AntiHero Magazine photojournalist Scott Martin spoke to Zeb Christensen, vocalist for Omaha, Nebraska metal band, Screaming for Silence.
Zeb Christensen: Yeah, we formed just a little over five years ago in a little town college in Blair, Nebraska, and then from there we moved into Omaha, and we started to get some local support. Then, from there, we started touring nationally. We’ve been touring nationally for just about five years now.
ANTIHERO: All your band-mates, did you know them prior to when you formed the band?
Zeb Christensen: Casey, Danny, and I were the three original members, and I actually knew them for a couple years before. Those two played college football, and I played college basketball, so we had known each other from around campus, and then we started the band up, and then we met Matt and Colin through some other bands that we’d played with, and that’s how we got our current lineup right now, and everything’s rolling great.
ANTIHERO: Excellent. Can you describe the songwriting process?
Zeb Christensen: For us, everything we do is equal input, so each of band members have just as much input as the others, and I think that’s one thing that gives us a nice twist. It’s not just one person writing everything, and then some of the songs could come out the same, but yeah, we all have equal input. We all do a little bit of writing of everything, and that’s how we come up with our sound.
ANTIHERO: On the other end of that, can you describe your sound?
Zeb Christensen: I think our influences come from a lot of different places, and I think that’s one of the things that also gives us another little difference. We have influences. Our guitarist comes from more of the punk side of things, like Blink-182, and Sublime, and Casey is more on the Metallica and Trivium, so it meshes. It gives us a little different mesh, but I think that’s a good thing. I think if you got five members that are all diehard Metallica fans, you’re just going to sound like Metallica, you know?
ANTIHERO: Exactly, yeah. Do you feel it’s important to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to writing songs?
Zeb Christensen: For sure. For sure. I think that’s one thing that Erik Ron, who we did our full-length album with him, and then we went back for this EP, I think that’s one thing that has taken us to where we are now. He’s great at making us look at things from his perspective, and thinking outside the box a little bit, and I think that that’s a good thing. I think more bands need to try and get outside the box and come up with different things and different ideas. I think that’s where the artistic freedom comes in that’s so nice to being in a band about.
ANTIHERO: Some bands it works for, some bands it doesn’t. I was talking to a friend a couple days ago, and they were like, “Oh, no. We don’t want to step out of our comfort zone. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I look at it like at like Voivod, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Voivod or anything, but early on it was straight up death metal and then later they expanded to more progressive metal. Then there’s I don’t know if you know Celtic Frost?
Zeb Christensen: Yeah, I’ve heard them before for sure.
ANTIHERO: They used to be in the original days total death metal, and then they put out this album called Cold Lake which they almost went the eighties glam scene. On the other end, they stepped out of their comfort zone and unfortunately it didn’t work too well on that album.
Zeb Christensen: Really? The one thing with new EP we have coming out, what we tried to do is we really wanted to pick and choose some of the things from the full length that we really like and we felt like the fans like and really just hone in on that kind of sound. I think it’s maybe not even stepping out of the box, but really to hone in and do what you do best, and trying to take that to the next level.
ANTIHERO: Exactly. So, you have a new EP coming out?
Zeb Christensen: Yeah, House of Glass. The new EP drops on July 28 so coming up quick.
ANTIHERO: Can you tell me about the recording process for that album, for the EP?
Zeb Christensen: Yeah, so the difference between the full length that we did, we did 10 songs on the full length that came out in 2015 and we would take separate trips out there and do like three to four songs at a time. We’d go tour for two to three months, record, tour two the three months, record. Where this one is different is we just went out and we knocked it all out. It’s five songs all on the EP. We did it in about 11 days, and we’re excited for everybody to hear it man. We’re extremely excited.
ANTIHERO: Can you tell me what your opinion is on streaming music sites such as Pandora and Spotify?
Zeb Christensen: It’s one of those things now that I think technology definitely has its pros and cons as far as being in a band. For us, it’s more keeping up with what everybody is listening to and the best platforms to get everything out. We want it to be on as many platforms as possible as well.
I just think that bands have to give more content. I think that when you were just listening to CDs before anything technology came around, you could buy an album from a band and it might be in your CD play for seven to eight months before they start talking about recording another one. With this one, with streaming and stuff, you have so many bands putting out so much content, I feel like you can lose interest in a band so quickly. I think you just have to keep feeding as much content to your fans as possible and that’s what social media stuff is about too.
