They’re one of the hardest gigging acts on the planet and UK audiences just lap them up every time Zebrahead trek across Britain.

rushonrock‘s Tom Walsh is a big fan and our man in the know caught up with guitarist Matty Lewis to bring you yet another exclusive interview.

rushonrock: You’re last album Panty Raid was a covers album.  What was the reasoning behind that?

ML: First of all we wanted to pay tribute to all of the girls that our drummer has gotten pregnant and we thought what better tribute than cover some of the songs by them.  If you look Gwen Stefani is on it twice as he’s gotten her pregnant twice.

rushonrock: Do you think making a covers album is a bit of cop-out instead of making a new album yourself?

ML: At the time we weren’t ready to make an album so we thought we’d do a quick ‘two week thing’ and make a covers album.  We could put it out in the meantime while we wrote our next album.  The question is would you ask that same question to Me, First and the Gimme Gimmes who are renowned for that?  It’s not like we didn’t want to make our own album it’s just fun to make a covers album.  We thought, well we play these cover songs live so why don’t we just put it on a record, sell it and make some money.

rushonrock: A lot of bands, like Green Day, have been accused of recording albums for the sole purpose of making money.  What is your take on the ‘selling out’ term?

ML: It’s not just about making money.  Although I believe no-one really buys records anymore anyway as everyone just illegally downloads it which is cool.  I don’t really care about that but being in a band is about being in a business and if enough people like it you can’t fault bands like Green Day for earning all this money.  You can’t fault them if they’re selling out stadiums just because they make a lot of money but I don’t think they put albums just to make money.  We certainly don’t.

rushonrock: Do you prefer to play sold-out smaller venue shows or play the larger venues that might not sell out?

ML: Well last time we were here we played the larger room in Newcastle and it was close to selling out.  But then we packed out the upstairs when we came back. I prefer to do the bigger shows so that anyone has the opportunity to come and see us.  We get a lot of emails from kids that haven’t been able to get a ticket for the show which sucks for them.  The sold out shows are kick ass though.  It’s difficult because both kinds of shows have pluses and minuses.  The big, huge shows are awesome just for the sheer size of them but the small, sold out shows are just wild and crazy.  They’ll be people flying everywhere, sweat dripping off the ceiling and that’s really cool.  We feed off that energy shown by the fans.

rushonrock: What is your favourite memory of playing in Newcastle?

ML: We played the Cluny a long time ago but I can barely remember it now.  I love playing the Academy here especially when we make the kids jump. I always have a fear that we are going to go through the floor.  I hope we don’t.

rushonrock: With O2 having a large monopoly on music venues across the UK especially American bands tend to play in the ‘Academy’ style venue.  What is your take on that?

ML: I do like the fact venues like this gives the kids like three combined venues in one huge venue.  Although in towns where they don’t have an academy the shows can be really crazy.  We love playing in a venue called The Furnace in Swindon and every time we play there we literally kick the shit out of it.  It’s fantastic, all the kids go crazy.  The Zodiac in Oxford was also one of the wildest places we’ve played in.

rushonrock: Metallica have done one, there is a Green Day version coming out soon so when is the Zebrahead ‘Rock Band’ coming out?

ML: Funny you should mention that.  I am in the midst myself of doing some programming for our band to get all of our songs on to the game.  Sadly we’re not getting our own version but we will be getting our songs put on to the game every other week.  It’ll be a slowly but surely thing but at some point they’ll be available for download.

rushonrock: What would be your top touring tips?

ML: Get showered when you can, never turn down a shower!  Always sweat a lot on stage and stage dive whenever you can.  Encourage the crowd to do crazy, sexy things and just keep playing.  Come back whenever you can and always, always thank the fans after the show.  The kids, especially here in the UK, love hanging out at the merchandise table with us after the show.