Zoo Trippin’ finds a piece of home on every stage.
The local band, so named for an old pastime of psychedelic excursions to the Columbus Zoo, got its start playing wild and explosive after-party shows, guitarist Lynn Roose and drummer Steve Hatmaker said.
“We’d have after-parties. We’d have wild events. Our shows were very energetic, very wild,” Hatmaker said. “And I think we kind of built the name Zoo Trippin’ around that.”
Today, the band maintains its high-energy reputation with music that vocalist Tony Casa said he hopes will make people feel like they could start a revolution.
“I want people to realize that they can individually inflict change,” Casa said.
This translates to a sound bassist Alex Kessis said bounces around blues, funk, hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll.
“We try to not stick to one genre, but if you have to put an umbrella term on it, I just call it rock ’n’ roll,” Roose said.
He said the genre-bending nature of the group’s music reflects a sound that is specific to the Columbus music community.
“There’s this thing in Columbus where the sound is almost always groovy, and it’s a lot of pieces, and there’s horns, and it has a funk aspect to it almost all the time,” Roose said. “It’s all a big sound with a catchy melody.”
This Columbus-based sound is exemplified by local favorites such as Mojoflo, George Barrie Band and Doc Robinson, Roose said. Listening to these bands inspired Zoo Trippin’ to expand its instrumentation, he said.
“We would just kind of piddle around with general rock songs and simple structures,” Roose said. “But after hearing that sort of stuff, it made me want to write with horns, with some organ, write with all these pieces.”
Columbus-based bands collaborate and pull ideas from one another, Hatmaker said, giving a tight-knit, unified quality to the local music community. Despite the cutthroat nature of the music industry, he said there is a brotherhood among local bands.
“Music’s competitive no matter how you slice it, but I think in this city, the bands who are working together kind of lift each other up and kind of pull from each other’s influence a little bit,” Hatmaker said.
Zoo Trippin’ will embark on its first U.S. tour in November, Casa said. Whether the crowd is 10 or 10,000, Roose said the band feels at home on stage and brings the same level of energy to each performance because ultimately, the members of Zoo Trippin’ play for themselves.
“It feels like home,” Roose said. “There are shows where we are playing to basically nobody in a town where they’ve never heard of us, and we’re still having a blast because it’s not necessarily about how they’re feeling. We are making that energy for ourselves,” Roose said.
When on the road, Casa said he appreciates the little things that remind him of Columbus.
“There’s so many cities that are just the same — it’s the same Pilot station, same Wendy’s, the same type of venue. But every now and then, you’ll find a city, and you’re like, ‘This makes me think of home,’” Casa said.
The band said it gets this homey feeling when eating together at Moe’s Original BBQ in Newark, Ohio, or performing for crowds in Dayton and Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Casa said people know how to “get down” like they do in Columbus.
“I like finding those cities on tour and experiencing that with my best friends and being like, ‘Even though we’re not home, we find these little things that are like home,’” Casa said.
Zoo Trippin’ will play Oct. 14 at Strongwater Food and Spirits at 401 West Town St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are free.