The streaming is pretty cool. You can get into us across the country. It’s just everything at the end of your fingertips that you can listen to. It’s very, very convenient for us music lovers.
ANTIHERO: I was talking to some other bands and it was about, you know, obviously you work hard to make your album, and you prefer people to buy the CD.
Zeb Christensen: Right, right.
ANTIHERO: But more people like streaming music nowadays than buying CDs and it obviously takes money out of your pockets. I mean I don’t know what to you get basically pennies on the dollar from Spotify.
Zeb Christensen: Yeah per play is not very much.
ANTIHERO: I look it as somebody hears your music, maybe they won’t buy it, but they’ll buy a ticket for your show, go buy a t-shirt, go buy merchandise so it’s kind of like win-win one way or the other.
Zeb Christensen: Right we’ve been getting, we’re doing a pre-order site right now with all of our exclusive merch and stuff for the album, and we’ve been getting stuff from Sweden. We had one from Germany, and I think that that’s so cool that it’s just right there for everybody across the globe. It’s cool to see the orders come in from different parts of the country and around the world and stuff. I think that’s one good thing about technology for sure is it makes it very easy for that to happen.
Zeb Christensen: We’re off right now. The last four or five years, we toured very, very hard especially for the full length, and we’ve taken the last three or four months off which is the longest we’ve taken off since we started touring. We’re ready to get back out there. It starts on July 28 in Ames, Iowa so we’re extremely excited to get back out there and get people some new music and get it into their hands.
ANTIHERO: How long is this tour going to be?
Zeb Christensen: The one thing about this tour we knew we wanted to start it or end it in our home town of Omaha, so the way the dates worked out is it starts on July 28 and then we head towards the east coast and then we come back and we finish it on August 19 in our home town of Omaha.
ANTIHERO: Who else is on the bill? Who else is on the tour?
Zeb Christensen: On the full tour is just us. One bank that we did pick up that’s going to be on a bunch of the dates with us is a band Colt’s Kingdom from Minneapolis, Minnesota who are some really good friends of ours. They just got off of tour with Shinedown so we’re excited to have them on some dates. There’s a lot of regional bands in the area that our friends of ours that are on a lot of the shows so we’re excited to see everybody. We can’t wait.
ANTIHERO: The Zombie Apocalypse is coming, what 3 albums would you take with you?
Zeb Christensen: I would say George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Slipknot – the Iowa album, and then I would say Lincoln Park Meteora was a pretty big one for me. That’s probably a top. It’s between that and Hybrid Theory, but those are two of my favorites.
ANTIHERO: If you could organize a concert of any genre, pick like four or five bands, any genre, what would be your ultimate show whether you play on it or not?
Zeb Christensen: That is a tough question. Anytime I answer that one, mine would have to be like a three-day festival to get all the bands in I wanted, but if we had to do four or five, we would definitely be on it. I would probably say Slipknot, Metallica, Avenge Sevenfold, and then maybe throw in a bonus of, like I said before, George Thurgood and the Destroyers. That’d probably be my ultimate line up there.
ANTIHERO: Can you tell me what is the greatest song ever written in your words?
Zeb Christensen: John Lennon “Imagine” is the greatest song ever. Number two is “Black Hole Sun” by Sound Garden.
ANTIHERO: Then at the other end of that, the greatest frontman? Greatest frontman, greatest singer?
Zeb Christensen: Man, this is a huge debate we always have. I’m a little biased because I grew up in Central Iowa so I grew up watching Corey Taylor a ton. The thing I love about Corey Taylor is you can watch him absolutely go crazy on stage with Slipknot, and then I’ve seen him play an acoustic guitar for two hours in front of 500 people. I think he’s got the best range of everything that he can do.
One of my favorite, as far as technicality, is Miles Kennedy from Alter Bridge and Slash and stuff. He is just unbelievable. His range is unbelievable for vocals.
ANTIHERO: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Zeb Christensen: Man, just to tell everybody to come check a show out sometime. If you can’t get to a show, hit up our social media and thank you to all the fans and support, for all the fans for all their support over the years. It’s been great, and we’re looking forward to everybody hearing the new album.