Authority Zero Is Stronger with The Tipping Point
Mesa's reggae/punk outfit Authority Zero has come a long way over the course of its nearly two-decade career. The band quickly moved up from intimate (often free) local shows to playing Warped Tour and, eventually, touring the world. Authority Zero is now a household name in the local scene, an Arizona trademark like Jimmy Eat World and the dearly departed Format.
Kurt Hudson Authority Zero
Authority Zero's future looks even brighter now, as the group will release its sixth studio album, The Tipping Point, on Tuesday, April 2. The album is as fast and furious as ever, and frontman Jason Devore goes as far as to say he hasn't felt this way about an album since A Passage in Time was released. The album is full of energy, occasionally cooling down for mellow reggae songs, all the while emphasizing the band's "stand up for what you believe in and don't let anyone slow you down" ethos.
We had a lengthy phone conversation with Devore to discuss the new album, what keeps the band in Arizona, lineup changes, the local music scene, and how a bad relationship inspired one of the band's catchiest songs.
Up on the Sun: Tell me a little bit about your upcoming album.
Jason Devore: The upcoming album is called The Tipping Point. It's a title based off of a Malcolm Gladwell book and [the album] is coming out April 2. It was recorded with Cameron Webb out of Maple Studios in Santa Barbara, and it's coming out on Hardline Entertainment.
Why did you name it after the Malcolm Gladwell book?
While we were trying to figure out the title and all that, we were coming up with some stupid, silly names and a buddy of mine actually gave me the book before we hit the road just after we recorded the album. Reading into it, it seemed like it made a lot of sense. The whole concept of it is based around little things making a big change and causing big epidemics to happen by those small little changes. It seemed to make sense given the history of the band and signing with everything.
What were some of the biggest inspirations and themes of this album?
With a lot of the other albums, it's more life experience and things that are going on within the band, as well in general. There wasn't a whole lot of musical inspiration with other bands and all of that. That's a question I've got before: What we were listening to, but you just try not to listen to a whole lot of music when recording to keep it as original as possible. Again, it was life experiences and things we went through on the road.
What about themes?
After looking back at it, the major themes are taking chances, doing what you feel is right in your heart and doing it to the fullest and pushing as hard as you can. If you want something to happen, you've gotta work for it and you've gotta keep on pushing for it.
I remember seeing you guys way back in the day playing free shows at Zia. It seemed like every time I saw you guys over the years, you had a larger and larger crowd, and now you're in video games and you're touring the world. How would you explain that explosion of popularity? How have people been finding you?
I don't even know, a lot of it's the Internet and little things like that with the video games. I've actually heard that a few times at shows, people are like, "I found you on this video game" with "Revolution," so it actually did do some kind of good. Like, "I'd never heard you guys until then." I'm like, "A video game?" [Laughs] That's pretty cool. It's one of those things when you first start doing that, you think it's kind of cool because it's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and that's something that's kind of rad, anyways, but you never think that's actually going to reach that many people, especially abroad.
How have your overseas shows gone? What are some of your most memorable experiences?
I'd say there's two that stand out the most for me. The first time we ever went to Europe, it was in this little youth hostel kind of place. We didn't know what to expect, we'd never been here, we heard some feedback on Facebook about kids trying to get us over there, but there hasn't been a huge epidemic or anything like that. It was just a couple here and there, and the first time we went there and played a show in Belgium, it was like a 300-capacity room with the kids packed in.
They were drinking tons of Belgian beer, it was packed and they were pretty much giving it away. The kids just went apeshit. They were on stage just killing it, jumping off, being crazy. This is awesome, this is really cool -- these kids have so much heart. They're totally into it, they're like, "I've waited 10 years for you guys to come here," and I'm like, "Thanks for sticking around." You never know what's going to happen to the band after seven years when they first heard about you back in the early days, so it was pretty cool to see that.
The second was probably we played Groezrock [festival in Belgium] last year. [It is] one of the biggest festivals over there. We played at like 6 in the afternoon to like 10,000, people and it was insane. It was one of those really cool moments knowing that you were overseas and not just in your hometown or something close by and seeing that kind of reaction of those people. It was really cool.
18 years is a long time. What has kept Authority Zero going over the years?
Just, honestly, it's a love of the music and a love of the energy and the fans in general. It's actually gotten to the point where people more than just us care about it as much as we care about it, if not more even at this point. Seeing the reactions, the e-mails, the interactions of the effects that we've somehow had on people like the bands I grew up listening to had on me. Kind of makes you think there's no other choice. You see how much interaction with the people you play with and talk to, you just want to keep up doing that for the fans and keep on coming out and playing for them as well as yourself.
Do you still live in Phoenix?
Yeah, I'm in the South Tempe area.
What keeps you here? A lot of people pack up and leave and try to make it in New York or Los Angeles or whatever, but you're still here.
I've been asked this before too -- [whether] we ever contemplated moving to Los Angeles to try to break out. We're like, "No, we never considered that." We like it here. We're kind of a weird band: We weren't a punk band, we weren't a rock band, we weren't anything, really we were our own band, and I think that helped us stand out a little bit.
The end result was better than being one of those bands that move to try to make it big or whatever. We really had no rhyme or reason for what we're doing; we're just doing it. We love it and we just have fun with it. Things change over the years, obviously. People grow up and have gotten older and things have gotten a little more serious and whatever, but ultimately that was never really the idea to go out and try to make it big.