by Jenny Johnston
stablished in 2013 in the far east side of downtown New York City, Zr. King is an explosive
sonic collision of raucous rock’n’roll swagger, catchy
melodies, relentless anthemic hooks, and a powerhouse
The band channels a diverse mix of their classic
progenitors (Led Zeppelin, The Who), mid-nineties
mammoths (Alice In Chains, Soundgarden) and contemporary rock monsters (Muse, Queens of the Stone
Age). Their debut album, A Potentially Lethal Game of
Chance was released on March 11, 2014.
What would happen if Tom Waits wrote a rock opera
and hired Keith Moon to play drums, John Paul Jones
to play bass, Lemmy to play guitar, and Chris Cornell
And probably like a Zombie Robot King.
Where did your band name come from and what’s
the reasoning behind it?
When we first put this band together, we were
jamming without a name – but we had a list ten or so
pages long of ideas and options. We knew we wanted
something lean and succinct, but also intriguing. Then
a good friend of ours, Lauren Stockner of Ellestock
Presents NYC/LA, booked our first gig (well, basically
told us: “I got this gig, you’re playing it”) – so now we
were under the gun! After spending a great deal of time
poring over the list, we landed on Zombie Robot King.
Which shortened to ZR King – and that looked like an
abbreviation for “Zoctor” – and thus, here we are as Zr.
King. Plus, it’s a lot easier to establish a presence and
buy domain names when you make up the words. Even
if some dude in China owns your domain name…until
it expires. And that’s what happened.
So when did you guys start as a band. Has anyone
played in other bands together?
The first iteration of Zr. King took shape in early
2012, while Brandon, Derek and Griffin were playing in
another NYC rock outfit called Social Hero. That band
had a similar sonic footprint, but we wanted to go in a
different vocal, lyrical and stylistic direction, and began
jamming on the tunes that ended up becoming the first
in the Zr. King canon. We knew Matt from his prior
group The Minor Lift – Griffin actually had the pleasure
of playing guitar with them when they were between
members, and our old bands shared bills on occasion.
The history between Matt and Griffin goes back a good
ten years, and when we needed someone to help with
the vocal and guitar needs in this band, he was the only
guy we considered.
Who are some of your influences? Would you say
that’s where you get your
We’re kind of schizophrenic when it comes to
influences – all over the
map. We love the classics – The Who, Zeppelin,
The Beatles, Aerosmith,
Motörhead; we love the
hard rock bands of the
80s and 90s that we grew
up on – Ozzy, Metallica,
Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, and we love some
of the modern day acts
that carried the torch into
the 21st century – Muse,
Queens of the Stone Age,
Tool, Red Fang. Then
again, we also love Bowie and Cheap Trick and
James Brown and Parliament. And we’re definitely influenced by our
peers and bands we’ve
grown up playing with. I
think that all that musical
exposure definitely contributed to the sound of
the music we make, but because it’s so varied and vast,
we don’t really sound particularly like any one of those
bands on the whole. There are different flavors of them
here and there, and it all adds up to the maelström that
only we can sound like.
Do you guys play shows often? Do you have any upcoming shows?
We love to play live! But, we also try to be cognizant to not overdo it here at home, especially as we’re
trying to get the word out and raise awareness. Since
our album came out back in March, we’ve tried to keep
our shows here in NY to one every six weeks or so, because every show here has a cover, and we don’t want to
charge our friends all the time.
We’ve done the east coast and mid-west touring
thing in the past, which was always a blast, but if there
isn’t enough groundwork to make people excited to
come out to the show, all that leg work isn’t really productive. We do try to have hang-outs at our rehearsal
space so friends and fans can come over to rock out and
hang with us. Our next show is Friday, January 16th at
The Rock Shop in Brooklyn, and we’re working on other
gigs in February and March.
If someone asks