(Photo courtesy of Denis Cheng)
D. Blais: Please introduce yourself to our readers?
A. Hish: My name is Anthony Hish and I am the drummer for ZORILA, but I also help out quite a bit with the management side of things along with our manager Hannah and lead singer Stew. ZORILA formed about 2 years ago with brothers Stew and Henry Arp, Nate Finn, and myself. D. Blais: What does ZORILA mean?
A. Hish: Originally, we assumed a Zorila was some kind of hybrid Zebra-Gorilla cross breed type of thing, but we later found out that a Zorila is actually a skunk. To be more specific, it's a breed of African Polecat. We stuck with the name because it happened to be the last one left on our list that wasn't taken, and I feel like we've really embraced it overtime especially with our branding. D. Blais: Who is your biggest musical influence and why?
A. Hish: I don't know if I can really pick just one, but I think the biggest influences that got me into music from a young age were either the Killers or the Strokes. My older brother listened to them a lot and introduced me to them, and it really made me want to play drums in a band. I first started playing drums with my brothers in our basement at home, covering indie rock bands like Interpol, the Strokes, and the Killers. D. Blais: How did you learn music and the music business?
A. Hish: I learned how to play drumset from watching YouTube videos and learning some "easier" songs, but I also participated in concert band as part of the percussion section starting in 5th grade. This eventually evolved into jazz band, marching band, drum corps, and now ZORILA!
Everything I've learned about music business has been through experience, either from friends, bandmates, or our management. I also studied business in college so that kind of mixes in with everything in terms of knowing how a business operates on a fundamental level. D. Blais: Do you guys have a manager?
A. Hish: We have a manager! Her name is Hannah, and she is incredible. She really helps to keep us on track, to be a liaison between us and our label, book shows, manage social media, and the list goes on and on. Very happy to have her on our team.
When we started off 2 years ago we managed ourselves on our own, and we are still play an active role in the management of our band, but to a lesser degree. I was in charge of the booking and I still do bookkeeping for the band.
(Photo: Courtesy of Phillip Knox)
D. Blais : Have you signed a record contract?
A. Hish: We signed with Electric Train Records in August last year, and since then we have released our debut album "Sidney" as well as an EP with acoustic versions. We also released the deluxe version of Sidney on April 24th! D. Blais: Do you rehearse often all together?
A. Hish: Before the COVID-19 outbreak we rehearsed almost exclusively as a band. When we first started, we had a studio space out in Sidney that we fixed up and we would spend many long nights working out songs, sets, and our musical chemistry. Since we moved to Chicago from Champaign in August last year, we now rehearse in the bottom floor of our apartment. Thankfully we have yet to get too many noise complaints. D. Blais: Do you have a written music marketing plan?
A. Hish: Yes! With these, they are usually tied to a specific release, such as a single, EP, or album. Basically whenever we have new content to release it either ties in to a show, album, single, EP, or other kind of content/event.
We usually try to plan as far in advance as we can, but it's been a learning process, and every time we approach a new marketing opportunity we have a better idea of what we want to accomplish and how to reach that goal.
D. Blais: Which social media do you like best? Why? A. Hish: I personally like Instagram the most. I think that's where we have had the most success so far and I think that is also where we reach the most people. I like how streamlined the design is as well. It is easy to get a message out to users in a very diluted format. D. Blais: What is your creative process?
A. Hish: It depends on the song, but Stew (Lead Vox and Rhythm Guitar) and Henry (Backup Vox and Bass) are the primary songwriters. Usually they will come up with a concept and basic structure for a song, then Nate Finn (Lead Guitar) and myself will add our parts. We've also had songs originate from just jamming with one another. Recently we have also added David DeAngelis to assist with writing keyboard parts as well as violin. We really like to be as collaborative as we can with this process.
I personally find inspiration in listening to new music that I've never heard before. Lately I've been gravitating towards a lot of older music, mostly combing through Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I think creativity comes naturally if you continue to familiarize yourself with new material. D. Blais: What achievement are you most proud of?
A. Hish: I would say releasing our first album was a huge achievement. We worked on that thing for so long, and it seemed like there were so many forces pushing back against us the whole time, but we persevered and got it all down, from the initial songwriting, to recording, to marketing our first big release. Big shout-out to Matt Wheeler, our primary sound engineer. He helped guide us through most of the recording process. D. Blais: What is success for you?
A. Hish: In the music industry, I think success is creating something true that you enjoy. It's an added bonus if others enjoy it as well, but I believe that if I create something that is true to myself, then my passion and honesty will resonate with others as well. It's easy to get caught up in growing a following and getting enough streams or selling tickets, but if you don't have a product that you're proud of, then you won't be able to do the things that follow.
D. Blais: Do you prefer to work in the studio or perform in concert?
A. Hish: I live for live shows. I think most of the band does too. That's kind of where we cut our teeth as a band, so I think we gravitate towards that more. All of the music we write is intended to be performed live for people, and we love getting in front of folks and entertaining. D. Blais: What are your future music business goals?
A. Hish: We definitely want to go on tour at some point. We had one planned for April, but unfortunately we had to cancel due to the pandemic. D. Blais: Do you think you'll have to review your plans post COVID-19?
A. Hish: I think we definitely have already. A lot of our band success has been from performing live, so during this time we have had to find other ways to be productive. For us, we are focusing on writing new material for future releases, re-branding, and finding other ways to be creative with our content. So far we've done a couple of "live" performances where we recorded audio and video of ourselves playing songs live. For the release of our Acoustic EP, we made a socially-distanced performance of our song "Disaster" by recording ourselves in our rooms playing our individual parts. We then combined them all together for a music video collage. The video can be viewed below:
Other than that, there's not too much that we can really plan for post COVID-19. On one hand, we might see an influx of people wanting to go out to live concerts and shows once COVID-19 is controlled, but we might also see the opposite. It will depend on how the pandemic is resolved and how consumers react to the world opening up again. For now, we are working to make sure that the next time fans see or hear ZORILA, it's a brand new, fresh, and exciting experience.