Zach Van Hoozer’s baby, Zulu Pearls, is already 7 year’s old. It was born in Arlington Virginia, US, in his basement with the help of a few friends. Over the years friends and fellow musicians have come and gone, but Zach remained a good and nurturing father to the project that would eventually take him to this side of the pond.
With new members on board, Zulu Pearls is playing the hell out of their debut album “No Heroes No Honeymoons”, having supported such bands as Cults and Destroyer. If you’re into modern, lo-fi, minimalist indie rock, their seamless blend of soul, rock and punk, is a great listen.
I had a chance to hang out with the band after their last show at Antje oeklesund, and gain some insight into the Berlin music scene. Read on.
When did the band start and how long have you had your current setup?
Zach: A few weeks, Brodie just got back, actually.
Brodie: After a few months I’m back in the fold.
Zach: In total I probably had over 50 people in this band. In the span of 5-6-7 years. This is all I’ve been doing, my bands, and now I’m here, but this is my favourite line-up.
Why is that?
Zach: Look at these dudes.
They’re so sexy?
Zach: Glad you noticed. [laughter] They just play the songs well and these songs were there before they were part of the band. Not only do we get along well but they look amazing too.
You’ve been playing just for the last four or whatever weeks?
Zach: Brodie just came back today but he played before. He met Maarten for the first time this month after we played with this band called Tennis. We played these three shows with them in Munich, Berlin and Copenhagen.
Maarten: I knew Jasper for a long time and it was he who suggested I join the band. I met Zach twice at rehearsals, only a few weeks before the tour. We had to play the shows, and it felt great actually.
Zach: I have tried out and hung out with a lot of dudes, but I just met him and then we had to play a show and it worked. Then Brodie just rolled in and they met at soundcheck.
Maarten: I think everybody has been in bands for a long time and we know how it is.
What other bands did you play in?
Maarten: I myself don’t play in another band. I think over here Brodie is the only one that plays in another band at the moment.
Maarten: Maybe we’ve been playing in bands for a long time.
Jasper: I’ve played with Maarten before…
Maarten: …in a band before this. I think we’re just musicians, we also play and we know how to do it.
Brodie: We’re just magicians. We’re Mugicians. [laughter]
Non of you are German. How did you get here?
Jasper: I just kind of got here cos I was through with living in Amsterdam. I liked Berlin and so I moved here.
Maarten: I still live in Rotterdam and I come over to play shows. I do as much as I can. Like next week I’m going back on Monday and on Friday I’m flying back here again for the show in White Trash on Saturday evening and then on Monday I go back again. That’s how it goes.
Brodie: I moved here from New Zealand with my other band. Just kind of chasing the dragon. We all moved here, it’s great and it’s going beautifully…no I’m just joking. [laughter].
And you Zach? You have been living here for three years?
Zach: Two years. I just did it cos I wanted to move somewhere. I was going to go to New York because I had no imagination. But I visited here again, which ended up being a lot of fun. I met up with everybody I knew, and I felt I should just do it. And I did. It was quite easy actually. I studied German, and it sort of worked out. It wasn’t the master plan, but it worked out of course.
Do you see any major differences between the music scene here in Berlin and Amsterdam or the States?
Jasper: I see a huge difference. There is no real music scene here.
There is no music scene?
Jasper: I mean in terms of local bands.
Brodie: All the bands are quite scattered.
Zach: For example a show like this tonight is really rare and this is a standard show everywhere else, where you just get a couple of local bands together, charge 4-5 EUR entry and at the end of the night split the pot. It so rarely happens in Berlin, it seems. I knew Brodie for a year and a half before we were, like, “Alright we both have bands and we all play music why don’t we start helping each other out?”. It’s sort of like, every band is an island.
Brodie: Just got to build some bridges, get some sweet rafts or boats or something like that.
Do you find it difficult to set up shows here?
Zach: This is like the only place (Antje Oeklesund) where I can just contact them, contact some other bands and set up a show. It’s super straight forward here. For some reason there is no network in Berlin. Nobody really knows each other and there is no cohesive scene, like anywhere else we have lived.
Jasper: I also feel there is a problem with bigger venues. There is a lack of respect towards the local bands. They get shat on completely. In Holland you get asked to open for a band and you’ll get like 200-250 EUR, nothing too great but still, and here you get nothing.
Zach: We just started asking for money. We got 20 EUR to play with Destroyer, we got 50 EUR to play with Cults, the other day, and that’s because I asked. That’s after a year of playing everywhere. The promoters don’t seem to really care.
Jasper: It seems like the promoters and the clubs exist to have bands that are on tour from the UK, the US or wherever. They give them shows and they have no connection at all to what’s happening locally. They don’t know any local bands, they don’t care about any local bands. I think it’s kind of bizarre. Whereas in other cities, if you’re somebody that promotes