.
2. So, I recently received the news that your next release will be with Stardumb Records in the Netherlands. How did that come about? It must be pretty exciting to be working with a label that's released records by The Methadones, Groovie Ghoulies and The Vindictives, to name but a few?
Will: Our second ever gig was in Rotterdam (home of Stardumb) and we've been coming there a lot for gigs or parties ever since so we've got to know everyone really well. And yeah, of course it's exciting having an album put out by a label that's released records by so many great bands! We're still too scared to talk to half of them and frequently make complete twats of ourselves.
Sammie: It's been a long four years of hanging around the Stardumb office and annoying Dutch people but we finally got it.
3. I know Sebby runs a label, All-Nite Records. Is there any kind of a 'deal' with Stardumb, or is it just a one-off release? If so, will you be releasing any more records on All-Nite?
Sebby: I started All-Nite a few years ago as running a record label was something I’d wanted to do for a while. I’ve done 3 releases, one of which was the 20belows/Zatopeks split 7”. It wasn’t started just to release Zatopeks records, so it’s not the case that All-Nite is our label. The album will be the third different label that we’ve had a release on so far. As for more releases on All-Nite, I’m not sure yet – we’ll have to see how it goes. I’m really happy with all 3 releases – the Ritalins 7”, the 20belows/Zatopeks split 7” and a split CD of 3 different European girl-fronted pop-punk bands – the Hunchbacks, the Battledykes and the Waukees. Everyone should check that record out, especially to hear the Hunchbacks – our drummer Pete also plays in that band, and they’re fantastic – www.thehunchbacks.com
4. You've played shows all over Europe- Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark. do you enjoy playing in other countries? How have you generally been received on the continent?
Spider: We love playing abroad because it's just like going on holiday to visit interesting places but then we get to play shows and meet loads of amazing people as well, who are really glad that an English band has made the effort to come over to play for them. Not that it even takes that much effort really, so if folk are willing to have us play, then we are game!
Sebby: Spider’s right…it’s just great to be able to travel so
much, and meet so many different people. We’ve made some really good friends in
various countries over the last few years, had the chance to play with some
brilliant bands, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it.
5. On a similar note, do you see much of a difference between the punk scene in the UK and the scenes in any of those countries?
Spider: From the perspective of being in a band and the way the band is treated then yes, there definitely is a difference. This isn't so much the punk scene but the live music scene in general, as you get way better treatment on the continent than you do here, like you will get food and beer provided at every show and then usually be paid on top of that as well. Everything just seems to be way more organised over there and there is a general enthusiasm amongst those who attend shows that seems to be a little lacking in the UK. May be it's a case of the grass being greener but I certainly notice a difference every time we go over there to play. I guess the difference in drinking laws mean there is a lot more scope for carrying on with the party after the show is done rather than just packing up and going to wherever you're gonna sleep straightaway.
6. Who, or what, would you say are your main influences, both musically and lyrically? How would you describe your music to someone who had never heard you before?
Will: The musical ones would be bands like Screeching Weasel, the Ramones, even Cock Sparrer lately. 60s girl-groups like the Ronettes and Shangri-Las are musical and lyrical influences on our 'Jimmy' songs, while Aaron Cometbus (Cleveland Bound Death Sentence, Pinhead Gunpowder) and Tom Waits are big lyrical influences the rest of the time. Someone once described us as 'Football pop-punk', I like that.
Sammie: Yeah, see you on the terraces
Sebby: For those of you who don’t know us, Jimmy is the leader of the rival gang to the Zatopeks – the Vipers. Jimmy and the Vipers crop up in a few of the songs on the new album. Some people say we’re delusional… We’ve also been described in the past as sounding like Buddy Holly covering Rocket to Russia.
Pete: I recently described our live show as being like a car crash; messy but compulsive viewing!!
7. Your last release was a split 7" with the 20 Belows, which was on really nice, thick white vinyl. Which do you prefer, CDs or vinyl, and why?
Will: Vinyl! There's more warmth and depth to the sound. If there's a choice of formats I never buy CDs anymore.
Sammie: That's true. Everything about vinyl is better. Buying it, holding it, spinning it. Good stuff.
Sebby: Vinyl is the definitely the cooler format, but CDs are so much more practical, so I don’t really buy a lot of vinyl any more. We’re actually hoping to have our album available on vinyl too, but we’re not sure which label that will be on yet though, as Stardumb don’t release vinyl any more.
8. Ok, that's all, thanks for the interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add/plug?
Sebby: Our first album, ‘Ain’t Nobody Left But Us’ will be out on Stardumb Records (www.stardumbrecords.com) in March, so check that out. There should be a couple of mp3s up there too by the time you read this. We’ll be doing a Dutch tour to promote the album, and we’re playing the Stardumb Winter Rumble festival in Belgium too. We’ve got a few shows lined up in the UK after we get back, including London and Liverpool. Check out our website at www.zatopeks.com for the latest dates. And thanks for the interview!
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