Since this interview almost exclusively deals in non-relevant topics, I suppose I should use this intro bit to tell you some factual info about Zig Zags. Here we go: Zig Zags are a band rooted deep in the steam punk tradition. They often incorporate found instruments such as hollowed out cantaloupe melons, empty Del Taco wrappers, and metal garbage cans for a truly unique, truly funky sound. Their immediate inspirations are Robin Thicke, Jewel b-sides, and early Sum41.
Okay fine, none of that is true. In reality they’re just three dudes who make really good music, a fucked up hybrid of garage and punk and stoner rock and just general awesomeness (this is a technical term). None of them are from Los Angeles (Jed Maheu is from Oregon, Bobby Martin is from Maine, and Patrick McCarthy is from Florida), all of them are tall, and some of them have really great hair (see below for further discussion about this point).
And now the kind of fun part:
I have an extremely important hair question. So Bobby and Patrick have these beautiful, lustrous, long locks that really go along with the spirit and magic of Zig Zags, and here you are Jed, with this short curly situation. What’s up with that? Why don’t you want to be part of the team?
J: It’s actually kind of long! It’s just curly and it doesn’t go long. I’ve always wanted long hair, like my entire life, and now it’s gotten to the point where I’m losing it a little bit, and now it’s too late… I just look at it like I’m Paul Di’Anno from Iron Maiden. He had short hair, because he was like the punk rock guy at the beginning of Iron Maiden. He’s totally bald now. But I’m the punk rock one, that’s why my hair is short.
Patrick: Yeah, we’re all going to shave our heads here pretty soon.
J: Patrick wanted to cut his hair when he first joined the band but we wouldn’t let him.
Bobby: He wanted like an asymmetrical cut.
Like a MySpace hair cut?
P: I was really into MySpace, and I saw these good haircuts on there. (Laughs). I remember when I first joined the band, I had kind of this glam ‘do…
J: Oh kind of like a fashion mullet.
You had bangs?
P: I had bangs and a mullet.
B: Cause he’s from Florida.
P: I’ve had long hair since I was a little kid, and when I moved from here from New York, I kind of wanted a fresh start. So this guy who dances with Ryan Heffington cut my hair. And he gave me this retarded hair cut.
You let a dancer cut your hair?
P: Yeah, this guy Hunter. He’s awesome. I was like, “Hunter, I’m your canvas.” I had a mullet. So recently I was at this party at Jed and his girlfriend Jess’ house, where Bobby lives too, and I was like “yeah I think I want to cut my hair again” and she was like “I think if you cut your hair, you can’t be in Zig Zags. The only reason they asked you to be in the band was because you had the longest hair.”
Good hair talk. So, what does Zig Zags means? What is a Zig Zag, to you?
J: Well Bobby and I used to wear those shoes all the time. So when we were trying to come up with the band name, we came up with that. Did we have any other band names? Oh yeah, Liquid Stone was one of them.
B: Coming up with names was really hard! And we were like, we need to come up with a name if we’re going to play our first show at The Satellite, and we’re going to go on tour. We can’t go as nothing.
J: Yeah and Pangea was already taken. But when we get a cease and desist order from Zig Zags the rolling papers, we can be Together Zig Zags.
B: So that’s how it happened. We couldn’t agree on anything and then we came up with Zig Zags, and we were like, that’s it.
J: I wanted a really punk rock name, like Rat Milk.
Like Festering Blisters or something?
J: Yeah, something that would like paint us into a corner.
P: Band names are generally really stupid. I remember when I first heard the name Zig Zags I was like, oh okay, sure.
Were you secretly hoping that after you joined the band you could convince them to change their name?
J: When Patrick joined the band we were going to change it to Pippy Dongstockings.
If you guys don’t make it, that’s where you went wrong. That was the greatest mistake of your career. So…what’s the creative process like around here? Does it go by order of hair length?
J: No! Enough hair questions.
You guys are a hair band. Accept it.
J: I feel like those are the kind of questions Milk Music gets asked. But those guys have like, little arms. So I don’t know…
B: They have the weirdest pants and the smallest arms.
I think the Allah-Las do well in the awesome pants departments as well.
J: We used to share a practice space with those guys. I don’t remember their arms.
B: Wait, what was the question?
P: I have the longest hair, so I’m kind of like the CEO. I make the final decisions.
Makes sense. I didn’t bring it back to hair, by the way, Patrick did. So you can cast your evil glances towards Pippi over there.
