Jett (vocals, keyboards, bass)
Pete Capizzi (guitar, background vocals)
Joe Pettinato (guitar)
Change is one of the most difficult things to embrace in life. Change implies a loss of the usual, the normal, the comfortable, the expected. Change is uncertain and frightening. But for Chicago's FROM ZERO, change is growth, and it's natural and necessary and it's ultimately inevitable and redemptive.
The band, who released the aggro, heavy-with-melody, debut One Nation Under in 2001, after building up a following in its notoriously tough home-town, has evolved into a different, more striking entity on its sophomore stunner, MY SO-CALLED LIFE.
MY SO-CALLED LIFE represents FROM ZERO rebounding. They absorbed their disappointments and became stronger, making a better record in the process. Whereas One Nation Under rebelled, MY SO-CALLED LIFE, according to the band, focuses on the important things in life: what could have been, what should be, and moments of triumph. The band admits that yes, it is okay to start from zero. Pun intended.
Singer/lyricist Jett admits, ''The album is about the personal disappointments and new challenges in my life, like being a father. The album is about everything that occurred in 2001 and 2002. Yeah, this is my so-called life! Here it is. It isn't always glamorous, but it's all I've got.''
FROM ZERO's attitude isn't the only thing that has changed in between One Nation Under and MY SO-CALLED LIFE. ''One Nation Under was much more aggro, but with MY SO-CALLED LIFE, we didn't want to be pigeonholed,'' admits Jett. ''You can't be mad every day of your life. It's not hate, hate, hate every day. There are plenty of bands that do that already. This album is a natural progression. We are writing the music that is in us.'' Guitarist Joe Pettinato interjects, ''We locked ourselves in a room, writing and playing what we were feeling.''
With that in mind, FROM ZERO set out to make the most natural, most honest record that it could. Sonically, there is a marked difference between the two albums, with MY SO-CALLED LIFE adhering to a more straight forwardly rock sound, one that remains a platform for Jett's standout, clean vocals. Whereas many rock bands bitch, moan, ''hate their dads,'' and scream their heads off, FROM ZERO exorcises its emotions through its mellower tunes like ''Sold Out'' and ''Lines.'' But that's not to suggest that FROM ZERO has drained its sound of heaviness; in fact, the melodic moments allow the hard-edged jams, such as the cover of Phil Collins' ''I Don't Care Anymore'' and ''Time Of Day'' to stand out even more and give MY SO-CALLED LIFE a diverse personality.
The band locked itself away for a couple of months, and emerged with songs. They met with producer, Warren Riker, who hasn't produced many rock or metal acts, but has won Grammys for his work with neo-soul acts like The Fugees and Lauryn Hill. Joe says, ''After one day, we knew what we were going for, so it clicked and we went with him.''
With Riker in tow, the band retreated to Morning View Studios in Malibu, California. Over a two-month period, MY SO-CALLED LIFE was born. The band considers this to be a true FROM ZERO release, in that it was a collaborative effort, where everyone contributes to the final product in many ways. In the wake of bassist Rob Ruccia's departure, Jett, who learned to play stand up bass from his grandfather who performed with big bands, plays all the bass tracks on the record, although a touring bassist will join the band on the road.
Lyrically, Jett maintains that a theme of perseverance runs throughout. ''Sometimes, it's not so glamorous being, or trying to be, a rock star. There are a lot of ups and downs and I feel this album is personal, and I hope it's not too personal for people.'' Pettinato finishes, ''There is a universal appeal, and anyone in any field can relate to it.''
''The first single 'Sorry' was a letter I had written to my wife,'' explains Jett. ''The portions that I am speaking are actual parts from the letter, and I wanted to convey it correctly, and say it like I would be saying it to someone, to impart the sarcasm.''
The song ''Struggle'' is Jett's ode to his daughter, and what being a father has taught him. ''Having a child really changed my outlook on things,'' Jett admits. ''I love her so much that it's hard to hate things in life. I have learned a different level of love that people won't experience till they have their own child. It's unconditional and it takes control, and you learn compassion and understanding towards human beings. It changed me as well as the lyrical content and musical side of things.''
FROM ZERO maintains a close bond with its fans. The band cultivated an audience from touring with the likes of NOTHINGFACE, AMEN, NICKELBACK, DISTURBED, and others, in support of One Nation Under. ''We remain heavy music fans,'' exclaims Jett. ''But we're taking a side street and we'll never make the same record twice.'' FROM ZERO beams over MY SO-CALLED LIFE like a parent over its child, and the band is anxious to get on the road and bring the new material to the fans, both old and new. MY SO-CALLED LIFE is another chapter in the constantly evolving FROM ZERO story.
''From writing to recording to our image, we did everything how we wanted to do it,'' Jett concludes. ''We know what we like. We got ourselves in this situation in the first place and we're from the streets.'' In the end, FROM ZERO is genuine, and that is something the kids who are out there buying records can detect with pinpoint precision. They know when it is from the heart and when it is manufactured, and they know the former is the case with FROM ZERO.