ON THE ROAD WITH BRAND OF JULEZ
On The Road With Brand of Julez
By Kristin Welcome
“Where ever you go, go with all your heart,” Confucius wrote that, thousands of years ago, and though Eastern philosophy has little to directly do with Rock N’ Roll, the message has everything to do with Rock N’ Roll, in terms of what separates the good from the great. Passion and heart must be present for us to feel the music, and for the most successful bands to succeed, especially new bands showing up on the scene, today. One such band, which embodies everything they do with heart, is New York based, Brand of Julez. I had the opportunity to chat with Brand of Julez, who hot off The Year of The Bull Tour, with Texas Hippie Coalition, are already headed out to another major tour, with Orgy and Motograter, in August. It is with passion, social awareness, and pride in all that they do, that sets this young group of rockers apart. Finding an early start to their musical career, founding members Julian, and Brandon Zamora, began playing at fifteen and twelve years of age, with the guidance of their father Alan Zamora, a musician is his own right. Later adding, Nick Kashmanian on guitar, and Frankie D’esposito on drums, the quartet is now poised to hit the charts. To illustrate the youthfulness and talent that Brand of Julez exhibits, the youngest, Brandon Zamora will celebrate his twenty-first birthday on tour with Orgy and Motograter. For such a young band, and for some their first major tour, I sat back and listened to the reflections, and maybe for some, life lessons learned, on The Year of The Bull Tour.
Brandon Zamora, bass player for Brand of Julez, recounts his experience on the road and guidance he received from Texas Hippie Coalition’s vocalist, Big Dad Ritch. Zamora shared, “We have done a couple of tours last year with Otep, and Puddle of Mudd, and for me I felt a lot of love and gratitude from THC, than honestly from any band that we toured with so far. It’s different we are traveling in a six, or twelve passenger van, not one of the big tour buses, or stuff like that, so it comes to a point where it gets kind of rough, the thing I love about THC and Big Dad Ritch, is that they realized that, and they said, “remember all the times that are rough, just think of it as like paying your dos. You guys are suffering now, but it’s a blessing that you guys are working hard through this.” The tour in general was just amazing. It was great playing with these guys every night.”
Frankie D’esposito, drummer for Brand of Julez recounts one such day where Texas Hippie Coalition fixed the groups van, and helped them on their way to the next venue. D’esposito reflected,
“It was the night after we played Fubar, and I just couldn’t sleep for like two days prior to that, so that night after I went into the van and passed out, I woke up like ten hours later, and we were pulled over along the side of the highway, and I see one of our tires is busted; which we had a spare, which wasn’t an issue, so I go back to bed. We pulled over at a gas stop, and it turned out our whole axel fell out of place. So we couldn’t fix it, we pulled over at this Petrol station, and we were there for like six hours, and we just could not figure it out, and how to get it, and if you have ever seen Lord of the Rings, in Lord of the Rings II, at the end where they are all at the top of the hill with the sunlight, where they all save the day; it was me and Brandon, the other guys had gone out to get food or something, and I’ll never forget I see THC, and their tour bus and trailer, drive down the road, I swear to God it was like that scene, with the sun shining down, and it was crazy, they fixed our trailer for us. If it wasn’t for them we would have been stuck at a mechanic’s shop for three days.”
Though tour life can be a struggle for bands just getting their start, Julian Zamora, lead vocalist and guitarist for Brand of Julez, reflects on some of the good times spent on The Year of The Bull Tour. One of the best parts of touring for any band is seeing the open road, and getting to travel to new locations.
Julian Zamora fondly remembers one such beach day, in Huntington Beach, near Los Angeles, California. “I had an absolute blast on The Year of The Bull Tour, as always, touring I have a blast exploring the country, and seeing new venues, and new places that I don’t to see in New York City. So that was great, and the people on the tour were just amazing; Granny 4 Barrel, and Kobra and The Lotus were really cool. Of course we came to be best friends with THC. They are just the best guys ever, I love the guys in THC; they are an amazing band. We played amazing shows on the tour, my favorite day was our day off after the L.A show, we just had a beach day, with Brand of Julez and THC, and we just hung out on the beach all day, and had a great time. It was one of the best days on the tour.”
