After 26 Years, Authority Zero Is Still ‘The Most Underrated Punk Rock Band’
The band's eighth album, 'Ollie Ollie Oxen Free,' is out June 18
Since originally making waves in the punk rock scene back in 2002 with “One More Minute” off of their debut, A Passage in Time, Authority Zero has been a model of consistency despite its rotating cast of members.
Frontman Jason DeVore has worked with no fewer than 14 band members since the group’s mid-’90s inception, yet each of their seven full-lengths has remained true to the sound the Arizona rockers have always put forth, infusing bits of reggae and ska into their melodic and memorable punk tunes to create alternative radio-friendly singles like 2004’s “Revolution” and 2010’s “Get It Right.” Clearly, that consistency is appreciated by the band’s fans as well, as every one of those albums has landed within the top 50 of Billboard’s Heatseeker chart, with 2010’s Stories of Survival and 2017’s Broadcasting to the Nations even cracking the top 5.
Now, Authority Zero has just announced that their next album, the self-released (for much of the world) Ollie Ollie Oxen Free, will be out June 18. Hot on the heels of their recent release, an EP titled The Back Nine, SPIN sat down with DeVore via Zoom to chat about the upcoming album.
SPIN: What should people expect from the new album, Ollie Ollie Oxen Free?
Jason DeVore: They should expect a lot of intensity. We had a lot of time to write the album, obviously, because we had a year off of touring and everything else of that nature, so we ended up writing like 40 songs for it. In the end, we chose to have just 13 really fun songs, and we recorded once again with Cameron Webb (Motörhead, Sum 41, Kelly Clarkson, Megadeth) out in California. We previously did The Tipping Point (2013) with him, so we knew that it would sound great and we would have a great time recording as well.
As someone who’s been in this band and touring for literally your entire adult life, how did it feel to be forced to take a year away from the road — and to write an album in that time?
It’s been wild, man. I’ve been doing this since I was 14 and now I’m 41, so it just kind of flipped the numbers around. It’s weird to think about it and look back on it, but it’s all been a bit of an adventure for sure. For me, every album is like a new life story or a single chapter of my life. Regardless of what’s been going on, [each album] is always an honest response to what’s happening in my life. A lot of people ask “What’s this album about?” and I tell them to just listen to the album, because you’ll see what I’ve been going through — or what we’ve all been going through in certain regards. Anything we had to say about our life experiences through the last year-and-a-half, we said through this album.
Over the last 25+ years, you’ve become a staple in Arizona’s punk rock scene, but have also built a pretty global fan base with some reggae and ska fans as well. What’s it been like to balance those two aspects of the band?
It’s been cool, but it’s been very strange in that regard. I guess we’ve always kind of felt like the most underrated punk rock band, but we never really fit into that scene, so to speak. We’ve just been doing our own thing. We never really sang just punk rock songs or ska songs or reggae songs, so we got miscategorized a little bit along the way, because people were kind of confused by us. That said, it’s been great because now we’re able to have our own individuality and personality. It’s been kind of cool to just do what we’ve been doing, because we love all of the music, and we’re just having a good time doing it. We’re just grateful that people give a shit and want to listen.
Ollie Ollie Oxen Free has Jim Lindberg from Pennywise on a track. I know that’s a band that you’re a fan of, so what was it like to be able to just call him up and get him on the album?
It was a trip, dude. Honestly, a lot of the buddies we’ve had the pleasure of playing with throughout the years of touring — and befriended along the way — are people that we looked up to as kids. Now they’re something of our peers, but we still look up to them, obviously. It’s cool to be able to [get Lindberg on the album], because we’ve worked on a lot of projects aside from music, and it’s really just nice to see how open they are to the possibility of working with bands like us. We’re still working toward and pushing forward with the same kind of ideals as them, so they’re open to jumping in and being a part of it. It’s just really cool.
And you just put out an EP called The Back Nine, which included a particularly appropriate accompanying golf set featuring custom tees and golf balls. What inspired the golf set?
It’s pretty abstract, but we just went for it because of the name of the EP. [The name] was actually because you know what they say, “Once you reach 40, you’re on the backside of the course.” So that in turn goes with golfing. Also, we’ve all become pretty good golfers along the way, just because we’re getting older and it’s like this nice thing to do with your buddies. The golf packs coincide with the intended meaning of The Back Nine of being past 40 and in the second half of your life, but it also works with golfing in general. We just thought it’d be kind of fun and quirky.