“Zebra & Giraffe is the name of a new force pressing itself into the hearts and minds of music fans – and even on first listen it’s clear that Z&G’s debut longplayer, ‘Collected Memories’, is every bit as unique as the animals that its named after.”
When first hearing the name Zebra and Giraffe people (who have never heard of the band) tend to start cracking jokes about zoo’s and such. Once you play them a song, the jokes stop and they can only admire the musical genius that is Greg Carlin. His songs have a way of getting to you-but at the same time have a catchy element that make them sure to be chart toppers.
I’d recently acquired the Z&G album, ‘Collected Memories’ and I talked with Greg about everything related to it…
On choosing the name Zebra and Giraffe he says “I wrote under the name for awhile and hoped for it to one day become a fully functioning band,” but ruefully admits “as for the name Zebra and Giraffe as such (looks quizzical) well, your guess is as good as mine! (laughs)..(then looks more serious) it came to me in a vision…”
Greg played all the instruments (bar the drums) on the album-which is no small feat- “It was just easier to play everything myself” he says. Overall he says “I love playing anything really. Although my favourite instrument to play is probably guitar…”
On why he didn’t play the drums (as it was the only instrument he trained in) he says “well, I’ve played drums since I was 12, but I stopped playing over the last few years… its an instrument that you need to practice all the time, or you lose your touch very quickly. I felt like I didn’t have what it took to play the kind of high energy, up tempo beats I was looking for… so I got a great drummer in, Matt Marinus. He really added a lot to the sound and general dynamics of the songs… it’s a decision I am glad I made!” although ’Oxymoron’, does have drum programming done by Greg and ‘A Long Way Down’ has him trying his hand at the drums again..
When he recorded the album with producer Darryl Torr it happened “over the period of about 6 months or so. We used about 3 week’s actual studio time to record the album, and then mixed it over the space of 2 months. It was quite a long process for me as I had previously recorded all the demos myself in the 6 months prior to production.”
Possibly the hardest song to write was “‘Running Faster’–not that it was a complex song, but it went through so many changes before I reached the final version. The original demo sounds nothing like the track on the album.”
The Knife is a standout song and is a firm favourite with Greg and fans alike, and he muses “I guess its just one of those songs! Some songs come so easily… it seems like they just float out the air into your head – The Knife was one of those. I think the song is the best example on the album of tip-toeing on the fine line between pop and alternative… and I think that’s what people seem to like about it.” Other favourites are “hard to say really. I go through stages… but at the moment another favourite is A Long Way Down”
There are always personal songs on any album and the most personal “would have to be Black Crow or Leaving Again. Both were written about specific relationships… so it’s hard not to think back on them when I’m singing the songs.”
When writing lyrics he struggled a bit as “lyrics just don’t seem to come as ‘freely’ to me. Some do, but in most cases, I have to really sit down and work on them. A lot of the lyrics were written in the studio, right at the last moment.”
When performing “The Knife is always good [song to play live] because people know it well… but as a band, I think we all love playing ‘Pariahs’… its just so straightforward and fun to rock out too!” ‘Pariahs’ is rather tongue in cheek and all together one of the more ‘fun’ songs on the album.
All in all ‘Collected Memories’ is an amazing piece of work, and I truly cannot find fault with any of the songs.
Enjoy the vid for ‘Oxymoron’ below
yours in musical madness