Authority Zero

Authority Zero Biography

The lesson of Mesa, Arizona-based Authority Zero is that it can pay off to work --and play-- hard. The quartet of singer Jason DeVore, guitarist Bill Marcks, bassist Jeremy Wood and drummer Jim Wilcox played five nights a week in their hometown, flyering non-stop and building a fanbase that would make their 2001 EP the best-selling local CD at Phoenix's legendary Zia Records chain.

But local success is only the beginning; this is a band with its sights set on the world. They have broad horizons and eclectic tastes, and they are not afraid to throw whatever international flavors they are digging into the mix. Marcks is a language scholar with intentions to speak as many languages as the Pope (eight). As such, the group's Lava Records debut, A Passage In Time, is stylistically diverse yet still full of the energy and enthusiasm you'd expect from guys in their early 20s, who were raised on the punk rock of Pennywise, Minor Threat, Bad Religion and Operation Ivy.

However, Authority Zero can't be pigeonholed --the members love exotic sounds, from Manu Chao to Yellowman to the Buena Vista Social Club. Those influences show up in unexpected places, whether the reggae-tinged tracks on A Passage In Time, the Irish drinking songs that the band does live, or "Over Seasons," which finds Marcks answering his own crunching six-string riffs with fluid, flamenco guitar breaks. Because of that open-minded approach, each song on the album sounds unique and different from the others, while retaining an intensity and urgency even on the mellower tracks. There are lyrics in English, Spanish and Portuguese on the album, though you do not need to speak Portuguese to understand the positive vibe of the Dick Dale-spiced "La Surf."

All work and no play would make Authority Zero a dull band. Instead, they stress the positive, even while sharing tales of throwing framed pictures off the balcony at their rented home-away-from-home near the Los Angeles recording studio where A Passage In Time was recorded. This is a band that lives life to the fullest, because they love life. Sure, the album chronicles overcoming struggles ("Over Seasons," "Everyday"), but it also has "stupid, fun-loving songs" such as "Super Bitch," "Good Old Days," and the ode to their home, "Mesa Town." Produced by Dave Jerden (Offspring, Jane's Addiction), the album is the perfect soundtrack to a late-summer party, with enough energy to keep it going all night.

Thinking globally and acting locally, the band formed in 1994, and the then-quintet went about helping to boost the Mesa/Phoenix music scene. It’s no coincidence the band's initials are AZ. The group gives a lot of credit to its early fans and fellow bands for coming out to see them every night. "Our friends came to see us, even though they didn't have to," says Marcks. "It's a great town, with a lot of great bands. There's a lot of talent there that needs to be discovered."

Those five gigs a week transformed the group into a passionate live band, drawing comparisons to Rage Against The Machine. The group is more than capable of translating its dynamic live show in the recording studio. Powerhouse Phoenix alternative radio station KEDJ fell in love with the band, spinning "One More Minute," well before the group had a record deal.

The band is also loyal to its original fifth member Jerry Douglas. Even though he left the group almost three years ago, they flew him from his home in Alaska to sing his old vocal parts. "It was awesome to have him do that. He still remembered all the lines, and he nailed them too," says Marcks and DeVore. Apparently, once you get the Authority Zero work ethic in your blood, you cannot get it out.

This carries over to the stage. The band goes through a transformation when it gets in front of a crowd. The normal, down-to-earth guys become kinetic balls of energy. "Onstage is where we get to be who we want to be," says Devore. "We can say what we want without people telling us to shut up. Our shows are pretty intense...we really do bleed, get injured and break bones on occasion." The person most likely to break bones is not even in the band. It is Authority Zero "mascot" Bart Birks, known to fans as "Mr. Nixon." At Authority Zero concerts, Birks dons a Richard Nixon mask and runs through the crowd, despite knowing that DeVore incites the crowd to beat him up. "What's better than beating up a president for going off the hook?" asks DeVore. Of course, sweethearts that they are, Authority Zero gives Birks a pre-show hug. Work hard, play hard, hug hard.

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