Interview:1999 Seems Like Salvation
|1999 Seems Like Salvation|
Photo: Bob Mussell
|Interview with Zim Zum|
Since parting ways with the band Marilyn Manson, the multi-talented, multi-faceted guitarist Zim Zum has recorded with Cher, remixed Korn and is currently putting the finishing touches on his new album before venturing out on tour with his new band, ULTRA FAG.
With an astonishing 50 songs now finished, Zim (born June 25, 1969) is hard at work with his new singer, Xavior T. Bisanze -- a 27-year-old also known as X -- tracking vocals in the studio and preparing the album for release before finalizing the band's line-up. Speaking as someone who has heard a portion of the recorded material, Zim has made an easy transition into the next step of his career and will definitely have no problem moving forward from here.
"The question I get asked the most is, 'What's it going to sound like?' It's not going to sound like Manson, but there might be some of that. To me, it's not sounding like Manson, it's more Manson sounding like me now."
So, is it going to sound like that? "Possibly, but I'll go out of my way to where it's not. There's no shortage of material, so anything that reminds me of anything else is usually just going to get swept over."
While trying to get the recording aspects finished, Zim has been hard at work on devising the concepts for the band and the album itself.
"The working title [of the new band] is ULTRA FAG," revealed Zim -- who cites the Beatles, Rolling Stones, REO Speedwagon, Elton John, AC/DC, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" among his early influences. "The Illustrious Persona of an Ultracan' is the working title of the album," he continued. "Some working song titles are as follows: 'The Ultra Life,' 'Interface,' 'Superficial,' 'Meltdown (In the World that I Made for Her),' 'Synthetic,' 'I Sold my Soul,' 'I'll Take 3 Blue,' 'Subliminal Mind-Suck' and 'Rocket-Slide.' I plan on releasing a CD single with CD-ROM video and merchandise through the website to hold everyone off while I work out the details with the labels. I'm finishing up the details behind the 'ULTRA FAG Mag,' an online magazine that doubles as the first official Zim Zum / ULTRA FAG website. The website will include new pictures of the band as well as a few audio samples."
Not only has Zim been working out the band and album title, he's had to be conscious of all the specifics that come along with what he wants to achieve this time around.
"I'd like to get the band to a four piece," said Zim. "It will definitely be four people because there's a lot of piano -- just going from the tapes and everything the way that they are now -- and there's a lot of guitar, naturally. The piano stuff isn't ballady or anything like that. I'd say it's more up-tempo, Elton John type stuff. It's not just piano by itself or anything like that. I want to be able to work all these things in. I don't really want to rush it because I know -- not personally, but to a lot of people -- I have a lot to prove right now and I just want it to be right."
Aside from picking the right person to handle the singing duties, Zim said that it's been hard finding the right people to fill out the rest of the band, since running an ad in New York, Detroit and Chicago requesting audition tapes.
"It's hard to take someone who has a relatively normal life and launch them into the chaos that is my life," he explained. "I've been auditioning like a madman and it's getting closer, but the people that I hoped would work out seem to collapse under pressure, so I'm sifting through them. Xavior is really my right-hand man these days and he's handling everything like a pro."
For the recording process, Zim has decided to take on all the duties of a full band. "During recording, I prefer to play everything because it's hard for me to write just one instrument, so I always end up playing all of them," continued Zim. "I've played every single instrument on the songs to date, which includes guitar, synth guitar, synth and keyboards, drums and programming and all the samples and sounds . . . All of the instruments on the songs were played or programmed by me so I that I can be more selective with the auditions and really feel comfortable with the final line-up . . . I record all of the music at home using digital equipment and then we (X and myself) go into the studio and do vocals. The reason why vocals are studio specific is because I don't have a vocal booth in my house. I've told most of the final cut of auditions that they probably won't have to come in until we start rehearsing for live shows [and] we will not be playing any live shows until the label deals are done."
