Localized: The Zissous
SLC punk is alive and well, and this month’s Localized Showcase Co-headliners MSKING and The Zissous—along with opener #1 Babe Team—are proof. See for yourself for just $5 at Urban Lounge on March 17 (doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m.). SLUG Localized is sponsored by Riso-Geist and Uinta Brewing.
The four members of The Zissous aren’t actually family, but they are united in their love for ’70s-era punk (and, obviously, Wes Anderson films). “[Our stage names are] also a nod to The Ramones, you know, how they all went by Johnny Ramone, Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone …” says Georgina, vocalist and bassist for The Zissous. And though Georgina, Casey, Rage and Greg Zissou have only been playing music together for a short time, they’re poised and ready to make a name for themselves in the local music scene.
“Since I was a kid, my dad’s taken me to all of the Wes Anderson movies,” Georgina says, one of them being The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou—though her favorite is actually The Royal Tenenbaums. The band name was easily confirmed by Casey, (instrument: drums, favorite Wes Anderson movie: Rushmore, also a part of the local band The Hung Ups), Georgina’s partner on stage and in life. “I’ve performed my whole life,” says Georgina, whose father owned a punk music venue while she was growing up in Wisconsin. “[Casey and I] do stand-up comedy, and I’ve always done theater and music. I tried learning guitar in middle school, but I wasn’t good. Then, during the pandemic in 2020, Casey bought me a bass for my birthday and taught me how to play.”
“I think writing stand-up material has definitely helped me with the lyric writing and brainstorming process.”
In February 2021, Georgina and Casey released their first EP as The Zissous—She-Devil, an energetic, five-track collection that doesn’t hold back. In it, the duo perfectly emulate the retro garage-punk from which they draw their influences, lacing heavy-handed bass and head-bopping guitar riffs with sassy lyrics like “Mama needs her cigarettes” and “If you’re so inclined / To be my valentine / Just gotta let you know / Best to let that dream go.”
For the songs on She-Devil, Casey wrote the music and handed it over to Georgina, who would go into their bedroom alone to figure out the melody and lyrics. “I think writing stand-up material has definitely helped me with the lyric writing and brainstorming process,” Georgina says. “I haven’t re-used any of my stand-up material in my lyrics yet … but maybe there’s some real opportunity for my bit on powdered wigs to be a song.”
Georgina also finds inspiration for lyrics from her five-year-old son, as with The Zissous’ unreleased track “Lost In Space,” which features an electronic organ Casey gifted Georgina for her last birthday. “I want to go where the humans go / I want to see what the humans see / Sometimes when you’re in outer space / You forget about the human race,” the lyrics say. Georgina explains, “Instead of referring to people as ‘people,’ my son calls them ‘humans.. Like, he’ll say, ‘There are a lot of humans here’ … as if he were an alien or something.”
Creating the She-Devil EP was “something to do during the pandemic, mostly,” Casey says. They recorded it all at home in their living room. And The Zissous’ audience was digging the tunes—“A lot of people said we were like The White Stripes from an alternate reality,” Georgina says. Though they liked being a duo, Georgina and Casey decided they wanted to play their songs live. For that, they needed more bandmates.
“We’re punk, but also we’re not committed to writing every song that way.”
Casey and Rage (who has made appearances in several local bands over the years and currently plays as a part of the hardcore project Suffocated) had been friends since high school, and Georgina met Greg through doing stand-up comedy. “All I did for the first year of COVID was play guitar by myself in my apartment,” Greg says, “So I figured it was a good way to get out.”
The three live shows The Zissous had played at the time of their interview had been received well, they say. They’d even been asked to write their latest single, “Get a clue,” for the local short film The Ladies Room. The Zissous are just finding their stride, and it’s a good time to be into punk. “You look at a band like The Linda Lindas, which is, you know, a little girl punk band. But they went viral just a while ago; people love them,” Georgina says. “It’s cool to see that even a little girl punk band can get really big right now.”
Looking forward to the future, The Zissous are working on a full-length album. Now that the songwriting process includes two new members, listeners can expect The Zissous’ sound to expand on the new record, as well. “For our full-length, we’re still going to have some of our same Ramones-style punk on our EP, but we’ve also been working on an old-school country song with Rage,” Georgina says.
Listeners can expect an amalgamation of genres on their forthcoming record, from punk to country to—potentially, if Greg gets his way—a robot rock opera. “We’re taking influence from Blondie, and I love The Monkees, so I really want to do a song heavily influenced by them. We’re punk, but also we’re not committed to writing every song that way,” Georgina says, adding in true punk fashion, “In the end, we are gonna do whatever we want.”