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Zed: SJ Blues Metal Band Drop ‘Trouble in Eden’

In Music
ZED'S NOT DEAD: With ‘Trouble In Eden,’ San Jose rockers Zed prove they’ve got what it takes.

ZED'S NOT DEAD: With ‘Trouble In Eden,’ San Jose rockers Zed prove they’ve got what it takes.

Boasting an audio arsenal of thunderous riffs, heavy grooves and powerful vocals, San Jose-based quartet Zed have been making a name for themselves in the Bay Area hard rock scene, and beyond, for nearly a decade now.

The band showcased their formidable chops in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Friday at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill, where they celebrated the release of their new album, Trouble In Eden, out this week on independent label Ripple Music.

The 10-song collection—the group’s third record—features a thick, warm sound, which melds blues scales with seriously punched-up riffage, calling to mind bands like Black Sabbath, High on Fire, Mastodon and Every Time I Die, without sounding too derivative. Zed still manage to put their own spin on things.

“It was important to us to have an organic feeling rock record,” says Zed bassist Mark Aceves. “There’s so many rock producers and engineers that take a lot from pop, and they have a really processed sound to them, and I don’t feel any heart and soul in it, personally.”

To help achieve the desired outcome, the band enlisted producer Tim Narducci, with whom they had worked on their previous album, Desperation Blues. Narducci’s background includes studying under Bob Rock, famous for producing, Metallica’s self-titled “Black Album,” among others.

“One of the things that Tim said was that when you’re laying the foundation for a record, it’s good to get away rather than record close to home,” says singer and guitarist Pete Sattari—adding that making the effort to physically disconnect from home can aid in focus and innovation.

Taking this advice to heart, Zed were invited down to Southern California where they spent a week laying down drum tracks at the studio of Stone Temple Pilots drummer Eric Kretz.

“We worked with him and his engineer to fine-tune the drum sound,” says Aceves. “It’s a huge sound. It was fantastic to be there in his studio and hear his stories. You’re like, ‘I want to live this life!’”

In addition to their expertise and advice, the setting also gave them the opportunity to use some vintage and historic equipment.

“We recorded on a Neve analog board for the drums—and the drum set that was used, with the exception of the snare, was the drum set on the first Stone Temple Pilots record, so it was really cool,” says Sattari.

After those sessions were finished, the band returned home to record the rest of the instruments and piece the project all together.

“I’m a big audiophile, so I insisted on recording in 24-bit, and that makes a big difference,” Sattari says. “You get a lot of headroom in there, and the mixing approach is a little different, the way the guitars and bass are layered in there.”

The group is excited about the new album, which has already been garnering positive reviews. They performed much of it live on Friday at Bottom of the Hill, where they were met with roars of applause from a full house. After a couple of upcoming local gigs—including a stop at the Uptown in Oakland on Sept. 10, and the Caravan in San Jose on Oct. 3—Zed will hit some clubs in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California this fall.

With Trouble In Eden coming out on vinyl, CD and digitally, the band hopes to expand their scope of touring to Europe and the East Coast next year.

“The reception so far has been beyond my expectations,” says Aceves, who sees the release coinciding with somewhat of a renaissance in good, old fashioned rock & roll.

“My theory is that rock & roll will never die,” Aceves says. “It has its cycles, and it seems like every 20 years there’s a revival and then something else comes along, and it goes underground again. I’m seeing a lot of younger kids coming to shows and getting into it, it’s so encouraging because that’s the next generation, there’s going to be another Kurt Cobain out there somewhere, and that’s important.”

Zed
Sep 11, SoFA Street Fair
Oct 3, 9pm, Free
The Caravan, San Jose

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