Sometime near the end of February, I hit the peak of my frustration with Sad Man on a Rock and, perhaps to an even larger extent, myself as an artist and thus decided to do something I hadn’t done in a very long time.
I simply let go.
Back in late 2004, I, along with a handful of fellow musicians, decided to challenge ourselves to a friendly compo where we wrote, recorded and produced an album within a week’s time. The result was my third original release, zombo, an album inspired by my chance discovery of the now infamous zombo.com.
Digging deeper into the record, the most noticeable feature is that it was an entirely improvisational and self-aware creation that took my signature stream-of-consciousness style of writing and put it center stage… which of course was perfectly aligned with my notorious lack of effort in just about any musical endeavor I embark on; though zombo had a particularly atomic disposition for not giving any fucks.
zombo did well in limited circles. Friends and fans enjoyed its looseness, its honesty, its fun. It wasn’t a serious album by any long shot (completely unlike just about every other over-serious, self-pitying album I’ve ever put out) and was really actually just a tribute to my infamous proclivity for getting high… mostly because I was 24, not yet a father and, well, perpetually stoned. So while zombo was sloppy, poorly produced and whacky as fuck, it at least had something of a charm to it.
Strangely enough, I tried to piggyback off the momentum of the original zombo record with what is to this day still my sole rap record, zombo II: Monkey Work, and to put it as lightly as I can, it was an unmitigated fuckin’ disaster. I went and infected the funloving lightness of the zombo phenomenon with my try-hard existential crisis nonsense and ruined it. Sure, there are a couple of fun, goofy tracks on there but, for the most part, that album is an abomination I pretend never happened.
Around 2007, a couple years after the shitshow that was zombo II, I started working on the third installment in the series with the very specific intent of trying to just have fun again. That resulted in a single demo, “Malfunktion,” that fit the bill but simply wasn’t inspiring enough for me to continue with the project I’d eventually abandon and forget about altogether as I continued to churn out boringly safe rock albums.
Fast forward a dozen years.
Mired in an unending frustration in getting the – you guessed it – overtly serious and gargantuan zyko opera “Sad Man on a Rock” where it needs to be to do what it needs to do, I decided on a whim to let go and embark on a journey of creative self-discovery by abandoning my over critical self-doubt as an artist and surrender completely to my muse. zombo III is the result.
I actually like to think of it like the Indiana Jones trilogy (ahem, yeah; I did mean TRILOGY lol). Whereas the original offering, the legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark, set a tone and style that would be imitated many times over, its sequel, Temple of Doom, abandoned the original formula and, while still good in its own right, just didn’t work in the same way. In a completely predictable maneuver, however, Lucas, Spielberg and friends executed an about-face and applied the Raiders formula so pristinely that The Last Crusade was almost too derivative. It even made a tongue-in-cheek joke about the Ark (though, to be sure, the joke is a cult favorite of just about every Indy fan I’ve ever known myself included haha) proving that their return to form was nowhere near incidental. Despite being such an obvious formula film, The Last Crusade is arguably the most fun of the bunch.
In that way, zombo III is the proverbial return to what made zombo (and, perhaps, zykO) a worthwhile listen in the first place. The album is entirely stream of consciousness, improvised across the month of March 2019 with very limited post-prod/editing and baked in a hefty dose of herbal benevolence.
Oh, and Star Wars lol
The original zombo III offering “Malfunktion” featured Han Solo’s famous “reactor leak” quote from Episode IV and was always my favorite part of the song (seeing as how it’s also where I got the name for the song to begin with lol) so it only made sense to me to keep with the theme. Besides, I happened to be marathoning Star Wars for the gazillionth time in anticipation of this month’s Star Wars Celebration where they’ll undoubtedly unveil Episode IX’s trailer so it was all deliciously synergistic… but the main point was to trust the Force, let it flow through me and just do… or do not… but certainly not at all try. The process was quite simple, actually: an idea pops into my head, the idea gets plopped down into the DAW, I freestyle some stoned nonsense and, whatever the result, no questions are asked.
In other words, it’s the total opposite of Sad Man on a Rock in almost every way
So there you have it. This past month gave me an opportunity to explore the twisted cavern of my creative mind and helped me reintroduce myself to my muse as a goofy overgrown Star Wars fanboy with an herbal habit having fun with a bunch of instruments he can barely play and not giving any fucks about any of it. Which, I guess, is par for the course. And perhaps, if we’re lucky, a lesson learned moving forward.
Anyway, dig it. And may the Force be with you.