On the beautiful Sunday morning of this year's Hevy Fest, we were invited by Californian hell-raisers Zebrahead into their dressing room for a nice chat ahead of their afternoon main stage performance. Vocalist Ali Tabatabaee and bassist Ben Osmundson are knocking back the coffee and looking forward to hitting the stage before, as Osmundson states, it's 'game on' in the drinking stakes. The guys give us a great insight into how they are after being a band for fifteen years, how it feels to be influencing the younger bands of today and what their plans are for new album "Get Nice!". Oh and also intriguing comments involving tigers and gorillas, read on....

R13: You guys are a very influential band, especially within the pop-punk field, influencing a lot of the newer bands of today. How is the band after all these years and what have you got planned?
BO: I'd say we're definitely a lot older... and influencing other bands? Cool! (laughs) We don't really look outside our own little world; we live in this little bubble and we're just stoked that people come to the shows and still give a crap. We feel lucky.
AT: And we're going to be doing a lot more touring because our album has just come out and this is our first run since it was released so we should be touring all over the place for the next year and a half.

R13: Who particularly influenced you as a band when you were starting out? Who inspired you to form your own sound?
BO: The majority of us listen to a lot of metal and punk rock like Lagwagon and Fugazi and bands like that, but everyone in Orange County was playing mostly ska music so we wanted to do something a little different. We started this band to do something that was different from what everyone else was doing and when people liked it, it kind of shocked us (laughs).
AT: We never expected to be able to do this for a living. We're very lucky.
BO: It was kind of a joke, we were just goofing around and then people liked it.

R13: You're also known for your very riotous live shows. I live down in Tunbridge Wells, Kent and you've played at the Forum there a couple of times and those shows have become something of town legend. What fuels such live shows?
BO: I think the people. The crazier the crowd is, the more fun you have and the Tunbridge Wells Forum is such a small, compact little place that it's hard not to have people going crazy and I think that's one of the reasons why we like playing that place; it's cool. It used to be toilets too, right? (laughs)
AT: I think it's always great to have the crowd like literally on stage and that place is always like that so we always have fun there.

R13: You've got your new album "Get Nice!" coming out imminently. How was the recording process of that and what's it sounding like?
AT: Well we actually built a studio in our rehearsal space so this was the first time we recorded in our own place and I think that helped in a lot of ways because we weren't on anybody else's timeline and we could go in there as early or as late as we wanted to and stay in there till whenever so it was more like just hanging out and when we were inspired by something we'd work on a song. I think you can hear that in this album. It's a little bit more up-beat and slightly different to [2008 album] "Phoenix" or [2006 album] "Broadcast To The World" and that was definitely to do with the way we recorded it.

R13: I had a listen to 'Ricky Bobby' (first single from the album) and thought it had quite a heavy feel.
BO: I think the thing with us is on every album we try to mix it up. We like heavier music but we also like popular music and we tried to meet in the middle and do a little of both, that makes us all happy. I like 'Ricky Bobby' a lot; I think it's a good song.

R13: What can we expect from you set today at Hevy?
AT: Well there's going to be some masturbation going on (laughs). We're at a wild animal park so our show fits well. We're definitely going to use the masturbating tigers today. Someone told me that there's a racist gorilla at this zoo, too.
AT: Are you sure it's not just Ed [Udhus, drums]? (laughs)
BO: It could be! Our drummer kind of looks like a gorilla and he hates us so he's racist against his own band.
AT: I hadn't heard about that, we'll have to go and try and meet him if we can.

R13: Are you fans of younger bands who play within your style?
AT: We listen to everything. I mean we have such eclectic tastes amongst the band, like for example, some of the stuff that I listen to I know Matty [Lewis, guitar/vocals] definitely doesn't listen to so it's hard to say as a band whether we like this kind of music or not. We're pretty open-minded I think, unless a band sucks (laughs).
BO: I think within every kind of music there's good stuff. Our sound guy turned us onto Pendulum a couple of years ago. I really like that; it's not something you'd normally expect us to be into but I dig it and I think pretty much the whole fucking world is a fan of Muse. A Day To Remember are fucking great as well.
AT: We just saw them play a couple of weeks ago in the States and they were great.

R13: You guys mentioned heavier stuff earlier?
BO: Yeah we actually just played with Heaven Shall Burn in Poland and they were fucking awesome. It was amazing! The singer's this clean-cut dude, totally normal looking, and then he gets out there and his voice fucking rips a whole in the Earth.
AT: They're pretty bad-ass.

R13: Ali brings elements of hip-hop into the Zebrahead sound. Who inspired you in that field?
AT: Growing up I used to listen to stuff like Easy-E, NWA, Ice Cube. Recently I love Jay-Z, I think he's awesome and also Wiz Khalifa, I've been listening to him a lot but I listen to everything really, not just rap.
BO: I like Jay-Z; he transcends everybody (laughs).

R13: So what are the plans for the "Get Nice!" tour?
BO: We're touring the UK in November and December and we're going to be doing twelve or thirteen shows here. We always play a truckload of shows here (laughs).
AT: We're also working on new music, so hopefully we'll have some more new stuff out within the next few months.

The band indeed made good on their promise of 'masturbating tigers' during their set later that day and also provided one of the most enjoyable moments of the weekend. A big thanks to Ali and Ben for taking the time out for an awesome chat! Be sure to catch the band on their Winter UK tour and pick up a copy of "Get Nice!" which is in stores now. Whether the band visited the 'racist gorilla' does however sadly remain a mystery.