Family, expression, love and optimism are all words that come to mind when listening to the music of Zeta. Zeta is an eclectic group that started in 2003 in Venezuela thanks to founding members Juan Chi and Dani Debuto. The band blends traditional Latin rhythms and psychedelic rock with a DIY, community-based punk ethos — such a refreshing thing to see and feel.
“We technically started in 2003, but it took us almost a year to have our own sound. Because before it was just getting together with friends and playing things we liked, thought were cool, and different styles. Then we started really writing Zeta songs and the rest is history,” explains guitarist/vocalist Juan Chi.
The political climate in Venezuela has made life very difficult for much of the population. So, in 2015, Zeta decided the best option was to begin their first tour in the United States. They came back in 2016 and decided to stay, essentially touring nonstop while spending what little downtime they had at their residence in Miami.
When a band spends so much time together on the road, the dynamics can take on more of a family feel. Performing live every night became their job. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it meant a huge shift for Zeta, one that was difficult and frightening while also gratifying in the end.
“It’s very ambiguous, because in certain aspects it was a hard time figuring out who we are outside of that touring life because we were doing it for so long. The first time we went on tour was in 2008, and this was the first time we stopped for an entire year, so it was kind of weird figuring out who we are outside of that life,” explains Chi. “[During the pandemic,] we weren’t all together and didn’t really get that much time to share. But we found a way to stay healthy and keep recording remotely.” Debuto and Chi had some contact with one another during that time, but the other members were largely separated. The result: a uniquely produced new album. “We had the foundations of a new album with drums and percussion but didn’t have most of the strings or vocals, so we found some sanity in that process. We got to call each other every day with ideas, trying to figure out ways to stay connected.” He continues, “We were also able to invite other friends from around the world for that album. So it was very cool after a little bit....”
Zeta is hitting the road again and bringing their high-energy performance to Fritzy’s on Thursday, Sept. 23, with local psych rockers Briffaut and math-rock group Semifiction. The live performance is a huge part of the Zeta experience and the band says they’ve been excited to get back to it. “I’m ultra-excited about playing again. I feel so ready! Like a madafaka ave fénix comeback,” says Debuto with a laugh. “We’ve been working so hard this last year of not being on tour all the time but producing music and content that now we’re so excited to put it out into the world!
“We strongly believe in the power of healing that the music has in it! Playing together is great, so to share it with people from all over, doing everything that it takes to go city to city bringing some of that music, that message and all of that energy just gets us all,” Debuto says.
Zeta has been preparing for this tour with a few live shows. “We’re very excited. We did a little warmup here in Florida, and everyone was super respectful; taking care of each other,” says Chi.
In other live music news, The Black Sheep has another busy weekend of acts to catch too. On Friday, catch some reggae with The Expendables, Ballyhoo! and Tunnel Vision. Saturday, fill up on some hip-hop with Shwayze,
P.i. Dub, L0S, and Scroggins ALLday. Sunday, you can go crazy to the folk punk of AJJ with experimental act Xiu Xiu, and Emperor X.