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Zao Guitarist Talks Touring And Band Breakups

Zao guitarist Scott Mellinger recently spoke to Hershey Chronicles about touring and band breakups. Here are several excerpts from the article:

There were certain members of the band that didn't want to do it full force," guitarist Scott Mellinger, who joined Zao in the late '90s, explained. "The financial decisions made it hard. It was a lot of different factors."

Things are finally looking up, though, following an event that could have signaled the end of the group - the departure of the last remaining original member, drummer Jesse Smith, prior to recording sessions for Zao's last full-length, The Funeral of God.

Though Smith was often seen as the figurehead of Zao, according to the guitarist, his role in the group's creative process was blown out of proportion.

"Before, me, Russ [Cogdell, guitarist] and Dan [Weyandt, singer] had as big or a bigger part in the songwriting than Jesse did," Mellinger explained. "He made it out that he was the main songwriter. He never came out and said that, but everybody always talked to him. Since I've joined the band, the songwriting hasn't changed."

What has changed in the last couple years is Zao's record label. After releasing several records on the Tooth & Nail/Solid State family, the group made the jump to Ferret Records for Funeral, and they haven't looked back since.

"They've been great," Mellinger said. "With the band being as unstable as it was, I don't think Solid State wanted to put the money in, and I can't blame them. The support's better [now] - it's nice to have the president of your label be your bro."

"This band's been such a joke with touring and breaking up - it's nice to be stabilized," Mellinger said. "I definitely think it's made a lot of difference for us as a band and the record sales."

Of course, Zao wouldn't be Zao without at least one member change per album cycle. Taking up the mantle of past departees like former bassist Bret Detar - now the frontman for the aforementioned Juliana Theory - was Shawn Koschik, who held down the low end for Funeral, then split.

"Shawn just came in for a little bit," Mellinger explained. "He might've just lost the drive to be in a band."

However, the group's tour manager, Marty Lunn, stepped into Koschik's spot without missing a beat.

"Marty has always been in bands with us since the beginning of our musical careers," Mellinger said. "Before Shawn even joined the band, Marty was up for the bass-playing position. Since he's been our tour manager for the last two years, it's nice to know that he's committed."

Source: Hershey Chronicles

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