Interview: ZP Theart of I Am I

Vocalist ZP Theart first came to prominence fronting power metal band Dragonforce for ten years before leaving in 2010. Since then he has formed I Am I who released their debut album, ‘Event Horizon’ last year and now release a new digital only single ‘See You Again’, a proper rock ballad according to the band. Here we hear from ZP Theart about the new single, new album plans and stand by for more musical surprises from the band…

What was the idea behind doing ‘See You Again’ as a big rock ballad?

Something different really, the unexpected. Everyone is so cooped up doing the hard and serious stuff; we take it down a notch back into reality.

There are some cracking harmony vocals on it, making it a very melodic rock song.

I am rock from the beginning. The power metal thing happened at that time but I am now back to my roots.

How important is having a video on YouTube to get your music more known?

These days video is much better than audio. People need to see something when they are listening. Just by the response on YouTube in the past couple of days since it’s been online is amazing. It’s getting towards 10,000 views already.

On your website you’ve got an unusual competition where ten fans can win a copy of the single for the best comments on YouTube. Who came up with this idea?

There are some cracking ones there already. You’ve got to give something back. We had a few physical copies made.

When you record a single is it for the fans or to try and get new fans? Obviously nowadays the single isn’t to make the charts as those days of big single sales have gone now.

If they like it they share it and you get more fans. We’re not trying to top any charts, just something to keep the fans going to the next batch of music.

Are you planning for your next album now?

It’s pretty much all written and done. We’re going to head into the studio probably next week to track some stuff. We should be ready with it by the middle of next year. It will be produced with Keith More, who is a fantastic guitarist who was involved in G3 back in the day with Joe Satrianni.

You’ve got two new members now the former Power Quest boys Andy Midgely and Rich Smith. How did they come to join the band?

There was a gap to be filled (laughs). I had my eye on Andy for quite awhile and when Jake left Andy was the first person I called. The same with Rich we had a gap. He approached me ages ago, probably last year. It’s worked out pretty nice.

What was it like playing Download this year?

A very proud moment, particularly with this line-up we have now.

Do you enjoy playing festivals or the smaller venues?

We’re a young band and you can’t expect to step in and play some of the O2 venues. Starting off small and building the fan base.

What was it like touring with Skid Row? I would imagine that was pretty good fun!

Mate that was probably one of my favourite bands of all time. It was great meeting them all in person and hanging out with them every night, really incredible.

Have you got any festivals planned for next year?

It’s time to move over into Europe. It’s a new band and new sound. It’s time to spread our wings. I’ve still got a tonne of fans over the world I’ve yet to get to.

How easy do you find it to tour as many of you will have day jobs?

Without major record labels it is kinda tough you know. You have to persevere and keep your head and keep going.

Last year the band did a cover of John Farnham’s ‘The Voice’. Again perhaps not what you’d expect from the band? Who chose this cover to record?

A lot of people were surprised. I was on the plane to Australia and I had my iPod on shuffle and the Heart version come on. Heart did it pretty good and a decent song that still holds today on the political stage and the way the world is heading. I just thought it perfect and it’s a crowd pleaser. When everyone hears it they start jumping around.

Have you considered doing any other covers?

Because we are a young band we’re going to keep pulling rabbits out of the hat and kinda throw of track as much as we can. We have some very talented musicians in this band and very versatile, so we can do anything even death metal (chuckles).

You did some acoustic shows and how does the band adapt for these?

You have a couple of guitars, some drums and it is a very naked experience and that’s what makes it so cool.

What position would you ideally like to have the band in this time next year?

More fans and get the word out. Everyone who hears the band’s music enjoys it as it talks to you if you listen to it. Broaden our fan base and get touring into Europe and the US too.

Are you signed to a label or do you release it all yourself?

I started my own label to release the music and I have kept it going. Distribution is there but not on a major label scale. We get about and things will pick up.

A lot of bands now have used Pledge Music campaigns. Is this something you would consider in the future maybe on your third album?

It is picking up so much. The thing is with Pledge  you really need some hook to get people hooked. You need something special as you can’t expect people to throw money at nothing. We will work on something special and when that comes right we will try it. It is good as there is no middle man or bullshit.

The new album has done well but were there any markets that really surprised you? Japan has always been a strong territory for rock and metal.

Japan was crazy and we shifted 1,500 copies in the first week and I was really surprised. By the time the album came out we’d only be together six months. Definitely a place we need to get out to as we have so many fans out there.

How do you view the current state of rock and metal especially as the older bands are now beginning to wind down and are there the newer bands to replace them?

It is okay at the moment. It is genre dependent too as it is hard to get people pulled into another genre of music. What can you do?

Rock fans are loyal but they are not always broad minded sticking to one genre of rock or metal.

Exactly, they get very much stuck in a rut like stubborn teenagers. The older you get the more experienced you get and you tend to gravitate towards the good stuff regardless of genre. Your horizons broaden.

A message for your fans please…

On Monday (11th November) we release our new single ‘See You Again’ and there is a video out for it now. It’s our take on something that has been missing in the rock scene for a while a proper tear your heart out ballad, so get stuck in! That will probably be our last one for this year so happy Christmas and a happy new year!

Interview by Jason Ritchie
Second photo by David Wilson

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