An Interview with: Zoax

In December, we headed down to Thekla in Bristol’s floating harbour to catch Hacktivist during their 'Outside The Box' UK headline tour with support from Zoax and Bad Sign.
Pre-show, we were lucky enough to grab some interview time with Zoax frontman Adam Carroll who spoke openly with us about 2016 highlights, touring with bands spanning different genres, crowd reactions, musical growth, stage personas and 2017 plans.

WTHB: So, this is your second night of the tour. With three very different bands on the bill, Bad Sign who are a Rock Band, Hacktivist who have got that djent mixed with rap metal/nu metal sound, and then there is you guys who have got a very funky blues vibe, what’s the crowd reaction been like?

Adam Carroll: Oh, man it’s always interesting, for us we have literally played shows with the weirdest style bands compared to us. I remember we did a gig with Bleed From Within and Heart Of A Coward where we’ve been the lightest band there. It’s all fun and interesting to see, you’ll have people that have been into Hacktivist from maybe seeing them with Enter Shikari or at Reading and Leeds and it is a certain style of music. Whereas for us we don’t have really that style but we’re definitely up for trying it, and seeing what’s going to happen when we mix in with it all. But it’s been going good, we did London on the first night, obviously, we’re based there so it’s a good little following going on. I think there’s only one show I’ve played so far and it’s been like “Wow, they did NOT get that” so, so far so good.

WTHB: When that happens, if you have people that haven’t seen you before and don’t react in a positive way. How do you deal with that?

Adam Carroll: Well you can’t really make anyone get in to it you know. I just feel like some people be like “He’s a dickhead, he’s awful” and I’m just like “I’m not, I’m a genuinely nice guy. It’s all just this thing on stage it’s fun.” As I said it’s only happened once and I don’t want it to happen again, cos it’s just a strange feeling. You’re going afterwards “Wow, that really was awful for those people” and your kind of have to think about it, because in your head you only want to do good.

WTHB: With that in mind, seeing you in an interview setting compared to watching you on stage, it’s a complete change in persona along the lines of a Jekyll and Hyde thing. Do you have to go through a certain build up to get into that mind set or is it just like throwing a switch?

Adam Carroll: There’s been definitely two or three occasions where I’ve walked on stage and just could not feel anything, or get in to it. It’s is just 99.9% of the time my mood is just brilliant before going on stage, it's just like “This is great! We’re playing on a boat this is mad. Just go out there and enjoy it.” (Referring to Thekla) For me anyway I want to deliver an energetic show, cos that’s kind of where my strong points are at. I know personally that I like to entertain people and have a little bit of a shock value. So, if I don’t go out and do that it’s just a waste of my time.

Like people who have never seen us don’t know how it is but I’m doing it for myself and if people don’t get it, it’s a waste of my time. In some ways, Mike Patton (Faith No More front man) was a massive influence, when I see him on stage it’s like “what’s going on?” It’s just getting into your own world with the music that you write. I don’t notice anything with the lads on stage ever. The lads could be playing completely off and I won’t even notice it because I’m in my own zone.

WTHB: 2016 has been a huge year for you guys. You’ve played Download for the third time and 2000 trees festival. You’ve been on some massive tours with Funeral For A Friend and FVK for their last tours. What’s been the highlight for you guys?

Adam Carroll: The FFAF tour. That was just straight up the band we grew up listening to as well, all that scene. Oh, man I remember Causally Dressed & Deep In Conversation when that came out, just blew my mind, aw it was so good. It was such a great moment of when I used to skateboard and stuff. Our friends never had jobs we just skateboard and listen to FFAF and stuff.

It wasn’t even the fact that we were playing in big venues, for us any way. It was that we were getting asked by them, as if they were acknowledging who we are as band. They know who we are and wanted us on their tour. That’s a really cool feeling that in some way they like our music.

From doing the tour I’ve realised they LOVE music, they’re not just guys who were in a scene once and just did it they love music and are still so up to date with it. I remember sitting down with Kris (Roberts, guitarist of FFAF) and he was just so kind towards our band and pulling out all the things he liked about it and so on. That really was one of the biggest moments and I think it’ll be something that’ll be very hard to top.

Doing Download obviously was insane. For me especially because I come from such a small little town in Ireland and reading Kerrang and seeing at the time Ozzfest in my head I was like “someday I’m gonna go to it” not to play it. So, to play it when it came to Download it was amazing. Once again, I’m not excited to play it I’m excited to go to it and see all the bands that I love, playing is a bonus.

WTHB: You guys started in 2013 and  have played Download 3 times already  which would have meant you missed last years. Being a band that’s 3 years old which in this scene is still relatively young and to be asked to play Download this many times is pretty epic.

Adam Carroll: Yeah, this year was incredibly special for us because we were playing on the Maverick Stage. It’s a big tent for us and it’s a big stage. It’s such a build up for a lot of bands who only get to play one major festival a year. But the tent was so full and everyone was going mad, it was just the best feeling in the world. Going back to what I was saying when a crowd don’t get it and you’re there thinking “why does this feel like the longest gig in the world?” Then you play Download and it’s over like that.

WTHB: With your album being released early this year what would you say is the defining track of that album. For anyone who hasn’t listened to you yet what would you say “OK to get us and understand who we are as a band this is the track you need to listen to”?

Adam Carroll: I would pick 'Devil Dance' and 'The Wave' because they just show the two different styles that we’re about as a band.

WTHB: They are completely contrasting tracks.

Adam Carroll: Yeah completely. You got your little frantic one, you got your soft one. But there’s a lot within our band that we’ve yet to put out there musically that we’re still like tiptoeing on because we’re very much in to hip hop stuff, ambient stuff. We kinda do eventually write this kind of music, as well as experiment within the rock scene. We like dynamics and I think they’re the two tracks you can get that from.

WTHB: So, is it important to you guys not to pigeon hole yourselves in to one category, so you can  produce a broad spectrum of music?

Adam Carroll: Yeah there’s no way I could just do one genre. At this age of my life I’m only 28 I know I sound like a 60-year-old I just can’t stick to one. My musical taste has just expanded since I was 15 where I would solely listen to Metallica and Marilyn Manson and that was it. My brain has expanded so much with music so that I just want to challenge myself with all different genres. That’s the whole aim of our band. If we write a song and its straight up jazz we don’t care because all you have to do is just listen to it and either be like “I don’t like it” or “I love it” There’s always that skip button, your best friend.

WTHB: Right doors are going to open in 5 minutes and I know we’re pretty pressed for time, last question before we go. 2016 has been such a huge year for you guys, what’s the plans for 2017 is there a headline tour?

Adam Carroll: Yeah, we’re going to do a headline tour we’re just deciding the right dates because it’s been a bit of a weird one for us this year inside the band and getting shows to get more exposure. But I’m really hoping next year I mean we’re putting so much work to it all the time but we want to get out to Germany more and we’d like to do a European tour probably headlining just to see how it goes.

WTHB: How did you guys do over in Germany?

Adam Carroll: Really good man. We’ve been there twice and it’s been super fun. I love how honest they are it's hilarious it’s such a giggle off it. But we’re doing that and just writing all the time. We’ve got loads of new stuff written so hopefully you’ll see us more on the roar.

WTHB: Sound’s good to us. Well thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with us and enjoy the show and rest of the tour.

Interview  by 
Anthony Hunt Photography

Related article: Hactivitist, Zoax and Bad Sign live @ Thekla  (12/12/2016)