An Interview with Josh LeMay of Citizen Zero

By Amanda Cosenza 

April 18, 2017

Citizen Zero, comprised of Josh LeMay (vocals), Sammy Boller (lead guitar), John Dudley (drums), and Sam Collins (bass), is the Detroit rock band who is giving a voice to the faceless citizen. Currently on tour, we had the chance to talk with Josh before their show in Pittsburgh. Read about the band’s life on the road, the lessons they have learned, how music helped them heal after the tragic passing of their original guitarist Matt Dudley, the meaning behind Josh’s “Fight to Love” tattoo, and what is next for the band.

Josh LeMay of Citizen Zero.

CLTure: You guys look like you have been really busy. How is the tour going? Do you have any favorite stops so far?

Josh LeMay: We are always busy. We’ve been busy since we started this but it has been a blast. This run with Steel Panther has been pretty crazy. Big rooms, tons of people. We’re about to play Pittsburgh tonight which is always one of our favorite spots. I am currently in Pittsburgh right now, we haven’t even played a note and it’s already crazy. There’s just something in the air up. Especially since it’s 75 degrees in mid-April, it’s something that we’re really not used to. It’s Friday night and we’re going to have a good time.

CLTure: What has your relationship with music been? Did you always know you wanted to be in a band?

JL: All four of us, our dad’s dad played music and we have all been involved since we were young. Growing up, kids dream about being all sorts of crazy things and we had a dream in common. All of us wanted to be musicians. It’s all we cared about.

CLTure: How has forming in Detroit affected your sound?

JL: Detroit is such a melting pot of great music. Being towards to the center of the country, you get influences from everywhere. With so many great bands coming out of Detroit over the years, you have to measure up somehow. Detroit also had laid claim to so many sounds, it’s definitely a place that shapes you as a musician.

CLTure: The group started when everyone was fairly young, what has it been like growing up together while playing music?

ML: It’s crazy, that’s the only way I know how to describe it. We have learned so much. We have played music from an incredibly young age, but when you become a touring group it all becomes real. Every move you make counts. Everything you do begins guiding in the direction you want to go. Everyday you’re learning something on the road. Whereas at home you could play music for five years and not learn what you learn in one week being a touring band. We’re in a good spot but we’re still learning.

Courtesy

CLTure: What is something recently that you’ve learned?

JL: Pack light! That’s one we learned the hard way. At first, you bring everything but you learn really quickly what you don’t need.

CLTure: When Matt passed away and you all decided to forge on, how has continuing been a healing process for you?

JL: I don’t think using music to heal is specific to us. Music is incredibly therapeutic. It’s amazing when we get a fan come up to us and will tell us a story about how a song we wrote got them something. It’s really what it’s all about. Especially when we perform live, it’s about connecting people in the room together. We want everybody to feel like they’re a part of it. I think for us, it’s that that got us through every hardship ever. It’s definitely our outlet, our therapy, and the single most important things in our lives.

 

CLTure: From what I have read, a lot of your songs, for example “Go (Let Me Save You),” have a lot of emotion and personal experience written in them. What is it like to perform something so personal live?

JL: I never really think about it. It’s something that we call “unconscious unknowing state.” I sing that song the same every single day. It’s every bit as important to me as when I wrote it as it is now. When I sing it live it’s coming from a real place. It’s cool to see that show up in the people’s faces. That’s one of those ones, specifically now the time that we’re living in, that one’s easy to get out there and feel since so many people have gravitated towards it.

CLTure: Are there any other songs that stand out when performing live?

JL: There’s definitely some songs that we never thought would be crowd pleasers that are. One the record, “Home” is one of our favorites to listen to but we didn’t really know how crazy people were going to go hearing it live. It’s one that really surprised us because every time we play it we get people in the room with hair standing up on their arms with nothing but smiles and hands in the air. It’s pretty awesome. It’s literally something I am never going to get used to.

CLTure: I read that you have the phrase “Fight to Love” tattooed on you- can you tell us a little more about what that phrase means to you and how it’s been a motto?

JL: We went through some crazy shit in the making this record. We learned a lot about the music industry really fast. It was one of those things where we had to continuously tell ourselves we got to do this because we don’t feel like we have an option. It’s something that we need to do. It’s not a want it’s need. You won’t feel complete ever if you don’t do this. So we had to fight through some absolute nonsense. We’re starting to get through it. We’re not even all the way through it but it made sense to wear that phrase forever. It’s true now whether you have a hardship right this second or a future hardship. I know once we pass this one there will be another one on deck. It’s one of those things I decided to put on myself to make sure you’re fighting through all the nonsense to do exactly what you want to do.

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CLTure: Then, on a lighter note, you found your guitarist Sammy on YouTube. What made you guys think to look there?

JL: Total accident. It was one hundred percent an accident, it just sort of happened. We were saying Detroit guitar players. It just happened to be a tool for us available. Back in the day we hear all the stories about bands who found members in the classified ads. That’s kind of what YouTube is for us now.

CLTure: What do you foresee is next?

JL: We want to get in and get another record recorded as fast as we can. We love being in the studio. We have been playing this songs for quite some time now. It’s one of those things where we’ve made it through this record state of mind. It reflects a time period but we’re ready to get in and make another one fired up then get right back on the road where we belong.

Citizen Zero will be opening up for Steel Panther at the Fillmore on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

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