Collectively bending and defying genres, Chicago's ZZZZ will hit you like a double-fisted chop to the throat. Comprised of ex-Sweep the Leg Johnny, Swing Kids, and Tekulvi members in addition to a classically trained pianist, you should expect the unexpected when entering the mysterious world of ZZZZ.
In 2002, alto-saxophonist and vocalist Steve Sostak saw the end of not one, but two bands. Sweep the Leg Johnny, who had released a string of well-received albums and justly earned a reputation as a raucous live act with a host of rigorous tours under their belt, called it quits after six years of existence. Shortly thereafter, Sostak's other band, Check Engine disbanded as well.
During the same time, drummer Greg Sharp saw his band Tekulvi break up after the band realized they would no longer be able to maintain their hectic tour schedule after guitarist Chris Almodovar became the father of twins. Steve approached Greg and Chris with the idea of just “jamming in the space,” and considering the burden of jobs, school, and now children, there would be no pressure to record and tour. They then asked former Swing Kids and Sweep bassist John Brady to join them and round out the pressure-free sessions. With the framework for a couple of songs in place, Chris suddenly decided to move his family to upstate New York and Steve, Greg, and John found themselves guitar-less.
After playing with a few different guitar players through most of 2003, Sostak, on a tip from a friend, contacted Ellen Bunch about playing electric piano. Although Bunch had never played in a band, she was classically trained, and was willing to experiment with different song structures and styles. The interplay between the sax (now amplified with delay effects) and electric piano was amazing, and the four began writing songs as ZZZZ. Now, with a solidified line-up, ZZZZ began playing shows in December 2003 and finished the year playing alongside The Paper Chase at a sold-out New Year's Eve show in Chicago.
Early 2004 saw the band playing shows with the likes of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Faun Fables, Skeleton Key, Cheer-Accident, and William Elliott Whitmore. After another sold-out show in Chicago, this time with TV on the Radio, word spread to Polyvinyl Records about the new noise/punk/dance quartet and the two decided to start a working relationship.
ZZZZ went on to play more shows during the summer and early fall including an impressive set at the 2004 Polyvinyl CMJ Showcase. Upon their return to Chicago, the band immediately began preparations for recording. Enlisting the help of producer John Congleton (The Paper Chase, Explosions in the Sky, 90 Day Men), the band entered Electrical and Soma Studios at the end of October to record their debut full-length.
The result is Palm Reader, a collection of melodic oddities that conjures the absurdity of a no-wave dance party tangled in piano concertos, gypsy brass, ricocheting male and female vocals amongst a cache of punk rock aesthetics. Between the tension, dark bass lines, and danceable beats, this is not your traditional Polyvinyl fare.