CONJOB is a six-piece band that fuses rock, hip-hop, and reggae. Last year, the band won $10,000 at the 6th Annual Run, Walk, and Roll. At the Yard House in Irvine, lead singer Zhanine discussed the history and influences of the band.
On your website you mention how Warbux came into the band. Take me back to that night on South Padre Island when the segment came on.
Did you see the segment?
I didn’t see the segment. I read about it though. What was the general reaction?
When I slipped? We had this guy come along and he wanted to videotape our tour. It was our first tour. We were stoked. We played our first night there and we all did an interview with this guy individually, after the show. It was our first show with Bux. Not our first show, but it was our first tour and he came along. We played the show and the guy (the videographer) was like “How was it performing with Bux?” I’m like, “I’ve known that guy for so long and he’s been stringing us along. I don’t know how after that show he’s not going to want to be on full-time. Don’t tell him,” and I say this to the camera. “We’re going to push for him big-time. He will be joining us after this trip. He will be ours.” I didn’t even think twice about it. Two nights later, we’ve played two shows and we’re all in a room, plus a couple of the guys brought their ladies along. They’re like, “Let’s watch the interview.” Kevin comes up and he’s making fun of me. Pretty much the basis of our relationships in the band is all based on talking crap on one another. And I win. Me and Kevin battle and I have to say I win most of the time. So it gets to mine and I have completely forgotten what I said. It comes on and Kevin looks at me like, “What? What are you saying?” Bux was standing right there and he said, “That’s how secrets get kept.” It ended up being a good thing and Kevin said I wasn’t able to talk to anybody anymore. We had a whole plan and I blew it all in that moment. I just said, “Seriously, you’re not gonna come be with us? After all that, you’re not gonna come be with us?”
It worked out pretty well, I guess.
I’ve known Bux for ten, twelve years. We wrote "Miss Summertime" together back then with my brother. I’ve known him throughout my different bands, I’ve been in a few. Every once in a while I’d invite him up to jump in on a song, but this one just worked. It did work out despite my flub. Kevin had a talk with me later. He was really concerned, like I had blown it. Sucker.
That’ll teach him.
I know what I’m doing. Trust me.
It’s all an intricate plan.
Absolutely. I didn’t even know that was up anywhere. Maybe I should read what’s on our site.
It’s on the main site.
The CONJOB music. I haven’t been to that site in…you know, with MySpace, people just hit that up. I always just go to MySpace. That’s still up, huh? Cool! I wonder if it’s current.
It has news from two thousand seven, which I’ll get to in a bit. Listening to your music, there are a lot of influences. How did a group with such varied influences come together?
Through Craigslist. The influences seem to all, when we get in the room and start to write, it starts to melt together. I can’t explain it. I’m a blues girl. Truthfully, I wish I could sing more soul. And they keep veering me away from that. “It sounds too soul. It sounds too bluesy.” Let me belt it out once. Watch what I can do. The influences are all infused into one thing, into what we do. It doesn’t create any sort of frustrations within the band. You’d think it might. I think that we all come together, we get in the room, we lay it down. And then everyone has an idea about try this, try that. Even if you’re a singer and you don’t play bass, you have an idea. The thing that’s great about this band that I haven’t seen and I’ve been in a few, is the willingness to step outside yourself and be open to someone else’s suggestion. It’s completely evident when you walk into the room.
I haven’t seen an argument over, “I’m not doing that. I won’t do that.” It’s never been like that. While we all come from different backgrounds and we all bring our influences to the table, we all listen to one another. It helps us to stay open. Hubie our new guitarist, he’ll tell you he was really concerned about the writing process where he came from. He’s real folky, John Mayer, pop, adult contemporary. We were more like rock and party vibe with the reggae. Never played reggae, never played rock. He’s doing it. Now we have his influence. This next album will be more adult contemporary, pop, with still that reggae/rock undertone. It’s still pretty cool. We all come from different places but because we respect each other so much, it really hasn’t become a hindrance, or caused any problems. Usually it does, I know for a fact. I think that has a lot to say about our friendships.
I know it sounds lame to say, but you know how No Doubt and those guys are all super-cool and tight and like family? That’s us. Completely. More friends than anything else. With six people you’d think it would be a pain in the ass. Sometimes it has been. On the whole, there’s a lot of respect and a lot of love. I think that’s what really helps in the writing process. We’re hoping that because we can do that we can come up with a different sound. Make it our own, but it’s still commercial. You never know.
It’s kind of hard to compare you guys to any band out there.
Which can be a downfall too. Because everyone is trying to place you somewhere and we have that in the back of our heads. We know we need to be placed somewhere. Let’s make it cool enough that we’re still true to ourselves, but know that if we want to sell records, it’s got to be somewhat commercial and it’s gotta be hooky. I think we’ve really become strong with the hooks.
That actually leads right into my next question.
I knew that.
You get to create your own “file-under” category for a record store. What is it?
