Tribute Band Interview: Zoo Station* - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-31-2005, 06:11 AM   #1
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Tribute Band Interview: Zoo Station*

By Brenda Clemons

Whether you're an avid U2 fan wanting to relieve an experience or just curious about what a U2 concert would be like, those in the San Francisco area are encouraged to check out Zoo Station. Formed in 2002, the four members—Adamesque, Barely Larry, The Sledge and Bonalmost—are not just U2 fans but talented musicians in their own right. With Adamesque and Barely Larry on the rhythm section, you can't help but stomp your feet to beloved anthems like "Sunday Blood Sunday." The Sledge's guitar will take you to soaring heights and Bonalmost will have you believing that he's the real thing.

Recently, had the opportunity to talk with the band before a U2 pre-show concert in San Jose, California and discussed why U2 is important to the band and the members' relationships with area U2 fans.

What made you decide to form this band?

Adamesque: We actually met on craigslist, I put a post on it. You can do all sorts of things [on craigslist], you can sell and buy things, you can meet people. I was just kind of bored with what I was doing musically. I was kind of uninspired. I had just gotten out of a long relationship with an original band. It was all original material [and] it was fun but I was uninspired and decided I needed to develop some skills as a bass player. What's a better way to learn to play bass than by playing a band where the bass player's not super-hard to mimic? So I figured this was a great opportunity to learn a new instrument, meet some new friends and so, I put an ad on craigslist. I got probably about 200 emails, at least. One of the first to catch my eye was Sledge, so he was the first, along with another Bono we had before. The original members we had were Bonalmost, myself and The Sledge, [then] Barely Larry came up to me and said, "I can play drums better than that."

Barely Larry: I was a little more diplomatic, I said, "I have to play drums with your band." I basically learned to play drums by listening to U2. I was 14, 15. I locked myself in my room one summer with a drum set and the "War" album and until I could get from beginning to end, I just kept plugging away."

Were you on a whole summer of being grounded?

Barely Larry: Pretty much, exactly, yes. You know that's where my roots as a musician are so when I stumbled across these guys I just walked up and said, "I don't need to rehearse, just tell me where the show is. I'll bring my gear and I'm ready to go."

The Sledge: Granted, we did rehearse.

Adamesque: We had one rehearsal. He did fill in a few times and it was a great fit. He definitely embodies Larry's spirit. It's a good spirit to have."

(Photo courtesy of Zoo Station)

Do you feel like you have a spiritual connection with U2?

Adamesque: I think even though none of us have met the guys, I think last night just being where I was, hearing them and seeing them live and just kind of feeling what they were going through, I can't help feeling this pulse that was running through my veins the entire night. And I wasn't critical about the music, I was really, for the first time, enjoying them as a musical collective. I was really enjoying the band.

Bonalmost: For me, my political thoughts and ambitions came from listening to U2 originally and, really, that's where I started to grow and mature that way, so there is that sort of bond beyond music. Everything I've ever done has wound up sounding like U2. So musically, politically, all across the board there just seems to be some sort of bond there.

Adamesque: There's some weird connection where we never leave sight of the fact that we're a tribute band and there's these other four guys from Ireland who've been doing the heavy lifting for 25 years, so we don't take ourselves too seriously. But at the same time, one of the things that makes us unique among tribute bands is that we are completely, unconditionally in love with the band and the music that we're paying tribute to. None of us would have been musicians or expressing ourselves artistically the way we do if we had not been exposed to U2 at the age we were exposed to them. For me they're the epicenter of my musical universe.

Bonalmost, you do a really god job of mimicking Bono. How long did it take you to get it down?

Bonalmost: Ask me again in about a year, I'm still working at it. Listening as much as I can to every time he speaks and recording it. It's a lot of work at home. In the beginning we didn't do any of it, I was just up there every night chattering away and we didn't wear any of the costumes or anything.

Adamesque: We'd go on in our street clothes and every time Joshua [Bonalmost] would pull out a pair of sunglasses and put them on, people would just go nuts. Then he'd put on a jacket. Then Sledge put on a 7 shirt. We added piece by piece and pretty soon we just said, "You know, the further we take this the more people go with us." Every time we think we've taken it too far the phone starts ringing, the more people start coming out to see us.

It's crazy because we always think people are just going to laugh us out of the club. Every time we take it to another level, it's done nothing but lead to more success for us, so it's just been one pleasant surprise after another.

Do you have your own set of groupies following you around?

Adamesque: Oh yeah, Sledge gets the most groupies.

