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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Paul Zone interview 2008

Paul Zone's underground
DC Larson

I owe Paul Zone a major apology. About 2 weeks ago, I arranged an interview with the singer/photographer. And he kept up his end of things, calling me and speaking for several minutes about his career and recent activities.

But before I could assemble it all into a time-sensitive blog entry, life got in the way (a new job, various other responsibilities). So, I am late in posting this. Better late than never, I can only hope...

I spoke with Paul by phone on a late July evening. His adopted city of L.A. had earlier suffered a 6.0 earthquake. "Right where we're going to move," the soft-spoken Zone laughed.

We compared weather stories. He'd heard news accounts of the flooding that had recently plagued my state of Iowa. It's tough all over.

He shared with me information about his now-underway photography showing at L.A.'s drkrm gallery. "Paul Zone - The New York Underground Scene 1972-1977" will run there until August 31. "It really focuses on the dark, uninspired days between Glam and Punk," he said.

Of Zone and his gallery showing, blog Art Star Press noted, "Back in the day, Paul Zone documented New York life, catching all sorts of superstars from Dee Dee Ramone to Debbie Harry, Divine, Iggy Pop, and the New York Dolls. Working as a photographer for Warhol’s Interview mag, Circus, and Rock Scene, Zone has managed to catalogue some superb scenes form the seventies."

In the 1970s and 80s, Paul was the lead voice for New York's Fast. That rock'n'roll street gang also boasted his brother guitarist/songwriter Miki (who'd co-founded Fast with singing and synthesizer-playing brother Armand).

They defied catagorization, spanning the Glam and Punk eras and interpreting both in their own inimitable way.

In the early 80s, Fast released two (now scarce) LPs, "The Fast For Sale" (Recca '80) and "Leather Boys From the Asphalt Jungle" (Recca '81). Both document Fast's amphetemine way with a fetching pop hook and Miki's tunecraft mastery and storming six-string prowess. Sadly, Miki never received the acclaim due him for those talents.

Songs to investigate include "Kids Just Wanna Dance," "Coney Island Chaos" and "It's Like Love" from the first, and "Jaguar In the Jungle," "Ride On the Wild Side" and "Ritual Sacrifice" from the second. (See videos of "Kids Just Wanna Dance" and "It's Like Love," as well as other Fast footage, on YouTube.)

Unfortunately, Fast's NYC fame never translated to big picture success. But vinyl collectors and scholars of those days know the Zone brothers's significance. (And it's an importance that endures, too. Listening today to vintage Fast recordings, one is at once struck by the material's rocketing soundness and knowledge that no contemporary band could -- or should even attempt to -- impressively cover it.)

Following their undersung triumphs as Fast, Paul and Miki relocated to Europe, finding new and heightened renown as dance club sensation Man 2 Man. (See "Hottest of the Hot" clip at youtube address, below.)

In 2008, Paul (now sadly, the lone survivor of the three Zone brothers) is recalling his singular pre-Fast efforts. He was on the NYC scene, snapping photos of celebs-to-be like the Ramones and Blondie, before the world had caught on to them.

According to its website (, the "drkrm gallery is an exhibition space dedicated to fine art and documentary photography, cutting edge and alternative photographic processes and the display and survey of popular cultural images." All Drkrm gallery events are free and open to the public. Prints of Paul's unique candid shots are available as posters, and prices are listed at the drkrm site.

He mentioned that the L.A. showing's opening attracted between 400 and 500 people, including the celebrities who have for decades been part of his scene.

He plans additional nationwide showings following the L.A. debut. And his photography can now also be viewed on YouTube:
("Paul Zone - The New York Underground Scene 1972-1977 @ drkrm.")

"I am in the process of doing a couple of book deals," he said, adding that he plans to continue with public showings before committing with a publisher.

During those pre-Fast years, besides attending countless shows and concerts with his camera ever at the ready (Paul saw Bowie debut his Ziggy Stardust character in a NY showcase concert), he also worked as photographer for journalist Lance Loud and assisted numerous NY bands as hairdresser and stylist.

He relates that Fast mini classics are today available on ITUNES, adding, "I think it's about time to get a new CD release" of the band's singular material. lists a Fast "Best of" that includes numerous non-LP tracks. But that reissue collection is old, and may be hard to locate.

So, reason exists for a new Fast compilation. And interest in the 1970s NYC scene is evident not only in the attendance seen at Paul's drkrm showing, but on the big screen, too. He says that Lion's Gate Films is doing a documentary on legendary NYC rock'n'roll club/subculture haunt Max's Kansas City. "They've interviewed a lot of people for it," he says.

Including, of course, himself.


*** ONLINE***:

"Paul Zone -- The New York Underground Scene 1972-1977 @ Drkrm"


Paul on MySpace

Fast page

Fast "Kids Just Wanna Dance"

Fast "It's Like Love"

"Best of the Fast"

Man 2 Man "Hottest of the Hot"

Armand Zone and Ozone

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