Hip-rock-reggae, that’s what we want to call it. Hip-rock-reggae. When people ask us to describe ourselves, that’s what we say. Rock n roll, with the hip-hop element that Bux brings. Then obviously, we all love reggae. That’s the one thing we have in common. Maybe that’s what brings it together. We all love Sublime, old No Doubt, Bob Marley, Damian Marley, Eek-a-Mouse. Those types of influences. What was the question? (laughs)
You answered it. It was create your own file-under category. Hip-rock-reggae works for me.
That would be it. Hip-rock-reggae, that’ll be CONJOB.
I can’t imagine that section would be too full.
Hopefully not. It could mean that everyone’s ready for it, something new. Something more live. Real quick side note. I took my best friend out for her birthday last night to this bar. They were playing great old-school dance music, Mary Jane Girls, Sugar Hill Gang. Old-school hip-hop and R and B. We were in the bathroom like “This DJ is dope. He played killer music.” We were so stoked and this little girl came in and she’s like “What the hell is this guy playing? I never even heard any of these songs.” We walked out and he switched the beat to Britney Spears. I kid you not, the place went crazy! I think that it is the worst song I ever heard, that “Gimme More.” (sings some of the lyrics) First of all, where’s her voice? There’s nothing live to it. Kudos to the programmers and engineers. They made a great record. She didn’t. She just kinda laid down the vocal track and they messed around with it. To me, it would be great to have that live element so it’s not so produced and engineered. That’s what I love about our producer. He loves to use loops and sounds and stuff, but it’s all us. It’s all live. He really makes it popular sounding. I love hearing a great guitar riff. When is the last time you heard a guitar solo in a song that’s on the radio, not XM Radio? That’s what our intention is, to bring back really good live music. Throw some guitar solos into a pop song, make it cool. See what happens. Hopefully, it gets picked up.
I’d say it’s worked pretty well so far.
We’ve got interest, so that’s the important thing.
Checking out the CONJOB music site, last year was a pretty good year for the band.
Yeah, it was a growing year. We gained some experience. We went on tour. We got our solid lineup.
What was the most gratifying thing for you that happened to the band last year?
The success of the record. I know it didn’t get picked up by a major, but there’s some definite interest. We got to play some great shows. When I talk about the success of the record, people loved it. People love the record. It makes you feel good. That’s why we named it Everybody Be Cool. Just be cool. It’s a summertime feel-good record. We set out to make you feel good on that record, and it worked. We accomplished what we set out to do. It got us into some really cool festivals and we did well at those festivals. We got into some really good competitions. We won ten thousand dollars at this benefit for family members with disabilities. We won ten grand? Even as second place was called and we were the only band left, we’re all sitting there, looking around like, “Did they forget us? There’s no way we’re winning ten thousand dollars this morning.” It was nine o’clock on a Sunday morning. There’s no way we’re winning. By noon, we were beyond drunk. It was greatness. None of us really drink too much if you can imagine, so for us it was a couple of shots and we were feeling good for a couple of hours. That record opened a lot of doors, and what it’s done is it’s created interest in this next record. We have some label, a couple of labels, wanting to get their hands on this next record. They literally have said, “I’m interested to see where you guys go.” So with this next record, we know we can’t stay the same. We have to grow. We’re growing and our guitar player has helped that along the way. The success of the record in general is what allowed us to do the things that we did last year. The whole process, from recording it to promoting it to playing it. Our CD release party was insane. I’ve never played a party that huge before. The reception that record’s received is pretty nice for someone like me, who’s been doing it for quite a while.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
(pauses while sipping her drink) Let me just keep sipping. I have always done music, man. A lot of us are at the point where we’ve been doing this for a little bit and if this next record doesn’t do it, we’re like, “Do we want to keep going this hard? When will you stop?” I happened to write something the other day. I just wrote a line that said, “When the music ends, what will I be?” I just stared at it for a while. A couple days later, I wrote down, “I don’t think it will ever end. The music is in me.” The deal is, I’m a musician. I don’t even have an answer. Even if and when CONJOB stops, and I’m not working with these guys, I will pick up my guitar, and I talk about this all the time. I’ll be forty-five, fifty (leans over the recorder) still looking GOOD, opening for some blues artist at The Coach House or something. I will do open mic nights with just me and my guitar. I’ve done this since I was four. That’s the only answer I have is that there’s no way to answer that because I am a musician. That’s that.
What I’d like to do if I couldn’t be a musician. I would love to be some sort of painter, or do something with art. But the problem there is that even my stick figures suck. It’s like a two-year-old. When you go to a party and you play Pictionary, nobody ever picks me. Nobody ever wants me to be their frickin’ partner. I can show you now on a napkin how shitty I am. What’s funny is that I come from a family of artists that work with their hands: carpenters, painters, cartoonists. I didn’t get any of that shit. Swear to God. I would love to do that. It’s amazing to me what the eyes see. That’d be cool, but that’s not gonna happen because I suck. That’s why it was so hard for me to answer. I’ve just been doing it too long. My daddy did it. He was a professional, signed to a label. Took me with him in an old van across the country. So I got the bug early. It’s stuck with me ever since.
For more information about CONJOB, visit http://conjobmusic.com or http://www.myspace.com/conjob.