Fighting Zero
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Fighting Zero

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"...Based in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Fighting Zero combines heavy and engaging guitars, heartfelt melody, and solid drums layered with smart
samples/sequencing. Lead by Scott VanFossen, this group follows no rules." - Revolver Magazine - April 2005


I had the opportunity to interview Scott VanFossen, the founder of Fighting Zero, back in January 2005, while he was a member of An American LIAR. Scott later left AAL to more fully pursue his work with Fighting Zero. Now, with a fuller line-up (Scott on guitars and vocals, Zhach Kelsch on drums, and Dave Longo on base), the boys from Wilkes-Barre, PA are making quite a name for themselves, with their song “Refine” on 97.9X and even a bit in Revolver Magazine. I had the chance to catch up with the guys and run an updated interview with Scott and Zhach. Here’s what they had to say:



AX: Can you give us some background on the band and this new line-up?

Zhach: I met Scott through our mutual friend Randy who previously
played drums with Scott. While I was talking with Randy one night at The Voodoo Lounge, he asked if I was playing with anyone and I said no so he gave me Scott's number. Randy left the project because at the time it wasn't a full band and he got an offer to play with a group that was already well established.

Scott: Yeah, and it was an easy transition from playing with Randy Elmy, and then moving Zhach in. The project never stopped rolling at any given point, which is good, because it keeps the energy at an extremely high level. When Randy had exited the band, we (myself, Randy, and Ed Glazinski on bass) were chosen as a runner-up band to open for Hoobastank/Velvet Revolver in May 2005. We were riding a high wave one day, then the next, things changed. I wasn't sure what was going to happen with things, but since our circle of bands/musicians are all great friends, Randy hooked Zhach and me up to keep things rolling. When auditioning bassists to replace Ed Glazinski, we stumbled upon our buddy Dave inadvertently. Dave has a ton of industry experience under his belt, one area band favorite, 3 Stoned Men. He had liked the music from this project before-hand, and we brought him down to jam. The rest is history….

AX: Do you consider this a final lineup for FZ?

Scott: As far as Zhach and Dave? I think they're keepers. Cool guys, great musicians, and we all have the same goals. What more could you ask for? Being a 3-piece rock act is difficult, but we've gotten nothing but props after we've played. Things like "Holy Shit! We can't believe that there's only 3 of you on-stage and all the music that is coming out!" As for future members? Well...

Zhach: There is a lot talk between us about adding a second guitar player down the road but at this point it’s not even a priority, especially because I feel that being a 3 piece band gives us a bit of a unique quality.

Scott: True that. I think we're breaking a lot of barriers by what we're doing as a 3-piece. There aren't many trios out there that are playing complex tunes like we are, and then throwing live samples in on top of the mix. Totally not easy. haha

AX: How has your sound grown or matured over the last year? (not that you were "immature" before) How you would describe FZ's music now?

Scott: The song structures had started out in a more simple, straight-forward approach. Layers of samples would then be added in to give the song their textures. It's obvious to me now, but maybe not others, that the songs have a "straight-forward" sound, but we are actually playing more complex time-signatures underneath a simple feel. It tricks the listener into believing that the song flows right, but actually, there's a lot of unique musicianship that's happening underneath the overall song's feel. The general topics covered in the songs are still the same, melodies are that "hit ya in the face" feel, etc. I like to bring something unique to the table and then that's when Zhach and Dave put their icing on the cake.

Zhach: I would say that the overall sound has changed completely. This is Scott's baby so he obviously comes up with the raw ideas for songs but then he comes to Dave and myself asking, "How can we make this even better?" And after that there’s no stops. We beat the song to death making sure it’s as good as it can be.

AX: Have you had any major press, great airplay, or big shows over this year that you'd like people to know about?

Zhach: Yes we have been busy since the new lineup came about. Most recently we dropped a new single called Change My Mind which will be spinning on Wilkes-Barre's 97.9x and soon to be many others throughout the tri-state area. We played our second show to a packed house at The Staircase Lounge (RIP) in Pittston, PA with Breaking Benjamin. And Revolver Magazine did a review on our songs in their April issue.

