I have an album called There Goes The Wonder Truck by the 80s/90s college rock band Mary's Danish. I'd bought it because I loved the hit “Don't Crash The Car Tonight.” The album is a forgotten gem -- think X meets the Pixies and Throwing Muses -- and very winning.
Later on I found out they broke up, and always wondered what happened to the members of the band. Well, two of them, Matt Colleran and Nick Zeigler, guitars and drums, are in the Forty Nineteens.
Nick was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
Andrea Weiss: For those who don't know you, could you tell a little of your history?
Nick Zeigler: Matt Colleran and I will be explained in the next question. Singer John Pozza and I go back to the late 80s with a garage band called The Leonards. We were very Detroit MC5 in spirit. John and Chuck Gorian (guitar) decided to put a band together, i.e., The Forty Nineteens. They are lawyers, (and practical jokers) and wanted a name that would be said by every judge in every court in the state of California. Thus the name The Forty Nineteens; a Forty Nineteen credit is given to anyone in jail that behaves themselves. One day good behavior gets you one day off of your sentence. That became our motto, "We all could use some time off for good behavior."
AW: Who are your influences?
NZ: After living in Detroit, John enjoys The Romantics, MC5 and Iggy Pop, as well as Elvis Costello. Matt grew up in London, and enjoys all the British punk bands from the late 70s, though he has wide influences. Chuck is a SoCal punk, and likes all the hardcore punk bands from the 80s. Kevin is a Jazz Funk Cat and digs everything from James Brown to Django Reinhardt. I like The Who, The Clash, and a lot of 80s bands like Romeo Void.
AW: You and Matt I know were in Mary's Danish, a band I always liked. Could you talk about that?
NZ: Matt was in the band from its very beginnings. The band (to the best of my knowledge) initially would sit in the apartment and write songs. As they developed a repertoire the band decided to play live. The band did not have a permanent drummer so their friend would sit in. Mary's Danish had a manager, Jonathan Schweid, that I was friends with too. He suggested I try out for the other band he managed. Eventually Mary's Danish asked me to play for them. Within a few weeks I was recording with the band. One of those demos was "Don't Crash the Car Tonight," which was picked up by KROQ DJ Ken Fusion. The song became a huge local hit, and really put us on the map. Matt and I were in the band until early 1989. We performed with The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dramarama, Thelonious Monster, Redd Kross, among others. The band went on some phenomenal tours in the early 90's
AW: I like your garage rock sound. Is it a fun style to play?
NZ: Thank you for the compliment. Yes it's an incredible amount of fun to play. When performing covers, we always, what we call, "Forty Nineteen" the song – that is, perform it our way, while paying homage to the original. Our covers of "Dead Flowers" by the Rolling Stones and "Moonlight Drive" by the Doors are good examples.
AW: Tell us about “I'm Always Questioning Days.” It sounds political, but with an uplifting message.
NZ: We're glad you enjoyed the message to that one. We steer clear of politics, but we think in general that everyone needs to think for themselves, observe and come up with their own solutions or answers. We feel that is the positive message to "I"m Always Questioning Days"
AW: Many of these songs are relationship songs. Are they meant to be general, or are they about specific situations?
NZ: John wrote "Tell Me" after sitting at lunch while a girl seated next to him was telling the person on the phone to "Tell me that you love me." John will be the first to tell you it pretty much wrote itself. He has great observational skills. If you listen to our song "I'm Free" from Rebooted, he wrote it after a conversation with a family member that was ending his marriage. That song also wrote itself.
AW: How has the pandemic affected the band and how you make and record music?
NZ: We haven't seen one another for I can't even recall how long, so we keep in touch online, and send song ideas online, or via Zoom calls. Our song "We're Going To Las Vegas" was recorded in our separate homes and sent to our producer/engineer. I recorded the drums at my house, then the rest of the guys figured out parts and sent them to me. I put them together and presented to our producer. He checked them for quality and cohesiveness. Once we had the framework, we then added or subtracted parts according to what serviced the song the best. It turned into a fun little romp that became our Call to Action for everyone once the greenlight sounds and we can all go out and live life again! Whether its Las Vegas or anywhere, we hope everyone gets out, sees live music more than they typically would. Like our album suggests, we are preparing for a "New Roaring Twenties."
AW: What advice would you give someone who's just starting out in music?
NZ: One thing we ALWAYS suggest to younger musicians or anyone learning an instrument, is to see as many performers, genres of music, as possible. We especially suggest seeing the older musicians perform. Rather than be put off by "old heads," get out there and see how they play their instruments, and work around other musicians. There is a wealth of information from those players. Bassist Kevin Barber and I went to The Ponderosa Stomp in Memphis to watch three days of music performed by original 1950s Rock n Rollers and bluesmen. It was a three day masters class in Rock n Roll. Something we'll never forget.