Featured Artist: ZIION

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today, I talk to Marcus Woods of the band ZIION from my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the heaviest band that I’ve gotten to write about so far, that have been around since April 2016. I’ve gotten to play with these guys twice and both times they’ve been an incredible band to watch live. Not only does their passion reach out through their music, but also through their live show. With a new EP out titled Pure Heart, and just finishing up the Mountains & Valleys Tour (their first tour ever as a band), they are showing no signs of slowing down.

Credit: Laurie Armstrong Photography

How did the band initially come together and what made you guys decide on your sound as a band? Was there something specific that made you guys decide on a heavier sound?

Well, I have always been behind the visuals and sound of ZIION, and I’ve always just sort of been inspired by heavier music. Mostly from the emotion I draw from it, and at the time, when I was writing the “Pure Heart” EP I was feeling a lot of emotion, both good and bad.

Where did the band name Ziion come from? Does it hold special significance for anyone in the band specifically or the band as a whole?

Well, for around the last 5 years I’ve had a solo project by the name of ZIION, I sort of formed a connection to it being a constant in my life. But, it’s always been an outlet for music and art. Zion has many meanings all around the globe but the one that stuck with us is the Japanese meaning, which is ‘Heaven on Earth’ and a passage I remember reading that inspired me a lot was “Only those of pure heart will find Zion.”  

It holds a lot of significance for everyone really but, it holds a very specific significance to me because at the time when I created ZIION, I was ready to end my life and ZIION kind of became something that saved my life. Once I decided I was going to create a band with a positive message it turned my life completely around. So much so that I got the word ‘Zion” tattoo’d on me in Japanese.

Your newest album Pure Heart was just released this past December…what has the response been like and what did this release personally mean for everyone in the band?

The response we’ve gotten has been very overwhelming! So many people I’ve never met all around the world are listening to this music I made because I was very upset, given the numbers aren’t anything compared to bigger artists but to us the numbers we’ve seen are more than we ever thought we would reach. It meant a lot to everyone in the band too because we’ve all poured so much heart and soul into what we do. Sacrificing so much to get a message out, and to see it make an impact, however small or large, is overwhelming.

Lyrically, it seems like there are some heavy topics discussed in these songs…can you explain what kinds of topics are explored on this album and where your inspiration came from?

The lyrics in this album are all very personal and each hold meaning to one of us very dearly. For me, “friends” held the most meaning, because for a majority of my life, I’ve had demons that sort of disguised themselves as my friends. Which is why there are quotes around the word, and the song sort of just explains what I’ve dealt with battling those demons. Another song, “Queen” was written about a very special person in our vocalist’s life who was diagnosed with cancer and sort of the complications that came with her sickness and eventual passing. So, all of our lyrics have come from personal experiences and that’s how we’ll always continue to write.

But, all of our lyrics are not negative. “Close” is about facing all your past mistakes and walking away from them; moving on and closing the chapter. We want all our listeners to know that while we discuss the negative topics in life that there are always things that make life beautiful and worth sticking around for. When there is a negative, there is always a positive; balance. And we want our lyrics to act as more of a support rather than a crutch.    

You guys also put out a music video for your song “friends” off of Pure Heart…what was that experience like and what made you decide that was the song you were going to shoot a video for?

The experience was wonderful! We worked with Zachariah Mayfield, he works with Mayfield Productions and also plays in THE SICKEST band called Earth Groans. He made the whole experience very comfortable, and made it easy for us to just be ourselves. We’ll probably be working with him a lot more in the future.

We decided to shoot a music video for “friends” because, collectively it’s our favorite song to play live. We knew we could have fun with it, and that’s what matters, right?

You guys also just wrapped up The Mountains & Valleys Tour, which was the band’s first time touring…what was that experience like for you guys?

BOOOY, that experience was both exhausting and just, incredible. I personally have never been to any of the cities we hit so I was really stoked on that. But, we had to take a pretty small vehicle so it wasn’t all that comfortable. But, getting to travel and play music with your best friends? I mean, there aren’t a whole lot of things better than that.

With a new album behind you and now some touring experience, what does the rest of 2017 look like for Ziion?

We’re playing a lot of crazy shows this summer, and maybe getting another tour or two before the new year? Releasing new music for sure though, be on the lookout for that.

Ziion released Pure Heart on December 4, 2016.

Check out my personal favorite track Close:

Ziion is (from left to right) Evan Ryan (drums), Nathan Groves (vocals), Rayallen Hoover III (bass), Marcus Woods (guitar)

Buy the album here, and like them on Facebook!

Thanks for reading!

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