International Zombies of Love (IZOL) is the eclectic music project of Mike Farrell. Mike’s been evolving musically for a long time, formally a member of the punk band The Pariahs and now showcasing his talent on the piano in IZOL’s synth-based works. Mike took the time to sit down with A Music Blog, Yea? at this year’s SCENEfest.
AMBY: Hey Mike! So awesome to catch up with you, thanks for taking the time to chat.
IZOL: Hey! It’s my pleasure.
AMBY: First off, I have to ask about the name, International Zombies of Love, the inspiration behind it.
IZOL: It’s one of those things that was kind of a joke, but at the end of the day it sort of satisfies where we’re at with this project. The whole project started about 3 or 4 years ago, my partner was away in Amsterdam all year, and so I had a baby grand piano at home and some synths and stuff and you know, after going out all the time, what do you do? You either drink and get stoned or you actually do something productive like do an album or something. So, I started writing material and while I visited her sometimes, and we could see each other with Skype and stay connected with technology, but you’re still not really.. it’s not satisfying. I made a joke like we were International Zombies of Love, something cliché and the name stuck when we started to run around and do festivals. It does sort of tie in to the theme of the album- about hearing wishes, this notion of visceral and I feel like we’re all kind of international zombies these days. We touch the surface with technology, we’re on top of everything, but at the end of day, where’s the viscerality, where’s the love, where’s the reality, where’s the depth, you know? I feel like everything this year has been tying into that.
AMBY: That’s beautiful!.
AMBY: Coming off of your May release “You Heard This Wish”, you must be having a blast touring it out.
IZOL: I am. It’s really fun. What I really like about it is that I can, well you saw the solo thing today, but the album was done as a trio and I tour with a trio, but I can also do a solo config, I do a duo configuration, so basically I can tour any of those config’s at any time. It’s allowing me to play almost any gig I get offered, that I want to play [laughs] I won’t be playing the chicken wing house down the street.
AMBY: You might get free wings.
IZOL: It’s true. Maybe I’m hungry that week. Maybe I will play that.
AMBY: What’s your favourite part about playing summer festivals?
IZOL: Meeting all of the different bands, meeting people like you, to be honest. It’s the only way I get to meet different people and artists. I have a family, I have a job, so when I get out and do things like this, this is my passion, this is what I love and it’s the only time I get to see different bands. The only way I meet bands is at a festival like this and the only way I meet people like you is if people connect me and suddenly we’re doing an interview and it’s like “oh, she writes for an awesome blog, let’s talk!” I really dig that. It make me happy. Oh, and free beer is always good. VIP access is very exciting.
AMBY: You’ve shared the bill with some pretty impressive musicians in your day, what’s been a standout moment in your career?
IZOL: There’s so many, and it sounds cliché, but right now I’m really excited about this thing [IZOL]. I had this rock band called The Pariahs and we’d been playing for 20 years and we still have an album in the can, but the project kind of fell apart. one day we will resurrect it! But, I am excited right now. This album is very exciting for me, I’m going to be doing some visuals, just the whole thing has come together- from the way it looks to the way it sounds to the response from people. All around it’s just been very exciting. It’s redefining my love for “the industry”, I’m just really into it. Touring recently with Purfume Genius was really cool, he’s such an interesting performer. That was one of the first real tours we did. Then of course, I always look back at The Pariahs, I played with The Ramones, which was pretty awesome. I always like talking about stuff like that. It’s cool talking to younger people who might be like, “oh you have a band, it must be a crappy cover band” and I can say no, I played with The Ramones. Suddenly people take you seriously. Those were good shows too.
AMBY: If you could curate your own music festival, where would you hold it and who would be the headliners?
IZOL: Good question. I’d hold it somewhere different, like not in Toronto, like The White Stripes did going up north, somewhere strange. I’d go to a place where they’d be totally into it, where they don’t get a ton of music. Up north would be good, or Newfoundland, or maybe in the mountains. Headlining- I’d bring someone like Television back together again, get Tom Verlaine to play, get William S. Burroughs, raise him from the dead and do a hologram of him reading. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Instead of Tupac, you get William S. Burroughs. I would get David Lynch to do a set, he’s got the new album and of course bring Daft Punk in. They should be touring this goddamn album, where are they? So I’d definitely bring them together and they’d headline, and I could open for Daft Punk, it’d be awesome. Of course IZOL would be on it, we’d call it Zombie Fest, or something like that. So it’d be in Canada, but like Burning Man back when it was the real deal.
AMBY: Do you have any sets this weekend that you’re really looking forward to or could recommend?
IZOL: HIGHS are great, I’ve played with them a bunch and they’re awesome. I’m interested in Grey Kingdom and I’m really interested in The Dirty Nil. Brings me back to my Pariahs Hamilton days- Steeltown!
AMBY: Do you have any embarrassing tour stories that you’d like to share?
IZOL: The Pariahs were kind of crazy, but we got this going on we’re not too crazy. Back in my crazy rock days, yea, but it usually didn’t involve me, it was usually the other members of the band- bodily functions and snorting wake-ups and burning hair… it was bad. Those were crazy times.
AMBY: Your music seems to be constantly evolving and changing, any idea where you see it going next?
IZOL: The first album was very bedroom-y with some psychedelic stuff on top, then I discovered the shit-box with the synth-keyboard with awesome patches, so suddenly it became this synth-meets-Steve Miller-Gordon Lightfood project. It’s going to get big, a little more rock, but there will always be synth in there. I can’t let go of the keyboards. It’s going to get visual. The album cover, done by a friend of mine Jeremy Bailey, he’s amazing, he and I are going to be collaborating on some visuals- live visuals – and doing a video in the form of software, so it’s like a live performance and it’s only one time. It’s definitely going to be in response to how I act on stage and the volume of the music, with the visuals all around, it’s going to be awesome. Definitely adding in visual, for sure. That’s the vision- we haven’t done it yet!
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something no one knows about International Zombies of Love?
IZOL: Let me think- it’s kind of obvious, but maybe I should just put it out there, I’m a total closet 70’s easy listening guy. I love that stuff. Like Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck is probably one of my favourite songs and they’ve got great production on that stuff.
AMBY: Right on! Check out international Zombies of Love at zombiesoflove.com, thanks for taking the time!
IZOL: Thank you so much Shannon, it was a total pleasure.
Thank you IZOL, for giving us your answers!
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Interview by Shannon Bryan |