The Zombo Interview
You might recognize Michael Devine, AKA Zombo, from the days at his former Lawrenceville gallery of the same name, his WRCT radio show, or his numerous other music-related projects ranging from DJing to one of his many bands. He’s gearing up to host yet another event that’s taking Lawrenceville’s night life to the next level – The SnowBall – which takes place this Saturday, January 19 at Cattivo. It features two stages, 10 bands and a variety of acoustic and full band performances, as well as DJs. We took the time to ask Zombo a few questions about this event, what he has in the works and his history planning shows in Pittsburgh. Here’s what he had to say.
Coming from a small town and a different era of promoting has certainly benefited Zombo, who finds the culture of planning and promoting events in Pittsburgh aligns well with his way of doing things. “Being from a small town in Ohio without much of a venue for artistic projects or a place for my band to play out that wasn’t a top 40 cover band, I found the DIY attitude of the 1980s was the way to go. I would find either free community spaces or low rent venues where I could put on shows. That was around 1987. I found a nice connection between artists and musicians that would double the size of audiences. At that time, I put on my PopCult festivals in Canton, Ohio. It was an art show with an all day line up of bands. There was no cover charge and no real money was ever generated, but they were a great networking opportunity and a cool way to make something happen. The payoff was when we moved here in 2001-2003 and then moving back after living in Portland, Tacoma, and El Paso. It was easy to see that the Pittsburgh mindset and my visions of events were a perfect fit. I never heard the word “no” once from anything I ever thought of doing here.”
Zombo has been involved with a tremendous number of projects since making Pittsburgh his home. “I started all the entertainment at Arsenal Lanes in 2001 – the bingo/bowling, the rock and bowl and other DJ nights and events. Then there’s the Zombo in your Brain radio show on WRCT 88.3FM on Fridays from Noon-4pm. Sexplosion – my monthly non-stop erotic dance party with onstage shadow dancing and naughty drive in-movie on a big screen at Belvederes. The DJ nights at Kelly’s Bar in East Liberty. The Zombo Presents Movies at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont. And bands? Three of them: King Fez – Eclectic World Beat Turkish Disco, Vertigo-go – Killer instrumental Pulp Fiction Style Surf music, and The Graveyard Rockers – My seasonal Halloween monster music band.”
Another large event Zombo had his hand in the planning of was RANT, which took place this past summer at multiple venues spanning Lawrenceville’s many performance spaces. We also highlighted it in our 2012 Year in Review. “It was my baby and with the incredible help from Mary Jo at Hambones, Chet Vincent, Casey Hallas, Backstage Guitars, and many others we made the event into a huge success that will be an annual event. The next one is Saturday August 10th.”
SnowBall is his second attempt at a large-scale event that brings together multiple styles of creating music. “With RANT, it was a mulit-genre festival that utilized venues within walking distance of each other. During the winter, no one wants to trek around on cold, dark nights, so I thought a multi-genre, full scale event that is a “something for everyone” style show would be a good idea. Cattivo has two floors, so we have two stages, 10 bands and acoustic acts, and DJs to provide continuous music.”
As for future projects, there’s a lot in the works. “Coming in March is the Bunny Bowl at Arsenal lanes (on Easter Sunday). Two cool retro bands play on the lanes. There’s also a vintage playboy style bunny pin up contest and a scavenger hunt throughout the lanes. Everyone gets bunny ears to wear that night. A Johnny Cash Festival with live Band karaoke playing Johnny Cash songs for participants to sing. A white trash hillbilly music festival. And RANT in August.
Zombo is a busy man who is lucky to have so many passions that fuel his way of life. Be sure to come out and support his latest endeavor, SnowBall, this Saturday, January 19th at Cattivo in Lawrenceville! Admission is only $10 and entertainment starts at 6PM.