Nick Kashmanian, guitarist for Brand of Julez also recalls that day saying, “we got to spend a day off at Huntington Beach, with all the THC guys; a bunch of Metal heads invading a public beach, with all the beer and paraphernalia you could possibly bring.”
When asked where the band is looking forward to playing on tour with Orgy and Motograter the answer is unanimous. All are looking forward to The House of Blues in Anaheim, California.
Kashmanian spoke about the upcoming tour by stating, “We get to play places we have already played, and there are some bigger places we have not played like House of Blues, in Anaheim, so it is pretty exciting. I love Orange County”
D’esposito shared it has been a lifelong goal of his to play at any House of Blues in America.
When asked how the Orgy and Motograter tour came about Julian Zamora shared, “we were in the middle of The Year of The Bull Tour and we were getting tour offers on the road, and we got a bunch of them, and that one just seemed to be the right fit. We actually did a couple of shows before with Orgy and Bobaflex. There was a tour that they did together awhile back, and it was kind of cool. When the opportunity came up it was like this would be great. It is just enough time to be home and regroup; so it’s not too much time off, but not too little that you can’t get anything done, its perfect timing we leave august 14th. It’s funny; our first show is in Salt Lake City, which was also the first show we played with THC.
Brandon Zamora recalled when the call came in, with the news that Brand of Julez had gotten booked on tour with Orgy, “We were about midway through our tour with THC, and we were doing the overnight drive, and we usually start out by listening to some Collective Soul and the whole “Candyass” album of Orgy, and the next day our manager contacted us and said, “ we have a huge tour coming through with Orgy and Motograter in September; on September 19th, which is my birthday, when I officially turn 21. So immediacy we were just looking at some of the venues they gave us, for all of us this was like a big deal and we were like, “we have got to go for this, this is going to be huge”. Also being a fan of Orgy you know it is cool, being able to tour with bands that you used to listen to, and now being able to tour with them, it’s cool. For me anyway, it’s that cool experience inside, you know. It’s going to be quite an amazing journey; we are going to be out there on tour with them for seven weeks.”
D’esposito shared his excitement for the upcoming tour by saying, “we were at one of the last Texas shows and they were like, “Frank you’re going on tour with Orgy”, and I was like” what “Blue Monday” Orgy, my Orgy” and they were like” yeah”, and I was fan boying, because you want to keep the business, but I really love their music so it was like, definitely exciting. It just happened that we got the call and the next thing I know we are going out with Orgy for two months.”
Between tours Brand of Julez has been doing shows with Puddle of Mudd, and working with Sevendust producer Michael Baskette to release a new E.P. Their album, “Forward” is available on major media outlets currently, and they will be creating a video for single, “Take It All Away,” once they finish the tour with Orgy.
Brandon Zamora spoke of the meaning behind “Take It All Away”, by saying, “it’s more towards being free from politics, and being able to be yourself, we recorded a song called “Break Through” which was about the occupation down in Wall Street, which was cool, to show people that song, and “Take It All Away” has a similar vibe to that. With everything that is going on with government it is more about getting people to stick together instead of being separate.”
Julian Zamora continued to elaborate by saying, “It’s a very political song; a lot of stuff that is going on in the country right now it is very politically driven, but we want to bring aspects of that into the video; we are not for the left or the right side we are in the middle. We are for the people, and so we want to bring that aspect into the video, and we are not for either side we are for what’s best for the people and that at any time we as people can take it all away, so we are brainstorming ideas of how to show that into the music video.”
For the Zamora’s growing up in New York City, post 911, both Julian and Brandon bring a social awareness to the band. Brandon Zamora spoke specifically about his musical focus by saying, “I feel music is the love and energy that should bring everybody together. Instead of having labels in it, music doesn’t have a label it’s something that you can listen to when you have a stressful day or need to get something off your chest, and you listen to a good song and you’re feeling better afterwards. We want everyone to forget all the stress and what brings them down, and express themselves the way you should want to be expressed and be yourself”
Julian Zamora spoke about what inspires him to create lyrics, saying “they all come from personal experiences of things that I have gone through personally or things that I observe or see.”
