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Mating Season

21 February 2014 | 12:12 pm | Benny Doyle

"As cliché as it sounds, it was a labour of love."

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“These parrots escaped from this pet shop years ago and they fly by my house every day around this time – they sound like dinosaurs,” says Ali Tabatabaee from his home in Pasadena, California. “A pet store was burning down so they released all these parrots, and now they have this pattern of trees that they like to go to – everyone knows them as the Pasadena parrots.”

Those birds aren't the only animals enjoying their freedom; Zebrahead too are revelling in the wild. The band's latest LP, last year's Call Your Friends, is an undeniably sharp listen, and is actually a product of what the title suggests, the Orange Country pop-punk five finding themselves on the phone line plenty during the record's creation process.

“As cliché as it sounds, it was a labour of love,” he smiles. "We'd call each other at two in the morning and be like, 'Dude, I just listened to the song, and what if the bridge went like this, or what if we changed the verse to this?' There was a lot of that going on, but it was always very positive.”

This zeal was driven by the introduction of fresh blood in the band. Founding member, guitarist Greg Bergdorf, called time on the group to focus on his young family, with Death By Stereo's Dan Palmer jumping into the role.

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“It was the best scenario in the way that we already knew that Dan was a great guitar player, he could play the songs and got along with everybody. We've been friends with him forever so it was a smooth transition in that way.”

And although those changes took places while writing for Call Your Friends, Zebrahead were helped far more than they were hindered. Tabatabaee describes Palmer as a positive workhorse, forever generating laughs and creating a great energy in camp.

“Those things have been huge and [have] really helped us get through the transitional [period],” informs the frontman. “He's very optimistic with [regards] to what we want to do in the future, he just has a great attitude, and that catches on with everybody.”

After visiting Australia with good friends Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger at the tail-end of 2012, Zebrahead will return for Soundwave 2014. Tabatabaee can't mask his enthusiasm.

“It's rare when people aren't misbehaving – let's put it that way,” he laughs. “It's like a travelling circus of band members who play shows during the day, and then get on the plane together and fly to another city, so you're always with these different guys that you might never have talked to before, but by the end everyone is friends and hanging out – it's such a weird experience, there's nothing else like it.”