ZOIC: “We are animals”

Formed in spring last year, Portland’s ZOIC has released a 3 song demo EP, a single track titled “Tragedy”, accompanied by a music video and are about to release their new EP “Animal Life” via their own  Buried But Breathing Records. I’ve already shared their emotive screamo / post hardcore work via my social networking channels, but they deserve a lot more. Check out their story in our amusing interview below :)

Hey, guys! Welcome aboard!

To start off, let’s clear things up for our metal-head readers and note that you’re not a post-CANDLEMASS power metal band, but a fresh yeasty blood from Portland, Oregon ;)

… Are you?! ;)

We’re glad to be apart of this interview!

And I suppose you are correct…

At least, I don’t think we play post-CANDLEMASS power metal… 

But we are from Portland, Oregon. 

Great! Now that we have been somewhat acquainted :) I guess we shall proceed.

There’s not a lot of information about you available on the web, ya know? How about you tell me about your forming and the name? Why ZOIC? :)

I started ZOIC about a year ago with friends Cameron Bledsoe (bass) and Ross Gray (drums). 

We wrote and recorded 4 songs, releasing 3 as a demo and 1 as a single a few months after the demo was released. 

I named the band ZOIC (ˈzəʊɪk) because it roughly means animal life, which is symbolic for the way I feel about musician life and the way I feel humans forget to be.

We are animals; free and uninhibited.

Yup, scientifically speaking, I guess. Evolution teaches that we are animals. But what about the other features? You can’t argue with the fact that we differ from animals in many aspects, such as the speech, or our ability to draw on the knowledge of the past, to use it in the present, and to transmit it to future generations.

Where do you draw the line and when do you realize that humans forget they’re animals? ;)

It’s more of a symbolic metaphor once you get to those realms. Because obviously we are further evolved than the average animal

Ok, switching from the world’s history to the band’s legacy :) who’s Zelan Buckelew? You announced him a couple of months ago as your touring member. Is he still around?

Zelan is my new and current bass player. He will more than likely stick around for a while.

Did Cameron leave the band?

No. Cam didn’t leave the band, he still makes major contributions to the production and recording process. But he is just really busy with his main band AMERICAN ME, and ZOIC is starting to take rise and needed a more permanent bass player for tours and such. 

Cool. Have you played some shows already?

We have yet to play a show but we are scheduled and set to tour the west coast this July in support of our debut studio and Buried But Breathing Records release appropriately titled ‘Animal Life’. 

And although we have waited a year to start playing shows, now that we’ve started, we’re not going to stop. This year is going to be very busy for us.

Aren’t you tempted to add another guitar to make the sound thicker for the purpose of live shows?

 I’m not really tempted, but I wouldn’t mind having a second guitar. I just don’t find it necessary at this point.

Ok, so shoot me some details on this tour you mentioned. How many shows have you already booked?

We’ve booked 6 out of the 7 dates we have planned. The dates so far are:

7/14 – Los Angeles, CA @ TBA
7/16 – San Francisco, CA @ Sub/Mission Art Space
7/17 – Chico, CA @ TBA
7/18 – TBA
7/19 – Reno, NV @ Knuckleheads 
7/20 – Grants Pass, OR @ The Hen Den 
7/21 – Portland, OR @ The Ash Street Saloon

Any special places you’re particularly looking forward to playing in?

I’m really looking forward to just being on tour in general!

All the dates are gonna be awesome.

But I am really looking forward to seeing friends in LA that I don’t get to see all the time.

When can we expect to see ZOIC in Europe? :)

It’s funny that you ask. Because we actually have plans to do to two different splits with two different European bands this fall/winter!

We are releasing 7″ splits with Austria’s LIVE LIFE and Italy’s MINUS TREE.

We have plans to do a US west coast tour with MINUS TREE in November and we hope to make it to Europe by spring next year!

Unless we get offered to come out before

Nice :)

Ok, but let’s not undervaluate the new outing you mentioned. Tell me more about “Animal Life” EP, your idea for the release and the process of its creation.

The writing process for ANIMAL LIFE started around November of last year and is a concept of my own life experience/emotional breakdowns.

And I don’t really know how to play guitar so this EP basically marks as the starting point for the band and serves as one of the most raw depictions of who we are at this moment in our lives.

ANIMAL LIFE was recorded with our close friend Derek Leisy at D-Wreckords Studio here in Portland and is being mixed/mastered by acclaimed engineer Jack Shirley (DEAFHEAVEN, LOMA PRIETA, COMADRE, SKIN LIKE IRON) at the Atomic Garden Recording studio in East Palo Alto, CA.

What was Derek’s impact on the record? Did he enhance your songs and lifted them out of the ordinary, or did you try not to lose your vision of the sound? :)

Ummmm I wouldn’t say he did, but I wouldn’t say he didn’t? But I will say that my vision was most definitely upheld. Derek and his studio essentially allowed us the opportunity to just track what we needed in a studio setting rather than tracking the songs ourselves in a practice space like the demo EP.

We just needed a place to track and his place most certainly provided that.

But originally, I wanted to do everything (recording, mixing/mastering, etc.) with Jack at the Atomic Garden, which I think would have yielded a better overall recording, but I am more than happy with what Derek was able to contribute for sure.

