LA groove-rock band ZFG (Zero Fucks Given) is creating their own style of music that blends hook-filled melodies, funky guitar riffs and groovy rock beats. Consisting of Trev Lukather (guitar), Sam Porcaro (bass), Josh Devine (drums) and Jules Galli (vocals), the members were all close friends on other musical projects they were involved with prior to ZFG. Josh, who had previously drummed for One Direction, and Trev, son of Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, met through mutual friends and decided to head into the studio for fun and to approach making music with no rules or boundaries. They called that first day in the studio “Zero Fucks Given”, which led to the birth of their band name ZFG. Jules and Sam (son of original Toto bassist Mike Porcaro) joined the mix and the four musicians realized the amazing chemistry they had together. Although they were all involved in other projects, they decided to merge all of those projects into one and perform together as ZFG. Although they do perform rock-style songs, they also blend together sounds of alternative pop, R&B and various other styles. They recently released the single “Special”, which has landed among the top 10 Greatest Gainers on both the Billboard Indicator and Foundations charts. The band embarked earlier this year on their first tour, opening for rock band Adelita’s Way. They followed that up with a recent tour with The Winery Dogs and will be headed out on tour this summer in Europe with Toto. You can follow ZFG and stay up-to-date with all music and tour dates via the following links. Check out their lyric video for “Special” below.
The band will be releasing it’s debut EP soon! Where did you record the EP and what was the recording process like? What can people expect from the album?
We really don’t know when we’re going to release the EP. We recorded the EP… “Holehearted” and “Special” are two of the songs that are out there in the world right now. Those were recorded in the same recording sessions as the original EP, but we actually started recording recently in Austin, TX and kind-of just got sidetracked and wanted to continue to work there and switch it up. There’s a lot of stuff on our EP that we originally recorded that…we blocked out 2 weeks and recorded 6 songs and we felt that the post-production of it was a little rushed so we’re not exactly ready to release those songs yet. We wanna go back and dive in, since we’ve been playing a lot together and the vibe changes and things change. We play the songs live and kind-of want to capture some new magic with them. The beauty of this business now is that it’s a singles game really. We can really just release a song at a time and work off of that and test songs out live and see how the crowd reacts to them. If they love the song, we need to make sure we dive into the recording studio and vibe with that song and maybe release it. It’s really just an open door for what we can do. We’re also a band that will sit down and write 6 songs in a day. There’s a lot of material coming out of us, so I don’t know if it’s something where we can release…I know albums aren’t really popular nowadays, EPs are. We could make an album and then do another album 6 months later. There’s no lack of material. I think we’re going to release another song next, but that’s TBA. I’m not sure when that will be. I really feel that “Special” still has a lot of life left in it. It really hasn’t been heard. I mean, we have 20,000 followers on Facebook and almost 20,000 on YouTube…not many people have heard it. I think that we have a long ways to go with that single and should really focus on working on getting the song out there a little more, you know?
“Special” came together really quickly in the studio and almost didn’t make the EP. What made you guys decide to focus on that song? I read that it’s also your only song with percussion. What was it like working with Lenny Castro (of Toto) on that track?
I mean, Lenny Castro is such a legend! He’s my godfather and has played with Sam’s and my dad forever. He’s the holy grail of percussionists. Randomly, when we got into the studio for those two weeks to record our EP, we had another song in mind. We didn’t really have an up-tempo track, so the guys that we were working with at the time thought that we should vibe on an up-tempo track. I was always jamming the riff of “Special” with the guys and Jules would start messing around with some melodies, so it was just one of things where we would always just bust that one out for the hell of it when we were in between tracks or in between tracking bass or guitar. I would just bust into the “Special” riff and the engineers were were working with were like “What’s that?”. Everyone decided we should record that song so we just dived into it. It just happened that Lenny messaged me out of the blue and I just said to the guys “How cool would it be if Lenny came in and tracked some percussion on this?” and everyone was like “Oh my god yeah!”. We thought it was a long shot, you know? I mean, he’s such a legend! I asked Lenny if he would come in and do this and he told me to tell him the time and the date. So we just got the basic tracks down…we got the drums and I tracked a scratch guitar and bass. Lenny came in and freakin’ killed it in one take. He had like 7 different instruments and with each thing he nailed it in one take. It really did bring a whole new groove to what we do and I feel that with so many of the new songs we’re writing we’re all like “It would be great to have some percussion on this”. I mean, we’re not going to get Lenny Castro all of the time (laughs). It’s just one of those things, though, that brings a whole different element to the music. This band’s very much…it’s rock but it has a groove-feel to it, as well. When you have Sam Porcaro on bass and Josh Devine on drums…with those two together as the rhythm section, it’s just nothing but grooves! It allows Jules and I to get a little crazy together.
