1. “We’re going to have so much fun tonight, I doubt we will even remember it. We’re gonna party like rockstars!!!”
2. “Did you see those guys? They went to 6 parties last night, came in trashed, and had 1 girl in each arm. I guess they partied like rockstars.”
by Annie W. May 11, 2007
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
Hunter S. Thompson.
I can’t think of a better person to quote as the lead into my interview with Tony Casa, singer, frontman, resident madman, and savior of the midnight hour. The last time I got to see Zoo Tripping perform.was at Hookahville fifty three or so? It was the fall and I was painting the mural on the VIP showers at Brushy Fork.
It was late. I was in the spirit world and just enjoying the solitude and paint fumes. My ears perked up as
I heard the beat of a drum,
I heard the roar of the crowd,
Try to picture the scene.put your ears to the wall,
And then like a distant scream
You can hear one one man’s voice,,It’ll blow you away.
You can see the stars in his eyes and the very next day
He bought a beat up mic stand at a second hand store,
He couldn’t dance but he knew for sure.
That he didn’t like pants..didn’t take long to understand,
That he could rip them off, they were break away pants
That one ball dangling. hung way down low…was a one way ticket only one way to go..
(click this link to sing along)
So he started rocking
He is never going to stop
Got to keep on rocking
Someday he’s going to make it to the top
And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
He’s a juke box hero
He took one guitar, (juke box hero, stars in his eyes)
Juke box hero, (juke box hero), he’ll come alive tonight, (stars in his eyes)
My ears recognized a special moment happening while much of Hookahville slept. I grabbed my weed, and other essentials and moved with a quickness not seen in a decade. I followed the sound to the Renegade stage (they could have just called it the zoo as Tony and his merry band of musical beasts owned the stage and sealed the deal for me as the most underrated band in the Ohio Festival scene. Of course I don’t know shit, nor do I talk much to people who do know shit.
The story was told to me that someone had canceled their late night set and that Hookah had put a call out and Zoo Trippin say “Put me in coach I’m ready to play.” I also heard that they had just played a long set at another festival or show somewhere. Like a 4 hour set.. That’s how legends are created. Partying like Motley Crue the day after court ordered rehab was over they arrived on scene and played for at least an 90 minutes..super impressive considering they didn’t start till damn near 3. At one point Tony stripped down to his skivvies, and started shaking his money maker while the band played an absolutely rippin version of Shakedown street. It was fucking fantastic. I was so thankful I stayed up to paint. I live streamed some of it. I think. I have to see if its still available but that was one of my favorite all time sets.
Zoo Trippin also has another top set for me. They played at MayDayz 2019 at Brushyfork. Their set was the first time I ever wanted to wear a silk shirt and overalls, the first time it seemed liek the snort moonshine and drink cocaine. Chirs Houser of the Werks joined their set and it was their first time ever on stage together and what came out was like Saturday Night Fever and grand ole opry had a kid and name him Hillbilly Disco. I have had no luck finding that set. Tony has always been quick to respond to me the couple times I have sent him messages. He is not only a bonafide rock star. He is a good man and Im looking forward to fall Hookahville where they get another shot. It rained long enough during spring Hookahville that their set got rained out. I was bummed. Im hopeful that before Fall hooka this year Ill be able to meet up with band to get an interview with each of them but until then Tony was kind enough to answer some questions for me so ther are.
RB- Did you always want be a singer?
- I knew I wanted to be a singer when I failed at stand up comedy. I had already sang in plays, choirs, freestyle rapping, etc. Bit what I really wanted to be is a stand up comedian. I did comedy for a few years and could never get that hang of it. So I started performing in a band as a singer bc I didn’t know how to play any instruments and I need to scratch my entertainer bug.
R.B. I love stand up comedy but I think you found your calling as a singer. Did it come natural to you or was it difficult.
- I absolutely was not naturally good. The only thing I’m natural at when it comes to being a singer is that I’m a storyteller. But I sucked at singing, and general performance. Terrible dancer all that. But I kept working at it like anything else. Now I think I’m pretty decent.
R.B.I have discovered that Im a storyteller as well.I love to weave elements of a story in my artwork.
Do you remember your first show?
- To be honest, I can’t remember where my first show was. Probably with The Pirates of the Scioto in one of my late band members parent’s back yard.
R.B. I can see you as a pirate channeling some Jack Sparrow. Who Inspires you.
