In a time when a lot of people are following their instincts or making decisions with their hearts, metal up-and-comers Zero Theorem have taken a more realist outlook, focusing on science and the philosophy of life.
The group’s cumulative appreciation for sci-fi books, art and philosophy steers their music time and time again. It even extends to their band name, which is a scientific term and a mathematical conundrum for the meaning of life. Since their formation, the group has bridged the gap between human emotion and the reality by leaning on facts and unbiased perspective. With each release and over eight million total streams, Zero Theorem comes closer to finding their truth and it seems their fans are seeking their own truths as well. Today, more insight is hailing from their new EP, The Killing II, which follows The Killing I, released last year.
‘I think all of them (EP’s) are essentially kind of dealing with a lot of the same subject matter that we always kind of write about,” vocalist Caesar told American Songwriter. “Which is really, trying to find your authentic self, or looking realistically at a situation.”
“Science and philosophy are also part of it,” he continued. “Sci-Fi, especially now, I feel really reflects the reality of the moment. Of course it can be an escape too. But it still has the effect of being kind of a truth teller or a predictor of things to come, especially the stuff that you can tell is really not that far around the corner and given our technological advancements. Stuff like this really influences us and a lot of what we do.”
Though the content may be familiar for the group, they are pushing the musical limitations a bit more this time by adding programming, electronics, and even more sci-fi themes to really round out the persona they have been building since their 2018 debut album, Ataraxis. Songs like “Swarm,” and “Translucent,” both of which peaked on Spotify Rock Hard playlists for over 12 weeks, are a testament to the success of their boundary pushing sound that was fostered by award-winning producer Kane Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Papa Roach) on The Killing II. Churko has also worked closely with mainstream metal leaders Five Finger Death Punch, who also use programming and heavy electronics—one of the styles Churko dabbles in that drew Zero Theorem to work with him.
“We wanted that electronic element at the front and Kane’s got an immense amount of talent,” Caesar said about working with Churko. “He consistently helps us clarify and build upon our ideas, whether they be musically lyrically or, just guitar licks. And you can tell his influence on the work too if you’ve heard his other things.”
Zero Theorem has worked on over 16 songs with Churko, spanning The Killing I and II, as well as some new material. The most recent single, “Joke,” is one part sci-fi and heavy programming that Zero Theorem was aiming for and one part Kane Churko’s style and stamp, blended for a sure-to be playlist banger. But more importantly, “Joke” tackles and calls out the so-called ‘Keyboard Warriors,’ the aggressors who harass others on social media while concealing their identities. It’s a power-play and brutal side of humanity brought out by online bullying.
“’Joke’ was supposed to work on a few levels,” Caesar said. “There’s an obvious attack or commentary about the ‘keyboard warriors.’ But it’s also about the bigger picture. It’s about having an open mind to the fact that we’re all in this life together and to be aware of the craziness that it is. This is life—this is what it is right now in 2021. You have to take that and try to think about where we’re going and be realistic about it.”
As a lyricist Caesar was influenced by social media and the types of behavior people engage in when using it. “Joke” was written so it could be digested and applied to many situations. The video for the song encompasses that idea for fluidity, with intense sci-fi visuals that offer an escape for fans seeking a different meaning from the song.
“Our videos, lyrics and all that are meant to have multiple meanings,” Caesar explained. “One of them is to be connected to this kind of fictional universe that we’re trying to create.” At the same time, Zero Theorem always seeks to provide a connection between the escapism evoked by fictional ideas to individual thought and societal issues.
“Whether it has to do with my thoughts or what we are all are going through, I try to branch that divide and make it all-encompassing, because the music that has the most effect for me, is when what was written about isn’t being spelled out to me,” Caesar adds.
Like the fluid interpretation and nature of the music, so is Caesar’s take on vocals, which are often a mix of clean vocals and screams, all tailored to each song and its individual tonal landscape.
“It depends on the type of moment, and the type of part,” Caesar said. “I’m definitely the kind of person that gets bored with the same vocal all over the track. So I’m always looking to make it more interesting with different delivery.”
It was a defining and inherent instance, similar to the insightful moments Caesar feels when writing, that he also found his home in music and as a singer. Unlike many other singers, Caesar had no dreams of headlining an arena, cupping a mic, and jumping off of PA monitors. Singing was initially something he approached with a relaxed—‘sure why not’—response, when he was invited over for a friend’s band practice in high school. But when Caesar sang with that band, he was hooked—he was home.
“It’s a way of life,” Caesar said about singing and playing music now. “I felt right being involved in music. I wasn’t a guitar player, or a good one anyway, so singing was kind of a place where I felt like I could do something pretty decent and bring something to the table. Then after that, I got some confidence to kept pursuing it, and that’s how I got to where we are today.”
A long way from a high school band, Caesar with his Zero Theorem is ready to take sci-fi laced metal to another level, embarking on a summer tour. The 2021 Save The World Tour, rescheduled from 2020, is tentatively slated to kick of in May, with Fozzy, Through Fire and Royal Bliss. It will surely be just one more experience for Zero Theorem to expand their minds and fuel their continued philosophical ideas.
“We’re so happy to tour,” Caesar said. “We just want to be out there and play for people.”