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Julian Fulton & the Zombie Gospel
saving us from doom
by: John McGovern - October 6, 2013


Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel are kind of what you want to hear out of a rock n roll band nowadays. There’s enough vintage energy in their music to make it classifiable as rock n’ roll, but not enough for it to sound derivative and boring. There’s an eery optimism lurking within the melodic, psyched out jams, a tension I find in a lot of my favorite music. Here, I talked to Julian about some of the band’s influences, their imagery, and what they would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Your live performances are a lot of fun. How important is it for you to put on a good live show and how would you compare it to recording a song in the studio?

Putting on a good live show is incredibly important to us. We’re constantly trying to grow and explore as performers. Comparatively, the experience of recording a song is nothing like the experience of performing it. You’re experiencing different emotions and have completely different mentalities. At least I do.

Any particular reason for naming the rest of the group the "Zombie Gospel"? A lot of times, it seems that the rest of the band (with an '& the' sort of thing) is given a more humorous name. But there seems to be a connection to the music somewhere in your classic rock influences.

‘The Zombie Gospel’ is a name that’s been floating in my head since I started making music around 14 or 15. It seemed mysterious and intense and, yes, rock & roll, which also went hand-in-hand with the music I was being exposed to at the time. I really just wanted to give everyone the sense that this was a pure, unfiltered, no bullshit rock & roll band. I also never knew what The Zombie Gospel was going to grow into, who would comprise the group, or really anything for that matter. So The Zombie Gospel has developed into more of an idea than a set band or roster, and the name needed to live up to that notion. That way, no matter what roster changes we underwent, I could keep this idea alive. Keep the wheel spinning.

The vocals in your music are the first aspect of it that really stood out for me, particularly the dueling voices. At times, it's reminiscent of old time duets. How important do you think the vocals are to your musical vision?

From an outside view, I think the vocals are pretty essential. It’s never been a conscious decision to focus on vocals or harmonies, though. It just became one of the definitive qualities our music all by itself. The music we listen to affects us all more than we ever know, so that’s pretty much what has happened. Growing up listening to music from the 60’s and 70’s has had a huge impact on my musicianship. Even bands like The Who (who most wouldn’t credit as being a harmony-filled band) put out records full of harmonies, from My Generation toQuadropehnia. It was a harmonic era – Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Byrds. It was unlikely that vocals wouldn’t be a focus of mine.

Despite the werewolf stickers and the darker subject matters of songs like "Junkie Song," a lot of the music is pretty upbeat. It seems like you're not into the sad sack, self-pitying stuff at all?

I actually love my fair share of sad sack, self-pitying stuff. It’s honest, and the last thing I want to listen to when I’m down is something upbeat. I’m actually finding it more and more difficult to relate to my earlier songs because they sound so upbeat. “Lie” was written when I was 14, so I was a completely different person and musician. Yet, at the core of the song, the subject matter is not upbeat. It may sound upbeat, but it’s not. Same for “Kiss The Sun.” And in actuality, the majority of my songs aren’t upbeat. It’s actually a running joke between the band and me. “Why don’t you write something that doesn’t make us want to kill ourselves?” is something that Kristine Donovan, my girlfriend and vocalist, would say. So I think people are going to start hearing the tone of our songs more accurately reflect the subject matter. But don't get me wrong, there are still positive vibes and messages to be had.

You guys are a Jersey band. Have you found it too difficult to break into the NY scene? It can be good for a band, I think, to develop their sound outside of the mania of the city.

Breaking into the New York scene is incredibly difficult. Any New York band will tell you that, I think. There are just so many bands trying to make it there, and a big fish will always stand out more in a little sea than an enormous ocean. Living down the Jersey Shore allows us a bit more space and freedom to develop our sound and a solid home-state following. So it can definitely be advantageous to develop your music outside of the city, but on the contrary, I don't think that any one scene or place, at least not nowadays, can help you break out on a national level. It's hard to break into any scene, and breaking into one scene is only the tip of the iceberg as far as getting your music heard by the masses and achieving any real success. The thing most beneficial, and the thing we hope to do a lot more of in the coming year, is to get out, travel, and spread our music around as much as possible. It's cool to be a big New Jersey band or New York band, but it's definitely way better to be a big American band.

You offer a Zombie Survival Kit, which includes a bunch of merch, on your Bandcamp page. So what's your plan in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, we'll probably add machetes and canned beans to that package. As far as we go personally, I have no idea. Everyone likes to pretend like they'd be Rick Grimes in the event of a real life zombie apocalypse, but I'm going to be more realistic and assume that we, as well as the majority of the population, would be unprepared for the terror to come and last maybe a week before turning into a zombie or becoming food. Our bassist, Russ Eia, will probably survive though, fighting off the undead with his beard and bare hands. Subsequently, he'll become the leader of the largest faction of survivor/cannibals in post-apocalyptic America. He will survive, but his soul will be as dead as the zombies he kills and the humans he eats.

"I actually love my fair share of sad sack, self-pitying stuff. It’s honest, and the last thing I want to listen to when I’m down is something upbeat. I’m actually finding it more and more difficult to relate to my earlier songs because they sound so upbeat."

Julian Fulton & the Zombie Gospel
"Heart & Arms"

what it is

Psych rock with hints of soul for those who like Thee Oh Seas, Tom Waits.