From Farm to ‘Force and Beyond – An Interview With ZP Theart

I was scouring the internet and realised that one of South Africa’s most famous metal exports is very much under represented locally. From humble beginnings he rose to prominence in the international music scene, to ride with dragons and beyond! I am of course speaking of ZP Theart who you might remember as the vocalist for a little band called Dragonforce, now fronting a new project I AM I. I managed to get a few words with him:

Metal4Africa: Where and when were you spawned?
ZP Theart: I was born in the year of our Lord 1652 in ClanWilliam, Western Cape Province, South Africa.

M4A: Were you born ZP? Or is it short for something?
ZP: No, I was born a baby, I guess. My parents called me ZP which where my grandad’s initials. Because they didn’t want to burden me with all the names, they just gave me a shortened version – bless ’em! The hassles my name have caused in the past!

M4A: What was it like to grow up in South Africa in the ’80s?
ZP: I had an amazing childhood! I grew up on a banana and litchi farm in Hazyview in the Eastern Transvaal. It’s magical, thinking back! Everyone knows how tough music was to come by in the ’80s-’90s and imagine living where I grew up! It was near impossible! I reckon that’s why music is such a big deal for me. I pretty much grew up on Gé Korsten, Carika Keuzenkamp, Rina Hugo and the like. That was until my older brother started bringing all this new shit back from highschool; A-ha, Alphaville, Depeche Mode and then one day, Bon Jovi‘s Slippery When Wet! The rest is history!

M4A: Bless older brothers, schoolin’ the young! What were your favourite bands growing up?
ZP: Bon Jovi and Skid Row!

M4A: What made you leave South Africa, and why go to the UK?
ZP: I was in a few bands back in SA and the scene just didn’t live up to my aspirations! I wanted global not local, and knew I had to spread my wings. It could have been the US you know, but because of all the red-tape it turned out to be the UK; it was the right move.

M4A: Were you in any bands prior to Dragonforce?
ZP: Yeah, nothing major though. Most notably would probably be my last band in SA, Santaria with the now drummer of Cold Hand Chemistry, Robert Fick and ex-Strider guitarist Pierre Goosen and Stefan Steyn. We were based in Pretoria and those where some of the best days of my life! It was fuckin’ mental to be honest!

M4A: Right, now that the “serious interview stuff” is out of the way. What is your favourite animal?
ZP: I’m very much a dog person, Saint Bernards being my favourite. I also had a rather tame night owl growing up and they are pretty awesome! At the moment I have a fox that comes out every night for it’s dinner and I’ve got him tame enough to come eat out of my hand. London is not all first world you know!

M4A: What is your favourite stage moment?
ZP: We played a show in Canada with my previous band and the guitarist decided to do a stage dive, guitar and all. Problem was, when the crowd got wind of the impending distress, they gently parted like the Red Sea, and said guitarist fell flat on his face! What added to the chaos was that the people trying to help him up were standing on his hair at the same time! I’m sure that left a few empty patches. It was fuckin’ funny! But seriously, I think most the amazing was in 2006; walking out on the main stage at Donnigton for the first time. It’s crazy, you come up the ramp and around the corner and then it’s there, 85 000 faces staring at you in anticipation, wanting you to kick their asses, and that’s what you have to do! I don’t really have much recollection as I had tonsilitis and was running a fever of forty-two degrees and floating! I think I can still remember the most important bits though. It’s unlike anything you can imagine! Luckily we got given a video of the whole show to fill in the blanks!

M4A: If you could be in a “super band” with any artists, who would they be?
ZP: Right now I AM I is set to be the next “super band” and I’m already part of it!

ZP’s new band, I AM I released their debut album Event Horizon in May this year. Listen to “Silent Genocide” below: