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"They Won't Stop Calling For You, ZUKU"

Zuku’s seven-song EP, Here With You, is mainly a balance of the hard and the musical –we say mainly because the Toronto rock band throws a few curve balls, not the least of which comes from the splashes of mandolin, piano, Korg bass synth and mini Moog, which it doesn’t have live. Although Zuku would probably want to be known for its heavier songs, the lighter-by-comparison “The Wave Washes Away” is a smash hit with its altogether-now possibility “they won’t stop calling for you/foryou/for you/ for you,” while “Steelveins” is a country bluegrass clap-along that could be stepped up onstage into wild hootenanny. The rest are in a Foo Fighters vein, hard-voiced but big on melody, like the rock radio-ready title track. Lead singer/guitarist Brandon Kennedy devised Zuku in 2003, working on the sound while he was still in metal outfit Goat Horn. Flash forward to the fall of 2006, and he and Mike Conroy (guitar, vocals), Jordan Beard (guitar, vocals) and Chris Chartrand (drums) joined him at Toronto’s Hallam Studios for two months to record the EP. Kennedy co-produced alongside Uncut’s Jon Drew (Toyko Police Club, Magneta Lane). There has been a change to the Zuku line-up since, hence the incognito press photo, but now Matt Felske has stepped in to replace Conroy.

- Karen Bliss - Canadian Musician Showcase

"For the Love of Music"

Taking to the stage and starting off with some pure, hard-hitting and playful rock ’n roll, ZUKU was an instant hit. With guitar solos and riffs all over the place, ZUKU has the ability to take you back to the love of the plain old rock ’n roll that existed before the new genres of this decade, before all the extra stuff was added.

There wasn’t much to the live show, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. There weren’t any crazy antics—no climbing on the bar, jumping in the air, climbing on amps or breaking things—it was just a straight up rock ’n roll show, and you know what? It worked for ZUKU. The occasional antic every now and then might not be a bad thing, but this band definitely doesn’t need them. With wild manes of hair flying about (especially after one of their more country-sounding tracks, “Steel Veins”), Brandon Kennedy (vocals, guitar), Matt Felske (guitar, vocals), Jordan Beard (bass, vocals) and Chris Chartrand (drums) energetically rocked out to the music they obviously love playing and performing.

I will admit that I didn’t get a chance to hear as much of the vocals as I would have liked during the set, and that my view was impaired by the tall guys who managed to plant themselves right in my line of sight, but I didn’t let that put a damper on the night for me. It won’t stop me from checking out their next show in at the Bovine on September 22, either.

Every song ZUKU played pretty much seemed similar, but, again, not in a bad way. The songs were beautifully crafted and put together to bring forth one very similar, but forceful pop/rock sound. This band and this performance in particular, made me realized what I miss when I don’t go to shows: the love and passion that I, and others like me, have for some straight up live rock music. So, I have to say thank you to ZUKU. Thank you for restoring my passion and love for music.

Set list: “Shuuugar,” “Do You Really,” “White Walls,” “I Need to Know (Tom Petty),” “Without the Doubt,” “Steel Veins,” “Black Hooded Knight,” “Many Gods,” “Bitter Liar and the Thief (Brand New),” “Here With You.”

- Pam Nichol

- TorontoIndie.com

"Toonage @ NXNE 2007"

For the opening night of NXNE I decided to check out the Bovine, and I wasn’t disappointed as top to bottom there were some great performances.

The night ended for me with Toronto’s Zuku. The band blended a pop/rock sound with an underbelly of metal to produce what was the highlight of the night from a performance perspective. The vocals and harmonies are the first things that standout with Zuku. There songs were catchy, aggressive, and exploding with energy. Along with the vocals, the guitar sound of the band is filled with both power and finesse as they were able to create both ambience and aggression. Behind the wall of sound coming at the audience was a powerful drum attack that punctuated every hook the band offered and really helped to drive and already energetic sound to another level.

- Steve Korsh - www.toonage.ca


ZUKU - Here With You 7 Song EP Dec 2006



Whether destiny exists or not, ZUKU was meant to happen.

The brilliant and haunting sound of ZUKU portrays itself via the love for and the manipulation of multiple instruments, which range from typical Rock N' Roll music-makers (drums, bass, guitar) to a Moog as well as a Mandolin. This fusion of instruments, in combination with Brandon Kennedy's (lead guitar, lead vocals) strong vocals and chilling lyrics creates an evocative and mysterious sound that captures and moves a myriad of listeners. Although ZUKU classifies itself as Pop Rock, the music is multi dimensional in that it lends itself to Classic Rock, Country and Bluegrass, Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal. ZUKU's sound is elusive and vast, but it is eerily comforting, because it offers a unique yet familiar sound experience to the listener.

ZUKU's sound emerged from four-track demos crafted by Kenndey in early 2003, then a member of locally-acclaimed Toronto outfit, Goat Horn. Kennedy has been playing music for over thirteen years, and has a passion and talent for guitar, bass and drums. He also has an undeniable aptitude for sound production and engineering. The following year, childhood friend Chris Chartrand (drummer) decided to be part of Kennedy's musical creation and joined as ZUKU's drummer. Chartrand is also a seasoned musician, as he has been playing the drums for over eleven years and has played in bands such as Loudmouth, Liquid Blue, Go Time and Toronto’s punk-metal sons, Kill Cheerleader. Upon Kennedy's and Chartrand's coming together, fellow friends Jordan Beard (bass, backup vocals) and Matt Felske (guitar, backup vocals), former mates in the band Hellrazor, were inspired by ZUKU's innovative sound, which led them to join the band and complete the lineup. Beard has been a musician for twelve years and has perfected his bass sound over the past four years. Felske has been playing music for fifteen years and is highly experienced in synthesizers, guitar, drums and sound recording. ZUKU's four members grew up together in the small town of Pembroke, Ontario, and used to jam together in their parents basement. Their kindred ship, talent and hard work has undeniably resulted in one of the heaviest and most unique bands Toronto has ever seen.

ZUKU's debut Album, Here With You, is a seven-track EP, which was recorded during October and November 2006 at Hallam Studios by good friend and inspirational force, Jon Drew, who is recognized for producing records from Tokyo Police Club, Rammer, Magneta Lane and Brutal Knights. ZUKU's first record is a shining example of what occurs when passion, talent and a tireless work ethic unite. Here With You leaves the listener wanting to hear more, which ZUKU is more than ready to provide, as they are constantly creating new material.

ZUKU is ready to exploit their sound and is eager for the day their album goes gold. The band shares simple and united goal - "To entertain and inspire the masses through touring and making albums, to focus one-hundred percent on the creative-process and to be represented by the best of the best who will bring [them] to the very top of musical success."