THE Z-BOYS! Splashing all over Rhode Island and beyond! February 1st they start their residency at Newport Blues Cafe that will be raining down every Thursday night and PVDlive is a proud sponsor to get things rollin!
Chrissy: Soaring blues, blazing country, swinging surf rock and even metal influences ; with such an arrangement of genres who brings what to the table in your epic trio?
Amato: We’ve all got a wide array of influences. I find it difficult to describe our style, since all three of us have pretty diverse interests. Greg comes from a background heavy in country, rockabilly, and classic guitar rock. He knows a lot about guitar in general, and has good and discerning taste about music. Ziggy and I have jazz in common, but he also has a background in metal – stuff like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Previous to the Z-Boys, I had been playing a lot of folk music (when we started the band, I actually played upright for a long time before switching to electric), and prior to that, I had played in jazz, funk, folk, and even bluegrass bands.
Chrissy: The differences between the three of you is why the sound is SO GOOD! How did the Z-Boys name come to be?
Amato: We lifted the name from the original Z-Boys, the skateboarding group from 1970s Venice Beach. If you haven’t seen the documentary “Dogtown and the Z-Boys”, I highly recommend it! They revolutionized skateboarding and turned it from a novelty into the sport (or crime?) we know today. I thought it would be suitable, mostly because Ziggy shreds on a board just as well as behind the drums.
Chrissy: Oh ya! I made your first PVD flyer early 2015 with Jay Adams himself!
Amato: Oh yes! Haha time flies.
Chrissy: How did you all meet?
Amato: I met Greg and Ziggy separately in 2013. Ziggy and I met playing at a gig – he was playing with a band called MEDS at the time. I think after that show, my father (Dave Zinno) mentioned to me that he had played many times with Ziggy’s dad, Mike. Having musicians for fathers helped us break the ice initially. I met Greg in July of 2013 at the Newport Folk Festival – I was playing the Low Anthem’s showcase on Friday in the Museum with Vudu Sister, and Greg was performing with Joe Fletcher at his showcase on Saturday. We had a gig booked together the week after, so we connected through that.
Come fall, I needed a new drummer for a weekly gig at One Eighty (now formerly Hope on Broadway). I called Ziggy to fill in. The first time Ziggy played with me, Greg also happened to be on the gig. We had pretty good chemistry from the outset – of the 4 or 5 gigs I did with Ziggy before we got canned, the show with Greg was easily the best one. So the seed was planted at the One Eighty in September (I think?) of 2013.
We didn’t play all together again until the next summer, and then we began tentatively moving into Newport. Our first gigs were at Pour Judgement, and our first weekly gig was on Thursdays at Hope. Hope carried us through the winter of 2014-15, before letting us go at the end of February, to diversify their programming. Greg already had been playing at Perro Salado with the Throttles for a long time on Wednesdays, but around the same time the Throttles kind of split up. That opened the door for Greg to move us into Perro Salado. So when the door closed at Hope, another door opened at Perro, quite serendipitous you could say.
Since then, we’ve been playing around Newport a lot, and last year started to make inroads in New England and New York.
Chrissy: Damn, the universe certainly set the stage for you all to come together, now that’s something. I know you have an extensive roster of bands you have been apart of ; Haunt the House, Vudu Sister and more. Can you tell us about your band mates Ziggy and Greg’s background and some of your own musical journey?
Amato: When I met Ziggy, he was playing with a band called MEDS, and another local metal band called BALAM. Both bands were great – I can still see the ways in which the people in those bands continue to shape the growing music scene in Newport. He also plays currently with Loose Trucks, and has his own songwriting project called LoveVain. Greg has played and toured a lot with The Amazing Royal Crowns (he has the best tour stories of any of us, by far), as well as Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons. I know he’s been in more bands than that, those are the main ones that I know of. Locally, his band The Throttles played a ton, and he has worked a lot with Mike Warner (formerly of Roomful of Blues, who plays regularly at Fastnet in Newport and The Ocean Mist), and with Bessie Bessin in Warbler Roost, to name a few extras.
Chrissy: You guys have had a heroic run at Perro Salado, to the point where you can’t even fit in there anymore! Now, moving on up to Newport Blues Cafe every Thursday starting tomorrow, February 1st. This will give you room to spread the wings and even invite special guests! Who can we look forward to joining you on these nights?
Amato: This is maybe the most exciting part about the move so far – we want to provide an opportunity for other bands to play at the best room in town. I think it will motivate us, and also make this series unique from other weekly gigs around Newport (including our gig at Perro). In the future, we may do some gigs on our own, but the idea of being able to host other great bands is fun for us. In the first month, we have stellar acts coming to support us. Here’s the schedule:
2/1 – The Silks
2/8 – Julie Rhodes
2/15 – Roz and the Rice Cakes
2/22 – Camden Murphy
The Silks and Roz and the Rice Cakes are from Providence, Julie Rhodes is a phenomenal singer from the Boston area (winner of 4 Boston Music Awards in the past 2 years), and Camden Murphy is a local rapper who we have collaborated with previously. Camden was also the first person to invite us to perform at the Blues a couple years ago, so we are glad he is going to join us for one of the first shows.
Our support in February, with the exception of Camden, is not from Newport, so in March we are going to do more to bring in great local musicians. Joining us March 1st will be LoveHandle, a band that can hang with any Rock or Americana group in the state, or even the region.
Also, we aren’t done at Perro yet! We are turning Wednesdays into Z-Boys Lounge nights, where all of us will take turns DJing. We wanted to keep the door open at Perro – we would not be moving to the Blues if not for them giving us a home in the first place, and we can’t quit their tacos. It’s gonna be another adventure for sure.
Chrissy: Cheers to Perro and all of these events, we’re excited! With some pretty incredible shows under the belt like The Strand Ballroom and Columbus Theatre, what are some memories that are burned in the brain?
Amato: Oh man! The Strand was unreal. We were so impressed with the updates to that space, it looks and sounds amazing. As for memories, we had a couple of great shows at the Blues at the end of last year, opening for KRS-ONE and Deer Tick.
Chrissy: What shows are you looking forward to?
Amato: March 3rd at the Columbus Theatre – we are playing with Julie Rhodes as well as Matthew Stubbs and The Antiguas. We did a show with The Devil’s Twins from Boston last December, and their manager told me, “you HAVE to play with Matt Stubbs… your bands are built for each other.” He plays instrumental music very much in the same vein as us, so we are excited to partner up for the first time. And obviously Julie will bring it, amirite?
Chrissy: Youarite! So you guys have a 6 track EP from 2016 that we have been groovin with ever since! Is there some new material that may be on the horizon?
Amato: I hope so!! There’s murmurs of a split 7”, and we have been slowly crafting new songs, some with vocal harmonies, which is new territory for us. It’s a process, but we are getting close to having enough material for a debut full length. We want it to be amazing.
Chrissy: Well PVDlive and Narragansett Beer are proud sponsors of your new residency at The Blues Cafe and we couldn’t be happier for you all! We know Thames will be grateful to have you!
Amato: Thank you! We hope to see you and the rest of Providence down our way soon!
For more info on The Z-Boys taking over Newport Blues Cafe click here