Even with all of this considered, once the band is formed, Zim wants the duties to be shared rather than delegated. "Live there will be a lot of instrument swapping," he said. "By that, I mean I won't just play guitar and the other won't just be specific to one instrument . . . I will be switching from guitar to bass to keyboards and vocals, but the guitar will be the only constant . . . Everyone will do back-up vocals and I will be doing some lead vocals as well. It will have a circus type atmosphere with a multi-instrument Beatlesesque vibe . . . where all the voices are kind of the same, so it could go to any different person at any time. That way, it's not all put on me. It's not like there will be any one vocalist in the band and it's not like any one guy will be just a guitar player or just a bass player.
I wanna do a lot of things that I've been wanting to do for awhile. I want to have two bass players at one point and have people switch instruments. There was a lot of talk on some of the Manson songs that were just ridiculously easy to play, for Twiggy and I to switch instruments. We never did it so, naturally, now that I'm in the position to where I can, I want it to switch off a lot. I want two bass players, maybe two guitar players at one point, but still the same people in the band."
Zim went on to explain, "I don't want it to be the Zim show, I want it to be a band. I don't want one person doing all the interviews, I want it to be spread out to where there's a lot more there. I just want it to be more of a band quality and less of one face. I'm done with the one face band. I want the credit to be spread out with everybody and I want all input acknowledged. I want everybody to be able to do what they want to do. I want this to be a multi-media type band where anything goes, pretty much. A lot of the focus will be on doing things that really haven't been done before."
Zim has been keeping busy non-stop, practically since the day he left Manson. "Within a couple of days leaving Manson," said Zim, "I got a phone call and it was a friend of mine that works a lot with Korn and Orgy and he just produced the new Coal Chamber album. He said, 'If you want to come down and do this [Korn remix], okay.' So, I went down and did that. Jonathan [Davis, the singer] is my friend, so I was like, 'Sure.' The Cher thing happened because I'm really good friends with Elijah [Blue, her son] and he just called to see if I wanted to come down and [record with them]. It's more the Hollywood thing to me because everybody is in one place. It was a lot more fun because it wasn't really business related. It was like, 'Come down and do this song' -- you know, the remix of Korn. 'Okay.' Or, 'Come down and play some guitar on this Cher song.' 'Okay.' Nothing was like, 'You've got to do this here on this day, now.' It wasn't like that at all . . . I've had other offers, especially since getting back to Chicago. I was going to do a brief tour with [the band] Pigface and ended up turning that down. I like the idea of going through these certain people and playing with them to get away from the image that people are used to. How much further could you go away from Manson than playing with Cher? I was a guitar player before I played with Manson and, obviously, after."
Even with all of these offers, Zim decided to leave the Hollywood scene and move back to his previous stress-free lifestyle in his hometown of Chicago.
"I haven't been in contact with any of the members of Manson since leaving L.A., but do think about them from time to time and wish them nothing but the best," said Zim. "We've all moved on to different stages of our careers and I must say that I'm really comfortable with doing things on my own. I haven't kept up with what they've been doing but I'm sure our paths will cross again."
"[I decided to] get out of L.A. and come back here [to Chicago] just for the work ethic," Zim added. "There are still people that I still want to play with -- Iggy Pop definitely being one of them. Things like [the Korn remix and Cher song], when they come along, would be one song one-off things.
Right now, I'm just letting the Manson side of me gradually [fade]. People see this television Zim, they see the magazine Zim, the see the Manson Zim and I guess that's one part of it. I'm not going to run around scaring people or anything anymore, but I think it will be a little more focused, a little bit more down-to-earth."
Since returning home to Chicago, Zim has been hard at work trying to finalize everything with the recording process and the business side, so that he can get the album out to his fans as soon as possible.
"I'm still in the detail stages of a record deal . . . I'm negotiating with three labels, all of which are very high profile, although one is smaller with a few big bands . . . but it would really take awhile for them to put it out because there is so much paperwork and details [and] I would like to see it come out just before the New Year . . . so I plan on releasing a couple of songs through an official ULTRA FAG website . . . I've been working really hard on this album and all the concepts that surround it . . . I am managing the band, doing all of the artwork, writing all of the music and a lot of the lyrics. X is writing some amazing lyrics too . . . I am really happy with everyone's patience . . . I know the suspense is building and I really want to get music to everyone as soon as possible . . . I feel that this album will change the way people think about music and society."