Interview with Ali Tabatabee of Zebrahead


“Here, or in the US – kids still go crazy!”

With Ian Savage

Birmingham Academy played host to the Less Than Jake / Reel Big Fish / Zebrahead tour on February 8th. In the few minutes before they hit the stage, Ian Savage managed a brief interview with frontman / rapper Ali Tabatabee:


Ian: You might be unfamiliar to many people coming along tonight, can you give us a potted history of Zebrahead?

Ali: Yeah, we started playing in like, 1995 – the first album came out in late ’95, early ’96, I think – and then we’ve been; I mean, this is our tenth studio album, we’ve just been recording and playing live for eighteen years!

I: A lot of time touring, how do the band keep themselves sane on the road?

A: Y’know, for us, we just really appreciate that we can do this for a living, so you can’t really be bored when you’re being paid to hang out with your friends all the time. All of us get along, and this isn’t a hard job, man – I mean, there’s a lot harder jobs out there.

I: Back in 2009 Zebrahead did an album covering songs by exclusively female artists – is there anyone you’d cover now?

A: Absolutely, we’d throw some Beyonce in there, some Katie Perry – I mean I don’t know that we WOULD do anything like that again, but there’s plenty of stuff out there.

I: I hear that last time you toured over here there was a Tiki bar onstage…

A: It’s not Tiki any more, but there IS a bar onstage, yeah! Our tour manager Marc is still bar-tending…

I: Do you find a difference between UK and US audiences?

A: I think obviously culturally there is a difference, but the kids are always there to have fun, so when you’re playing there’s really not that much…you know, I can only really tell the difference in places like Japan, because in between songs there, they don’t talk! They clap and the it’s *cut-throat gesture* – dead silence. So onstage, you could whisper to each other and they could hear you; that’s the only major difference that I notice, when we travel. Here, or the US – kids still go crazy.

I: So after the UK, what’s on the table?

A: We’re finishing here in a few days, then we fly out to Australia for a couple of weeks to do the SoundWave thing, then we come back, and we’re home for like, three months, and then we start on the festivals….

I: …and that’s pretty much the summer gone? 

A: Yeah, but we’ll be coming back here, and Germany, I think, for some festival dates.

I: Ten albums in eighteen years is a pretty good work rate these days, you must be writing pretty consistently?

A: Yeah, actually in this three months off we’re gonna get back in the studio, and we’re also working on a DVD – we try to keep busy, y’know!

I: Live DVD, or…

A: It’ll be live as well as backstage stuff, hanging out stuff – it should be cool!