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Fireworks Magazine Online 61 - Interview with I AM I

I AM I

Interview with ZP THEART by CARL BUXTON

I AM I is the new band formed by South African-born ZP Theart, the ex-singer of Dragonforce, who after ten years in front of the mic stand became disillusioned with aspects of the music industry and the band, quitting Dragonforce over musical differences. He then spent a year away from music to refresh his batteries by being around calmer waters, finding a clear direction of where he wanted to go next. So having already made my acquaintance with the guys in I AM I, Polish-born guitarist Jacob Ziemba, bassist Neil Salmon, and ex Power Quest members guitarist Andy Midgley and drummer Rich Smith at their Bournemouth show, I was tasked with calling ZP to get the background on the band and their debut album ‘Event Horizon’. Over a nice hot cup of tea and with fireworks (how appropriate) going off in the background, as it happened to be November 5th, I Skyped ZP at his home in London and asked him whether he was formulating ideas for another band or thinking about going solo during the time he was out of music ready for his return…

“All of the above” was his response. “It was a rough time as well to actually figure out what I was gonna do – do the solo thing or…I’m a team player and I like the involvement of a team. I like the feeling of camaraderie, which was lacking in my previous endeavour. This time around I wanted to get it right and we had some line-up changes for that exact reason. What we have now is exactly right”

Quizzed on the reason for the name ‘I AM I’ ZP had this to say:

“You know ‘I AM I’, in everyone’s life at some point in time, the realisation comes that you are you, you are your own person, you are your own identity and you are doing your own thing regardless of anyone else” he stated. “It’s exactly that, it’s this feeling that’s just this one thing, as soon as you say I am I, you realise that. It encompasses the whole thing of being self-conscious and waking up to yourself”.

With regards to the band members ZP related the story:

“Jacob was the first person I met up with and really clicked with straight away. I watched some of his stuff on YouTube and he just had that nice touch and I immediately hooked up with him over a couple of beers and a nice chat. The next day we wrote ‘Stay A While’ and it felt really good and a few days later we wrote ‘Silent Genocide’” he said laughing, “so it started off really well and it just keeps getting better - the next album is definitely going to prove that”.

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In regards to the band line-up being settled:

“The band is just over a year old and we are very much a young band and most young bands shuffle and sort all this shit out before they actually get any publicity or hit the limelight. Fortunately or unfortunately, whichever way you want to look at it, we started off in the limelight, and those teething problems that so often happen are inevitable, so ours just happened in the limelight” he remarked. “Come what may it’s a growing thing and we are, as a band, reaching a very good point. Where I’m sitting right now I’m positive of the fact that we now have the current line-up that will stay. I know what it takes to get up there and this time it needs to be right”.

I AM I became the first band to release an album solely on a USB stick so I asked ZP to expand on that:

“It was a two gigabyte USB stick with artwork on, album covers, ‘Silent Genocide’ video, the whole album in compressed format which is as good as you can get. It came in a case like a PS3 game-box thing with a USB holder, there’s a full booklet with all the artwork that is now in the CD case there. It took a lot of people by surprise”, he continued, “we got a lot of bad rep for it, people weren’t too amused by the fact, but fuck it, we tried it, it shook up a lot of people, a lot of people pricked up their ears, and it shifted a hell of a lot of them” he said laughing at the thought.

With the Japanese getting the bonus track ‘Inside Of Me’ and the superb John Farnham cover ‘You’re The Voice’ that version was an on-line purchase last Christmas, and the new single ‘See You Again’, a new song which isn’t on the current album, I asked ZP if the idea is to keep the band’s name in the public consciousness for as long as possible throughout the year:

“Yes. The thing these days is, with people’s attention span in this information age, there is so much overload, there’s so much happening all the time. I thought taking the year off wouldn’t be too bad, but coming back after a year off you lose a lot of the momentum that you take ten years to build up. Even just a year, because people’s attention span these days is so limited, because of the barrage of stuff thrown at them 24/7. They’re on twitter, they’re on facebook, messages just roll off, updates, updates, so is music at the moment, just updates, updates, updates – the market is so flooded with bands that you can hardly stay on top with what is going on. So, to be part of the rat race, we must do the same, just jump in there and try and keep people’s attention span and keep it growing” he said rather matter-of-factly.

And responding to my panegyric of a bygone age ZP offered this rather passionate response;

“When the digital age came everything changed. Before the Internet, you could not wait for the magazine to come out that month, all the news in it, Kerrang! especially, was the place to go to, to discover new music. These days it’s all just sponsored shit, everyone’s just running after money, everything is so accessible people don’t wanna wait - why wait? It was fun to wait in the old days, now, no one gives a sh*t, five seconds is too long!

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