Any lasting legacy in the arena of rock music is a hard thing to quantify, but two decades of being a heavily followed band in such a competitive marketplace is extremely rare.
Formed in 1994, the Mesa, Arizona-based, rock-ska outfit Authority Zero has managed to forge a successful place in the industry after two decades and a myriad of line-up changes.
Playing a few U.S. dates before coming north of the border, the foursome is touring on the strength of their fifth full-length album, titled The Tipping Point.
Recalling tones of Bad Religion and Pennywise, the overall sound of the record has a fairly straight-ahead punk delivery with a good amount of energy.
With a solid chunk of musical years under his belt, 34-year-old lead singer and songwriter Jason Devore reflects on making the band’s first major music video One More Minute at the ripe age of 14.
“Honestly, we had no idea what going to happen with the band back then,” Devore said. “When all that was going on with that video, that was all so surprising that we had come to that point in music. We had already been playing as a band for about seven years, but we were just a couple of kids who were still learning how to work together as musicians and even learn how to sing – at all.”
Known for his prolific songwriting abilities, with themes that centre on social awareness and activism, Devore has been known to rattle off songs in under 15 minutes.
“That’s a quote from my original guitar player, Bill, but that’s sort of what brought us together way back – he would have a few riffs and I could form a song pretty quickly out of those riffs,” Devore said. “I’m always constantly writing, whether it be for Authority (Zero) or other projects. I get inspired in a lot of weird ways.”
Although they’re still touring, AZ has definitely seen its share of personnel changes over the years, with 13 different musicians coming through the band throughout its history.
“It has become strengthening, but there were a few years where it was kind of like ripping your hair out on a daily basis, to be honest” he added. “It was a pretty crippled state for a while, and it sometimes felt like I was the only one who wanted to do this.”
After being a featured act on the massive Warped Tour and hitting the road with the well-known Portland rockers Everclear in the ‘90s, AZ has seen its fair share of ups and downs.
Devore is grateful for how far the band has come, but he admits that he could have never predicted the highpoints.
“I would have always seen myself doing something in the arts, but I never knew that it would have been this band that would come this far with all of the things that have changed over the years.”
Often boasting a politically-charged writing style, Devore is no stranger to voicing his opinion, but has a desire to get his listeners involved in the world around them.
“I never want to force my political views or my thoughts on an issue. I just want to let people know what my honest response is; If you’re upset about something, do something about it – don’t just piss and moan about it,” he said.
After getting signed to Lava Records in their beginnings, Devore and his crew are still driving in a tour van and chauffeuring themselves to shows.
“Even though we experienced some success, we were still on the grind and blowing tires, and sitting on the side of the freeway, and staying at Motel 6’s – basically, the same thing we are doing now.”
In the video for their latest single, entitled Today We Heard The News, Devore wanted to pay tribute to the recently deceased Tony Sly.
Sly was a highly influential punk rock guitarist and vocalist from the bands No Use For A Name, The Scorpios and many more, and Devore had the chance to tour with him.
“It struck a nerve because I toured with those guys before with Sum 41, and we played pranks on each other, and to hear that, it puts everything in perspective,” he added. “It could happen at any time to any one of us and the reality of touring is that you tend to take life for granted, because anything could happen – you could flip your trailer you could blow a tire or whatever, so you have to appreciate all of it.”
Authority Zero performs at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 2) at the GLC. Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased at www.ticketzone.com.