is having the time of their life. The Brooklyn based band who has toured and played with legendary rock bands such as Kiss
is now making a name of their own. They star in the loosely based reality series Z Rock on IFC
(Independent Film Channel). The show is about three guys trying to make a living as a rock band by holding down a day job as children's entertainers. Starpulse met up with ZO2 (Paulie Z., David Z, and Joey Cassata) at the place they've called "home" for years- the legendary rock club Arlene's Grocery in NYC's lower east side. It was truly a rock star studded event as their closest friends and fans came to check out the boys of ZO2 as they were joined by special surprise guest Chris Barron of The Spin Doctors
. And what better way to catch up with the musicians/ TV personalities than hanging out with them backstage.
The first time I saw you guys play, it was about a year ago at my college and the show had just gotten picked up and you guys started filming. Now it's a year later and the show is on, reviews are out. What's going on in your head right now?
A TV show is something I never thought I'd be doing in my life. If people told me "What would you think if I told you that you'd be having a TV show?" I'd say, "Well what are you smoking?" and "Have you seen a doctor? Because you've been smoking too much of it." (laughs). It's very surreal being that it's not something we've ever thought of doing but since we are doing it now and we love it so much. It's not very far from playing in a band. It's great because it's about ZO2 and it still showcases our music. It's very exciting.
Now the whole deal with the show is that you guys are rockers at night and play kid shows by day to make a living and support your talent. You actually did do this in the past. Can you tell me about those days as a children's entertainer?
Friends of mine had been working at a children's museum in Manhattan and for me, it was just a cool job and it was paying a lot better at the other job I was at. They hooked me up and I sat there learning how to do a sing-a-long. Once I realized that there was money, playing with kids, and it dealt with music, I thought, "This is great! I gotta get the other guys involved." Then I got them into it and little by little we were doing more parties and stuff. Soon we became the band to have at a kid's party.
Now were there really moms you'd see at shows and then again at birthday parties?
Of course! Nannies too. Even though these things are exaggerated(on the show), they're not THAT exaggerated. They're really true. These are events that happened to us.
These things really happened. Some we didn't anticipate, a lot of it didn't take place in any kind of chronological order. All that happened to us over a course of the years. We took the best of it and put it together in a cohesive scene.
So you guys basically sat down, told your stories, and made it into a show?
Basically when we started meeting with producers about a show, even before meeting with a network, the first producers we met were MarkMark Productions-who we work with now. We hit it off immediately. It wasn't a formal meeting, it was us kind of sitting down with them and shooting the shit and just joking around. They were as much a bunch of goofballs as we were, so it was a lot of fun. So we decided to go forward and chose IFC. Once everything was set to go, they took all our stories and took parts and added to other parts for episodes.
You kind of get the chance to re-live all these events that happened to all of you. What's it like to go on set or location and re-enact your past? You get to re-do all these things and no one ever gets the chance to do that.
It's weird. But yes, they are re-enactments kind of like those court room shows where the re-enact the crime. Well some of our events were criminal in a way (laughs). But it's made it easier for us since were not actors, to adapt to our surroundings. For us, it wasn't "Go in there and act." It was, "Go in there and re-live." You just remember what you did the first time and doing it again and all the people around us were very good at improving and comedy, it made it very easy for us to feel that it was real.
What did you guys do when the show came out?
We actually had two premiere parties. The first one was on the actual premiere date and we went to a bar in Manhattan and the turn out was huge. They played the show on all the TV screens-there must've been a hundred of them and over a hundred people there to watch with us. It was fantastic. Then when it re-aired that Tuesday, we had another premiere party with the network. It was a lot of fun.
Do you guys get uncomfortable watching yourselves on TV?
It's not weird seeing us. This has been about three years in the making. We've been filming for seven months.
Well by the time the show aired, we had seen the episodes already. So when it first aired, it was like we weren't watching ourselves, we had been watching the audience and seeing how they responded and if they were laughing when they were suppose to laugh.
For those who haven't seen you at your shows or concerts, are you guys getting recognized when you go out in public?
It's starting to happen. I was actually sitting on the bench on a corner in Manhattan just watching my IPod, waiting for a friend, and a few people came up. And we've been recognized because of the Kiss tour and stuff and but it's weird being recognized for the TV show. They come up to you and are like, "Aren't you the guy from that show?"
And you've come and reeled them in to watch you guys play live.
You've hit it right on the head! That for us is the ultimate goal of this TV show, to get the name of ZO2 out there and make people aware of our music. What we want at the end of the day is that this will bring in more people to our live show.
It's just a way of attracting the people, just like having your song played on the radio or having your songs on the internet. So the idea is to get them to be aware of ZO2, get them to the show, and then it's our job to keep them.
So what goes on during a day of filming, schedule wise?
Schedule? Oh! Schedule is the worst! It's the exact opposite of a musician's schedule. It's basically getting up at five o'clock in the morning. For us, we get home at five typically. That's a hard change.
