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Published: 2010/11/24

New Groove: Zoogma

Our latest New Groove act is Zoogma Based in Oxford, Mississippi, Zoogma “combines the sonic diversity and precision of a DJ with the excitement and immediacy of a five piece rock group.” The lien-up features Preston Boutot (keyboards), Brock Bowling (guitar, Production), Matt Harris (drums, production), Justin Hasting (guitars, synthesizer), Ryan Nall (bass, synthesizer, production). Here is what the group has to say about its origins and future plans.

Can you talk about the development of the group? How did you meet everyone and how did the current line-up solidify?

Matt: The whole story is kind of long but I’ll go ahead and lay it all out. The band originally formed as a five-piece in October 2007. Justin and I played in another band together. After that group ended, the two of us continued jamming together and made plans to form another band (Zoogma). A friend of ours, Jason Ball, played bass and we started playing music together. Another close friend, Will Faulconer, played percussion and also joined the band. Jason met Preston in a music class at the University of Mississippi and invited him to a session. We all agreed to keep playing together and booked our first gig at Parish’s Pub in Oxford, MS on the 14th of November 2007. That was the line-up until May of 2008 when Faulconer finished school and moved home to Virginia. I knew Brock from high school so I invited him down to jam with us a few times. He sat in with us at a few shows and joined the band after Faulconer left in May. In the fall of 2008, Jason let us know that he was planning on enrolling in Berklee School of Music. He finished out the rest of the shows with us through the end of the year. We knew Ryan from working with his old band, EnergyD. We called him as soon as Jason told us his plans and asked if he would be interested in possibly joining the band. He came in for a session and we all hit it off really well. He joined the group in January 2009 and the line-up has remained the same since.

In terms of musical backgrounds and interests, what does everyone bring to bear?

Ryan: Seems like we each bring a lot of different interests to the table, but we all get down to each other’s music. I know that Justin and Brock have always been into experimental music like Tool, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck and other groups always trying new things. I have a strong jazz background and listen to a lot of Lettuce, Grant Green, and heavy groove stuff. Preston came from a blues background, but listens to pretty much everything. Matt has been good about bringing a lot of the cutting edge electronic stuff to our attention too. Our light designer, Jerry Blackburn, is also a big part of what we listen to, introducing us to groups like Booka Shade, Aeroplane, and !!!.

How would you describe the vitality and support of your local music scene?

Justin: Oxford and Memphis have always treated us right, and I wouldn’t trade our fans for anything. Anytime we need a show of support, everyone comes together and gives us a hand. It feels a lot like family wherever we go, but Oxford will always be our home with great people, venues, and food.

Who writes the band’s music? How it is typically presented to the group and how does it then come together?

Matt: We all contribute to the band’s music. Sometimes a song forms out of an improvisational jam. Other times, one of us may present the band with an idea and we’ll all play around with the ideas at hand and develop it into a full band composition.

How do you approach original songs in the live setting?

Justin: This is where the fun starts. We will create originals with parts, movements, and changes and then take that idea and expand on it live by improvising and finding new ways to reach the changes and create new peaks and valleys within the song. If you hear us say we are playing new stuff at a show then I guarantee if you go to archive.org and download a few different versions of the song from different shows they will all have different solos, riffs, bass lines, and build-ups. I guess you could say we love letting our original material loose on the road

What about covers, can you talk about what songs you toss in from time to time? Who selects them?

Preston: One of us will come up with a song that we want to cover and we’ll talk it over as a group and decide if we want to do it or not. Our covers range from RJD2’s “The Horror “to The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” to The Chemical Brothers “Saturate.” All with an original spin, of course.

In terms of cover tunes can you talk about any spectacular successes and failures?

Preston: No failures come to mind. As far as our biggest successes I would say “Ghostbusters.” We covered that song at Wakarusa and it definitely got the masses talking. There are videos of our version all over YouTube.

Your band bio also emphasizes the efforts of your light designer Can you talk about the importance of that and how it has developed along with the group?

Preston: Really since day one we’ve had an interest in lighting. Just a few months after Zoogma formed we purchased our first rig. It has sense gone through a major upgrade and we will continue to make it better.

We feel that our live show should be a well-rounded experience. While you’re listening to our music, you also have something cool to look at. It definitely adds to the energy of the room as well!

How often do you rehearse? What do you focus on when you get together for rehearsal?

Ryan: Rehearsal times have been sparse the past year because we’ve been touring so relentlessly, which is a good and a bad thing. We’ve had the chance to test and improve a lot of music on the road and really see how the audience relates to a lot of the tracks. We work a lot in the car, and try and squeeze in a good rehearsal when we can before a show after sound check.

