The Truest Z-Boys Record

From the moment I started listening to the soon-to-be-released Z-Boys record, Keep On Rockin’ in the Z World, I couldn’t stop moving my body in time with the beats and sounds created by Amato’s bass, Ziggy’s drums, and Greg’s guitar. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel during my entire drive and found myself humming and singing made-up words on top of their first-ever totally instrumental record.

Though it began with a familiar surf rock sound on “Cruisin,” my favorite songs were: “That New New,” where all three musicians showcase their rhythmic prowess; “Delay Aloha,” with its groove and swampiness; and “Relentless,” with its samba/disco beat that will forever make me dance.


When asked how they crafted this 10-track album, the band said they didn’t rush, they were intentional about leaving singing behind in favor of entering this new phase — coming into a space and filling it with instrumental music that moves in many different directions. The album is jazz-like in its improvisational feel and inclusive of many genres (Blues, rock, Latin, jazz, roots, rockabilly, and surf rock to name a few).

In case the band’s origin story is a mystery to you, Amato Zinno and Zigmond (Ziggy) Coffey came together in 2014 for a weekly gig as the rhythm section called the Z-Boys and had guests join them. One fateful day they had Greg Burgess as their guest, and before they knew it or had any sort of rehearsal — they booked a four-hour gig, without material (!), and the rest is local music Z-istory… (I had to, don’t hate me). Read on to go behind the scenes of the recording process and to learn about the upcoming Album Release Show at the beloved Columbus Theater, happening June 7, 2024.

Mayté Antelo-Ovando (Motif): You said this record has been ready for a while. How long has it been done?

Ziggy Coffey: Yeah, it’s been done for a long time. We started recording in 2019, and finished 90% of the album at Studio Blue (before it closed), by the end of that year. Most of it was mixed and ready for about two years, and then we recorded the last track, “Shoreline Access,” which we’ve been playing out a lot at Andem Street Studios [more recently].

MAO: Wow — it’s been a very long process, no wonder y’all are excited that it’s done.

Amato Zinno: Yeah, it has. And we can’t rule out COVID as a factor here. We didn’t play or do anything for over a year, from March 2020 to our first gig in April 2021. We took a whole year off and we didn’t play a single note I don’t think, haha.

ZC: We put our last record out on March 6, 2020.

AZ: The week before everything shut down.

ZC: And so much effort went into that record. We used crowdsourcing to help fund it, put out all this promo for it, and thank God we got to actually do the release show at Dusk.

AZ: RIP Dusk. It was an epic, epic show. Tall Teenagers, Bocheck, Jesse the Tree. So, this is kind of our pandemic record. And it is also who we are now. Credit to Sammy D’Abruoso [album producer] for doing a great job at making the record really sound like us.

Greg Burgess: It’s also mostly a live record. We were all together recording it in a small, tiny room, standing on top of each other, in what’s known as the “Murder Room.” And since Studio Blue was closing, they had started to cut the power off, and…

AZ: Yeah, we had to run the power!

ZC: It was pretty brutal.

MAO: Okay, so now tell me about the new phase you’re in with this record.

AZ: Partly it’s the instrumental phase. We’ve always played instrumentals but then it was really a conversation we had after COVID, and it was Greg who said something, he’ll add more to this. Greg was always the lead singer for the Z-Boys.

GB: But I’m not a singer, I was just a singer by default, you know? I think we had planned to get a singer at some point, but it didn’t happen.

ZC: I think we finally leaned into what we truly wanted to do. Because I feel like as a band (when we first started) we were just taking gigs. We were sometimes the only band playing and we were trying to fill a three-hour slot. And in getting the gigs I think we felt like we had to sing some tunes to sort of appease [the audience]. We wrote some cool ones in the last record, but we felt like our sets were really just moving in that direction, where our shows were 60% instrumental jams and 40% vocals. So, when we weren’t gigging (due to COVID) we said let’s just play music — what we’re feeling. And it’s easier when you have no vocals because we don’t have to bring a PA anywhere (makes travel light). I think Greg has a good voice and I like him singing but I know that he doesn’t enjoy it as much, and anyone that I’m in a project with, I want them to really enjoy what they’re doing. That’s how the best stuff happens anyway.

GB: The best part was when I was singing a few songs a night we’d always have people come up and say, “You guys need a singer.” Now that I’m not singing any songs, no one comes up and says that. I don’t have to talk into a fucking mic, oh it’s the greatest!

AZ: Like Ziggy said, about our last record, Elwood, we really liked it. I think those songs are great, and I miss playing them, but I feel like we felt pressure to make a record that had a lot of vocal parts on it. Greg would do a couple of verse-chorus, verse-chorus and then we would just shred, and so we’ve never stopped shredding, right? And now it feels like we’re doing it for ourselves. I think for me it’s more about what we want to do, and I think people have been reacting positively to that — we’re just being a little bit truer to ourselves than we were before.

GB: It feels more natural.

ZC: Yeah, and we’ve been a band for so long that there’s just been that natural evolution to it. It’s been through a lot of different phases.

AZ: We’ve survived a lot, haha.

MAO: Does anything surprise y’all about playing music or being in the band?

ZC: I’m surprised about people in the music scene that are still self-serving or have a scarcity mindset, you know? When really there’s more than enough shine to go around for all, and if someone is doing good that’s good for everyone. Selfishness surprises me, you know — when everything was taken away from us in 2020 — that was hard. Live music is some people’s lifeline. Not even just for musicians but for people who need that place to connect. It’s my favorite thing about music, the gathering.

If you want to be part of the sharing of energy that the Z-Boys and their fans create when they gather then check out the release show for “Keep On Rockin’ in the Z World,” on Friday June 7 at Columbus Theater. For more Z-Boys Z-Stories, follow them on Instagram @zboystonight