What do liquorice allsorts, Tim Burton and Tom Waits have in common? It’s how frontman Zakk Taylor would describe his band A Joker’s Rage. When we caught up with him, it was undeniable that he has some interesting tales to tell. Whether it’s memorable gigs or a desire to bake a cake with Peter Andre – never a dull moment.
by Graeme Smith
You’ve got an EP release, Masquerade, under your belt already. Any plans for an album?
We’ve actually got 2 EP’s under our belt. ‘The Masquerade’ and ‘Blacksheep’. We are currently in the pre-production stage of recording a debut album. The only dilemma we’re having is deciding which tracks from the EP’s we should breathe some new life into and rerecord for the album. They may be old songs to people in York who have heard them, but we’ve written some absolute bangers in the past that deserve to be unleashed on the rest of the world.
How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you before?
It’s like a rock and roll bag of liquorice allsorts!
If Tim Burton and Tom Waits started a rock band with Papa Roach, I think you’d be getting close to the darker side of our music. However, we also love to incorporate different dance grooves and drum patterns into some of our more commercial sounding songs that trigger everybody’s dance impulses. I’m confident in saying that when people listen to a collection of our music they will never get bored or that feeling of every song sounding the same.
You’ve got a summer of festival appearance lined up, including Hammerfest and Wildfire. What have you got in store for the festival audiences?
We love playing festivals because at this stage as a relatively unknown band people look at us and assume we’re gonna be some kinda cheesy KISS rip off band. Then within minutes of the first song we’ve got them all in the palm of our hands. The audience are not in control of their own bodies anymore, we are. They will dance, they will bop their heads, they will raise their fists and they will all do it exactly when I want them too. They won’t be able to help it and most importantly, they will fucking love it!
What’s your best and worst festival experiences?
I think our favourite thing about festivals is turning up as paupers and leaving as kings. One year at Galtrees festival looking past all the people jumping around at the front I spotted a little girl right at the back of the field who couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old. She was holding her mother’s hand and bouncing up and down with a huge grin on her little face. That was an incredible feeling to see our music trigger that.
I think the only bad things that can sometimes happen to us at festivals is equipment failure. But we still don’t allow it to affect our performance.
How does playing on the road compare to playing in York?
Again it’s always about proving yourself to new audiences. Whether it’s hardcore metal fans or old school rock and rollers we love that challenge of stepping on stage with the attitude of “we are A Joker’s Rage, you don’t know us but by god you won’t forget us after the next 45 minutes.”
York is obviously home but can be a challenge in that it’s our base to try new things and do our experimenting. We don’t like to put on the same show twice in one place so coming up with new things to please the local crowd is a task but a task we thrive on. The only real difference in playing local shows and playing on the road is at home we can get pissed and enjoy ourselves more after the show. On the road it’s all business. It’s all about the art and not the cliche bullshit lifestyle that is often associated with being in a band.
What’s your opinion of the York music scene?
We’re couldn’t be any prouder of being amongst what I believe is some of the most talented musicians in this country. York is full of great talent of all kinds. I think bands and ‘scenes’ come and go in waves as they do anywhere else but the calibre of musicianship here is higher than anywhere else I’ve seen on the road.
The only downside of the local music scene is the clique’s and politics often overshadowing talent. It’s a real fucking bummer when talented people look down on other talented people because they’re not in their cool little circle.
There’s definitely people walking around with smiles on their faces and shit on their noses.
However, we get on with everyone, support everyone and anyone with a nice bone in their body is welcome to drink, jam, rock out and party with us anytime. We’ve formed a close relationship with the guys in RSJ, we often end up on festivals together and despite being miles apart in musical style, we collaborate and have a shit ton of fun together.
You’re well known for wearing Joker-style makeup on stage, which begs the question: what would you wear on Halloween to mix it up?
We simply take #GameFace to the next level on Halloween.
If you could do a collaboration with anyone, who would it be?
If it’s a musical collaboration it would have to be Tom Waits. His personality and character is so mysterious and intense that it’s almost scary and it comes across in his music.
Aside from that I’d love to bake a cake with Peter Andre, he seems like a nice fella.
Any last words for the fans?
Just a big thank you to all the people who believe in us and support us, keep bouncing!
If anyone knows how to stop faceprint running into my eyes and blinding me every night please pop me a message!