The more you guys write together, the more your individual voices merge into a unified voice. How did your writing styles differ when you started out and what has it been like to write and merge those styles together?
I feel like we’ve together a lot more, jamming on new stuff and then Sam and Josh got a little more involved in the building of the writing process. Sometimes it would be me and Jules in a room and we’d be having some drinks together and the next thing you know I’d be playing a riff and Jules would write the lyrics and music together. The more we got together in the room, the more it was a more unified band building the songs together. Originally, this wasn’t supposed to be a band. We all had separate projects and were all doing something on our own. It wasn’t anything we were expecting to happen and I feel that’s why it works so well. The pressure was out the window. There was no pressure. We just wanted to have some fun and not focus on what people want us to do or what sound we should have. We said “Let’s just not even think about it. No rules”, and that’s what ZFG became about. There are no rules and we just make the music we want to make. Let’s have 7 parts to a song and let’s have crazy drum fills and a guitar solo and soaring high vocals. We don’t want anything to hold us back, like “That’s not gonna work for radio” and things like that. A lot of people get into the studio and they think about that and that takes away from the artistic value of being true to yourself as an artist. I think a lot of people get distracted by that and try to be something that maybe they’re not. And I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it, of trying to follow, and I’m done following. It was one of those things where everything was so natural and the sound came together so well. We were all shocked when we heard “Holehearted” for the first time, like “Wow”. We did it together in a day and there was so much magic on that track, of all of us getting in a room and having so much fun and it just came together so well. We felt like we had to take the time to do this. This was the universe aligning, you know (laughs)? I feel that once we went from there to being in a room together a lot, the bonds just developed into more of a band style and all of us like “Oh, Trev has a riff or Jules has a melody”. We basically got into the room in the studio and jammed the song a few times and then tracked it. It wasn’t like we were in a rehearsal room with pre-production and getting all of the arrangements together. It was kind-of like how “Special” happened. It was just like “Alright, we have the riffs and melody. Let’s arrange now”. It’s becoming a little morphed since were in the room together a lot and building the songs as a band.
You recently did your first tour as a band with Adelita’s Way and are currently touring with The Winery Dogs. Although some of you have touring experience, what has it been like touring with your own band? What has the fan response been to your live show and the new songs you’ve been testing out?
We set out for the Adelita’s Way tour to…I mean, yeah, it was our first tour as a band and we played our music in front of a bunch of strangers that have no idea who we are. It wasn’t like in LA, where we play and our friends come out to support us. No one knows us so we wanted to see what true rock fans in America, in middle America, what their vibe is with us. Are we onto something? We feel it, but it’s always good to test that in front of people who have no idea who the hell you are. The reaction on the Adelita’s Way tour was absolutely amazing and over the top. Our merch was almost sold out after the first 5 shows. People were just taking to us, so it was one of those gratifying moments for us as a band, to know that what we’re doing is something that does connect with people. That was great. We also played several shows in a row, like 3-4 shows in a row, so Jules got to build up his vocal chops in singing live. These are not easy songs to sing. Jules is an insane vocalist and he went up on stage and was amazing every night and was a rockstar! For him to embrace that and be able to sing our set for four shows in a row…that was another thing that we wanted to make sure we could do. The band gelled stronger than we’ve ever gelled. We set out to do stuff and got the answers that we wanted and then we bowed out pretty early because we wanted to go back into the studio and record and prep for this tour (with The Winery Dogs). For The Winery Dogs tour it’s a little different. These guys…we did our first show with them two nights ago and we won over that crowd too. It’s a whole different crowd. With Adelita’s Way, the crowd digs the rock/pop stuff. With The Winery Dogs, their crowd’s a bit different. There are “Shreddy Krugers” in the audience! What’s great is that our songs are very musician-like. We have a lot of cool riffs and the band’s super tight. But I’m not Mr. Shredder Guy. I’ve always believed in a song within a song. It’s the same with my guitar. I don’t like to say “Look at me, look at me, look at me!”. It’s a little interesting. We did win over there fans for the first show. I’m curious for the next two shows. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know if this is our crowd? They’re very musician-shredder and Dream Theatre fans and like double kicks and all of that stuff. And Billy Sheehan is an amazing, incredible shredder bass player. Ritchie’s really bluesy and soulful, so I don’t know. I feel like we did win over the fans at the first show and am just curious to what of the rest of the tour will be like. We’re going out soon with Toto in Europe and that’s going to be great. I feel the sound and fan base will really work with what we’re doing.
