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INTERVIEW WITH RYAN STEVENSON OF ZOPP (25th May, 2024)

Updated: May 29

My first question was an obvious one: Why the name ZOPP? It turns out that it doesn’t have any explicit meaning, but seemed a good fit for the music. Ryan explained that Zopp has been a solo project for him since 2010. Drummer Andrea Moneta was the first music he recruited and Ryan played the other instruments. The current line-up was assembled last summer and the band’s first gig was in November, 2023.

 

When asked about his main motivation, Ryan said that this stems from “hearing an album in my head that doesn’t currently exist” and listening to it “almost like a fan”. Ryan revealed that there are currently two Zopp studio albums: an eponymous debut on Bad Elephant Music in 2020 and “Dominion” in 2023 on Flat Circle. There is a third in progress entitled “Bizarro”, which is still in the Canterbury prog rock style. Ryan is thinking ahead as he has what he describes as a darker album called “Zohmm” also in mind.

 

With the foreknowledge that Zopp had already played in Glasgow in December, 2023 I asked about opportunities to play live, and it turns out that Edinburgh was their seventh, mostly invitations to play at festivals including at the Crescendo Festival in France in August. Some information, this is an annual event and this year’s acts include SPACE DEBRIS, TRYO, ENNEADE, ASIA MINOR and MINIMUM VITAL. (The first two I have reviewed on this website).

 

I had to ask Ryan about the EGG influence. He told me that Egg was one of the first bands he got into. He says that people compare Zopp to CARAVAN (personally I don’t really get that and neither does he!) SOFT MACHINE is another influence. He does stress that Zopp is “not a tribute act or a museum band” (Don’t worry- we don’t think you are!); it’s more a case of “trying to synthesise a lot of different influences into something that I want to listen to myself.” This incorporates the sound of fuzz organ and bass and “interesting melodies and unusual time signatures”, a common factor as he points out in Canterbury groups.

 

I also asked Ryan about the process of writing and recording. Ryan describes this as a very gradual one and that he is “not interested in making an album quickly” (We remember the pressure groups were under by record companies in the 60s and 70s to produce so many albums in a relatively short period of time). He says he has been working on one song for four years! Ryan also revealed he is particularly pleased with ‘Toxicity’ from “Dominion”.

 

Phil Howitt’s name came up in the conversation (Facelift magazine) and his review of Fopp’s live at the Sumac Centre album, and our mutual affection for KHAN’s “Space Shanty”. Ryan also made special mention of the first SOFT MACHINE album and THIRD, “an important album”.

 

Finally, I had to ask Ryan how he came in contact with the Edinburgh gig’s promoter Andrew Naylor. Apparently, they met at “Prog Before Christmas” in Glasgow in December, 2023. Kudos to Andrew for Ryan’s compliment: “Andrew did a great job promoting the gig; people like him are so important for bands like Zopp to reach more people and to break even after a show.”

 

Zopp’s music can be checked out on BANDCAMP (link on this site) and, for merchandise go Flatcirclerecords.bigcartel.com

 

NB I plan to send a fuller version of this interview and review of the gig and of Zopp’s music to Thierry Sportouche for consideration for inclusion in the Autumn edition of ACID DRAGON.

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Guest
May 30

Best prog band around these days!

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