Tucson band ZeeCeeKeely has come up in the reggae rock genre of late, announcing new work off their forthcoming debut album, Fightahs & Unitahs. Although its release date is to be determined later this year, ZCK has launched a sneak peak with their single “Beautiful Creation” with more in tow. But, who are the boys in the band? What makes them stand out and how do they feel finally having a recorded full-length? We had the opportunity to interview ZCK on what’s to come, how their year has been and more.
ZCK has grown to be a staple of the Arizona live music scene. How does it feel to finally release your recorded work?
- First off, what an honor to be considered a ‘staple’ of Arizona live music scene! Thank you so much and we’re incredibly humbled and blessed to be a piece of this community. I think everybody in the band can agree that COVID-19 was the best thing to happen in relation to getting our music out there; it kind of forced us to stay in the studio and focus on recording and polishing the tracks to our specifications.
- What’s funny is that at least a handful of songs on the album were written many moons ago. Those songs already had the melody, lyrics and such already written, but had things like percussion, keyboards and horns still in mind. It’s been so amazing to see these songs come to fruition. Even though we’ve been a band for only a year and a half, it feels like the music is long over due.
How was it working with fellow reggae rock artists in the studio, like Karim Israel (of Arise Roots) and Kaya Hall (of Sensi Trails)?
- Well, it certainly has been an honor and a privilege to work with every single one of those featured artists. Many thanks from the bottom of all of our hearts for everything they have done for us. Thank you, guys!
- So, for a lack of a better word, it’s been surreal. These are artists who inspire us, motivate us and who we have looked up to for years and years. These artists we reached out to specifically; they are well known for their creativity, amazing voices and trueness to their messages. Each first time the band listened to what somebody had written for us and the way it matched with the song, we were blown away! It strengthened our affirmation on the whole process.
What is the overall theme and message of the album? And, how does that contribute to your growth as a band overall?
- The album is more or less a collection of our favorite songs to play as a band and songs we feel like our fans have given us positive feedback on. But, there certainly is a message to every single song on this album. We didn’t arbitrarily set out to create a specific album ‘feel’ and sound, per se. We have songs specifically about support in favor of the legalization of marijuana, protecting and supporting our mother Earth, as well as our fellow human beings and standing up against systemic racism, while in favor of equality and justice for every person out there.
- We noticed that as we started adding to what was originally going to be an EP, we realized we were starting to fill in the blanks with other songs and answering questions that were between the lines. The whole process of putting together the album, song by song, part by part, has really helped us hone in on what we sound like as a whole and the vibe we feel.
Are you guys planning (or playing) live performances in this uncertain COVID era or are you sticking to virtual means?
- Currently, as of late October 2020, we have done a handful of live shows and livestreams. The live shows pretty much only started a couple of months ago and we have been doing livestreams prior to that in the wake of the shutdowns. This has probably been, singlehandedly, the most challenging thing that has happened to the band. We were used to playing live shows and going on tour and had freshly finished playing at the Arizona Roots Festival when, a week or two later, everything was shut down.
- But, as time passed, we have learned a few new things about playing music in this new era. The health of our fans, bandmates and families are [our] number one priority. So, while it’s been grueling to deal with, it’s always in the front of our minds and something we don’t take haphazardly. On the flip side of things, we have noticed how much traction and audience there is in the virtual world. We discovered, whether it is playing to 10 or tens of thousands of people online, there is no denying there is a clear demand for virtual live performances. Up-and-coming artists, like ourselves, think it’s a great way to reach new fans and spread our music and message.
What can fans expect next for ZCK?
- So, quickly tapping back into the previous question, we feel that online and virtual performances are going to be a staple of the future. We have several new songs that unfortunately didn’t make it to this album… some of which speaks directly to our current state of community and politics. We are going to keep pushing our own boundaries, working on our stage performance and setting, then breaking new goals. All of which will hopefully make us better performers in the eyes of our live concert and virtual world fans.
- On the immediate horizon, our debut album Fightahs & Unitahs will be dropping hopefully by Christmas for all those stocking stuffers people must have. Truly we want our family, friends and, most importantly, our fans (who most definitely fall in the line of family) to enjoy some music with roots of our message in peace, love and unity, while always staying humbled and grounded.