Swordpaw Session – S2:E4: Zombie Giuliani
Zombie Giuliani is a solid three-piece punk combo:
Guitar and singing: Andrew Lynn
Bass: Chris Scully
Drums: Jim Shearer
They write short smart songs that channel some of the great SST bands of the ’80s like the Minutemen. After recording their Swordpaw session I fired off a few questions for Andrew Lynn ZG.
Paul Coleman: Can you talk about the formation of the band and how you got to where you are sonically and lyrically?
Andrew Lynn: I had a band called My Survival Kit circa 2010 and then in 2018ish was playing guitar with the first iteration of Machine Revival (The Machine that Wouldn’t Die). When that band transitioned to a new formation, I was feeling the need to keep playing with music with others and to put something new together. I was also being more intentional about trying to get better at playing guitar. Zombie Giuliani emerged out of Chris and I jamming regularly with a couple of other folks for fun and starting to write riffs. We brought Jim on board and realized we really liked playing together and had a sound and a collaborative process where the three of us could participate in arranging the demos that I was making and it was a lot of fun to play them. My songs have always been short and without any consistent adherence to pop structures. I also often think of lyrics as mantras or short poems that exist inside of songs, rather than verses or choruses, etc. For those unfamiliar, ZG tunes are generally apocalyptic meditations on the grim reality of the late capitalism and climate crisis, sometimes baked in sarcasm, other times earnest and/or angry. I haven’t spent too much time thinking about who or what we sound like but I appreciate some of the references I’ve heard. To me, it’s just a portion of musical ideas that make it out of my head and get brought into a collaborative environment where the act of playing together is as much weekly therapy as it is art. The songs are short probably partially because of the influence of punk stylings of our formative years, but also because as the main songwriter, I feel like a song is a succinct idea – both sonically and lyrically – and also, I am bad at remembering lyrics. So, once the idea is expressed, on tape or live, or whatever, there may not be need for another verse or a bridge… it’s just time for the next idea. The approach probably lacks pop appeal, but it’s what feels right for now. If we are just jamming, we can play for a long time in more of a psych-rock vein. Those sessions are fun, but ultimately, the songs are the ideas that come out of those jams and are encapsulated into eruptions of energy and message.
PC: That’s fantastic! As a follow up, I know you did a “Pandemic Special” session with Don Fury recently. How’d that go and are there more plans to record/release/play coming up?
AL: Recording at Don Fury studios for one of his free ‘Pandemic Buster’ sessions was a cool experience, and I think it captured our sound pretty well. Plus, it was truly free! We chose to record our two newest tunes, which are also the least rehearsed, so that was a little nerve-wracking, but we’ve released one track from that session ‘Planet Earth’ on zombiegubandcamp (https://zombiegiuliani.bandcamp.com/), and it’s probably the best quality recording that we have. Our 2020 cassette ‘Shitshow’ was produced in Chris’ home studio (live with overdubbed vocals) and we’re happy with it, but the Fury situation was way better. In general, I like the energy of recording live over multi-tracking and over-dubbing but it forces you to lower your standards a little bit. Fury’s ears and experience and studio setup are really good for capturing that, and mistakes are punk, anyway. We have 5 songs at this point that aren’t on the first album and hope to put a second record together over the winter. We have a couple live shows upcoming. COVID is rough, but the new normal, I’m afraid. I have two kids too young to be vaxxed at home, so trying to be as safe as possible. Playing outside while its still nice weather seems like the best option if possible.
PC: This question isn’t so much about Zombie Guiliani, even though the underlying ethos may be the same. Your email signature lists the More Trees Arborist Collective. Can you talk a bit about that and what you do with that group?
AL: More Trees is a worker-owned cooperative of which I am one of 5 members/workers, and currently the Operations Manager. I have been a professional tree climber since around 2008 and a Certified Arborist since 2015. Our coop formed in 2020, transitioning from a sole proprietorship, Magai Arboriculture, of which I was a long-time employee. How it relates to ZG for me is the fact that our coop is made of arborists and skilled groundspeople who are also artists and activists with diverse interests in their own rights, and we see our work as a form of tree stewardship in partnership with our clients – “helping trees live with people” – rather than another cog in the landscape service mill. The tree care industry is a pretty macho field and we don’t really hold those aspirations. It is important to our practices and policies that we make space in our lives for our families, hobbies, and arts and activism. This idea is counter to most exploitation-based employment situations, and I am pretty proud to be a part of one of a few real worker-owned coops in this region and feel privileged to be able to make a living in a collaborative and democratic (sociocratic, actually- google it) setting. Readers can check out www.moretrees.coop for more info.