- Who inspires me are the likes of Bill Murray, Jack White, Jim Carey, and Teddy Rosevelt.
R.B. I love those answers. The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mythical Man directed by Tommy Avallone is a great documentary. I have spoken with the director a couple of times and hope to pitch him a worthy story in my future.
I am wondering about how the band got its name and have you had any major life changing events while on hallucinogens.
- We used to eat acid and mushrooms and go to the Columbus Zoo. That’s where the name comes from. So I guess you could say that’s life changing. Also had a pretty deep sky trip one time that I learned a lot about my personal traumas.
The name makes perfect sense. I would love to talk more about the personal traumas and the use of psychedelics to treat trauma and other mental and emotional pain. I believe that you can do six months of therapy in a single session of psychedelics. I have seen people trying to mask their pain tripping and I tell them thats not how this works. Your pain will be brought front and center and force you to deal with it. Set and setting go along way to determining how useful those experiences are.
At Summer Pyro 2021 I saw the creator of the universe in my minds eye. He/She gave me all the love in the universe and show me how it felt to both give and receive unconditional love. That was life changing and continues to change me for the better.
- As for life changing live music shows, it was probably seeing Gogol Bordello for the first time or going to music fests for the first time. Really changed how I do life. Couldn’t believe I had waited that long to experience it.
R.B. I’ll be honest I have no idea who that is. So I’m taking a break to discover them.
Gogol Bordello is an American punk rock band from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, formed in 1999 by musicians from all over the world and known for theatrical stage shows and persistent touring. Much of the band’s sound is inspired by Romani music mixed with punk and dub, incorporating accordion and violin (and on some albums, saxophone).
The band has appeared in several popular films, most notably Everything Is Illuminated (2005) in which lead singer Eugene Hütz co-starred with Elijah Wood in a dramedy/adventure story about the Nazi purges in Ukraine. The group appears playing a brass band in a set that included the “Star-Spangled Banner” and the traditional Yiddish song “Bublitschki”. Gogol Bordello contributed the song “Start Wearing Purple” to the film’s score. The band is the focus of the 2008 documentary Gogol Bordello Non-Stop. The band recorded the song “Let’s Get Crazy” for Coca-Cola‘s Euro 2012 advertising campaign.
Live on KEXP below.
I love those guys and can see how a live performance could be life changing.
What would you do if you could be king for a day.
- If I were king for a day I’d stop this roe vs wade bullshit and make damn sure that women(and all people) have rights over their own bodies. It’s such bullshit what’s happening right now with the Supreme Court. They should be deeply ashamed and never sleep a wink again.
R.B To be honest I have turned the news off going on close to six months or so. I turn it on occasionally just to make sure the world is still turning. The political climate is so charged and people are ready to fight or disown family members over who they voted for. When I was growing up things weren’t so hostile. I don’t remember much about politics in the 70’s other than Jimmy Carter getting made fun of. The first major event I remember was the Iran Hostage stand off in the late 70s. Then Reagan x 2 terms The first Bush probably defined my early beliefs. My parents were evangelical and conservative but not a very political family. My parents were much more concerned with church than politics.I don’t identify with either party at this point. Much more of a libertarian but that doesn’t really define me either. The thing with labels is there is no nuance. Its too easy to find the things we disagree on when if we really looked we would see that we agree on more than we disagree on. But there is an ongoing operation to keep us divided and pointing the finger at each other rather than on our elected officials who should all be fired. They are at least guilty of accepting bribes from lobbyists. Calling it lobbying does not change it from being a bribe for future consideration on crucial votes.
R.B. Craziest road trip story and tell me one time you probably should have died but didn’t.
- Craziest road story I’ve ever heard is the time Bobaflex hit a guy in their tour bus and blew his leg off.
- Got hit by Bobaflexs tour bus and lost my leg. The doctors fixed it. I was brought in in time. Leg looked rotten and smelled terrible for a while. But now it’s all good.
Oh wow…I’m kind of speechless. I was supposed to sell some art at a Noise Auction\Bobaflex New Years bash in 2010 or 2011 but ended up getting the flu so bad I didn’t leave my bed for a couple of days. But I did get a nasty gram for Bobaflex for having some art with some imagery from their album. I had planned to show them and talk to them at the party. But never made it there.
I really appreciate you Tony. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I’m going to include links to your upcoming shows. Is there anything else you want to add before I publish it?