B: It’s just a lot of jamming, and recording what we play when we jam. We always record. So we have tons of shit.
J: And everybody sings lead. Like, everybody has their songs that they sing or whatever, so I’ll get real obsessive and try to write lyrics for everything all the time, but it’s easier if the person who is singing just writes the lyrics. I don’t know why.
P: I don’t know. The songs that I sing, you wrote the lyrics. I kind of like that. I don’t really care about writing the lyrics.
B: Yeah sometimes you’ll just be jamming and you come up with a word and start saying it, then it becomes lyrics. The lyrics just write themselves.
Okay this is becoming too much about music and that’s not really what we’re about here at Cultist. You can save that for Guitar Player magazine or whatever. Okay, so we’ve established that the band was basically born of unemployment. Do you guys have jobs now?
J: I don’t have a job.
You’re a liar. You’re an actor and you’re killing my follow-up question.
J: Yeah, I do acting stuff sometimes. Like commercials, and horror films and stuff when I can get them.
Specifically horror films?
J: Well, specifically in that that’s all that I’ve gotten so far. Game shows don’t count. I just do that to win money because I’m good at it.
You’re good at game shows? Can you talk more about this please?
J: Well one time I was. On “1 Vs. 100 with Bob Saget” I won $10,000. It’s just trivia questions. I’m super good at trivia. But the movies I’ve done…I did one of those sci-fi moves, like Sharknado. But it wasn’t Sharknado. It was called 51, and I played a killer alien in that movie.
B: Jed has like fan mail and shit that is always coming to the house.
J: There’s a guy in Reno that owns a movie theater, and he’s a horror fanatic. He collects headshots, so I sent him a headshot with a note that said like, “Keep Rocking Jeff! Love, Jed of 51.”
If your acting career ever took off would you totally ditch this whole band thing?
P: That’s not true. We’ve had to pull him back in so many times.
J: The acting is more out of not wanting to have a job than anything else. It’s a weird thing, because I think musician-actor is the worst human being possible. It’s just an awful combination. But a lot of people I work with are people from punk rock who ended up moving into the film world. Us getting to do music for a movie I’m in is kind of cool too. But it would be really weird if I was in something people actually saw. Like if I was on The Big Bang Theory or something.
That would be rad. That show is great.
J: Bobby and I actually came close to being the Geico band.
B: They kept us in there for like 45 min! We thought we had it for sure.
But they chose that sort of chubby guy and the other guy.
J: Yeah they chose the fat dude and the weird dude instead. So when we’re sitting on the couch and those commercials come on…
B: It’s very bittersweet.
J: It’s like, fuck dude we would both have hundreds of thousands of dollars right now. But it’s also like, but if we play a show, people are just going to make fun of us for being the Geico dudes.
B: But we would have a van now.
J: We tried to get this company called Fresh Balls to sponsor our tour. It’s this cream that you put on your balls that makes your balls not stink. We were listening to this commercial for it on Howard Stern and it was this guy being like “Oh, thank god for Fresh Balls, I can stand in line at the bank and not worry about my onion sack anymore.” And we were just like what the fuck. But that’s the perfect thing for touring bands. So I tracked down the marketing person and emailed them like “Hey, we’re a band called Zig Zags, we love your product…”
Our balls smell, we need some help…
J: Yeah, but they never got back to us. I was trying to do a co-headlining tour with The Shrine sponsored by Fresh Balls.
What about you guys? Do you have jobs?
P: I have a job.
B: Patrick has the most real job out of all of us.
P: I had never had a real job in my entire life. I moved here with no job prospects whatsoever, and then I walked into a very real job. I like having a job.
J: When he moved here, he didn’t have a car. He was walking four miles, taking the bus, applying for jobs at like Rite-Aid and Gelsons.
P: My girlfriend and I moved here and I only knew like one person. But then I got connected with some other people and I got this job. I work at a re-issue label called Light In The Attic records that does like re-issues of old records like Rodriguez and Serge Gainsbourg and stuff. It’s really cool because it’s in music, and I’m a record-collector type. They’re cool and they let me play in a band. And I have a car now.
B: I moved out here and got into working in the industry, doing art direction. I do a lot of prop work and set-decking and stuff like that.
J: Bobby used to model too, if we’re going to talk about me acting.
You do have lovely cheekbones.
B: When I was living in New York I was photo assisting, and then September 11th happened and by default I fell into modeling, because there was no…
J: Sept 11thwhat now? I’ll never forget the day I became a model.
