MTV's Ultimate Cover Band The Zoo will blow the doors off the Cell Block, 154 W. Third St., at 10 p.m. Jan. 14.
The group features Ariana and Randall on lead vocals; Tobey on drums; David on bass; and Chet on guitar.
APRIL LINE: How did you find yourselves in the running for MTV's Ultimate Cover Band?
MTV’s Ultimate Cover Band The Zoo will perform at the Cell Block, 154 W. Third St., at 10 p.m. Jan. 14. For more information about The Zoo, visit www.thezooband.com.
RANDALL: We were playing at a place called Devil's Pub in Long Island, New York. It just happened that a representative from Carson Daily's "TRL" show was there and heard us do Korn. And they asked us if we'd like to be on TRL and perform a cover of Korn in front of Korn. And we were like, "Yeah, we'll definitely do it" and from that, they got 10 or 13 thousand video entries of cover bands. MTV decided to make a competition of it. Originally, they weren't even going to let us on the show because they thought we already had our day in the sun on TRL, but from out of all those videos, they picked twenty, then went with the best five, and they picked us to go back on from there. And, eventually, we won.
AL: Would you say it's as much about the performance as about the songs?
RANDALL: We are very energetic. We try to be. We're entertainers first in the cover scene, rather than musicians. We try to be the best musicians possible, but we want to make sure the crowd has a great time.
TOBEY: One of our favorite things is "people hear with their eyes." Everyone in this band is lifelong musicians with fifteen or twenty years of playing, so it never comes to a point where it is totally about the music, that part is second nature. So, it's all about focusing on the show. And we learn the songs and that's the easiest part. The next part is translating our energy and passion for music to the audience.
AL: Have there been any conflicts between band members because of the notoriety?
CHET: I'm going to say no, because we're all just kind of humble musicians. We love what we're doing. We're very fortunate to have a job where we love doing what we do every day. Like every other position, there are quarrels, but all-in-all, it's a love-love situation.
AL: Talk about developing the massive song list.
ARIANA: Usually for the song list, we have a lot that are from the past that we use for weddings. We try to stay really up-to-date, so when we're picking new songs, we look at the top iTunes downloaded songs and Billboard Top 100. Usually anything that's a good energy song, that's catchy, that everybody loves. We learn them.
RANDALL: I'm the band leader so to speak. We try to stay as current as possible. In fact, the one negative we get a bunch is from DJs who say "You're playing all our good songs."
[Whispering] By the way, Ariana is the youngest, newest member of the Zoo. A good one for her would be to ask her how she likes being in The Zoo.
AL: So, Arianna, how do you like being in The Zoo?
ARIANA: I actually love being in The Zoo. When I was in school, I waitressed and bartended, and I've always liked entertaining people. This is the perfect job for me. I don't even look at it as a job. I look at it as something I love to do. Luckily, I get paid for it, and it's really fun!
At first it was hard because I'm the only girl and then they became family. It's like having four brothers. I'm always safe.
AL: Are there any frustrated songwriters in the band?
ARIANA: I am! Well, not frustrated, but I'm working on all of that stuff on my own. Doing covers is awesome and a good way of practicing performance. Most of the time when we're covering other people, if I'm covering Adele, it's totally different from Katy Perry or Rihanna. You always try to put your own twist on it and you have to become that person for a little bit and it makes you want to do your own music and find your own style.
RANDALL: Everyone has their own original stuff going on. Not that I gave up on it - I've had friends who have number one hits and they're all back in cover bands. We're all fortunate enough to do this for a living, that it leaves us Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It's kind of a cliche, but we're a weekend warrior kind of band.
AL: Is there anything you wish that I asked?
TOBEY: One thing that's kind of unique about this band is that when our friends come out to see us, they're always like, "Holy cow, I didn't realize you guys were actually a professional band." This band takes everything to a higher level. We do choreographed moves with the audience involved. It's a full experience the whole night - it's not your typical cover band. Our job is purely to entertain you and if we're not going to do that, what's the point?
ARIANA: I was in a band before this. I started it myself where it was me singing and a band behind me, and The Zoo is not like that at all. Me and Randy both sing and perform. Tobey will perform and sing and Randy will run the drums. And our guitarist puts his guitar down and jumps around and raps. It's more like a musical group instead of a singer and band.
For more information about The Zoo, visit www.thezooband.com.