Zero 7 have created the kind of buzz that most major label rock bands can only dream of. From their debut dub deconstruction of Radiohead's 'Climbing Up The Walls'Ǡto the orchestral sweep of their remix of Terry Callier's 'Love Theme From Spartacus'. An ultra rare remix of US country soul pioneers Lambchop's 'Up With People'Ǡreinterpreted the lo-fi original into a dizzying tribute to 60s soul and jazz arranger Charles Stepney ("er, we did get a bit Puff Daddy on that one," they joke disarmingly). Zero 7 have taken great records and won adoring plaudits from fans such as Jools Holland, Gilles Peterson and The Face.
Since the scant 1000 copies of their debut EP sold out in days (leaving only a few tastemakers to enjoy the soundtrack to the films running in their minds) Zero 7 have been extremely busy. Following the enormous success of their top 30 hit 'Destiny' and hitting gold (literally) with the release of their album 'Simple Things', their most notable accolade to date was the Technics Mercury Award nomination they received this year. An appearance on ' Later with Jools Holland' and winning 'Best Newcomer' at this year's Muzik Awards are only two examples of Zero 7's phenomenal accomplishments so far this year.
This is how they do it.
2000 and the producer is king. From Daft Punk to the Chemical Brothers the new rock stars play the studio rather than guitars or keyboards. The ten-year onslaught of dance music and the advent of cheap samplers have meant a slew of self-taught ravers that have changed the landscape of music forever.
But producers also have a different tradition: the 1960s image of a boffin in white coat who's spent years in the back rooms learning their craft. Eccentrics who created sounds previously thought impossible. Producers like the Beatles/George Martin or electronic pioneer Joe Meek, who both spent years working on everything from comedy records to rock n' roll.
Zero 7 like to keep a foot in both camps.
The bare facts are these; two nice lads, growing up together in North London. Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker are both 30, both still live within a couple of miles of each other and have always lived in each other's pockets. At the tail end of the 80s, they both opted to study sound engineering, one hooked on soul, jazz and classical, the other on hip hop. "When we met on the mid 80s I was a soul boy," beams Henry, "Sam was more into hip hop." Both left to serve their studio apprenticeship at Mickie Most's RAK studios. They spent a couple of years watching rock stars like Robert Plant and the Pet Shop Boys and rubbing shoulders with hard-up Northern pub bands down for the weekend. "I don't think either of us worked on anything we actually liked," Sam makes a face. "Speak for yourself," bounces Henry, "I had the Young Disciples."
College mate Nigel Godrich was busy producing Radiohead's 'OK Computer' and he gave them the chance to remix Radiohead's 'Climbing Up The Walls'ǠI had no idea what we had done until I turned on the radio and Gilles Peterson was playing it." Radio One's resident downtempo guru Peterson loved it, and commissioned the pair to give soul legend Terry Callier dome of the orchestral sheen his records had back in the day. Which takes us to where we came in.
This Summer Zero 7 played at some of the biggest festivals across Europe including a headline London gig which sold out 4 weeks upfront. Sia's distinctively seductive vocals, Sophie's sultry, sexy sound and Mozez' deep, velvety tone come together to offer you a stunning combination of vocal talent which crosses over perfectly to the stage. For the live shows Sam and Henry got together with musicians who played on the album and friends to build a group of mostly 11 and sometimes up to 20 members on stage at one time to sell out audiences. For a live downtempo band they create an amazingly electric atmosphere and received standing ovations at every gig.
Zero 7 are currently midway through a European and UK headline tour. Two nights at the Shepherds Bush Empire have already sold out.
Having signed to Palm Pictures in the US Zero 7 will also be touring the States including 3 shows in December. Next on their list are Japan and Australia.