Zero33 are hard to track down, but when you do, you will be very well rewarded. We met up with their spokesperson. We’re not much the wiser.
Thirty three is a magic number. It has meaning, whether you be religious, scientific or superstitious. It is, for example the number of bones in your spine. On the Newton scale, it is the temperature at which water boils. The Vedic religion has 33 deities. There are typically 33 cars that start the Indianapolis 500. We could go on. Thirty three keeps cropping up wherever you look. And, of course, it’s the speed at which an LP turns. Not that Zero33 are in that particular market.
By contrast, zero means absolutely nothing.
Add them together and you get to Liverpool’s enigmatic collective Zero33.
Anonymous, shy and reclusive. They have no intentions just yet of coming out of the shadows. Yet they have dropped a really rather splendid album on anyone who cares to seek them out. It may or may not be advertised. It’s unlikely to cross your Facebook or Twitter feeds, because you’ve never heard of them and so, you don’t follow them. They like it that way. Although, they are there, if you seek them out.
The collective is made up of musicians, designers, poets, lyricists, and other assorted creatives. Nobody, except their inner circle, gets a look in.
That is, until they release an album. The Sound of Year Zero is the debut from this latest incarnation of the project (we’re told there have been others, but details are sketchy).
A Talking Heads v Iggy Pop v Roxy Music style lesson in rhythm and synth, loops and general intelligent dance-ish music, it’s a work that will pay back your investment many times over. You probably ought to, because it’s unlikely to hit a live stage any time soon. Glam and deep throated vocals, this is a powerful record. It has many layers.
We managed to snag a meet with the spokesperson for the collective. They go by the name D.B.Cooper (of which more later). They talk about The Wing Commander, which is the name of the first track on the album, written in Morse Code. Brief and, well, full of beeps. We need to brush up on our Morse.
They talk about creating a whole album, rather than just singles pumped out as and when. It’s a thing best listened to as a whole piece.
There are subliminal messages if you know where to look. But they won’t tell us where they are, nor, really, what to look for. This is an interesting conversation already!
But, that’s the point.
The album is full of stories of people, places and memories, and we kind of wish we had been there first hand. But, then, we’d probably be dead by now, or worse.
Early release Lotsa Poppa is the tale of Charles Manson’s drug dealer. There’s an unenviable job, if ever there was one.
And, then there’s D B Cooper, referenced in Skyjacker, one of the most ridiculous heists ever. He hijacked a plane, forced it to land, demanded $2,000,000 (or whatever). The feds assumed he was stuck, couldn’t go anywhere. So they paid up. Plane takes off and D B Cooper jumps out of the back half way to Seattle. Never to be seen again, but $2m richer. Assuming he’s still alive. And managed to hang onto the cash.
We get why Zero33’s spokesperson adopts an alias.
There are underlying themes, apart from the obvious, or less than obvious. There are lyrics which reference the Beat Poets, Hunter Thompson and the like. Our spokesperson likes that because they see the band as: “Quite Gonzo – reimagining a story”. The idea of getting a commission and then doing something completely different.
If anyone’s listening, Zero33 would like to be known as “Past Modern” (that’s not a typo). The album is a current piece of work, recorded now, but looking back at what once was. And there is an element of that in the very fact this is an album – a coherent body of work, a narrative. It’s not a few singles thrown out over lockdown just because they could. Our D B Cooper describes the making of the album as a journey. Although, from where they started isn’t clear.
On the other hand, Zero33 don’t give a shit if anyone likes it or not. There’s no big masterplan, but, there is an admission they’d like a reaction, whether for or against.
And here, we find the brick wall. Anonomysed, as they are, then where will this reaction come from?
We ask if the band has ever played a gig? “Of course”, they lie. There is, however, a qualification. Members of the collective have played live in various guises, but that was back before the dawn of time. And it was an effort. D B Cooper wonders why it’s worth the effort.
And, in any event, why would anyone come to see them? Also, the songs are too difficult / complex to play in a live setting, not only because of the song structure, but because of all the behind the scenes designers, writers and the like. So, that’s that then.
And even if there were a plan, then they feel they’d talk themselves out of it, given the fact no one would come anyway because no one would be invited.
Not that the collective is staying still. There’s more music in the can and more planned, including a homily to Delia Derbyshire (she who wrote the Dr Who theme tune), said to be a psych, lo-fi track. Some hip-hop [gulp] and “all sorts of other stuff floating through the internet – there’s half a song there. We’re constantly evolving”.
It’s a kind of Part Two, with bits of digital notes, markers and people sharing files with ideas.
We asked about a physical release for the album. Typically, we didn’t get a straight answer. There may be one. Or not.
And, with that teaser, there was another beer, at which point the tape was switched off.
D B Cooper, thanks for a great, if somewhat surreal conversation.
Zero33 are deliberately secretive, but that, in a way, is their appeal. You feel a sense of discovery once you come across them. They are undoubtedly worth your time.