“I do all I can to crash my ego. Is a very unhelpful aspect of human nature and makes you look like a bit of a cock.”
In 2008, with his rock band Spit Like This reached top 8 of UK charts. In 2018, his memoirs were n.3 on Amazon’s Best Selling Music Biography list. But these are just two of his scores. For a decade ran along with his partner Vikki Spit the offensive and challenging t-shirts and complements online company Smell Your Mum. More recently has written scripts for horror films, and had complemented his selling of nutritional supplements through Whatsupp by launching his own brand, Tank. Already breathless? He sells and buys antiques from a 400 year old house in Northern Apennines while feeding his animals and running his own alternative publishing company, Bad Press Ink, in which he’s to publish his new books. Should we bow now to Lord Zion? Let’s hear his story in his own words.
*This is the third time we have the pleasure to speak to you. The first time was ten years ago, when you were releasing the debut of the rock band Spit Like This. How different and how similar is the person we meet today to that one of ten years before?
Ten years? Jeez, Nora, way to make us all feel old 😉 I’m trying to think back to Zion circa 2008… I guess I was much less patient, quicker to temper and more egotistical. Less lines on my face, too.
Thankfully, since then, I have progressed as a human being and have learned patience, tollerance and to not let things bother me so much. As for my ego, I do all that I can to crush it as it is my belief that the ego is a very unhelpful aspect of human nature. It also makes you look like a bit of a cock.
*Spit Like This ran from 2008 to 2014. What did you learn in your musical experience in this band? Would you go back to music?
Slight correction for you: SPiT LiKE THiS ran from 2002-2014, quite a lengthy and triumphant journey! I had been in bands before hand and thought I knew it all. I KNEW NOTHING. Everything you thought being in a band was about you are pretty much wrong.
I had the best time and the worst time. Sometimes the stresses were unbelievable, but then they would be balanced out by the most incredible highs imaginable. I certainly learned a lot. If I could have taken all the knowledge I had in 2014 and zapped back to 2002 and given it to me – Back To The Future II style – we would have skipped a lot of crap and risen to the surface and beyond much, much faster. But that’s not how time works so I try to take everything that I learned and apply to situations today. It is surprising how often I can draw comparisons. There is a business I will talk about later that has a lot of correlations and my experiences are helping us navigate through those choppy waters.
As of right now, I would not go back to music. It all ended unexpectedly following a relocation and I spent a lot of time soul-searching wondering if I wanted to do band management, tour management, producing but quickly came to the conclusion that, nope, it was time to do new stuff.
Of course, if anything changed inside of me, I wouldn’t hesitate going back to music. Never say never.
The great thing about getting older is that you realise that no-one else has the right to dictate their desires onto you, or to criticise your lifestyle or choices. You just get on with what you do and leave the idiots foaming at the mouth.
*The band came linked to Smell Your Mum t-shirts company as you confessed helped you to fund the music. These days you are selling the company. What do you think you offered to the fashion market and, personally, what did it mean for you?
SMELLYOURMUM.COM was a stroke of genius, and I am not afraid to admit that. (Ego). When we started the band, we needed an income that would not take us away from music in the way that traditional jobs would, so we (me and my partner-in-crime, Vikki Spit) started the offensive T-shirt company. The great thing about it was, as well as it giving us money to fund the band, the people that bought the t-shirts were pretty much the same kinds of people that would like the band. There was a lot of natural cross pollination going on. I can’t pretend that what we did was that unique – we certainly weren’t the first people to release sweary t-shirts. I guess where we were different was that we did not hide behind anything, had an absolute no-compromise attitude and would not shy away from criticism. For instance, we had a lot of national newspaper press and were warned “not to cause widespread offense”, something we completely ignored and relished in.
Of course, all things must come to an end. SMELLYOURMUM.COM had served it’s purpose. It fed and clothed us when nothing else would or could. It helped pay for recordings, tours, tour buses, instruments and, toward the end, a feature film! But, for us, it had lost it’s appeal and fun.
I will never be anything other than enormously proud of it and what it helped achieve (and enormously grateful to anyone that ever bought a t-shirt), however, it was time to move along. We found the perfect buyer in Craig, who shared a stall with us at the Bulldog Bash biker festival, which is where we launched the company back in 2002. He promised to run the company in the same no-compromise way, so we couldn’t be happier. Craig has his own story, so go buy a t-shirt from him!
*Opposed to what’s expected in a musician, you speak your mind and live out of the spotlight, surrounded by animals. Did it ever bring you trouble to do things your way?
I thought it was a musicians’ job to speak his or her mind?! I don’t force my opinions on others, I just talk about things and try to let others know that it is OK to think for yourself and do what feels right.
