When you hear the name Lord Zion you probably instantly think of the band ‘SPiT LiKE THiS’, which he formed in 2001 with partner in crime and life Vikki Spit. What isn’t so well known though is that he and the missus are also behind ‘Sweary Slogan’ T-Shirt site ‘SMELLYOURMUM.COM’ which has had over 14 million hits since its inception in 2004. The Black Flag caught up with this hard rockin and even harder working hombre and talked about rock n roll, mildly offensive T-Shirts and the couples successful DIY work ethic….
The Black Flag: Tell us a bit about your background. What initially got you into music?
Lord Zion: Music was a major component of my life from birth, really. I was often taken to gigs as a babe in arms and to band rehearsals as I got older (my sperm donor father was a drummer). I got my first music centre aged 5 and, with my cousin, we used to make up little music videos. My mum’s cousin was a singer who appeared on Top Of the Pops so it just always seemed like a viable option to me. It wasn’t until I was 15 though and first appeared on stage that I knew I had to make it my life. I’ve been a struggling musician ever since; a rock n’ roll lifer.
BF: When did you decide that you wanted to be in a rock band?
LZ: That would have been the experience I had at 15. My school held an event called “The Pop Mime”. This appealed to me so I did it miming to the rock songs of my youth. The first time the first song ended and I heard the roar of the crowd, that was that. Sold!
BF: How many bands have you been in and tell us a bit about them?
LZ: Prior to SLT, three. All of them serious attempts at success – or so I thought. Now I know how hard the work really is, I realise that I spent 99% of the time goofing off. Although the first was offered a deal. We fucked it up by being obnoxious arseholes though. Lesson learned. Thankfully, I have grown up since then and have taken many years of my ego being battered to a pulp so, rather than ending up and totally unbearable, obnoxious rock star, I have ended up a pretty level-headed, hard working musician.
BF: You started your present band ‘SPiT LiKE THiS’ with your partner Vikki. Tell us a bit more about the band?
LZ: I think we are pretty unique in our sound and style. We don’t follow any trend that is current, preferring to just do things our way and let people cotton onto us. We work extremely hard and tirelessly to get this band up to the level we want it to eventually be at. If you cut me in half, it would say SPiT LiKE THiS through my middle – it has become my life and is at the core of my existence. From what I can make out, it is why I am.
BF: Allegedly you decided to form the band after a spitting contest. Is there any truth in that?
LZ: None whatsoever! I decided to form the band one drunken night at the Underworld in Camden watching Hardcore Superstar with Vikki, inbetween bouts of puking my guts up. The band NAME did come about because of a spitting contest held between Vikki and I the night we met. I won.
BF: Your EP ‘Sleaze Sells…But Who’s Buying?’ Hit number 1 in the Amazon chart. Which is a great achievement? How did that feel and what effect has that had on your career?
LZ: It was a milestone for us, most definitely. At the time, we beat the Foo Fighters, U2 and Oasis! It is a moment that I am very proud of. Unfortunately, the small label we were with at the time were pretty clueless as to how to capitalise on such a big event. We got ourselves that result then handed the baton over to them, who promptly fumbled it and let it tumble to the ground. You find that, most of the time, you are better off just doing stuff yourself… Not sure what effect it had. I think people woke up to the fact that they had better start taking us seriously, I guess. I suppose it turned us from wannabes into a bona-fide band.
BF: You’ve played with some amazing acts over the years. Alice Cooper, Motley Crue etc. Who’s been your favourite and why?
LZ: The Misfits. Not because they are a favourite of mine but because they treated us the best and acted least like rock stars. Most bands you support completely ignore you. And that’s fine, I get that they see loads of bands on the road and have their own shit to worry about but, when a band the size and shape of the Misfits take the time to introduce themselves and ingratiate themselves to you, it means a lot. Jerry became firm friends with fellow bassist, Vikki.
BF: What’s been the highlight of your time in ‘SPiT LiKE THiS’?
LZ: I get asked this a lot and it is impossible to say. Right now I am happiest with how things are going. There are always many highlights along the way and the firsts tend to be huge; the first rehearsal, the first gig, the first recording, the first time you see you album on the shelves, the first big support show and so on. They are all equally as exciting as each other, because of where you are in your career at that point. If I had to pinpoint anything, it would probably be the release of our latest album, “Normalityville Horror”, due to the delay in getting it released combined with how happy I am with the results.
BF: How do you see the future of the Music industry?
LZ: It has changed beyond recognition in the last few years and I think it will continue to evolve. There are positives and negatives to what has happened, but that is true for all industries throughout time. The last thing that a musician should do is rue the situation. It is what it is. Don’t dwell on the glory days, concentrate on today and tomorrow.
BF: You and Vikki also run ‘SMELLYOURMUM.COM’ which sells ‘sweary’ T-Shirts. How did this come about?