Jack is of course mixing and mastering the EP, and that is what I’m looking forward to hearing. The final product.

He sent me some rough mixes today and they sound amazing already. I can’t wait to get the masters and release em!

What’s the timetable for some teasers and the actual release?

June 15th

Pre-orders for the 7″ and a new song will be posted.

Did you have a preconceived idea, theme, direction for this new outing? Or was this more of a song-by-song accumulation?

It was kind of both.

I didn’t really have a set idea for how the record would be or what it would sound like when I was writing the music, but my lyrics are very intentional and there’s always a kind of theme and message behind them.

Sure thing. Humans as animals as the leading one here, right? :)

[laughs] Sure.

The “Tragedy” video and the song’s lyrics brings me reminiscence of ORCHID’s emo violence touching lines about love :) Tell me more about the song and itd lyrical content.

Oh cool. Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment. ORCHID is definitely a band I listen to.

The lyrics have to do with being an introvert, but being in love. As well as letting love go and how hard it can be.

Are there more videos in the works?

There is a new video in the works and will be released before we head out on tour.

Also with the leading theme of love? :)

[laughs] Yeah. Love will more than likely be the theme for the new video as well.

It’s kind of a hard thing not to relate to, so it just makes sense I guess.

I think pretty much anyone with a heartbeat has fallen in and/or out of love before and we all know how heavy those emotions can be. But mainly, the heartbreak, depression and lassitude side of love is what I speak on.

Awesome! Love is the answer, man! :)

What’s the symbolism of that skull on your shirts? Or is it just a cool skull you’ve decided to use for your merch items? :)

The skull is just there to look cool

My buddy Sean Chamilian (guitars in BETRAYAL) does our graphic designs.


Your debut demo was marked as “Chapter I”. Is this the “Chapter II”, or do you save “Chapters” as a separate line of your releases?

Actually, yes. ANIMAL LIFE is chapter 2.

Are you already thinking about the next chapter?

Kind of.

I’m still in the middle of writing for the LIVE LIFE and MINUS TREE splits. But yeah, I’m kind of already thinking of ideas for chapter 3 for sure.

How did you come up with the idea for these collaborations?

I also run a label, Buried But Breathing Records, and both of those bands came to me through the label.

Cool. Are you its only parent? Tell me more about this part of your operation.

I am.

I run the label alone and it is just something I started up in February of this year.

I have a few bands from all over the world that I am working with and plan on doing releases for, it’s all coming together a lot faster than I thought and I’m really happy with the direction that it’s going so far.

What was the whole mindset behind that and why did you start BBB?

I started Buried But Breathing Records to basically provide a platform and an umbrella in which ZOIC (and myself) could network through.

But mainly, I started the label to provide a no-bullshit alternative for bands that are growing and need that extra push and support to get to the next level.

LIVE LIFE come from Austria. Is this your only European band in the roster?

Yes, LIVE LIFE is from Austria and at the moment, yes they are my only European band “officially” on the roster. But I have a couple of very amazing European bands that I will be working with in the near future that I can’t “officially” announce my involvement because we’re waiting to make those announcements.

How did you get interested in European bands in the first place? How do you choose the bands you work with?

And I got interested in European bands because I grew up with Shayne Dominguez (Vocalist for LIVE LIFE) and I told him about my plan to start a label, so I signed them.

And since then, I have kept a lookout for good European hardcore.

ZOIC also gets (what seems like at this point) a lot more attention from Europe than the US right now. But I don’t know. 

And the way I choose bands is just by accident really [laughs]

I either find a band just by cruising around the web and looking for unsigned bands that fit the style I’m looking to add to the label and send em an email or they email me and I check em out.

What other releases do you have coming up soon? I saw a teaser for SCOWL’s “Grindcore Is Serious Business”. Do you mind shooting a few words about this band and your other aces in the hole? :)

SCOWL is definitely an ace in the hole. I really like that band and I am really looking forward to pressing that EP.

They’re a great grind core band from New York and they were just one of those bands that stuck out to me and saw that they were unsigned, so I signed em!

LIVE LIFE is doing really big things and are going to blow up this next year for sure.

And I just signed another band from New York, COUSIN SLEAZE, and they’re going to be doing some bigger tours this next year as well.

These bands are hardworkers and I am excited to watch them grow and be apart of that growth.

Yeah man! Can’t wait to check out your opinion about European punk after you manage to come here and taste it in person :) You should come and hang out at some grand fests like the New Noise Fest and Cry Me A River Fest in Germany, Ieperfest in Belgium, or Fluff Fest in Czech Republic.

So, what else? Is there anything you’d like to add to our brief update on ZOIC and BBB?

That would be awesome!

I would love to be invited to play or hang out at any of those festivals.

Well, I guess the only thing left to say is:

ZOIC – Chapter 2: Animal Life 7″ Due mid to late July.
SCOWL – “Grindcore Is Serious Business” 7″Due mid to late August.

Pre-orders for both EP’s start June 15th and are made available at the Buried But Breathing Records online store.


So, I guess we’re done here, aren’t we? Thank you sooo much for your time and feel free to add anything you want if there is anything else that you’d like to expound upon. Cheers, bro!

I suppose we are!

Thank you very much!


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