Here’s the thing about covering the music scene in Asbury Park — no matter how much you think you know, or how many bands you think you’ve heard — there’s always that one band comes out of left field and slaps you in the face with how good they. You wonder to yourself how and why you slept on this band for so long.
That band is Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel.
After years of covering the scene, I finally crossed paths with Julian’s music, and I was just blown away by it. It’s this amazing amalgam of sounds — drawing from the deep well of indie, and alt rock while sprinkling some psych and shoe gaze in there. It’s just a wonderful sonic tapestry that Fulton weaves in each song, and his lyrical work is just as strong and engrossing.
So, if you haven’t been listening to this band, stop everything and go listen to them. If you have, well just don’t say you told me so.
Recently, I caught up with Julian as he prepped to play Happy Mondays at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ tonight. We talked about the potential of new music, songwriting, and so much more.
Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel Is (Band Members & The Instruments They Play): The Zombie Gospel has always consisted of different folks revolving in and out of the band, the most consistent being my brother Aidan Fulton on drums. Other current members include Matt Fernicola on bass, Victoria Romano on violin and vocals, and less frequently, Kevin Wilson on keys and guitar, and Kristine Donovan on vocals and percussion.
We Formed In: The first version of The Zombie Gospel officially formed in 2011/2012.
We’re Based Out Of: The individual members span New Jersey, but we consider Asbury Park to be the middle ground and home base.
The Story Behind the Zombie Gospel Name: The name “The Zombie Gospel” was just a cool, rock-n-roll-sounding name I doodled in a notebook in high school. I knew I wanted to use it for something down the line, so when I needed a name for my band years later, it was really the only thing that came to mind and didn’t feel forced.
Our Sound Has Been Likened To: I’ve heard a lot of comparisons over the years; some pretty apt, some outright bizarre. A few comparisons I’ve heard more than once: Beck, Spoon, The Beatles, Portugal. The Man, Tame Impala, Elliott Smith, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Any new music on the horizon? There is definitely new music on the horizon. How and when it will be released is another story.
Your last release was Battered Receptions — how do you feel this stands out from the rest of your catalog?
I think that Battered Receptions has more of a studio sound to it than any of my prior recordings, which makes sense considering that the majority of it was recorded in a studio for once. All of my stuff up until this point has been primarily recorded at my or other people’s homes, which lends itself to a DIY aesthetic that is almost entirely missing from this EP. I also think, while the songs are pretty different, there’s a more straightforward rock sound to the EP as well, whether it’s just how the drums and bass sound or the overall production.
I really dig the vocals on “Rosie’s Disposition” — can you talk about the inspiration for this?
“Rosie’s Disposition” started on a piano with a pretty simple chord progression. Then once the basic story and themes were hashed out, the lyrics were written in a sort of stream-of-consciousness fashion. The vocals and melodies, in turn, ended up reflecting that. Some of the vocal cadences bear more resemblance to hip hop than pop, especially at the beginning of the song, because I was trying to say a lot in a more condensed amount of time. So the lyrical and story-like aspects of the song were the foundations that the vocals emerged from.
When creating songs — what comes first, the lyrics or the music?
It can go either way. A lot of times, I even find myself trying to do both simultaneously, which can be hard and weird. I would say that recently, though, the music has been informing the lyrics in a lot of cases. But even then, I can do this sort of tit-for-tat thing of building a song with some music, than some lyrics, than more music, than more lyrics, etc. So as far as constructing a song goes, I’m usually all over the place.
If someone wanted to check out your music for the first time, what song would you recommend, and why?
That’s hard. If I’m just suggesting a song on the basis that people seem to generally like it and maybe they’ll like me if they hear it, I’d probably say “Howl” or “Rosie’s Disposition”. But if I was picking a song to best illustrate who I am as an artist, maybe it’d be “Another Tattoo” or “Paris, Idaho,” which each seem to cover a little more ground sonically and lyrically. Maybe even “Lie”, my earliest single, which is a short, straightforward pop song that’s probably a good palate cleanser for the rest of my stuff.
Again, it’s hard for me to say. I’m not sure that any one song paints a broad enough picture of who I feel I am as a songwriter, and I tend to feel ambivalent about most of the songs other people really like, so I might just be the wrong person to ask.
What do you love about your band/the music you create?
I can appreciate that I’ve ultimately committed to making whatever music I feel like making and not worrying about fitting into a perfect little box for others to categorize me by. The people I perform with have always been very enthusiastic about this aspect of my music as well, which has been comforting and fun to experiment with. It’s better for me to worry about the quality of music I’m making rather than what kind of music I’m making, and it’s ultimately been more fulfilling.
What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
Subverting some expectations, releasing some more music, and continuing to grow as a writer, musician, and performer.