So many people go through life living in fear of what others think of them. I cannot pretend I am not affected by negativity directed my way, but it would never stop me doing something I believed in. And, if people don’t like it, that is their problem, not mine. I simply will not tolerate internet trolls, bullying or abuse. One sniff of that and I follow my BLOCK and DELETE rule.
As for it getting me in trouble… endlessly! But it has been that way for just about the whole of my life, so I cannot imagine living any other way. The great thing about getting older is that you realise that no-one else has the right to dictate their desires onto you, or to criticise your lifestyle or choices. You just get on with what you do and leave the idiots foaming at the mouth.
*Related to the previous question, in the 18 th century Rousseau recommended to live in the country to find happiness. Do you agree with that? What have you learnt about yourself living there?
A bit of background. Up until 2014, I lived in a house underneath the Gatwick flightpath. Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world so, about every minute or so, a plane would fly overhead, interupting conversation and thought.
I lived there 11 years so, to move from that to a place in one of the more remote parts of England was a real game-changer. Our nearest big town with a supermarket is about 23 miles away. In the UK, that is a huge distance just to do your weekly shop! I live in a 400 year old house high up in the Northern Pennines, both an “Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and a “Dark Sky Area”. It is a real step back in time and the novelty still hasn’t worn off, four years later.
I have learned so much about myself since moving here. For a start, I learned that I could move away from my family and live at the opposite end of the country. Having a close relationship with my family, this was the hardest change. I have also learned to appreciate nature a lot more. For the first time in my life, I feel a part of nature, as opposed to apart from nature. It was always something I viewed at a distance, now I understand my role in it all. It is great for keeping the ego in check.
I was also made much more aware of the animals that get killed for our food. In the southern part of England, where I moved from, animals destined to slaughter tend to be driven to that location through the cover of night. When I was a southerner, I don’t recall ever seeing a big truck stuffed full of terrified sheep. Up here in the north, however, it is much more open and it is less avoidable. As a result of this, I switched to a plant-based diet about 18 months ago, something I could never have imagined doing in the past.
*Along with musical adventures you’ve also participated in cinema adventures. “Meet The Cadavers” it’s about a family of zombies that goes on vacation. How did you get into cinema? What can you tell us about this movie and the others you’ve worked in? Do you have any other projects on mind?
The band was invited to be in a horror comedy in 2012 called “Zombie Women Of Satan 2”. During down times on set, I was looking around thinking that a) it looked like a lot of fun and b) I saw no reason why I could not do this.
So I spent about six months reading every book I could find on screenwriting and filmmaking. Once I felt ready, I wrote my first screenplay called “Normalityville Horror 2084”. It took me about six months and gave me a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, I had written a two hour sci-fi thriller, so making it was out of the question. I had to go back to the drawing board.
Next up, Vikki and I were invited to participate in a horror anthology called “Blaze Of Gory”. For this, we flew out to Norway and had the most incredible adventure. Way too much to go into here, but you can read all about it in my book!
I wrote “Meet The Cadavers”, a horror comedy, as I figured it would be easier to make. I got David VG Davies (who directed us in “Blaze Of Gory”) to come on board and things got moving.
The film was shot during a very rainy October and November 2013. It was exhausting, very difficult and a lot of fun. Alas, since then, we have had editing problems which has meant that the film is still not finished. We will get there, though. eventually!
I did write a horror film called “Sleep” which I tried to find funding for at Cannes and have a comedy called “Nazi Fun Park” partly written. Seeing as that is a Nazi-based comedy based in North Korea, it probably won’t get too many takers. One for future Zion to make.
While working in Smell Your Mum -clothing company-we had a lot of national newspaper press and were warned “not to cause widespread offense”, something we completely ignored and relished in.
*You also have a nutrition and working out blog. In a world that’s so crazy and demands us to be perfect, do you think that a healthy life style helps us to exorcise our demons?
The nutrition and working out blog ended a long time ago. I accidentally deleted it all! I did start selling health and fitness supplements last year, however, through my company WhatSupp? I have always taken supplements so it seemed like a natural fit, whilst I worked out what I really wanted to do. It has been enormously successful, however, which is opening up other opportunities.
I am a firm believer in health, diet and fitness for wellbeing and longevity. I’m 46 years old and still have abs of steel, whereas most my age are slightly, um, rounder, shall we say?! It has helped me stay younger looking and more energetic than I might have been otherwise. I enjoy the mental challenge that comes along with healthy eating and exercising; I very rarely eat cheat foods and my gym is outside, so that is where you will find me come sun, rain or snow. That takes a bit of crazy dedication, I can tell you.
*Introducing your first book, you confess that you’ve always thought you wanted to be a rockstar but the closest you got to the goal, the unhappier you became, and that in 2014 everything went down the ladder and decided to write it down, as a theraphy. This resulted in an autobiography, “A Life Amid Crisis: If all we have is right now, what happens when you don’t know what to do with it?”. For you, how helpful was writting this book and for a reader what makes it unmissable?
