Randy Jackson Interview
Here's one group that's been around for awhile. Calling New Orleans home, Zebra first formed in 1975. They've released three albums on Atlantic Records, including their latest "3.V." No stranger to Syracuse, we caught up with Zebra member Randy Jackson, prior to a group appearance at the Lost Horizon.
Q - I remember Zebra opening the "Loverboy" concert at the State Fair back in '8:!, but after that, Zebra wasn't in the news too much. What did the band do, between then and now?
A - We put out a second album. We went out on tour with REO ! Speedwagon. Then we went out on tour with Sammy Hagar. All that happened in 1984. We weren't getting a lot of air play. We didn't get nearly the airplay we got with the first record, so that could've made a difference. So we came off the road from the second album, and I'd been writing the third album, and we looked for a producer. I'm talking back in February of 1985. We just couldn't up with anybody. We were just sort of in limbo after four or five months. We went into the studios of December 1985. We decided we needed to do some more pre-production on the material We went back in. in February 198fi and then stayed in the studio until late July, early August, when we finished the album.
Q - How is the album doing?
A - Nothing happened with radio with it. The record has sort of died at this point.
A - If I knew why, we would solve the problem. I think a lot of things hurl if to start out with. The week it was released, was the week the Springsteen Set came out, the live' set. As far as any kind of press, we were like totally lost in the shuffle there. We got 70 stations to start out with airplay wise, but we just couldn't pull it out of light rotation. You might as well not be on the radio, if that's all you're getting. We met with a lot of indifference. A lot of people said they liked the record, but there wasn't anything on the record that really knocked them out, A lot of program directors said they were being consulted now, and weren't in charge of what was being played. So their consultant was telling them, 'Don't play Zebra, it's too heavy, or whatever.' That really hurt us the most: cause you really need airplay today in order to get record sales.
Q - If you added a member or members to the band could that put you over the top?
A - It's possible, that that could be the difference. From inside our own camp and the record company, nobody has really ever suggested that was something we needed to do. The 3 piece thing was the only gimmick if we had one that we did have.
Q - Zebra commuted between New Orleans and New York. For a group without a record deal, that had to be expensive.
A - When we first went to N.Y. we had $3,000. We stayed up for a month and a half. Between that money and the money we were making playing, we were able to survive. We ran out of money after a month and a half, and went back to New-Orleans, and we played again and saved up some more money. Then we came back up to New York and did it again. We figured if we could stay there long enough, we could be making enough to where we could stay in either place, which eventually happened, by the end of summer. Actually, we were making a real good living in New York then. When the record deal finally came down, I had just bought a house in Louisiana and wasn't even giving a record deal a thought.
Q - Why'd you settle on the name Zebra?
A - We met at a liar, 'cause our first gig was coming up. and we didn't have any name All of us brought a list of names to the place. Nobody wanted to use anybody else's name. We were getting ready to leave and there was a picture of a Zebra right up above where we were sitting. We just decided
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