Photo Story: A year shooting Zoax
For my money, the UK has the best rock bands in the world right now. If someone asked me to back that statement up I'd immediately present them with Zoax.
Zoax are...an anomaly. They're not a metal band but they are heavy. They're not a tech band but their musical dexterity is second to none. They aren't a pop band but they're immediately accessible. They aren't an experimental band but they are undeniably quirky.
Essentially, what I'm trying to get at is that Zoax are bloody good.
I first came across Zoax when they opened for Funeral for a Friend in April on their farewell shows. I was lucky enough to get in to photograph them on both of the Glasgow shows, and both nights they gave Funeral for a Friend a real run for their money.
Which is no faint praise, their live show had all the intensity and chaos of the most frantic hardcore punk, but with the feel-good factor of arena fillers like Biffy Clyro. It's not an easy balancing act to play with both menace and melody, but it seems to be almost instinctive to Zoax.
I interviewed the band for my old job in the autumn and they told me someone once described them as "the Dillinger Escape Plan playing Don Broco." It's not a million miles away, but Zoax aren't a sound-alike band. They don't sound like a) meets b) they sound like...whatever letter comes after z).
When I first saw the band their album wasn't out, so their relative obscurity made sense. That this doesn't seem to have changed too much since the release of their excellent debut album in May mystifies me. If there was a champion for modern rock music which is interesting as well as accessible, then that champions surely are Zoax.
Why beige nonsense like Twin Atlantic and Lower Than Atlantis are endorsed so heavily at Radio 1 while Zoax aren't is a real injustice. As is the fact the rock press as a whole don't seem to have really picked up on them. The exception being the excellent That's Not Metal podcast.
What sets Zoax apart? Character. Rock music has become about emulation. Take the right sounds, the right hair cut, the right clothing choices and fit the simplistic jigsaw together and you have a rock band.
Zoax are like a puzzle that's somehow been completed despite every piece coming from an entirely separate jigsaw. Whether it is the clean jazzy breaks and intricate melodies, the groove-laden riffs and sudden twists of pace or the idiosyncratic rasping roar to chilled croon of their vocalist, everything about Zoax is positively dripping with character.
Which is a wonderful thing. Boring rock music is not the kind of rock music I'm interested in.
I'm pretty privileged that I've been able to shoot a band this great more than once this year. They're a challenging band to shoot, but that's what makes it so much fun. As a photographer at a gig I'm there to capture still moments from great shows. Bands aren't there to be photographed, they're there to perform.
When bands perform like Zoax, it makes it really easy to find those moments. There are countless numbers of them in every gig I've seen the band play. Which is why I've been able to put so many photos in this gallery.
If you haven't already I suggest you get into Zoax ASAP. Then you can say you were there before it was cool to be there. And who couldn't do with more cool points?
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