I think I was against it from the beginning but they thought it'd be a good idea to tour on the weekends and off weeks in between filming.
And the thing was, we were doing this everyday during the week and then on weekends, we kept gigging like morons. We thought "Oh we got the weekends, let's play!" There were times where I'd be falling asleep during a scene and I'd have to drink coffee, which I usually don't drink.
And you're also doing more than one take.
That's the thing, because it's not scripted, it definitely takes longer to get a scene. We'll do it and then work out the kinks. By the time of the fifteenth take, we've kind of written the script on the spot in our heads. We kind of add lib all the dialogue and after you do it over and over, you realize that the other person is going to say this because they're said it 1500 times before. So that's how the scenes come together in an organic, natural way.
There are already so many reviews since the first episode aired, what goes on in your mind when you read this stuff? Do you even bother reading it?
Oh no. We are our biggest fans! We'll read everything. We're not those guys that don't want to watch our own show, listen to our own music, or read our own press. We read EVERYTHING.
We collect everything. We keep all these clippings.
Whether it's good or bad, that doesn't bother us really. We like reading it and seeing what people think. You can't let it really bother you. You can't! You can't be successful in the entertainment business if you really let stuff like that bother you. You have to be proud of your work and we're very proud of it. So for the people who like it, it's very exciting for us. We like it, they like it-it's great! For those who don't like it and think and say bad things, then that's their prerogative.
Honestly what we'll do if we get an off color review, we'll take what they said into consideration and try to work on it, but we never let it bring us down. Like he said, you really can't let it get to you or you'll be destined for failure in this business.
You guys get to work with some really cool people: Joan Rivers, Dave Navarro, Sebastian Bach. How's the experience of working with them on screen and off?
Well you have two dynamics. People like Joan Rivers, who is a legend and has been in movies and on stage. When someone like her or Gilbert Gottfried
comes in, it's amazing because of what they do. It's like everything we expected, they did plus more. You can throw anything at them, and the comeback they had was great. But the surprising thing was the musicians.
As far as we know, we were all in the same boat. Not actors, but musicians coming on to do this kind of medium. But it's not easy, so we had no idea what to expect. For instance when John Popper came on, he was fantastic! His timing was perfect; you would have thought he was a stand up comic. That's not where it ended. Every musician that came on was just as good and getting better and better. Dave Navarro, Sebastian Bach, Dee Snider
, all hysterical. So it was a very, very suprising thing for us to see that. Not that we didn't think they weren't going to be good. But we didn't know that they'd be THAT good. You wouldn't have been able to tell them apart from the other actors.
Do you have any favorite stories from behind the scenes, the things that people might not know about?
Forget about behind the scenes, what about on the scenes? Episode One, that was a fun one! (laughs) Our behind the scenes are pretty much as good as during the scenes. But one particular story that I love was when we were doing a scene with Gilbert and in the scene he introduces us as the children's band, The Z Brothers. He'd go up and say "Welcome Z Brothers!" or "Here are Z Brothers!" So during the next take, I said "Hey Gilbert, can you say THE Z Brothers, I don't want people getting confused." And he goes "F*ck you! It's not my career!" So that was pretty funny for me, it was a fun moment.
My favorite story coincidently has to also do with Gilbert Gottfried. I was always a very big Gilbert Gottfried fan and I used to do a pretty good Gottfried impression. So it was great to finally meet with him and work with him. Not only that, they let me do my impression as part of the episode. Episode four you get to see a bit of my Gilbert Gottfried, it was as if I was his son. A little Gilbert Gottfried Jr. voice. For me, that was one of my favorite moments.
So will we be expecting a Season Two?
Well we're as hopeful as you are. We've heard great things about it so far, the network is really excited, the reviews are good. So we're hoping and keeping our fingers crossed. But the worst thing you can do in this business again, is counting your chickens before they hatch. You never know, things can change. So we stay hopeful but we keep pushing forward.
Now were at Arlene's and this is your home. When you're out on tour, doing the show and come back here, it's kind of like coming back home from college and seeing your family and old friends.
It's actually fanastic because like you said, this is our home so it doesn't feel like we're down grading in any way. This is our home stead and the people here have been amazing. We've been playing at Arlene's since the beginning of the band which was the end of 2002. So we've been here for years. We love it. Any chance we get to play here, it is a great treat for us.
We always gravitate back here. We had been in Lake Tahoe with Kiss and played with Sammy Hagar
a couple weeks before that. But we always find our way back home to Arlene's no matter what.
Any surprises in store from ZO2?
A lot. This year will be full of surprises. Hopefully another album and another season of Z Rock. And hopefully one or more major tours.
Maybe an Emmy?
We'll see. I'm pitching for me to get Best Leading Actor, but I don't know (laughs).
Catch Z Rock every Sunday on the IFC Channel at 11:30pm.
Interview by Angelica Castillo
Starpulse contributing writer