I remember seeing them at Cornerstone on the “Liberate” tour. It was in one of the Encore tents in the middle of the day and it was like 110 degrees but it was awesome. Jesse Smith played sideways to the crowd and it sounded amazing. I remember that Russ Cogdell was just going absolutely insane, a mass of flailing arms, legs and a guitar. He would periodically scream into the pickups, you could totally tell that he was just in his own world with himself and the music.
I was able to book ZAO later at the WH on the “Self-Titled” tour. Dan had left the band for a while and a guy named Corey was singing. It was still great. Jesse asked me after the show how I would describe ZAO and after a second I came up with “what Pink Floyd would sound like if they were a metalcore band.” He seemed impressed and I hoped that the quote would some way make it into ZAO lore but that was pretty much the end of it.
We interviewed Scott and Marty at Cornerstone and I think it was one of the best interviews we have done. Anyone who knows anything about ZAO knows that they are no strangers to controversy and our interview was no exception, but I really think that they were just being honest about who they are and what they do. The best quote was when Scott said that when they were a “ministry band” that the money they made was not spent to feed the poor or anything but was spent just like any other money. “It went right into my pocket” he said. Wow.
On a side note it turns out that Scott is really into horror movies (as am I) and lives close to the Monroeville Mall where the original “Dawn of the Dead” was filmed.