Moncton’s Zaum Finds Success Overseas

Photo by Jan Oberg

Typically when a band gets together, they cut their teeth in their hometown for months, if not years before they look to perform in other cities. It would be relatively safe to assume that there aren’t a lot of Moncton-based acts that have played outside of the city more than they have performed in their hometown.

Then again, just about all aspects concerning the career of Moncton-based group Zaum has unfolded in a rather unconventional way. Never mind the fact that of the approximate 200 shows the group has played in the last three years, only six have taken place in Moncton.

Formed in 2013, the duo that comprises the group – bassist/vocalist Kyle McDonald and drummer Chris Lewis – were brought together by a mutual love of slow, atmospheric heavy metal, but with the unique twist of Middle Eastern and world music thrown into the mix.

The group spent their formative months tucked away in the recording studio, crafting and refining the four-songs that would go onto comprise their debut effort Oracles, released via Swedish label I Hate Records in June 2014.

This past fall, coinciding with the release of Zaum’s sophomore effort Eidolon, the group completed its fourth tour of Europe, performing 26 shows throughout 12 countries including the Netherlands, Romania, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland and Switzerland, among others.

While Moncton will forever remain the band’s hometown, McDonald says bringing Zaum’s music to audiences overseas just happens to make the most sense at this point in their career.

“Simply put, Europe tends to be more open-minded when it comes to music,” McDonald states. “Generally speaking, Europeans have a drive and desire to discover new music and tend to be rather enthusiastic about spreading the word with respect to music they are listening to.”

According to McDonald, one of the most significant differences that encourages the group to continue touring Europe is the attention to detail and care that promoters put into ensuring its artists are taken care of.

“Compared to North America, there is an abundance of respect afforded to musicians and artists by European promoters. They are genuinely concerned about your well-being and experience while you’re with them.”

When it came to the making of Eidolon, McDonald shares the group stuck by its ethos of not wanting to overthink the writing or recording process too significantly as it believes their best work comes from following their instincts.

“Once the initial foundation of the recording was laid down, I spent approximately six months writing and recording the remainder of the material. The most significant difference with this record is that we expanded the recording process beyond Chris and me, recruiting some friends to contribute textural instrumentation to the songs.”

Among those who made contributions to the making of Eidolon were Les Hay Babies member Julie Aubé, Marc Theriault and Abysseral Throne’s Matt LeBlanc, who respectively added the unique sonic textures of Latin chant, bamboo flute and cello to the record.

Given Zaum’s ever-widening fanbase overseas, McDonald notes he is proud of the headway the group is making closer to home, including this past October when the band was awarded the Loud Artist of the Year prize at the Music New Brunswick Awards.

Zaum intends to spend the winter months close to home before embarking on yet another European tour in the spring.

Zaum’s Eidolon is available for purchase at Spin It Records (467 Main St., Moncton), Frank’s Music (245 Carson Dr., Moncton) and online at zaum.bandcamp.com.