Origin: La Habra, California
Genre: Punk rock, Ska punk
Years active: 1996–present
Waste of Mind (1998)
Playmate of the Year (2000)
Waste of MFZB (2004)
Broadcast to the World (2006)
Panty Raid (2009)
Get Nice! (2011)
Call Your Friends (2013)
Zebrahead is an American rock band from Orange County, California. Formed in 1996, the band has released ten studio albums to date and is known for their eclectic musical style that incorporates genres such as punk rock, pop punk, rap rock, rapcore, alternative rock, alternative metal, and funk metal.
Zebrahead was formed in La Habra, California in 1996 by guitarist Greg Bergdorf and drummer Ed Udhus (both formerly of the band 409), bassist Ben Osmundson (formerly of 3-Ply) and singer/rhythm guitarist Justin Mauriello (formerly of Once There). All four musicians, whose bands at the time shared the same practice space, found themselves experimenting with different sounds together and soon became friends. After deciding that they wanted to explore their musical options further, the foursome left their bands all together and formed Zebrahead.
The group, who were inspired by acts including Fugazi and Descendents, found themselves uninspired by the local musical trends of ska-punk and instead began incorporating elements of hip-hop into their sound, eventually recruiting rapper Ali Tabatabaee to join them as a co-vocalist.
1998–2002: Waste of Mind and Playmate of the Year
Main articles: Zebrahead (album), Waste of Mind and Playmate of the Year (album)
After issuing the self-titled demo album Zebrahead (more widely known as Yellow due to the color of the cover) from the indie label Doctor Dream Records in May 1998, Zebrahead were signed to major record label Columbia Records and released their full-length debut Waste of Mind later that same year. The album contained newly re-recorded songs from their previous release along with new tracks, including the minor radio hit “Get Back”, which gained some popularity in the U.S. and charted at No. 32 on the U.S. Hot Modern Rock Tracks charts.
The band’s follow-up album Playmate of the Year was released in the summer of 2000, and was followed up by the EP Stupid Fat Americans, released just over a year later in October 2001 exclusively in Japan.
2003–05: MFZB, Waste of MFZB and Justin Mauriello’s departure
Main articles: MFZB and Waste of MFZB
Three years after the release of Playmate of the Year, the band published their fourth studio album MFZB (abbreviation of Mother Fucking Zebrahead Bitch, named after the Zebrahead fanclub) in late 2003, which introduced a new heavier punk rock sound from the band, rather than hip-hop funk from their previous releases. Zebrahead spent the majority of their time promoting the album overseas in Japan, where it went to gold in sales and charted at No. 9 on the Japanese Charts. During this time, Zebrahead performed at various festivals in Japan including the Summer Sonic festival.
In July 2004, Zebrahead released a fifth studio album exclusively in Japan under the title Waste of MFZB. As the title suggests, the album is made up of songs that never made the final cut of MFZB.
In late 2004, shortly after Zebrahead’s tour through Japan, co-lead singer/rhythm guitarist Justin Mauriello left the band due to creative differences, the news was later made public on the band’s website. The news of Mauriello’s departure distressed fans, as the singing/rapping dynamic between him and co-vocalist Ali Tabatabaee was crucial to Zebrahead’s sound.
Later that month, Matty Lewis of the former Nebraska-based punk band Jank 1000, strapped for cash and occupying himself as a teacher, got a phone call from his ex-band’s manager (also the manager of Zebrahead) saying they were looking for a new co-vocalist/rhythm guitarist. After flying to California to try out for the role, Zebrahead were heavily impressed by Lewis’s musical skills, and named him the new co-lead singer of the band. Mauriello, by then, had moved on in music and founded the band I Hate Kate, later renamed to Darling Thieves.
2006–08: Broadcast to the World and Phoenix
Main articles: Broadcast to the World and Phoenix (Zebrahead album)
Zebrahead performing in 2006.
Zebrahead, with new co-vocalist Matty Lewis, returned to the music scene in early 2006 with their sixth studio album Broadcast to the World, which later debuted in other countries throughout the year. After touring Europe in June that same year, including a gig at the annual UK Download Festival, Zebrahead spent the rest of the summer in the U.S. travelling and performing as part of the Warped Tour festival.
After taking a two month hiatus to begin writing for their upcoming seventh studio album, Zebrahead returned to Europe in May 2007 on a co-headline tour with MxPx, as well as a headline UK tour. Zebrahead returned to the UK in October 2007 as part of the annual Get Happy Tour where they shared the stage with bands Army of Freshmen, The Bloodhound Gang and Bowling For Soup. The band later continued writing new songs for their next album, demos were recorded and received input from Jason Freese. Zebrahead soon began recording for the album in March 2008, with Hell Yeah produced with Howard Benson, and the latter set of tracks with Cameron Webb.
Zebrahead later announced the title of their new album as Phoenix and that it would be released in the summer of 2008. They released Not the New Album EP a day before the album’s first release in Japan, it was re-issued in 2010 containing two new songs, which also serve as the bonus tracks on the Japanese edition of Phoenix. In June, Zebrahead returned to the UK once again and toured and performed at the festivals Download, Leeds Slam Dunk and Greenfield, before touring through Europe and Japan for the remainder of the year. A tour through the U.S. was planned, however co-vocalist Matty Lewis became ill, and to avoid permanent damage to his voice, they had to cancel the tour.
2009–12: Panty Raid and Get Nice!
Main articles: Panty Raid (album) and Get Nice! (album)
In spring 2009, Zebrahead announced that they had begun recording a covers album featuring songs performed exclusively by female musicians from the 1990s and 2000s. They confirmed that the album would be titled Panty Raid and that it would be released in the late fall of that same year. The band later confirmed the tracklisting and release dates for the album, along with the announcement that a covered version of “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne would serve as the album’s lead single. The band promised covered versions of songs such as “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, “Jenny from the Block” by Jennifer Lopez, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and a handful of others would feature on the album. Zebrahead began the Less Than Jake tour to help promote the album in late 2009 through Europe, Japan and the U.S. and concluded in spring 2010.
In August 2010, Zebrahead announced they had begun work on a new studio album and that they would start recording before the end of the year. The band later confirmed in the spring of 2011 the tracklisting and release dates of their new album, which would be titled Get Nice!, they later released the songs “Ricky Bobby” and the title track “Get Nice!” as the lead singles prior to the album’s release in June and July 2011. To help promote Get Nice!, Zebrahead went on the Get Nice! or Die Trying tour that took place between the album’s release and the summer of 2012; performing in venues and festivals throughout Europe, Japan and Australia and the United States.
2013–present: Call Your Friends and Greg Bergdorf’s departure
Main article: Call Your Friends
In July 2012, Zebrahead announced that they were in the process of writing material for their tenth studio album, planned for an August 2013 release and that they would keep fans informed via video updates and through their social networking pages.
The band later confirmed in June 2013 that the album is titled Call Your Friends and will be released worldwide through different dates the following August. Later that month, Zebrahead announced that lead guitarist Greg Bergdorf would be leaving the band in order to spend more time with his family, with lead guitarist of Death By Stereo Dan Palmer taking his place, the latter of who already played lead guitar on the band’s upcoming album Call Your Friends. The title track was released in July 2013, while the band begun a new tour to promote the album a few months later.
Zebrahead is currently working on their eleventh studio album. The band also recently used PledgeMusic campaign for their live DVD Way More Beer, which was filmed and recorded during the band’s recent tour of Germany. In addition, Zebrahead went on a short US tour with MxPx and Allister with their last day in Joliet Illinois.