Playing birthday shows for kids may be a great way to meet hot moms and start a new prepubescent fan base, but get a record deal? Seems a bit far fetched if you ask me, but Z02 members Joey Cassata and brothers Paulie and David Zablidowsky (otherwise known as Joey, Paulie Z, and David Z) have been doing pretty well by this formula. On their hit Independent Film Channel [IFC] show called Z Rock the trio play a rock band that performs at local birthday gigs around New York City during the daytime hours while rocking out to packed clubs at night. What makes this show so unique is that it’s based off Z02’s real life situation. During a birthday gig one of the fathers, who worked for the William Morris Talent Agency, decided to give them their own show. With a lot of help from Lynn Lendway and Bob Held, a.k.a. People Behind The Curtains, Z02 found their way into the homes of millions, as well as opening for such high profile acts as Poison and their childhood heroes, Kiss.
On their most recent album, Casino Logic Z02 displays the pulverizing rock sound that usually comes out when the kiddies go night night. Fast paced biker anthems like “Red Line Highway” and “Painted Lady” are straight out of the Sons of Anarchy playbook while “Stronger” shows that despite his big afro and Steve Tyler-esqe raspy voice Paulie Z has had his heart broken somewhere down the road. Lyrics like “Now I’m stronger and unbroken/I don’t need you anymore/When you left me I was cryin’/Now I’m stronger than before” proves that this band is not just a crappy pop band with a good producer – they have real songwriters like Lynn Lendway and Bob Held who know how to translate emotion that all men can relate to. Another example of clever wordplay resides in the song “Money Talks,” a social commentary working as a hard-edged plight of the poor. “Checked my balance such a joke/I’m just saving up to be broke/An income refugee/I ain’t got no equity” is completely relevant to musicians in this day and age, but beyond witty quips lies the album’s meaty sonic blitzkrieg. Bassist David Z got his chops performing with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and it shows on the thumping backdrop of songs like “Hero” and ‘Im Alive,” but it’s Joey Cassata’s pounding drum work throughout every track that makes Casino Logic an exclamation mark on the tip of the rock industry’s Gene Simmons-esqe tongue. Before joining Z02 back in 2002 Joey was a drummer for the Blue Man Group, and smacking the shit out of those PVC pipes must have had some profound effect on his playing because pumping energy he floods you with on “All In” make you want to raid the closest Sam Ash for that new drum kit.
Even more impressive than the punishment Joey puts on his drums in the studio is how he channels the great Neil Peart during live concerts when Z02 performs a cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” With David Z doing his best Geddy Lee impersonation Z02 mesmerizes the audience with their captivating stage presence. The sheer power of Paulie Z’s voice on stage can only be measured on a Rock Legend scale: somewhere between The Who’s Roger Daltery and Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler. Z02 may be the life of you teenager’s birthday party during the day, but at night and in the studio this trio bangs out rock music with the best of them. When people tell musicians not to quit their day job it takes on a whole new meaning when discussing the sonic mayhem produced by Paulie Z, David Z, and Joey Cassata. If you don’t believe me than check out the video for their latest single, “No Way Out,” a satirical short done in complete Z Rock fashion with special guest John Popper of Blues Traveler as the harmonica wielding sheriff. Z02 is the kind of band that Beavis and Butthead would be wearing on their shirts as they ripped music videos from Kanye West and Katy Perry, and Casino Logic is a definite thumbs up on the band’s musical resume. One day some kid is going to turn on the T.V. and see these guys winning awards and say to themselves, “those guys played my birthday party, rock on!”