Sledge: The groupies that I get are guitar geeks.

Barely Larry: He gets e-mails constantly.

Sledge: They're fascinated by the pedal board and all that kind of stuff. Now, of course, Larry gets the groupies. He bears the burden of being the attractive one, just like the real one.

Barely Larry: What are you going to do? Everyone has their cross to bear.

Sledge: There are some devoted U2 fans out there and I think a lot of these people channel their energy towards us during the non-touring season. We see a lot of familiar faces, they become friends and it's become one big family.

(Photo courtesy of Zoo Station)

Do you ever do weddings? I can imagine two U2 fans meeting up, fall in love and decide they want a tribute band playing their reception.

Sledge: Our biggest fan comes to all our shows. She met her current boyfriend at one of our shows and they've been together a-year-and-a-half, almost two years. They never miss a show. Back to the wedding question, we're playing our first wedding come September.

Bonalmost: I'm waiting for our first Bar Mitzvah. Sledge can wear a yarmulke.

Barely Larry: The goal when I first started the group was to play Bimbos and open up for [Neil Diamond tribute] Super Diamond. I've seen Super Diamond, I love what they do and that's what I want to emulate. I just wanted to play Bimbos and open up for them. In a month we're playing Bimbos and opening up for ['80s dance music tribute] Tainted Love.

We're actually playing Filmore for a private event and the Filmore doesn't do cover bands. They're world famous, the greatest club in San Francisco and we get to play there. That's going to be the most magical moment of my career. All of our expectations have been exceeded and I just laughed when I got the phone call, "What do you mean we're playing the Filmore? And they're paying us? What universe did I wake up in this morning?" Like I said, just a couple of years ago we were getting on stage in our street clothes for laughs just because we love their music, and everything has happened since.

Do you ever think the crowd forgets that you're not U2? Do you ever think that, for a split second, they get lost in the fantasy?

Bonalmost: Some people say, "You took me back to when I was 14 and at Red Rocks. When you guys broke into 'Surrender,' I remembered being there." I think that's pretty close and I think it's actually better that it takes them back to a time when they felt really good about themselves. If we can give them some sort of experience, a memory, something strong that they can take away, that's what U2 does for us. If we can make them remember U2 and what they did at a certain time, take them back, that's really when we're at our best.

Barely Larry: Every single show, at least two or three times, I'll look out in the crowd and I'll see someone, they'll look at us and they'll look away and I can see their wheels turning, see that they are remembering something. Maybe there's just one chord change or one line in a verse, and you can see them go back into their head and relive something. Everybody that that happens to gets the same expression on their face. I've seen that so many times and that's when I hit the next cymbal a little harder. It's so exciting because I know what they're going through. And to have the opportunity to give that to somebody is huge.

It's almost like a spiritual connection that only music can bring.

Sledge: In general, all of us have connected. Like with Barely Larry, being locked up in his room with the "War" album. The same thing happened to me. I actually had to leave my home for awhile, I had to go live with my dad when I was 13 years old. I spent the summer listening to the War album. The very first song I learned on guitar was "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Just from learning "Sunday Bloody Sunday," I realized there were a few deep tracks on that album that affected me emotionally. Now that we get to play them live and share them with everyone else, I hope that people connect the same way that I did on that album.

If you met U2, what would you say to the band?

Adamesque: We'd love to say, "Hi and thank you for everything." They've inspired me musically, they've inspired me to play, period. And to also be politically aware and socially conscience about everything.

Bonalmost: "Thank you."

Barely Larry: "Larry, if you happen to have an extra one of those $900 snare drums hanging around…"

Adamesque: "Adam, well, you're my favorite."

Anything else you'd like to share with readers?

Bonalmost: We're here because there's something that U2 does to us that we want to give to people who can't get it from them directly. We're there to keep the energy going. I think what we do is akin to acting and we play a "Romeo and Juliet" every night. People don't go to "Romeo and Juliet" and boo the actors because they're not Shakespeare. For us, U2 are Shakespeare and we're just out there acting, producing, trying to do the best passionate, emotional, true-to-life version of the original thing.

For a list of upcoming shows, or for booking information, visit the Zoo Station's website at

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Old 08-04-2005, 12:52 PM   #2
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I cant believe I had never seen this interview!! Thanks for pointing it out Brono
And remember Zoo Station, you are gonna HAVE to play my wedding someday
And for any of you that have never seen Zoo Station perform, as my boyfriend tells people, they are MY 2nd favorite band
Zoo Station rocks!!!
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