American Zeros: Hard Rock With A Powerful Message
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Hailing from Milwaukee, WI, USA, American Zeros is a heavier than normal hard rock band with a political message and a seriously killer sound to back it all up. Headed by Citi Zenx (Citizen X) on guitar and vocals, these rockers are raging against the system with a theme of the people versus tyranny.
Formed in 2012 by a collection punk and heavy metal veterans, the band started out as a metal-punk fusion band. By 2015 they were rocking live shows with a full lineup, but would be hampered by lineup changes until finally settling on T-Bone (Tony Lentz) on bass, B-Boz (Benny Boswell) on drums, and T-Griz (Todd Michaels) on guitar and backing vocals.
While some would label these guys as an anarchist heavy punk rock band due to their anti-government theme, the band would prefer to just play what they feel and could care less what’s trending. In a way, that makes them punk by definition. Of course, they have their own take on that label.
“Where I think you hear the punk in us is where Iggy Pop says his music is rock that is completely uncensored and comes from your heart. You don’t care what corporate record labels think is going to sell,” says B-Boz. “It’s basically a way to say we’re a heavy rock band that isn’t playing to an establishment ‘this is how you’re supposed to play this song’…we’re playing from the heart.”
Well before the 2017 release of the debut full length album, Red, White, Black and Blue, American Zeros have been serving the rocking public with a socially aware message. The teaser EP, released in 2016, featured a couple of hard hitting and intriguing songs, but none showcased their theme better than ‘Capital.’
A song inspired by the teacher’s union protests in Madison, Wisconsin, that had gone from peaceful to violent after a police crackdown near the State Capitol, ‘Capital’ bleeds the anger of an ordinary citizen watching this all happen. A similar sentiment can be heard on ‘F(ull) M(etal) J(acket)’, ‘Liar’, and ‘Johnny,’ all of which are seething with frustration for the system. Of course, the band has its share of less political and even outright fun tracks like ‘Evel,’ which is a tribute to the legendary American daredevil, Evel Knievel.
“All of the songs we have come from real things. They’re not made up. We don’t right about parties and chasing girls,” explains Citi Zenx, who serves as the band’s primary but not the only songwriter.
“Some of the songs are pretty straight forward, some of the songs are tongue in cheek. There’s probably only two songs on there where the only reason they’re on there is because we love playing them so much. It still clicks, but it might not have an overtly anti-government tone in the lyrics.”
As for the album, Red, White, Black and Blue was hotly anticipated by fans in their local scene and well-received upon its release, especially here at Metal at the Gates: Check it out HERE!
“I think it’s been really positive. Everyone likes it. It brings new fans to the table right away,” says Citi Zenx. “It’s a message anyone can relate to, left or right. It’s not about left or right, it’s about all of us and wrong versus right.”
“I’ll do anything I can for the Zeros as long as we can get one person to wake up and not be a sheep. That’s the message of the Zeros. Wake up, see what they’re doing to you while you’re channel flipping on the TV. See how the government and the establishment, the people in power are screwing you while you’re ignoring that it’s happening. If we can get one person to wake up, then it’s worth it,” adds B-Boz.
Despite being in such politically polarized times, the American Zeros see this as the perfect time to get their message out through their music.
“I think it puts us in a good place,” says Citi Zenx. “You got the Right hating the Left, the Left hating the Right, but everyone hates the government. We don’t pick sides. We’re on everyone’s side as human beings and Americans. The album, if you boil it down, it’s just means truth and justice. That’s the whole mission statement of American Zeros. It’s a soundtrack to revolution.”
“It’s like Citi was saying, stop fighting each other and fight the real enemy and wake up. You would think in the world of social media it’d be easier, but there is so much brainwashing and strawmen and red flags out there,” adds B-Boz.
“Probably all of us have 99% in common with each other, but it’s that 1% that gets picked apart to death and focused on. We’re all earthlings on this blue ball floating around. If you can agree to disagree, live and let live, pretty much anyone can get along, but when you get the government involved, that’s what ruins it,” says Citi Zenx. “It’s the government that divides us.”
Though their message may be hard to swallow by a large swath of the population dedicated to the Us versus Them mentality, American Zeros is certainly getting their message heard and understood. The band has been tapped for numerous big shows, including the inaugural Midwest Original Musical festival at Croatian Park in Franklin, WI, just outside of Milwaukee, which will feature 30 bands over three days – American Zeros will play second to last on Saturday night, which is unquestionably the prime time in the music world.
“I’m looking so forward to it. It’s dark out, everyone is going to be there. The adrenaline, the feel…I’m ready!” Citi Zenx says with glee, for it’s obvious that this show could very well draw a massive crowd and expose the band more than ever.