Eric, Steve, Pat, and Jim of Battalion Zoska took some time out at Rebellion to chat to Mark Bestford. It’s the usual chaos for the band as they discuss Pat’s songwriting process, claiming their bassist is secretly Canadian, and Steve’s wish to be given shiny drumkits for every show.
If you were to form your own superband, metal, punk, whatever, what would be your dream lineup living or dead?
Pat “Living or dead? Well, I’d have to say Johnny Rotten, because I like that he’s always controversial. And he’s got a really unique voice. Probably Greg Ginn on guitar, yeah.”
Jim “Chuck Biscuits on drums.”
P “Ian Woodcock on bass. We got to add another guitar. We’ll have Dez [Black Flag]”
Steve “That’s a tough question. I could stew on that one for days.”
One guy, basically the entire band was just one band. It’s an existing band.
S “Well, let’s say this, I wish the Ramones were still around so I can actually see them that would work kinda.”
Let’s just reform the Ramones
Eric “What’s the greatest band? Ramones. There we go.”
S “With me on drums.”
Songwriting, who actually writes all the songs?
P “I write most, I write up pretty much all the lyrics. Actually, I write all the lyrics. A lot of the riffs. I’m not really a guitar player, but I kind of hash out everything. Hold on. So I kind of hash out like how I want the song to go, and then I use the two guitarists here to make me sound good. And they add their little like, you know things.”
J “Surprisingly for guy that can’t play guitar, he’s written a lot of the songs, like the riffs for them.”
S “He then sends them to me, I put drum demos to them and then send them back and go to the studio.”
I suppose you don’t need to play the guitar to know what a guitar is supposed to sound like
J “Well, I mean, he can play you know, but not like…”
P “I’m not good enough for you to hear me live.”
J “It’s like, I want to do this and a lot of it’s in his head. Like even after we have the song down, he says to Eric ‘no I was something like nhnhnhnh’ and Eric looks at him and goes, ‘okay’, and then does it somehow but these guys have been working together for ages.”
P “Eric was actually my producer when I was doing Violence Society. So we’ve been working with him I think since 1996, yeah 1996. So it’s kind of like, it’s like a brotherhood, we know what’s going on.”
J “They have this communication between them.”
P “Eric would always say Steve would say ‘oh, the songs kind of boring’. He goes ‘just wait till Pat’s done with it. And then you’ll like it.’ Yeah.
S “Pat’s gonna Sinatra the shit out of it, just wait.”
Does anyone play practical jokes on tour?
E “All the time.”
What’s the best practical joke on tour?
E “Like the one that we just did now?”
S “I was just gonna say that.”
P “Our bass player got a layover in Toronto. So we keep telling everyone that he’s a Canadian. And it stuck and people kept saying Oh, you’re Canadian. You’re Canadian. He’s like this has gone too far. So he got here he bought a red beret and some sunglasses and he thinks he’s Captain Sensible going around saying ‘what, what’ and we call him the Canadian Captain Sensible.”
E “And it probably will stick.”
Deal or no deal, if a record label turned around and said you can have any figure deal that you want, but we tell you what you play and what you can look like. Would it be deal or no deal?
P “This right here [sticks up middle fingers] it’s been like that for a while actually.”
J “Would I look like a supermodel?”
J “Oh, then no deal.”
P “It was it was actually funny. I had like back in 1994 when I was playing in Violent Society we had an actual like, I forget what label it was, when somebody came to see us. And I just kind of played jokes with him and the guy gave me his number and I put them on hold and stuff like that and you know he didn’t find it very amusing. That was probably my once in a lifetime shot of doing anything because I was still thin and trim.”
J “Right now we got control over, you know, we put the records out ourselves. Yeah. 100% control.”
A lot of bands get endorsed by various companies. If you could be endorsed by anyone, who would it be and why
P “Maybe Skechers because I like wearing Skechers.”
S “Ziljdan, Tamma, that’s what I use.”
You just like some free drumkits
S “Yeah, they’re expensive man. Cymbals, I hit really hard. Really hard.”
P “Maybe Maynard’s Wine Gums? Since I’m a diabetic and I’m not allowed to have it.”
J “And I’m looking for Dunkin Donuts. I drink a lot of coffee. So Dunkin Donuts.”
S “Jameson as well.”
P “Maybe Penn Reels fishing”
J “Oh, yeah, we do a lot of fishing in the band. A lot of fishing.”
P “Do you like Penn Reels? They used to be out of Philly.”
Who do you think you sound the most like?
P “I mean, I kind of learnt how to play guitar from listening to Black Flag. I don’t think we sound like Black Flag but like, I tried to do as much down picking as possible. And I try to make everything as catchy as possible. But I don’t think it’s like a real, I mean, I just take a mishmash of anything from the 70s and 80s that we like and it’s just kind of all put together. Most of the popular like SST bands, you know, Flag, Hüsker Dü, Descendents, you know, we all have influences differently but they’re kind of our favourites.”
A short review of the last film you ever watched?
S “Oh, yeah. Studio 666, the Foo Fighters horror movie. I watched it on the aeroplane. Very good. Very good. Very comical and very gory. Yeah, it was well done. I highly suggest it for like slasher campy horror movie fans. And a lot of good like studio like jam sessions and stuff, so it’s good.”
For a band like the Foo Fighters I guess it’s ‘I want an excuse to do a death metal album’
S “Exactly. Yeah, sort of the musicians horror comedy. It’s fantastic.”
E “And like metal, there’s like lots of metal.”
If you could have anything on a band rider, no questions asked, what would you put on it
E “No questions asked?”
P “It wouldn’t be Rob Kaos. Let’s see him coming. Just kidding. I don’t know.”
S “A brand new set of cymbals for every show.”
P “Oh, somebody like a personal masseuse? Because he’s been walking on my back the last two nights.”
J “A legitimate one, nothing weird, a legitimate one.”
P “Because I feel like every time I play a show, like I just feel like I lock up and I’m getting older. But yeah, that would be a good one.”
S “That is a good one actually, a masseuse. Yeah. I’ll take that too. And a sensory deprivation tank.”
In your opinion, what is the greatest song of all time?
P “I’d have to say, God Save the Queen. I’d have to say because it like changed everything for me like when I heard it. It probably had more impact than anything that I had heard before or even after. It’s just timeless you know. Even though I’m not British, and I know I have no connection to the queen but like when I fucking heard it, it just like it charged something. Like I love the Ramones and you know I love a lot of all that other stuff. But that wasn’t my favourite.”
It’s arguably the most influential punk track ever
P “Yeah, and as for like, just like a catchy song I’d have to say Generation X, Dancing With Myself because it’s just like, anytime I hear it it’s just like it just it just like makes me instantly happy, you know, even though I’m not happy all the time, but you know, you could put that on and I’m pretty much gonna get a half smile on my face even if I’m pissed off you know.”
S “I’m a little younger so for me like the Dookie record, like that was my first one and I was like eight years old. That got me into everything that these guys grew up listening to you know. That’s like my feel good go to kind of record.”