A Single Sit-Down: Human Zoo – Wealth and Hellness (feat. Will Wood)

New Jersey alt rock band Human Zoo make you expect the unexpected. Their unique brand of genre-spanning, alternative comedic music cannot be easily described or fit into a box, nor should it. It’s music you have to hear for yourself to understand.

Spence from the band took some time to gives us a bit more background on the group, and discuss their mind-bending new single “Wealth and Hellness”:

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Indy Review: How did you get started and what helped inform the sound of Human Zoo?

Human Zoo: Through a Facebook butterfly effect I met Joey in 2015 and sent some demos to him. We both clicked after the first jam and have been playing together ever since. We’ve been intentionally eclectic because we like so many different styles of music and want to play them all while still feeling like it’s “us”.

IR: What were some of your earliest inspirations as artists and musicians?

HZ: Queens of the Stone Age, Mr. Bungle and Ween were some of the first bands we loved and wanted to emulate. We also love comedy and it tends to find its way into what we do.

IR: For your new single “Wealth and Hellness”, you collaborated with Will Wood. How did that come about? Have you previously collaborated with other artists outside of your group?

HZ: I met Will playing DIY shows in depraved NJ basements that felt like home at the time. I was absolutely floored by his lyricism and eloquent performance and knew he would be playing much bigger stages soon. Well he did and he’s basically been our band’s stepdad ever since; Giving us opening slots at his sold-out shows, studio and writing sessions together, and tons of profound insight over the years. It’s just been a really unique relationship we’ve had because it feels like we both see something special in the other, there’s a lot of mutual respect and gassing each other up.

IR: The single travels through numerous genres in the span of three and a half minutes. What kind of challenge was it to connect such varying styles into one cohesive piece?

HZ: That’s just how we write. It feels very normal to us to cross genres in a song because we hate sticking around in one place. Also we all have ADD. 

IR: In your own words, what is “Wealth and Hellness” about, and how does the multi-part structure and tonal changes help to convey that?

HZ: This song ends the album with a climax of satirical extravagance. With an opening verse that paints a cartoonishly capitalistic picture of a global financial elite sipping adrenochrome cocktails in the Bahamas, the song is meant to start as a tongue in cheek takedown of the forces that I feel disenfranchised by and then ends with me admitting my contribution to those same systems.

IR: There’s so much going on in the track musically; how long did it take you to perfect the arrangement and mix for the song?

HZ: The production of the song had quite a long life. Starting in my bedroom and then other parts eventually being recorded in 4 different studios it took a little over a year. Joey then spent a few weeks mixing the entire record.

IR: How does the song fit in with the entire Wealth and Hellness album?

HZ: The song is a genre bending journey like the rest of the record and because it’s probably the most frantic of the bunch we thought it was the perfect finale to our introspective, comedic dystopian world that we’ve created

IR: Have you had a chance to perform the new song live yet? As the song has such a wild energy, I’m curious what the reaction to it has been.

HZ: We played it at the physical release show on 9/10 and near the end of the song we started to notice an old woman noticeably becoming uncomfortable. After more and more measures of the song passed, and section change lead to section change, the old woman’s skin started to take a light indigo hue which rapidly devolved into full body swelling. The size of her cranium was such that all of the lights in the venue were blocked and as this terrifying moment of darkness swallowed us and the audience. It was at that moment we led the crowd in prayer to the owl god Moloch causing her head to finally explode. The entire stage was littered with ligaments, bones, cartilage and brain matter. So we wrapped up the show and went out for pizza. 

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Well now I want some pizza too! If you’re just as intrigued as you should be, hear the song now in our A Single Sit-Down Playlist!

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