LZ: We started it around the same time as the band as we realised that we needed our time to be flexible. How people do bands seriously when they have a boss is beyond me. I have never had a boss but I imagine they are none-too-happy when you announce you need time off to play at the Dog & Bucket next Tuesday. We tried to think of something that would be flexible but would also possibly help the band beyond the financial aspect. The kinds of T-shirts we make appeal to the kind of people that would like our music, so it seemed like a perfect match. The site is now in the top 1% most visited sites on the planet, another achievement I am very proud of.
BF: Do you and Vikki think up all the T-Shirts designs yourself?
LZ: On the whole, yes. I come up with the majority, Vikki occasionally has a golden moment and, rarely, we print a customer’s suggestion. Fortunately, I have the kind of mind that operates in puns, parody and bad language.
BF: What’s been your most popular T-Shirt design?
LZ: Different T-shirts for different times. When Chavs were all the rage, our selection of Anti-Chav designs were extremely popular. We attend various Expo’s and conventions selling and find that the more wordy, clever designs go better there. Through our site it is the swearier, ruder stuff and, through Amazon and eBay it is more the parody-orientated stuff. Our current favourite is a parody of the infamous Lord Kitchener “Your Country Needs You” poster. Same image but the words are replaced with “STOP Being A Cunt”. It is hilarious.
BF: Can people order their own custom designs off of you?
LZ: We do custom runs for bands, radio stations, web sites, instrument makers, record labels, tattoo studios and so on. The entity supplies the design and we offer very flexible terms with the minimum run being just 10 items. We do this to help small companies out that don’t want to, or can’t afford, to order masses of T-shirts. We’re nice like that.
BF: As well as ‘SPiT LiKE THiS’ and ‘SMELLYOURMUM.COM’, you and Vikki also have your own label ‘Megabucks Music’. Tell us a bit more about this?
LZ: We license our music to labels so, when we record it, we pay for it and therefore own it. It is better than getting in masses of debt to a label. Megabucks Music was set up when we started SLT and holds the rights to our EP’s and the Scary Tales Collection. In 2009 we set up a new label, SPiT LiKE THiS Productions which holds the rights to our two albums and our music videos.
BF: With so many things on the burner how do you guys find time to relax?
LZ: I’m sorry, what is “relax”? Seriously, the short answer is that we very very rarely do. The only time we relax is when we visit family – then we both just nearly fall asleep, neither of us are used to stopping doing stuff. But that’s OK, it is why we are where we are. The harder you work, the more stuff will happen. It is a very simple equation.
BF: Do you ever find it difficult being in a relationship with someone and working on so many different projects with them?
LZ: No. If anything, it helps. I don’t have to explain or justify anything to Vikki as she completely understands and supports everything that is going on. In fact, I would say it is an essential aspect of our relationship. If she just sat around fingering herself all day long whilst I was working my butt off, I’d probably get a bit annoyed 😉 The bottom line is we like being together, hanging out together, creating stuff together, making decisions together. We’re best friends so it is in no way a hardship.
BF: You’ve filmed a cameo for Zombie Women of Satan 2. What’s the story behind that?
LZ: We were asked and we said yes. We are cheap like that! Who the hell wouldn’t want to be in a Zombie movie?! My only disappointment is that we weren’t disembowelled or anything wonderfully gory like that. It was a very interesting experience though, a totally different kind of film-making to a video shoot. Cannot wait to see the end result in 2013.
BF: What advice would you give to band starting out in the Music Industry?
LZ: Music is no longer the product – the band is. Merchandise is all important now. CD’s are merch, not a delivery tool. Write your song, release your song however you want to release it then promote the shit out of it. Hopefully, enough people will hear it, discover you and then buy what you want to sell them and come and see you on tour. It’s not the ideal scenario but, at the moment, that IS the scenario. So, wise-up and deal with it. You have to be marketing savvy, computer savvy, bold and unique. EVERY hugely successful artist in 2012 that isn’t a heritage artist is all of those things. If you aren’t, you are doomed to fail.
BF: Anything else you want to plug?
LZ: The first single from our “Normalityville Horror” album is released on September 16th. “Zero To Sixty” is the A-side, “The Life & Times Of The Suicide Kid” is the B-side, although it is a digital-only release so bugger knows how that works. The release is across Europe. We have a tour coming up in October and November, so check that out and, in 2013, we will be visiting various European locations. We actually start that in Finland in December. I should also plug the amazing video to “Zero To Sixty” which is on www.YouTube.com/spitlikethis. Also, please find us online at www.spitlikethis.com and like our facebook.com/spitlikethis page. Thanks! Oh, and support us by buying merch at www.smellyourmum.com.
BF: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
LZ: The SLT Universe is one not confined to just music, so I am looking forward to expanding into other areas of entertainment and media. If we can somehow wangle something like a telly show where we drive our awesome car to exotic locations, ramble on about that and then play a show there, that would be amazing. It will be like now, only bigger and more so. We will become all pervasive and invade your spaces in ways you cannot yet conceive. It is going to be fabulous.