Zain Smith, guitarist with Oklahoma natives Anti-Mortem, tells SHANE PINNEGAR that they started out just like every other garage band around the world, rehearsing and writing songs for their just-released debut album, New Southern, in his family’s barn.
Zain Smith says that although the barn used during the creation of Anti-Mortem’s debut LP, New Southern, was supposed to house his father’s vintage car collection, you can’t overvalue family support.
“We have two buildings,” he details, “There was some of his cars in the smaller building that we took over, but he was willing to move whatever was in there and just let us take over the place. Still to this day we practice there.
“The best part is, it’s out in the country so we can practice whenever we want, and be loud whenever we want. The bad part is we play out in the shop so it’s really cold when it’s cold and it’s really hot when it’s hot. But, you know, it’s hard work and dedication to be out there, so that proves a lot.”
Bringing rock back to the masses is a subject close to Smith’s heart, and the six-string-slinger can’t help but bemoan the current state of radio in the States.
“Oh dude, I can tell you that’s the goal of our band,” he enthuses. “It inspires us because when you turn on the radio you can’t figure out who is playing because it all sounds the same, you know what I mean?
“You’ve got to break out your Shazam and be like, ‘who is this?’ You’re like, ‘oh okay, that’s that band, whatever, it’s like that could have been this band’. It’s so overproduced. It’s way too poppy and it’s just like, way far away from where rock needs to be.
“Kids are growing up thinking Maroon 5 is rock and it’s like, ‘what?!’”
Refreshingly, Smith isn’t going to bullshit anyone and say that New Southern is perfect, instead encouraging fans to check them out live for the real deal.
“No! I mean, it’s the way the fucking rock’n’roll experience is about the show man. Nowadays with ProTools and just everything in the world, you can autotune a fart and turn it into a song and you’re famous, you know what I mean? It’s like, dude! We’re kind of at the point where we know our CD is great, but I would say it’s an eight out of 10.
“It’s not just what you hear on a CD; it’s about our hair banging everywhere live and the whole friendship with the fans and just the whole… I don’t know, you’ve got to be at a show to see it. We’re all about a live show!”
Despite the more melodic tracks on New Southern, especially the Shinedown-sounding Black Heartbeat, Anti-Mortem have released the heaviest song on the album, 100% Pure American Rage, an out of control bull of a number, as their lead single. It was a bit of a risk, but one which seems to be paying off.
“They have been playing 100% Pure American Rage,” Smith says proudly. “That’s the single they chose because instead of going to the radio with your first single with Black Heartbeat getting us the name that we are playing pop music, it’s like, ‘hey let’s release 100% Pure American Rage because this song is the heaviest song that’s made it to the radio in probably 15 years!’