B: Haha. No seriously. Photography was my number one love. I was assisting photographers, making $75 a day, doing it up. Then after Sept 11th, I lost my work, and I couldn’t go back to school because school had already started, and there was no fucking way I was going home. A year before when I was in school, friends had unbeknownst to me send photos into a modeling agency, so by default I went back to IMG and then I moved to London and modeled there for five years.
So you fell back on that old modeling thing then. I lost all my work so ugh I had to go to London and pose.
Rick Rodney: By the way, your story as a band sucks.
B: It was cool! I got to do a lot of cool shit. But for me, it was like how did I get into this shit? Then I left that and came out here.
J: Now he just dates models.
So much cheekbone on cheekbone.
B: No that’s a bad choice. Models and actresses suck.
Also band dudes.
J: Definitely band dudes.
B: Also I just finished a job with Playboy doing props.
Again, tough fucking life. Let’s segue this into something near and dear to Cultist: Bush.
J: The band or pussy?
Well both are dear to Cultist but I’m talking about the latter. We do love Gavin Rossdale though. In terms of vagina, what’s your guys’ preference in terms of hair?
J: I like 70s bush. I don’t like the weird shaved snizz. I used to work at Hustler, for like two years. I named all the porn movies.
That sounds like the best job in the entire world. Why would you ever leave that job?
J: Because it was horrible. It was gross. It was super disgusting after a while. I don’t know, I like that stuff as a viewer, but not as a purveyor. Going behind the curtain on that is not awesome. I named stuff like “Sista Wants A Cracka”, that was black chicks with white dudes. One time we were at a party at my friend was like “What about ‘America’s Next Top Butthole’?” and I was like cool. The next day I went to work and made nine volumes of “America’s Next Top Butthole.” And then I got the cover and framed it for my friend as a present.
It sounds like all your guys’ former jobs are better than being in this band.
J: We want more out of life, Yasi.
Back to bush, what about the rest of you?
P: Oh definitely 70s bush. It’s like when you’re a kid and you find the Playboys in the garage with the Snap-On calendars.
J: When I was like thirteen my parents caught me reading an Over 40 magazine, which was like older women. Someone had given it to my dad as a joke and I found it.
P: I got stuck on one of the Snap-On girls.
J: That’s not even porn. That’s like watching Tool Time.
P: I had a drawer where I kept all my important things, like baseball cards and stuff, and I told my parents to never go in there.
Why would you do that? That’s so stupid.
P: I know. Of course they went in there, and they found a Snap-On girls calendar. That’s when they gave me the talk.
Then your parents were like “Oh fuck our son is lame.”
J: The thing about a big bush is, and this is going to sound kind of gross, is that there’s some mystery there. So when you first go in, it’s like hard and crusty, then it gets all wet and moist, like a Ritz sandwich cookie or something, you know? I think the shaved ones create weird friction.
B: It’s also nice to see a girl who is like a woman, and not like a little girl.
Okay round table question: What was the most embarrassing parent-related sexual incident you had? Like they caught you doing something, they found something, etc.
J: For me it’s probably just getting caught reading “Over 40” magazine. I can’t really top that.
B: When I was like 17, I was having sex with my girlfriend and my mom caught us. My girlfriend and I both had to write a letter to my mom and also to my girlfriend’s parents, who didn’t even know. She was horrified, and I was terribly embarrassed, and I think we broke up shortly after.
P: I don’t have any. I never got caught. Oh can there be one with like a parental figure? I remember one time my Uncle Bobby, who is this total fuck-up redneck prison dude, was living with us, and he stayed in my room with me.
P: I remember going to sleep one night, and him being like “Patrick, Patrick.” And I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want him to talk to me, and next thing I hear this like slapping sound (imitates sound).
J: Why was he calling your name?
P: He wanted to see if I was awake so he could jerk off! And I told my mom that Uncle Bobby couldn’t sleep in my room anymore (laughs). It was pretty fucking gross, man.
Since I like to put myself in my interviews, I’ll finish this with mine. I lived with my parents for like six months after school, and one day I was on a plane about to fly to New York when my mom calls and starts yelling at me. I had one of those sort of big purple rabbit vibrators, and I had left it in my bed, and I guess the maid had come and found it, and left it at the foot of the stairs in my parents’ house. So my mom had found it, and she just kept yelling “You left your dick in the bed.” I just told her I had to go because the plane was taking off.
J: You win.