1870 Mag

Party Animals

Zoo Trippin’ proves to be Columbus’s favorite band of merrymakers

Fast drums, heavy guitar, gravely vocals, purple converse, and a little bit of weed: all things that make Zoo Trippin’ Columbus’s life of the party.

All that is missing is pizza.

“It gives us the -itis,” said Tony Casa, vocalist. “We don’t practice when we order pizza, we just sit around and tell jokes. You can drink and smoke and have sex and murder people before practice, but no pizza.”

Authenticity is rare. Especially when it comes to music. But one thing that helps substantiate their positive vibes is that the six members have been hammering away since high school.

Some have been friends forever, some didn’t know of each other until later in life, some are roommates. Between affectionate rubs of the dog’s head and gurgling rips from the oversized bong, each of the five members spoke affectionately of their experience in Zoo Trippin’. “I’m just a crazy bastard so I fell right into the craziness,” said Drew Dimitrovski, guitarist.

Cue up any one of their songs and you won’t be able to sit still. It’s the kind of music you can’t help but groove along to. Streaming on Spotify or hearing it live, “Animals” from their six-song EP, “Great White Buffalo” is a gem.

Their concerts are a bizarre combination of tossing condoms into the crowd combined with watching your best friends from college dance on a coffee table at a house party. It’s that kind of music.

Drummer Steve Hatmaker channels his metal background onstage, swinging his long hair around behind his vibrant drum kit. Casa’s purple sneaks can’t quit stomping the ground while delivering the choruses, and the energetic ambiance of the other members create an utterly contagious good time.

“Whether the crowd is ready for it or not, we come out on stage with guns blazing,” Roose said. Hatmaker stretches for 20-30 minutes before every show if that tells you anything about the vitality of their live performances. It also helps that they store all their “testosterone.”

“I was always taught not to masturbate before a big game,’” said Casa with a smirk.   Sure, Zoo Trippin’ is a great time on and off stage, but don’t think these guys aren’t serious about their craft. What each of them wants more than anything is to make a name for themselves in the global music scene. “Most of our time spent together is strictly business,” said Roose.

The members of Zoo Trippin’ don’t have many opportunities to casually hang out, but when they do, it’s spent in the Jean Claude Band-Van traveling to out of town shows. Smith might be a bassist, but he doubles as band’s van mechanic.

“Even with a cracked radiator, we had a great time,” he said. “We’ve all been around the block, we’ve all been playing for years.” As seasoned musicians, Zoo Trippin’ is typically able to navigate constructive criticism in a graceful, democratic fashion, but sometimes Hatmaker has a tendency to channel his “redneck alter ego” when his work is under the microscope. His bandmates call this persona “Terry.”

“Hey mother fucker!” he demonstrated in a super exaggerated southern accent. “You’re being super critical; I may have to lash out!” Since their “Kids These Days” release in 2015, it’s clear the band has matured and solidified their funky blues rock sound, and this has led them to graduate to bigger venues like the Newport. They’ve persevered through restrained orgasms, engine problems, and a hillbilly asshole, but at the end of the day, life paired with the obstacles of the music industry can put a real damper on pipe dreams.

When asked about their biggest challenge as a band, Smith counted off, “1, 2, 3…” The simultaneous answers, “Time” and “Money,” split the responses almost perfectly down the middle.

“Lately, we’ve had a bit of a financial woe with performing just our original music, no covers,” said Roose. “We’re putting everything we have into our new album ‘Purple.’” They’ve started a GoFundMe so they can continue bringing down houses without bringing down the income statement. In one year, they hope to be touring as strictly musicians rather than wearing all the hats of merch sellers, promoters, treasurers, and managers.

“Austin will probably still be the band’s mechanic though,” said Casa. Smith said he would be okay with that.

Support their GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/ztpurple and listen to their music at zootrippin.com/music


Regina Fox


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