“Expect glitter, expect Twitter (don’t expect Twitter), expect foul language and talking about dicks, expect body dysmorphia, but like in the opposite direction. The greatest expectation, however, should be all-killer-no-filler face-melting community building,” says Greg Der Ananian, lead singer of energetic homo-punk band Zbörnak, of the group’s two appearances this week.
Opening Sat/20 for !!! and Jello Biafra in the SF Eagle’s outdoor lot (5pm, $20, 12th Street and Harrison, SF; www.sf-eagle.com), and kicking things off 11am, Sun/21 on main stage of Folsom Street Fair (10th Street and Howard, SF; www.folsomstreetfair.com), the fearsome foursome will surely launch into recent, too-catchy hit “Dikpix” while letting the Golden Girls references fly.
I talked to the lively Der Ananian about Zbörnak’s deal.
SFBG Oh mighty Zbörnak — please tell of your origins, your members, and what projects you have going now?
Greg Der Ananian I formed Zbörnak when I lived in Massachusetts. Everyone thought the name was dumb, but I was all both “How dare you besmirch Bea?” and “Trust me, it’s a great name.” I put it in a space-age Gothic metal font and threw an umlaut up on the shit, and we were good to go. Except for myself, there was a different lineup in Boston. We had only played a handful of shows in NYC and Boston before I relocated to SF, and at that point I’d written some of what I’d considered the best and most honest work of my musical career, so I figured why scrap all of that just because I’d played a few shows under that name? Upon arriving SF, I met “Classic” Rob Harford at a Halloween party where he was in a wrestling singlet and I was dressed as Nyan Cat. We instantly bonded over our love of Britpop, most significantly Elastica. I immediately borrowed a guitar from him, and continued to write songs. After about 6 months of harassment, he agreed to try playing music with me. I don’t think I have otherwise ever been willing to utter the term bromance without a piece of me dying, but there you have it. Laura came on board through a friend of a friend, and has proved to be the true leader of Zbörnak. She keeps the boys in line for sure, not to mention that she tears it the fuck up on bass. Somewhere along the way I had a GROWLr hookup, and months later that guy contacted me saying he had a musician friend moving up from LA, and wondered if I might be his SF music scene tour guide. Guess what? That friend was like if a mountain and a metronome had a baby and he was a friendly drummer in search of a gigging band. Thus, percussive powerhouse “Modern” Rob Jacobs replaced our former SF drummer and joined Zbörnak. Since then we’ve just been playing shows and having a blast.
SFBG Who are some of your influences, and what can people expect at a live Zbornak show?
GDA Our influences are so all over the map. As for fashion, I can only speak for myself: Adam Ant, Louis XIV, and Ming the Merciless. Musically, we all like such different stuff. Out of everyone in the band, I definitely know the least about music. I only learned who the Buzzcocks were when the reviews of my old band Prettypony kept saying we were heavily influenced by them. I thought I’d better figure out who they were, and then I was like “oh, they did that song that was in that Nissan Xterra commercial, but I get that it’s an old song.” My favorite bands are Elastica, Lush, Breeders, pixies, Blondie, Cars, Heart, Wire, Moz, and the Smiths more or less. Laura loves true punk, hardcore, and metal, but also Van Halen – she is from Baltimore and there’s something super real about her being a teenage hellion (at least in my brain). I have the most overlap with Rob Harford in terms of what we love, only I know about one-tenth of what he does. Rob Jacobs is still a mystery to me. He seems to just know about and love everything, but I will say that he tends to bust out these reggae and dub beats at practice. As far as what to expect at a performance? We’re loud and mostly fast. Chances are we’ll do either a new wave or ’90s alt cover or two.
SFBG For your Folsom performances, will there be leather caftans and chunky fetish jewelry involved?
GDA I know I’m something of a ‘personality’ when it comes to the glittering shmattas, but kaftans actually present a unique challenge for there is no way to truly capture the drapey Persian majesty that the kaftan form provides the fuller-figured rock star while simultaneously playing a guitar. It’s the guitar strap, really, that cinches everything in like a sausage. It’s not good for the audience, uncomfortable to me, and certainly not respectful toward the garment, not to mention the fact the sequins and paillettes do not appreciate friction. I’m experimenting with a ZZ Top style belt harness, but that’s still in development. On the other wrist, I think I can safely say that chunky jewelry is permanently on the Zbörnak style horizon. As to what constitutes a fetish, that’s a personal evaluation. Sparkle happens to be my personal fetish, but I get that most hunky, male Folsom guests aren’t really aiming for MORE glitter.
SFBG If Zbornak were a porn movie, what kind would it be?
GDA Early ’80s Vivid. Heavy focus on Peter North/TT Boy MMFs. Lots of no-condom DP (lotsa straight dicks touching, friendly fire). Occasional interracial by Ray Victory. All facial.