ZO2: conquering Chicopee, then the world

(left to right) Paulie Z, Joey Cassata and David Z make up ZO2, a hard rock band poised for superstardom. What does ZO2 mean? "Clearly, it's the formula for rock n' roll," the group's Web site stated. Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

BROOKLYN, N.Y. Paulie, David and Joey are three Brooklyn boys with big dreams. Together, they form ZO2, a hard rock band ready to step into the limelight. The group will be playing Maximum Capacity in Chicopee on March 22 just one stop on their way to superstardom.

Things have been going great for the members of ZO2. David Z, the bass player, serves double duty as the bassist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and drummer Joey Cassata is part of the Blue Man Group. Paulie Z, David's brother and guitarist for the group, has been featured as a vocalist on many of Howard Stern's infamous song parodies and created New York City's ZO2's Rock Asylum.

But wait, there's more.

Weeks after they released their first independent album, "Tuesday & Thursdays," they were invited to open for Poison and KISS every night during a 40-date national tour.

"Touring is pretty grueling, but you fall in love with it," David said. "Once you're off the road, you miss it."

"A lot of performers say it's 23 hours of torture for one hour of paradise, and it's true," Paulie added. "It's physical, emotional labor, but you only have one goal every day. People with everyday jobs have so many things to juggle. This job leaves us very focused."

"It pays off every night," Cassata stated.

ZO2 is still "vanning it up," according to Cassata, but they're on their "second level of vandom." He said they hope to have a bus soon.

The group put 20,000 miles on their vehicle during that tour with Poison and KISS. The first date of the tour was in San Antonio, Texas, and they drove there directly from Brooklyn, a 40-hour drive.

"Playing with KISS was a dream come true," David said. He said the legendary group is a favorite of all three band members.

"On day one of that tour with Poison, [front man] Bret Michaels came out to talk to us while we were setting up," David said. "He made a new band feel welcome."

"The big acts we've played with have been super nice," Cassata noted.

Apparently Michaels made a really big impression on the group, since they cancelled a show at Maximum Capacity last month to open for him in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. They rescheduled the Chicopee show, however.

"I think Maximum Capacity gave us our first Massachusetts show," Paulie said. "It always sucks to cancel a show, but we do what we can. As we get bigger we get more opportunities and have to juggle things. Our momentum is starting to happen."

He added that ZO2 is already booked through June of this year and some of those shows may need to be cancelled or rescheduled if bigger things come up.

"Most club owners have been pretty cool about it [rearranging the shows]," Paulie said.

ZO2's members tout themselves as performers of rock n' roll. What is real rock 'n' roll, though?

"When you really play it from the heart, that's rock 'n' roll," Paulie said. "We've all had an upbringing in classic rock 'n' roll we just bring a swagger to the way we do things."

"The live performance dictates rock 'n' roll," Cassata added. "It's about the stage show. You don't see as many rock groups today doing what Van Halen and Aerosmith did."

Paulie said those who attend the group's gig at Maximum Capacity should expect a killer rock show. "We take pride first and foremost in our live show," he stated.

Release a popular debut album? Check. Tour with rock legends? Check. Travel and perform to support the sophomore album ("Ain't It Beautiful")? Check. What else can ZO2 do?

The group spoke with Reminder Publications from a strip club in Brooklyn during a few free minutes between filming scenes for their Independent Film Channel (IFC) series "ZO2."

That's right. They're conquering the world of film at the same time they're beginning their domination of the world of rock 'n' roll.

"ZO2" is a loosely scripted improvisational half-hour comedy that will be shown on IFC. The show follows one band with a dual identity: a real-life heavy metal rock band by night (ZO2) that also moonlights as a kids' birthday band by day ("Z Brothers"). The series is based on the real stories of the band's three rockers and the dual lives they lead, according to a release from Rainbow Media.

The ZO2 star has just begun to shine. Catch them now at Maximum Capacity before you have to start buying seats in the nosebleed section of big-city arenas.

ZO2 will be at Maximum Capacity, 116 School St. in Chicopee, on March 22. The show will start at 9 p.m. For tickets or more information visit www.myspace.com/maximumcapacity.

For more information on the band, visit their Web site at www.zo2.com.