Interview: Zero Cost

Zero Cost are a new punk band that have recently emerged from the Hull area of Yorkshire. They released a new single recently titled Armchair Apathist so we decided to have a chat with frontman Jon Grubb to find out a little more about the band!

By Jane Howkins

You’ve just released your debut single, titled Armchair Apathist. How has the reception been so far?

The reception has been very encouraging, we’ve all played in other bands in the past, but times have changed and we’re learning how to navigate the post-MySpace era of music. Things have come a long way (in good and bad ways) since the 2000s. We managed to get over a thousand streams on Spotify in under six weeks, which is more than we could have imagined when we put the band together – we didn’t know if anyone would be the slightest bit interested in what we were doing.

Do you have an EP/album planned for the near future?

We’ll be starting work on an EP as soon as possible. We want what we create to be of as high a quality as possible but we’re doing things DIY. The EP format seems to be working better than ever for new bands these days. I think that’s because of budgets but also the attention span of listeners. When we were growing up, you bought an album and you listened to it repeatedly until you knew it inside out, because it was probably going to be at least another month before you could afford to buy another one. You didn’t have the option of listening to thirty seconds of a track and then writing it off and listening to something else, at least not with alternative music that wasn’t being played on the radio.

What is the writing and recording process like for the band?

For writing, we tend to bat riff ideas back and forth digitally between band members during the week and then come together at rehearsal with a rough sketch of a song. So far, I have written all the lyrics, but the music is certainly a collaborative effort between the three of us.

When it comes to recording, it’s DIY – Calvin has a decent studio that him and his bandmates in his other band, RADARS, have put together. It turns out that Calvin is pretty handy as a studio engineer and producer as well as being a talented musician. We pay RADARS for our time in their studio so it’s win-win.

What is the music scene like in Hull at the moment?

Hull is a sleeping giant. It’s better than it has ever been. The bar is so high with the standard of music that it is coming out of the city across all genres. Bands like Low Hummer, LIFE and Bloodsport are absolutely killing it right now and there are several ranks of amazing bands lined up behind them.

I sense a resurgence of interest in live music in the city (and beyond) following lockdown restrictions. People are really starting to appreciate what was taken from them.

You have some tour dates coming up soon. Are you excited? What can we
expect from a Zero Cost gig and why do you think people should come and
see you perform live?

The term ‘tour’ might be pushing it a bit. We’re still at the stage of playing local gigs in the Hull area. We’re always excited to play live, that’s what we do this for. I first took to the stage as the frontman of a band at the age of sixteen and there’s nothing quite like it. If just one person is into it, it’s a huge buzz. Anyone coming to see us live can expect to hear a sound that is exciting; frantic but tight, melodic but not saccharine. We do not consider ourselves a pop-punk band but we’re not screamers either.

You’re a punk band – are you quite political?

There are certainly political themes in our lyrics. We’re maybe a little more subtle about it than some of the bands we’re influenced by but when it comes down to it, everything is political; the things we buy, the places we live, the places we work. Our experience is that of a group of East Yorkshire lads in our twenties and thirties who are navigating the realities of adulthood. Politics is an inevitable part of that.

What sort of music are you influenced by and what have you been
listening to recently that you can recommend?

Collectively, we’re influenced by punk, metal and alternative rock music from the late seventies to the present day but particularly eighties and nineties punk and metal. Bands like Bad Religion, Descendents, The Ramones, Misfits, NOFX, Propagandhi and Metallica.

There are some really excellent punk bands in the UK, I’d recommend checking out bands like Random Hand and The Human Project, both Yorkshire bands that have been around a good few years now. Aerial Salad from Manchester are great too. In terms of new music, Joe Tilston (bass player for Random Hand) has recently released a couple of singles as part of his solo project. It’s not punk (at least not musically), it’s more folky but genuinely some of the best new music out there, in my opinion.

Any last words for the fans?

If you’re in or around Hull, come down to one of gigs in the next three months. As for the rest of Yorkshire and Northern England – we’ll be seeing you next year.