ZACK YOUNG INTERVIEW:
January 21, 2005
Fans of this website will remember Zack Young as the bassist for the underrated teenage group Bad 4 Good, the brain-child of Steve Vai. But what has Zack been up to since that band’s demise? He has formed a new rocktronic band called AI with his brother and continues to pursue his music career.
SR: Your current band AI (formerly known as Artificial Intelligence) is a departure from what readers of this site will remember you from, what led to the change of musical direction?
ZY: Around 1995 my brother and I started to experiment combining rock with electronic elements. We just wanted to do something different from the music that was out there.
SR: How would you describe the sound of AI?
ZY: If The Police, Roni Size, Prince, U2, Bob Marley and The Beastie Boys had a wild sex orgy and a child was born, the offspring would be named “AI.”
SR: How did Artificial Intelligence form?
ZY: Around my senior year in high school my brother Nick and I met up with keyboardist Pablo Manzarek. We started to listen to a lot of really cool underground electronic music, most of which was coming out of England at the time. We started to combine some of these electronic elements into our live playing and ended up forming the band AI. Pablo is no longer in the group, but our current keyboardist/bass synth player – Milen Kirov – is an amazing musician and dear friend.
SR: In your new band you play drums instead of bass, why the switch and do you prefer one instrument over the other?
ZY: I have always played drums, even before Bad 4 Good. It wasn’t until Bad 4 Good split up that I started taking the drums more serious. I love both instruments equally. It’s hard to compare the two. However, I do miss the days of just having to bring a bass to a gig, rather than my entire drumset which is pretty intricate.
SR: Did you find it ironic that Rick Rubin, who also has ties to the hard rock scene, was one of the guys checking your new material out?
ZY: It was awesome. I am a huge fan of his work. It was definitely a dream come true for him to be interested in our music.
SR: How did the deal with Dreamworks records come about, and what is the current label situation of the band?
ZY: In 1996 we made a demo at our house. We started to shop it around and created a pretty big buzz in the industry. We started to meet with different labels and ended up choosing Dreamworks. They were brand new at the time and we felt like they could give us the most attention. We also hit it off really well with Mike Simpson (dust brothers) and Chris Douridas (kcrw) who ultimately signed us. We are no longer with Dreamworks, but are releasing a new record that we are all proud of and can’t wait for people to hear…
SR: Moving on to Bad 4 Good, how was that band formed?
ZY: Bad 4 Good was actually formed by Steve Vai. He wanted to create a rock group of kids who could really play. He started with Thomas McRocklin, who was actually in one of Steve’s music videos at the time. I was the last one to join the group. They found me playing at the Bass Institute in Hollywood.
SR: When did Steve Vai get involved with the project and what was he like to work with?
ZY: Steve was there from the very start. I believe they had actually been working on the project almost a year before I was even in the band. Steve was really great to work with, a true professional. I remember him telling me that if I wanted to be in the band than I would have to practice five hours a day for two months. That’s exactly what I did. I locked myself in my room and practiced my ass off.
SR: How satisfied were you with the Refugee album?
ZY: For me it was a dream come true. I was very happy with the way it came out.
SR: What was the reasoning for everyone to appear shirtless in the CD booklet, were they trying to pass you off teen idols?
ZY: I’m not exactly sure how that came about. It wasn’t my idea.
SR: Did you find that people didn’t take the band seriously due to your young age?
ZY: There were definitely people out there that didn’t think that we could play that kind of music. All they had to do though was come see us play live and they were believers.
SR: What bands did you tour behind and what did you think of being on the road?
ZY: I loved being on the road. The only thing that kinda sucked was that we had to have a tutor come with us on the road. In between gigs we would have to spend a certain amount of time studying. The last thing you want to do after a gig is learn algebra. But we did it and it wasn’t so bad. The coolest tour we did was opening for Joe Satriani. We went all over the west coast and got to play some pretty cool venues. Some other groups we played with were Bon Jovi, Sepultura, Body Count, and some others I can’t really remember.
SR: Was the hard rock scene overwhelming to a group of kids?
ZY: I think it was more overwhelming for our parents. For us we were having the time of our life. I think it shocked our parents a little when we had older women asking us to sign their breasts and stuff like that.
SR: Why did Thomas McRocklin leave the band?
ZY: I’m not exactly sure. We were about to start rehearsing to record a new album and we got word that Thomas didn’t want to be in the group anymore. We tried to talk him into staying but it just didn’t work.
SR: After his departure you changed the groups name to Lucy’s Milk. Why did you decide to change the name and who was the guitarist at this point?
ZY: We started holding auditions for guitar players and ended up meeting Dave Nassie (currently in “No Use For A Name”). We started writing new music and Danny came up with the name Lucy’s Milk. The name was a reference to the mannequin in “A Clockwork Orange.”
SR: Did Lucy’s Milk ever record any material?
ZY: We recorded a bunch of stuff. Mostly home recordings which Danny and I have on our four-tracks. I have to dig those up from the vault. We did record a demo in one day at a really cool studio in Burbank, Ca. I will send you a couple tracks from that as soon as I can. Maybe you could post it on this site.
SR: What led to the final breakup of Bad 4 Good/Lucy’s Milk?
ZY: We had been playing together for quite some time. Brooks started to get calls for different gigs with Infectious Grooves and the Vandals and I started to play drums with my brother more. Our rehearsals got to be fewer and fewer until it just kinda dissipated.
SR: What kind of groupies did a band of underage kids get?
ZY: Gosh, you name it. From 13 year olds to their 40 year old moms.
SR: Is it true that you were the youngest graduate ever at the Bass Institute of Technology?
ZY: When I was thirteen I did a summer session at BIT. That is actually where I had been discovered. At the time they had told me that I was the youngest graduate. Whether that is still true or not I have no idea.
SR: What did you keep busy with in-between Bad 4 Good and AI?
ZY: I was still in high school so that kept me pretty busy. But I continued to play bass with Lucy’s Milk until about 1996 which was when AI was formed.
SR: Have you kept in contact with any of your old band mates?
ZY: I am still very close friends with Brooks and Danny and see them as often as I can. I haven’t seen or spoken to Thomas in a long time, but wish him the best and hope he is still rockin the guitar.
SR: With so many rock bands reforming, do you think Bad 4 Good will ever give a reunion a try?
ZY: It doesn’t seem likely. Although I do miss playin with those guys.
SR: What is planned in the future for your new band and yourself?
ZY: Currently we are recording a new album called “Sex & Robots” that will come out this spring. We will tour as much as possible and would love to see new fans come out. You can hear our latest music and get news at www.myspace.com/ai and www.aimusic.com. Thank you everyone and take care.
Thanks to Zack Young