Can you talk about some of your performance highlights thus far? Is there a gig (or gigs) that stand out? Why?

Ryan: I know that Wakarusa this year was a highlight for all of us. Seeing that many people from so many places, many of which we’d met on the road, all come together to support us was amazing. We’ve had some shows just surprise us too, Indianapolis and the Mousetrap in August, Springfield Missouri in July at the Highlife, and a random Monday in Denver at Quixote’s in August were all incredible shows that even surprised us.

Preston: Also, we recently came home from playing two sets at Bear Creek Music Festival in Florida. I think I speak for the entire group when I say, the five days we spent there were some of the most incredible and inspirational days of music we’ve ever been a part of.

You’ve offered your debut album for free; can you talk about that decision and what the impact has been?

Preston: We all genuinely believe in the music that we are creating together and want everyone to experience it with us. Giving our tracks away for free is an easy way to spread our music around and get people talking. Thus far, the results have been unreal.

Any final thoughts to folks across the country who may be hearing about you for the first time from this piece?

Preston: Go to www.zoogma.net and give the music a listen! It’s free, so you have nothing to lose. We think you’ll like what you hear!

Comments

There are 14 comments associated with this post

WHATtheFUCKisZOOGMA June 12, 2011, 19:23:40

Zoogma is one of the best bands on the scene! Their signs are not only original, but I have met so many people that would have never heard of them if it weren’t for those signs. Keep up all the badass work guys! ZOOVIE MOOGMA!!!!

shawn berry February 13, 2011, 22:54:41

I CAUGHT YOUR SHOW IN LITTLE ROCK AT STICKYZ ,IT WAS GREAT ,DIFFERENT .AND I WAS TRULY SUPRISED. KEEP GOIN GUY’S . REMEMBER IF YOU AINT HAVIN FUN YOU ARE JUST MAINTAINING! LET YOUR MINDS FLY ,

Wild Bill November 24, 2010, 15:49:16

Yeah, we saw the Zoogma signs at Bear Creek. They made crappy signs out of plastic sheets and held them up on poles while they were in the crowd watching other bands. Not cool.

Marie November 24, 2010, 16:56:23

Great article! I saw the sign at Bear Creek also and didn’t know what it was til I got a sample cd of theirs at the festival. Thanks so much for the free music guys! LOVE IT!! ;)

gary November 24, 2010, 17:14:19

Well myself and others thought it was cool, we used it as a meeting place when we were mentally “lost” let the haters hate zoogma!

Alex November 24, 2010, 18:31:54

One of my new favorite bands! These guys really know how to throw it down!! ZOOOOOOOOOGGGGGMMMAAAAAAA!!!!!

ZoogmaLuster November 24, 2010, 20:57:07

the bear creek sign was genius. their music is genius. if you don’t know what the fuck zoogma is by now, you are slow. the guys are pretty cute ;]

davis motherfucking holcombe November 25, 2010, 15:30:17

zoogma will turn your mind inside out! beautiful guitar tones, funky ass basslines, mesmerizing synth action, and drums that keep you movin your ass for hours?
best new groove act? I THINK SO!
can’t get enough of them! i drive evvverrryywhere to see these guys! and its beyond worth it every fuckin time!
keep up the rowdy rage crush kill, dudes! \m/

abby derr November 26, 2010, 10:27:31

Zoogma is such a wonderful band. They are bringing new life to a scene that needed a breath of fresh air. I’ve enjoyed
seeing the band progress and grow over the past years. I look forward to their future & the great music they have provided me with already. Great work guys! You deserve it!

Aaron J. Rushton November 26, 2010, 19:44:44

I sure do love these guys and the wonderful, wonderful sounds they make! Glad to see they’re getting some more exposure!

shea November 28, 2010, 13:16:44

These guys are OK. but I hate them for those annoying ass signs. At Lotus @ Wakarusa someone had that damn sign front and center the whole time. Anyone who wasn’t riding the rail couldn’t see a thing 75% of the time. Not to trash the band, they aren’t bad at all, but if you’re the dude who makes/carries those signs, you’re a douchebag

austin November 29, 2010, 02:02:02

I think the funny signs are fucking awesome. I saw it at waka and bear creek and never blocked my view and everyone i talked to thought it was just good marketing and loved it. keep up the good work guys! your music rocks!

Daved December 2, 2010, 21:03:47

i was at wakarusa. i loved the zoogma sign. i thought it was an intelligent move. no one else has thought of something that good. these sign haters above are just jealous their shitty band didn’t come up with such a nifty way to get their name out. and who cares if you cant see lotus? you could hear those twins horrible melodies anyways. id rather have my ears burned out than listen to them. zoogma rocks and their publicist/promoter does also.

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