Rock your Zox off

Michael Stockinger

Violinists don’t usually find their jobs in rock bands, nor do rock bands usually find violinists to fill their lineups, but Zox incorporates the classical instrument into its classical music-meets-ska rock.The four-piece band will perform alongside Irish folk punkers Flogging Molly, reggae rockers Bedouin Soundclash and comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know, at Sacramento State at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday in the University Union Ballroom.

“The violin was sort of a coincidence,” Eli Miller, singer, songwriter and guitarist for the band said. “My freshman year, I had a roommate who was a classical violinist.”Miller said the two had completely different backgrounds and lifestyles but learned from each other.

“When I tried to form a rock band, I invited him to sit in with us and play the violin on songs,” Miller said. “Later I decided to form Zox, but I wanted to add a distinctive character to the band and so I put an ad out for a violinist.”

Miller didn’t get too many responses because the add mentioned that the band would be punk rock and reggae, but violinist Spencer Swain answered and subsequently joined the band.As for the band’s name, Zox is the last name of the drummer, John.

“One day John came in wearing a name tag and we thought he had the coolest last name, so we named ourselves after it,” Miller said, laughing. “We needed a name desperately and many people develop theories of where it came from.”

The most common theory is the name of an obscure Dr. Seuss character, but others think it’s a secret government UFO program Miller said.

The band has many influences and it shows if you listen to its latest album, “The Wait.” Every track can fit into a different genre, making the band hard to classify.

Some songs are reminiscent of The Police and U2, while others take on a sound like The Mars Volta, only retaking the reggae/ska influence halfway through the track but with a violin thrown into the mix.

“Everybody in the group has diverse musical tastes like the Cure, The Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Counting Crows,” Miller said. “We’ve learned about different music through each other.”

“Our violinist listens to neo-classical metal and noise rock, while our bassist listens to R&B, hip-hop and jazz,” Miller said. “We incorporate a lot of sounds, but we see ourselves as a rock band.”Zox, like its label and tour mates Flogging Molly, has made a name for itself by constantly touring, averaging more than 200 shows a year.

The upcoming tour will bring the Northeast group back to California and the west coast.”We’re really excited about it. We’ve only played a few times on the west coast – in San Francisco twice,” Miller said.

As for the band’s tour mates, Miller said Flogging Molly is a band that thinks outside the box.”We’re a band that has been fortunate to tour with diverse acts,” Miller said. “We try to connect with our audiences.”

Zox recently toured with Rusted Root, which Miller said brought old hippies to its shows, whereas the Van’s Warped Tour had a punk rock audience, proving the band doesn’t appeal to just one audience.

Zox’s fans so far have been a hodge-podge of different music listeners.

“It’s difficult for people to figure out what we are,” Miller said. “People want to characterize us, but it’s hard to put your finger on what it is.”

Whatever Zox is, the members are passionate about their music and live shows.”People who like us form a long loyal relationship with us,” Miller said. “I hope our unique sound is an advantage for us.”

Micheal Stockinger can be reached at [email protected]