You’ve also written songs for other artists such as Halestorm and September Mourning and have been a musical director for other artists, as well. How did you become involved in those parts of the industry and do you still do those things on the side?
Yeah, of course. I like going out of my comfort zone at all times…well, not at all times, but for the most part. As a musician, I feel that you really build up working with other people, going out of your scene and into another person’s scene. It’s something that’s a true test. When it works, it’s really gratifying as well. Working with Halestorm was great. Lzzy’s a beast! When we tracked the demo I did with them, it was really great. She’s a rockstar and came in with perfect pitch and just nailed it. That was a really easy session to be honest. September Mourning was great too. I wrote a few songs with her. Right now…I’ve been on tour with this DJ/Producer called What So Not. We just played DC last weekend and will do Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo and just a ton of huge shows. He’s one of the headliners in the EDM scene. What I bring to the table is that we do this live show together, just me and him, and he plays electronic drums and I play the guitar. I listen to his hour and a half set and build a synth-fuzztone guitar sound. Talk about being out of your comfort zone! I was really going into a whole new scene. I work with him in between ZFG tours. We just did EDC last weekend and am going to do Spring Awakening and a couple of other festivals with him. I’ve been on tour with him on and off for this past year. I’m always doing stuff with other people. I love it. When you’re with your own band though, it’s a whole other scene because it’s your thing and you’re in charge of everything. I like working with other artists and I show up for the gig and get to rehearse. I get the fun part. And then you appreciate that, because you’re staying in nice hotels and you have a tech and all of these kinds of things and are like “Woohoo, this is great! This is living!” (laughs)! Then you go on your own tour as a young band and are in a very tiny SUV and there’s no room, but when it’s your baby and what what you want and is your legacy, it’s all worth it. It’s all worth the struggles of the touring and the not-so-glamorous side of things. It makes you appreciate when you get to that point where other things that you might be a little used to aren’t the case. We’re going to appreciate so much more that the more popular we get and the harder we work, we won’t be at the point where we’re a huge band going “What happened?”. It’s like, we lived in the trenches and are like “Wait, we get a tech and a bus and a hotel room on our own? We have our own room?”. That’s going to be an amazing and gratifying moment too. And Josh, too…he toured with other people. Sam and I toured with Diamonte, too. But Diamonte was just starting out. I go in and out of different situations…the more glamorous hang and the not-so-glamorous hang. It tunes your soul, so it’s good.
What’s next for you? What do you have coming up after your tour with Toto in Europe?
There’s talks. We’re figuring it out. For that Europe tour…we’re kind-of a band that doesn’t really have the time to stop. We have to continue the movement. We’re trying to figure out what the Fall will look like for us. I know we pretty much have to get it set in stone within a month or something. We plan to be on the road all of Fall. But we need to go back in the studio and record a lot. I don’t know if it will be a record or an EP, but we just have a lot more work to do. I’d say we will definitely be touring in the fall at some point, I just don’t know who that’s with yet. There are some options that are on the table of maybe trying to make that work.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today!