Scott: Yeah, the Revolver Magazine issue was a big one for us. It opened a bunch of doors for the band that we might not otherwise have had without it. I won't name any names, but we were looked at to be included in an upcoming compilation for a well known yearly sporting event. Their soundtracks have some killer bands on them, an - AudioXposure.com - Jenn Mattern


"...I had the good fortune to hear some of Scott’s music from this side project, which in no way lives up to that label. Where other musicians might sound more like whining drones, bellyaching about loves lost, all of life’s little traumas, and their own self-pity, Scott serves up refreshingly honest pieces of art and self-reflection. You won’t find glitz and glamour. You won’t find a façade of any kind. With Scott, what you see is what you get; his unashamed professions of his inner-most emotions put to music.

Scott, being a true professional, was more than willing to sit down and answer a few of my questions. Here’s what he had to say:

AX: What’s your background? Tell me some interesting (or not so interesting) things about yourself.

Scott: Well, I started playing guitar at age 5, and exposed myself to every type of music out there and have not looked back since. It’s funny, because when I first started to play, nobody was really sure if my hands were going to be big enough to hold the guitar….well, they were [big enough]. (laughs) I bleed, laugh, and cry through all of the music that I play, with my roots primarily being in blues. I’m a sucker for a great blues tune.

AX: Why do you want to record and release your own music?

Scott: Like any other original artist would say, “to express myself through my music, because it’s an art form, etc.” While that’s true, I put my music out there to have my crowd be able to relate to me. No matter how down a person might be, if there is somebody that feels like they can relate to somebody else’s hardships or elation, then that puts a smile on my face and theirs.

AX: How would you describe your music to people?

Scott: My music is supposed to sound heavy and dark, because that’s how I write. But there’s always a silver lining in EVERY one of my songs, and [it] has to give me goosebumps before I stamp it as being finished.

AX: Do you have [much] experience other than with [AAL and Fighting Zero]?

Scott: Yeah, I’ve been in numerous bands since the start of my career; mostly cover bands that would sneak original tunes in during the sets. I’ve played up and down the East Coast with my more recent band, Postal. I left that band so I could pursue my love for writing original material and performing it live. That’s when I started Fighting Zero. It’s a fresh project that keeps growing and gaining momentum. We [including Steve Berlen on drums, and Brett Kempf with sampling and sequencing] already have loyal followers in the tri-state area as a matter of fact. But this past summer is when I got the chance to join An American LIAR**, and couldn’t pass it up. It’s an incredible band and bunch of comrades, and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it.
---
Scott’s a prime example of the kind of artist that makes our local music scene rock. His drive and passion for his work should make him a true inspiration and role model for all of the young, promising musicians right here in PA. You can check out Scott’s work with Fighting Zero at www.fightingzero.com, and his work with AAL at www.anamericanliar.com. You can pick up Fighting Zero's debut EP this Spring at all Gallery of Sound locations."


- Jennifer Mattern

Editor

**NOTE** Scott has since left An American Liar to pursue his career with Fighting Zero full-time with the advent of his spot in nationally published Revolver Magazine's "Raw Talent" section.
- AudioXposure.com - Jenn Mattern


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Grammy-award winning producer? Check.

Wilkes-Barre, PA - July 21, 2006 - Fighting Zero has announced that in August 2006, they will be entering into the studio with grammy-award winning and multi-platinum album producer, Sylvia Massy Shivy to record their debut EP, tentatively slated for release in Fall of 2006.

Sylvia Massy Shivy has produced and worked with multi-platinum bands such as Tool, System of a Down, Powerman 5000, Sevendust, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few. She also is credited with a Grammy award for her accomplishments with Johnny Cash's album "Unchained." Fighting Zero, started in 2003, is formed by Wyoming-Valley-natives Scott VanFossen (guitar/vocals), Zhach Kelsch (Drums),and Dave Longo (bass/vocals/sampling).

