Z.E.R.O. History 101

The Before Time...
Way, way back - around 1977 - when Fz still wandered the planet and all things were analog; two teenagers kept hearing from other teenagers about this other teenager they should meet “because you guys are are both Zappa freaks”. The two teenagers were Kevin Crosby and Rupert Kettle. They met and had a jam session in yet another teenager’s closet (it was a big closet) and started on a decades long saga involving dozens of bands and projects. They were adopted a few years later by Seattle’s very own Mother - none other than Jeff Simmons himself, Mother extraordinaire - who would drop by and speak of things such as “crushing chords”, playing odd meters in little groups of twos and threes, and life on the road with Frank Zappa. It was an idyllic era. A Post-Nixon, Pre-Regan kind of thing.


Z.E.R.O. History Part #01

  • A band is born.

    Fast-forward 35 years on the WayBack Machine from the last installment. Now we are peering through the mists of time at 2012. Rupert and Kevin are still playing music together when they can - Zappa when possible. The intervening decades were spent playing in dozens of bands with varying degrees of success, doing the music college thing, teaching, looking for gigs, playing in more bands, looking for gigs... You know the drill. Years passed but the musical priorities remained the same. An illustrative example of the consistency of conceptual continuity. (To quote Rupert, “It’s funny how (that first) jam has resulted in something that has out lasted a couple of marriages, seen kids grow up and have their own kids, gotten a degree, broke more than once only to morph into something else, and doesn’t show any sign of vaporizing any time soon...”) Somewhere around mid-2012, Kevin was playing ska with Natalie Wouldn’t and giving bass/guitar/ukulele lessons in Seattle. Rupert was teaching, creating music education events, and performing on the Olympic Peninsula. A joke was made about playing Zappa on a ukulele, a trio formed with Reign King on upright bass, Sean Jensen on reed instruments and Kevin on ukulele. Future Z.E.R.O. alumni member Juliana Brandon (who happened to be hosting a weekly show at a local venue - The Racer Cafe - heard about it and booked a gig. The “band” suddenly need a name... The “Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra” (Z.E.R.O.) was the first idea that came up.


    Z.E.R.O. History Part #02

  • Cross-Pollination and Unforeseen Opportunities...

    The joke the grew into a trio that needed a name because it got a gig - recorded that first show at the Racer Cafe and sent a copy to Glenn Leonard - the former drummer for Project Object and current drummer/band leader for Pojama People. (circa 2012) As a result, Glenn (who already knew Kevin from when he played bass for The Squirrels) asked Kevin to play bass for Pojama People. (Ike Willis - lead guitar and vocals, Alli Bach - percussion and vocals, Ted Clifford - keyboards, Glenn Leonard - drums) Kevin joined PjP, played a few shows with them in the spring of 2013, and later went with the band to Bad Doberan, Germany to play at Zappanale #24 in 2013. (Most of PjP, a story that needs at least a page or two to tell...) During the festival, the Idiot Bastard Son - Andrew Greenaway shared a pizza with Kevin (AG & KC had traded emails years earlier because of a certain midi file) and asked if Z.E.R.O. would like to contribute a recording to a Zappa compilation he was putting together with Cordelia Records, that was going to be called “Rare Episodes”. Of course Kevin said yes, and began assembling an arrangement for Andrew’s upcoming CD after returning home from the festival.


    Z.E.R.O. History Part #03

  • The Rollercoaster Ride

    This portion of the Z.E.R.O. saga is a bit complicated and has several storylines running in parallel that eventually reconnect. It is difficult to tell it in a single linear fashion. In the last installment, Pojama People had just returned to the Pacific NW from playing at the 2013 Zappanale Festival in Germany, and Kevin began working on a Z.E.R.O. arrangement for Andrew Greenway’s upcoming CD. ([side note:] While PjP was in Bad Doberan, several people who would factor prominently later in the Z.E.R.O. continuum were met. i.e. Andrew Greenaway, Mick Zuener, Joe Trump, Steffen Schindler, and more! ...poodles also enter the formula... stay posted.) On the Z.E.R.O. time-line, Kevin and Rupert cooked up an extended arrangement of Zappa’s “Variant #1” and went into Seattle’s legendary “Egg Studios” (run by the Pop Llama Guru, Conrad Uno) to record their ideas. On the Pojama People time-line, the band was planning and preparing for a short Halloween tour in the Pacific NW with Ike Willis. Then a very sad surprise happened. The band leader for Pojama People and drummer extraordinaire - Glenn Leonard - died of a heart attack in September. All future plans for PjP were thrown into limbo. Z.E.R.O. was already best described as the result of a series of semi-random events, so there was no plan of action in place for what to do next. But we did know there was a CD coming out from Cordelia Records soon. Which did happen several months later. Rare Episodes was released, and Z.E.R.O.’s contribution was selected to be the first track...

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