The recording of Toronto-based Zeus’ psychedelic album, Classic Zeus, which has received rave reviews, took a toll on the band, despite its throwback, sun-baked ’70s AM radio goodness. Singer Neil Quin, spoke to me about it. “We had just spent too much time together. We toured the first two records pretty relentlessly. We traveled through some hard times and were away from our families for a long time. It took its toll on us and we needed a break from the road, so we could get back to making a new record.”
When they got back into the studio to record Classic Zeus, things were “just weird.” “Some songs weren’t gelling, we weren’t gelling… we were working for about a month or two. Then we just kind of acknowledged it one day. People can go a long time without acknowledging anything. The new album is kind of an ode to what we’ve been through as a band. It’s a benchmark for us.”
Zeus got together and passed some doobies around and decided to get back to business. The band splits songwriting duties on the album, and they sit around diplomatically deciding which songs get picked from a laundry list of tracks brought into the studio over a bottle of tequila and some ribs.
“When I was young, I used to spend a lot of time learning how to play the drums. I used to smoke a lot of pot when I did that. It put me in a headspace where I could kind of get rid of the world around me and focus on the rhythms. It helped me with songwriting over the years. And I wouldn’t say that anyone should ever lean on it. I’m really thankful, however for some of the moments and inspiration I’ve had on it… It helps you get rid of the stresses of life and focus on one thing at a time. Sometimes it’s good to just sit around, order a pizza and play some Grand Theft Auto, which is amazing on it.”
Quin’s mom showed him the Beatles anthology at an early age, and he was hooked on music ever since. The first time Neil Quin smoked was Canadian Labor Day, which is the day before all the kids go back to school. It was the end of the night in his friend’s backyard, and a kid brought a joint. He didn’t get high the first time, but a few weeks later he tried smoking again and it kicked it on the way back from the store and felt awesome. “I started walking really slowly, almost like I was on a creaky bridge.”
As a group, Zeus also likes to partake. “Musicians and reefer are kind of synonymous, it’s always around. It helps us keep to the task on hand.” Quin, believes that reefer should be decriminalized in Canada. “Our jail system is plugged up with misdemeanor and possession charges. People are in jail for having pot on them. It’s ridiculous. How many households are using? A fucking lot! And people who smoke raise their families just fine. It’s not the demon that people see it to be. And governments just keep skirting the issue. No matter what comes out in terms of health benefits, they just ignore it… We got a real Darth Vader in office here. Unfortunately he’s intensely smart and super conservative. He’s one of the most serious Prime Ministers we’ve had in a long time. He’s pushing laws through like a maniac.”
“Classic Zeus” is a laid back, fun, guitar swirled ode classic rock. Grab a joint and enjoy the reverb. And look forward to Zeus coming stateside soon.