HOLDUPNOW were in attendance at Slam Dunk South for the 3rd consecutive year, and this time around we got the chance to catch up with Ali Tabatabaee, vocalist of punk legends Zebrahead. It was an absolute pleasure to interview him. He’s very humble, really chilled out, and for reasons that will become obvious later, it’s important to note that this interview took place at approximately 3pm. Keep reading to find out who Ali would like to see take the Iron Throne!
Image courtesy of Kennerdeigh Scott
HUNOW: This is your 3rd year in a row at Slam Dunk and your 4th appearance in total. What keeps you coming back for more?
Ali: This festival is really unique for me, because it’s a punk festival. A lot of other festivals you play, we’ll be one out of like two punk bands. With this one, a lot of the kids who come are huge punk fans and they come to have a great time. It’s a very unique experience because they can walk from stage to stage and see their favourite punk bands. In that way, it’s very unique, and for us, playing to a crowd like that, you really feed off the crowd, and it’s such a high energy festival which is why we love to come back here.
HUNOW: I was looking into your history and noticed that you guys have been going for an incredible 20 years, now, which for a punk band is really quite unique, especially with such continuity with the band members. What are some of your secrets to that kind of longevity?
Ali: You kind of learn as you go. For us, we’ve been friends forever and we realise how lucky we are to have the opportunity to travel and play music for a living. A lot of the time, I find when bands have issues or break up, they kinda lose sight of that. They get stuck in a moment of “Man, this guy pissed me off, so screw this guy,” and they hold grudges and all this stuff. For us, we do argue and stuff, obviously, but you learn to let that stuff go, and this band is like a family for us, and that’s always been important to us. Being around each other for this long, and appreciating that, has allowed to be together this song and to continue to write music together, because if you can’t get along then it’s really hard to write and be creative.
HUNOW: Your last album had a number of references to partying. Do you guys still party as hard as you did when you were in your 20s?
Ali: I don’t wanna lie to you and say “yeah, we do!” I mean, it’s hard not to when you’re touring. It’s not like any of us don’t drink or anything, and everybody kinda parties, so even if you don’t want to, if four of the other guys and do they’re like “dude, come on, we’re gonna go to the bar!” you end up going. It’s fun and we try to keep it under control if we can, and we all look after each other.
HUNOW: So it’s not bedtime after the show finishes?
Ali: No, man, I literally just woke up! It was a rough one yesterday!
HUNOW: Out of all of the bands playing on the bill this weekend, which band excites you the most and why?
Ali: A lot of them, man. I’m a big Every Time I Die fan, so I’m really stoked to see them. New Found Glory, and we met the dudes from Panic! At The Disco, we played with them in Australia, I think it was, and they’re really nice dudes, so I’m excited to see them. I think the festival is just jam packed with really good bands.
HUNOW: If you could collaborate with any musician on your next album, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
Ali: Oh, man. Uhh, I would have to say that I’d wanna do a little something something with J-Lo. I mean, why not? She’s Jenny from the Block, dude! I wanna be able to say that we worked with J-Lo!
HUNOW: As an Iranian man who lives and makes a living in America, what do you make of the current political climate and the rise of people like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz?
Ali: To be honest with you, I’m amazed that Trump, especially, is as popular as he is. I’m kind of embarrassed for America, because I believe he pretty much says whatever he want just to get a vote. I don’t think he’s able to follow through with anything he’s saying he’s gonna follow through with, and I can’t believe people are buying into it as much as they are. I’m aghast, to be honest with you.
HUNOW: With the world’s eye cast firmly on the US presidential primaries, who’s your preferred presidential candidate and why?
Ali: I’ll take anybody over Trump, at this point. Initially, when he started running, I thought “whatever, there’s no chance, he’s a joke,” but now whoever has a chance of beating Trump I’m gonna vote for, because I just don’t want to see that happen. I think I believe more in Bernie than Hillary, but at this point, god, whoever I can vote for to make sure Trump’s not in.
HUNOW: Do you think people like Trump will give rise to a new generation of anti-establishment bands like Rage Against The Machine and NWA?
Ali: Yeah, absolutely. I hope it doesn’t come to that for people to decide to get creative. I hope that they can do something without having to react to somebody like Trump being in office, but yeah, absolutely. Stuff like that causes people to react and to channel their energy in a positive way.
HUNOW: Do you watch Game of Thrones?
Ali: Okay, don’t spoil it for me! I’ve only watched up to the end of season 3!
HUNOW: Don’t worry, this is nothing to do with anything recent! I won’t spoil anything! I want to know who you would like to see on the Iron Throne & why?
Ali: Oh, good question! Uhh, Khaleesi. I want her, yeah, because she’s awesome. And she has dragons! Always pick dragons!
HUNOW: Fantastic! Thank you so much for your time, Ali.
So there you have it! Daenerys Targaryen for the Iron Throne?
Here’s my favourite Zebrahead song!
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