Entertainment

Zachary Gray of The Zolas waxes about great fans and a not-so-great van

(Left to right) Tom Dobrzanski and Zachary Gray are Vancouver
(Left to right) Tom Dobrzanski and Zachary Gray are Vancouver's The Zolas, a popular pop/rock band with a bent toward progressive and an artsy, campus-life feel.
— image credit: contributor

What makes The Zolas unique is their good fortune in actually liking their fans.

It's an issue, according to Zachary Gray, one half of the dynamic duo that is The Zolas.

He points to Nirvana writing songs about alienation only to find they became party anthems for a generation of bubbly, well-adjusted souls who packed stadiums to hear them play.

"I feel lucky just because the kind of people who like our music tend to be openhearted arts students," he adds.

Gray and his counterpart, Tom Dobrzanski, grew up in the arts, meeting in a boys touring choir. The pair were matched as roommates for a trip through Holland and both had the good or bad fortune, depending on how you view these things, of having their voices drop during the course of the tour, rendering them useless.

They bonded, neglected being musicians for about a decade and, in their early 20s, formed Lotus Child, a "somewhat successful band" terminated a year before The Zolas formed.

Now on tour for their sophomore release as The Zolas—the new album titled Ancient Mars—it's clear dedication and a true taste for their craft has finally started to congeal when one talks to them mid-roadshow and finds a casual ruckus of hilarity in the background.

"We just got a new battery," said Gray, trying to yell over the commotion. "It was getting annoying trying to find elderly enough people to have the time to jump us every morning."

Though the carrying on might lead one to believe the band has grown, the new album sounds less like a group and more like a showcase of Gray and Dobrzanski's talent and ideas.

"We wanted to make headphone music that fits into the soundtrack of somebody's life," said Gray, noting they intentionally avoided the band feel.

Now 29 years old, it would appear both Gray and The Zolas have found a groove.

On this tour they are already greeting audiences singing their new songs right along with them, alleviating any fear of introducing a new sound to a live audience generally primed to hear familiar material.

The Vancouver Sun's Francois Marchand has labelled it an album tailor-made for the campus crowd with a core of piano-rock musings on being in your 20s, reflecting on university.

This probably sits well with the musicians themselves as Gray claims he didn't become interested in starting a band until school and travel were behind him and it came time to build something for himself.

If this is building, the Vancouver-based pop-rock group may be well on their way to a big career.

"I wake up some days with a knot in my heart," they sing in Knot in My Heart.

Surely that feeling must be fading.

The Zolas play Habitat on Friday, Nov. 2. Tickets are still available.

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