Zhora may have only been together for a short while, but they seem to gain more fans with every show they play. Fronted by former Ishi vocalist Taylor Rea, their music is a blend of programmed electronic beats and live instrumentation. Rea and bandmate Taylor Cleveland sat down with us on a pleasant Saturday afternoon and shared their first show experiences. Know this: you can't underestimate the power of boy bands on future music heads.
What's the earliest memory you have of seeing somebody play live? Taylor Cleveland: Well, my first concert was at the Granada Theater. It was a Bowling for Soup concert. I met them, before they the show, at Snuffer's. I got them to sign a coaster. Taylor Rea: I've been going to concerts since I can remember. My mom used to promote bands, like teenybopper bands. She was the marketing manager at Arcade, so I would get to hang out at Arcade and when she would bring *NSYNC in 1995 I would get to check them out. That was pretty much my first memory. I knew I wanted to be a part of that. Not *NSYNC, just the music life in general. I got to meet a lot of cool people. I thank my mom for that.
What about the first show you paid to see? Cleveland: Bowling for Soup. Rea: Radiohead when they played here in '08. I know that wasn't too long ago, but I remember the feeling of "I am going to this show. I'm going to have the most amazing time. My heart is ready for this. My mind is going to be blown. I'm going to cry at the show." My whole heart was into it, even my money.
Aside from these aforementioned shows, what were some that made you want to pick up an instrument or form a band? Cleveland: That's tough.There's a lot of things that all kinda mix together with that choice. I mean, art played a big role. My uncle is an artist and he got me into art. And through art, I kind of explored. I first picked up bass guitar in sixth grade and I played around with it. As far as performances, Neon Indian, I love them a lot. Rea: My dad was a drummer. My grandfather, who I never met, was a jazz pianist. I would see videos of my dad when I was younger. I was a late bloomer. I didn't go to shows until high school. I didn't have many friends. I'm an only child, so I kind of figured it out on my own. My mom has all these photos of my grandfather, told me so many stories. Told me he's the reason why I have my musical talent. I remember one day I was in the car, I was maybe five or six, I was singing and I would never shut up. I was singing a song and both my mom and dad just turned around and looked at me. It kind of made me nervous, but I kept bellowing. It gave me this idea that, OK, my parents approve. So, from then on, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
What do you remember about the first Ishi show you did? Rea: First Ishi show was at the House of Blues. We opened for Burning Hotels and Telegraph Canyon. I was just a back-up singer. I wasn't "in" the band; I was just going to sing and help them out. After that show, we got good reviews. Played another show and it kinda formed as John [Mudd] and I as Ishi. John and Brad are the creators and I think that's what they wanted to keep it as for the longest time. I remember the Cavern was when things hit, took off. It was a packed house.
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What do you remember about the first Zhora show? Cleveland: It was at LaGrange. It was fun. Rea: By far, one of the best nights of my life. Starting my own project was really rewarding. My mom was there. Cleveland: My mom was there. Rea: My mom drove up from Houston. I wasn't really nervous. I was stressed out because my mom got under my skin. Lots of family and friends. Cleveland: We finally played a show and we thought, "Wow, this is really cool. It actually works!"
Was Ross Martinez playing live drums? Rea: Ross was playing drums.
I love how you guys have backing tracks, but there's a heavy emphasis on life instruments. Rea: Yeah, we're working towards that. Making it more organic.
Zhora plays this Saturday, April 21, at Good Records.