The Zamora brother’s shared their process of working together to write songs. Brandon Zamora described the process by saying, “usually, sometimes it will be late at night, or early in the morning, and I, Julian, or my dad will come up with something like melody or riffs, and we just start building from there. We all show things to each other because we feel comfortable. We throw ideas out there and see what sticks, and we just keep working at it.” The Zamora brother’s along with their dad, Alan Zamora, have been writing and playing like that since they were teenagers.
Julian Zamora described how the band came to be,” it just happened actually I started playing bass, and grew out of that and started playing guitar, and a huge inspiration of mine was Kurt Cobain, from Nirvana, and it made me not only want to sing but play guitar. He was such an inspiration for me. I got my brother into it because I wanted to hear bass in what I was covering, or writing and it just happened and we were like let’s start a band. A major influence was my father who was in a Blues band in the nineties, actually in his own band. That was a huge influence on us creating a band and doing the whole thing.”
Brandon Zamora recalls Julian taking away the video games, and placing a bass guitar in his hands, at the early age of twelve years old. “For me in general I never thought of playing music but it was not until he started playing guitar that afterwards he turned off the video games and put a bass in my hands, and he made me learn this one song, and one song led to another song, and to another song, and we just started going at it just me and him playing together. It was the summer and I just finished school too you know, to me that was summer going outside and playing video games and playing with my friends, but that summer was different because we just started playing music, and going back everything was just different because I developed this passion and for me playing with Julian was just what made that bond between us strengthen even more.”
With that Brand of Julez was formed, and soon added to the mix came Nick Kashmanian on guitar. Kashmanian recalls his joining the band and reflects on the writing process, “when I joined it was just learn a bunch of songs because I joined on an interim basis at that point, so when I joined they had not given me any handcuffs, and let me do whatever I wanted which was great. It’s cool when Julian comes in with an ideas and I can suggest changing this or that out, I get to write all my own guitar parts but changing chord progressions, and work with him on the arrangement and vocal harmonies, although it’s fun to run around stage and not have to worry about signing, it does add to it.”
The latest addition to Brand of Julez is Frankie D’esposito, who met the band by chance while attending a show his friend Chris happened to be having, where Brand of Julez was the opener.
“I met the guys at the a bar and wasn’t originally going to see them, it was December 2, 2016, I was heading out from a practice from an old band I was in, I was heading to see my buddy Chris’ band, and Brand of Julez happened to open up for them, and I was pretty impressed. A few months later Brandon messaged me one day and asked if I would like to see them open up for Lynch Mob, and I was like hell yeah; so I went and I am talking with Brandon and he was like, “hey you know, do you want to jump in the studio with us in a few weeks”, he gave me the SoundCloud for three songs. I learned all six of their songs, and I auditioned like three weeks later, and played all six songs, and they were like what else do you know, and it all felt good, and it all worked really well that day”
The current line-up of Brand of Julez is stronger than ever, growing their fan base with every new song release, and about to embark on a major U.S tour. Every member of Brand of Julez is highly committed to his craft, even so much so that on occasion members may even butt heads during the writing process. Nick Kashmanian describes the dynamic, as “I had always done my own projects up until brand of Julez. Instead of being the big piece I could be one of the pieces and help to move the train along. Which is great, obviously anytime you deal with people with opinions, and personalities, you are not necessarily going to fight, but you are going to beg to differ and stuff like that, but we are all going for the same thing, so once you put that together all the menial bullshit falls to the way side.”
Although they are still young, budding musicians themselves Brand of Julez took time to reflect and give advice to young musicians just starting out. Frankie D’Esposito shared his wisdom, by saying “For young musicians starting out, you are always going to get a lot of criticism and you just have to work passed it, you are going to hit road blocks and you will find yourself in ruts and you have got to work past it, and it is a lot of hard work. You have got to have fun and love what you do”
To spend time with Brand of Julez or to watch them play live you can certainly see this foursome practices what they preach. They are no strangers to hard work, yet their fun loving attitude and love for what they do shines from the stage. Brand of Julez is one to watch, exhibiting heart in all they do; on tour, and in the studio. Brand of Julez is poised for the big time. Headliners like Texas Hippie Coalition, Puddle of Mud, and Orgy have already picked up on where Brand of Julez is going, and have lended them a hand up on the way.