Thursday, January 8, 2004
Hammer dulcimer player Jamie Janover jokes that Zilla is the only real jam band.
"There are so many jam bands, like Phish, but they all have songs," Janover said. "We don't really have songs. We don't write set lists. We have seams and vibes we go into, but it's all based on listening to each other and creating something intergalactic."
How do you noodle around on stage and make something interesting?
"Well, you play music for 20 years and you play in a huge number of different contexts -- bluegrass, reggae, jazz -- and everyone re-evaluates what they are playing every second," Janover said. "There are certain risks, like somebody goes for something at the same time as someone else, and it doesn't really work, but I think a few moments that feel a little instable are worth it."
Zilla, scheduled to play tonight at Levelz, is a quartet made up of Boulder musicians Michael Travis, Janover, Aaron Holstein and Steve Vidaic.
Janover's dulcimer gives the band a distinctive sound, like standing under a thousand electronic wind chimes.
Zilla is the ultimate side project, incorporating members all better known for their "other bands."
Travis plays with String Cheese Incident. Vidaic plays in The Motet and Sucker, and Holstein plays in the Future Jazz Project. Janover is a freelance percussionist who has played with Phish, Bela Fleck, String Cheese, Leftover Salmon and The Flip.
"A long list," he said.
But that's enough name-dropping.
Zilla's particular style of music is Sun Ra astral jazz in one moment and dance club techno in the next.
"Let's call it intergalactic funnel music," Janover said. "We're funneling things to the audience by tapping into something bigger. I think that's what any good musician is doing."
As of this week, Zilla has released two albums. The first, "Crop Circle Brain Factory, Vol. 1" is a compilation of its best live moments from a tour that started at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and continued through Texas, and the Midwest.
The second CD, "Crop Circle Brain Factory, Vol. 2" will be released for the first time at the group's Vail show, two days before they reach Steamboat. The second album is a compilation of live moments from a tour that started on Halloween, late night after the String Cheese Incident show, and continued through Las Vegas, Arizona and Colorado.