While present recordings have currently gained Fighting Zero a #1 Alternative Metal band slot on Audiostreet.net and rotation on 97.9X and 90.3WESS, Fighting Zero was also chosen to be 1st alternate to open for Hoobastank and Velvet Revolver in May of 2005. Revolver Magazine also wrote a small feature on the group in their April 2005 issue as well. Working with Sylvia Massy Shivy will, no doubt, trump all previous Fighting Zero accomplishments and gain professional and more fanfare respect throughout the local and national industry levels.

For more information, visit: www.fightingzero.com
- Fighting Zero


Discography

Debut EP, Produced by Sylvia Massy Shivy (Tool/Powerman 5000/System of a Down) and Jim Wood. Slated for release Jan. 2007.

97.9FM The X (97.9 WBSX - www.979x.com)
Spinning "Refine" and "Change My Mind"

90.3FM ESU (90.3 WESS - www.esu.edu/wess)
Spinning "Live Love Lost"

95.1FM WZZO
102.3FM The Mountain
105.5FM LCCC
98.5FM WKRZ

Photos

Bio

Grammy-award winning producer? Check. Music in rotation on local and college radio? Check. Revolver Magazine features? Yep.

In December of 2003, the bastard child of Fighting Zero was born. Scott VanFossen had left an east-coast-touring club band to follow the vision he had in mind. Before even starting to write music for what would be an all-original band, he set out with a game plan; something in the plan must be right, instantaneously garnering national attention from national management, producers, and even ESPN Sports Network, before ever stepping foot on stage with the new band.

The music--- heavy, truthful, painful, melodic, and dark, but there is an underlying silver cloud that can be taken from each strong and independently-voiced song: Hope. Hope that, while life can be unusually difficult at times, there is hope that “it can only go up from here…” With odd-time signatures and hooky choruses, there is not only a radio-friendly song present, i.e. “Refine” in rotation on 97.9X, but also an immensely thought-out barrage of heavy break-downs for metal freaks to sink their teeth into. Through the influences of all kinds, even including old-school hip hop, classical, and fusion, Fighting Zero’s music breaks through the pack of imitation bands with a product which is truly, truly different.

Endorsed by Halo Custom Guitars (haloguitars.com), Scott VanFossen set out for the proper band mates to fit the group. Zhach Kelsch (formerly of Idol Eyez), Dave Longo (formerly of 3 Stoned Men), and Derek Spencer (formerly of Universal Recording artists "LIFER") would finally round out the group in 2006 as the drummer, bassist, and lead guitarist, respectively. Each with more than 20 years of experience in the industry brings their own flavor of influences to the table as well as know-how. Caliber indicator: Fighting Zero’s second live-show was with Hollywood Record’s recording artist, Breaking Benjamin. Their live show is engaging, tight, and truly professional in all forms. Whether playing at New York City’s legendary CBGB’s (and bringing a crowd with them from N.E. PA), or playing locally in the Philadelphia/Allentown/Wilkes-Barre areas, a Fighting Zero show should not be missed.

Here’s what Revolver Magazine (April 2005) has to say about them:

“…Based in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Fighting Zero combines heavy and engaging
guitars, heartfelt melody, and solid drums layered with smart
samples/sequencing.  Lead by Scott VanFossen, this group follows no rules.”

In August 2006, Fighting Zero entered into the studio with grammy-award winning and multi-platinum producer, Sylvia Massy Shivy (Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash) to record their debut EP, set for release in Fall of 2006. You will NOT want to miss this.

While present recordings have currently gained Fighting Zero a #1 Alternative Metal band slot on Audiostreet.net, Fighting Zero was also chosen to be 1st alternate to open for Hoobastank and Velvet Revolver in May of 2005. Their current work with Sylvia Massy Shivy will, no doubt, trump all previous Fighting Zero accomplishments and gain professional and more fanfare respect throughout the local and national industry levels.

For more information: www.fightingzero.com