It was immensely helpful. Like a lot of us, I have had a lot of depression and mental issues throughout my life, along with traumatic life events all of which played a part in shaping the person I am. To try to understand myself – after walking away from the only thing I ever wanted to do – I wanted to write down my thoughts and see how they connected with my past. Before I knew it, I had written a book. So I figured I’d release it.
Very pleased to say that it reached Number 3 on Amazon’s Best Selling Music Biography chart. That I was NOT expecting. The reviews have been very positive. You don’t have to have lived a life anything like mine to find a connection that makes sense to you. People from all walks of life have read it and gotten something out of it. I do not shy away from any topic and wear my heart on my sleeve. I literally turned myself inside out on the page.
*Now you are working on other books. What they are about and when will they be out?
Well, something that not too many people know about right now (as I’ve not yet announced it) is that I have started a publishing company with a couple that Vikki and I met about six months ago. He, too, is a published author and his wife is a proof reader and copy editor. The company – BAD PRESS INK – is an alternative publishing house. We will release my books and my business partner’s books, along with any others that we find which we think should be on someone’s bookshelf.
So the second book is a comedy loosely based around my life which will come out most likely early 2019. It is called “Now What?” and is very nearly complete.
*Your last project -that was launched in late August-are nutrition supplements called “Tank”. Would you like to introduce them to us? Which products does the range include and which needs do they cover? Will we become little Lord Zion after trying them?
TANK Incorporated is my own range of supplements. I always figured I would have my own range of supplements one day and, since WhatSupp? was going well, I could afford to do it and had the potential customer base to sell to.
I am starting small – just four products to begin with – and, if they go well, I will introduce more.
Current range is:
– M*A*D* Mutually Assured Destruction Thermo Fat Burner
– IGF Revolution Advanced Protein Powder
– Marching Powder Extreme Pump Pre-workout
– Vegan Revolution Protein Powder
Anyone interested can find them on Amazon and eBay.
As with anything I do, I aim to do my best and never settle for anything less. The products are excellent and offer great value for money. I always want to offer bang for your buck, whether it is doing a kick ass gig or producing a kick ass supplement!
I live in a 400 year old house high up in the Northern Pennines, both an “Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and a “Dark Sky Area”. It is a real step back in time and the novelty still hasn’t worn off, four years later. I have learned so much about myself since moving here.
*In your web you mention your passion for antiques and we’ve seen some of your pieces on Instagram. Which grab your eye and how will we know we are buying an authentic piece (and not a fake)?
I’ve always loved old, interesting items. I am especially drawn to great art and military items, along with anything I find unusual or quirky. It started from my own collecting and expanded from there. It’s great as I live in an ever-evolving and revolving museum, pretty much!
Authenticity is tricky, especially with militaria. Over time, you learn through your mistakes and get to know some of the tricks of the trade and the tell-tale signs to look out for. Of course, if anything bought anything from me that I sold as genuine and it turned out to be fake, I would refund immediately. I’m not into ripping people off.
*If we were to meet you back in 2028, what would we find?
Back in 2028? Has this interview been that long that we are ten years hence?!
And I have NO idea. That is the exciting thing about life. Who knows where any of my current ventures may take me? Who knows what other twists and turns life will throw my way? Who knows what other ideas I might come up with and want to explore?
I try not to think too far ahead. We only have RIGHT NOW so I tend to concentrate on that. Forget the past and don’t worry too much about the future. My long-term goal is simply to seek happiness and contentment, wherever it may lay.
*Make our readers lose their virginity about you.How would you encourage them to follow you?
My word, I’m not sure I would! And if this interview has not sold me to them, I don’t think any last minute plea would make a difference. So, all I will do is promote the shit out of my stuff below.
– I am on http://www.facebook.com/lordzion. Same handle on Instagram and Twitter.
– My website is http://www.lordzion.com – you can read a sample of my book there and read some blog posts.
– You can get my book here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Amid-Crisis-right-happens/dp/1535047364/
– If you buy supplements, visit http://www.whatsupp.shop
– If you want to find out more about TANK Incorporated, go to http://www.tank-inc.com
– The publishing company stuff is at http://www.badpress.ink (a work in progress, but budding writers can submit).
– If you are a buyer of vintage items and collectibles, the link you are after is http://www.quirkabilia.com
– There is a YouTube channel at http://www.zvtv.co.uk
– The trailer for “Meet The Cadavers” is at http://www.meetthecadavers.com (and, if you know an editor, point them my way!)
– Google “SPiT LiKE THiS” to find out about my previous life, watch videos, download music etc.
And I guess that is pretty much it!
Thanks for taking an interest 🙂