Zoos of BerlinExperimental pop band Zoos of Berlin aren’t what you’d normally expect from the Detroit underground scene. Offering listeners well arranged, deeply textured songs, the band is part of a growing experimental pop scene within the city that is producing some of the most original bands Detroit has ever seen. Part of the Hamtramck Blowout lineup, the diverse brand of pop music that Zoos of Berlin offers is just one of the many indie veins represented at the festival. A hybrid of indie pop, experimental, rock, and a myriad of other veins, the new release by Zoos of Berlin titled Taxis is without a doubt one of the best representations of the creativity lying within the Detroit music scene; a true achievement of 2009.

Having been hailed as a breakthrough album by local publications as well as Pitchfork, Taxis blew listeners away with a strongly diverse array of pop music. Plenty of sweeping guitars, progressive instrumentals, and charming vocals makes for an effortlessly brilliant sound. A act of genius that Detroit underground fans will get the opportunity to catch at rock bottom prices. Detroit Underground got a chance to talk to Will Yates and get his thoughts and feelings about the direction of Zoos of Berlin as well as the music scene as a whole. Zoos of Berlin is currently working on a new album that they hope to release later in the year as well as preparing for their first tour with Child Bite. See them prior to the Blowout at frequent shows around the city including free shows at Alvin’s and the Eagle Theater.

Detroit Underground: The huge topic on everyone’s mind is the Blowout. Have you played the Blowout before and what do you expect form it?

Will Yates: We’ve played the Blowout the last few years. We expect to have a good time.

DU: Many of the bands emerging from the Detroit underground scene seem to be of the experimental pop variety. Do you think this is accurate, and if so, why do you think that is?

WY: I haven’t noticed that experimental pop is a thing in Detroit. However, I trust that everyone is just making the music that they want to make.

DU: Zoos of Berlin obviously harness a lot of different influences. Do you think your music is a product of these influences or are you deliberately heading in a certain direction?

WY: Well, I think we’re quick to recognize our influences, at least when we’re working on songs together, and there is a good deal of music — past and present — that we strongly admire, but at the same time we don’t write songs with the goal of sounding like anyone in particular. We’re making music that we want to make and hear. My personal philosophy on writing music has always been that you’re writing music that you yourself want to hear, because no one else is doing it quite like you want them to.

DU: I ask everyone this, but what do you think about the current state of Detroit music and the direction it’s heading?

WY: I’ve always been happy with the Detroit music scene. I’ve made a lot of great friends through it, and I think there are a lot of talented people here. Obviously it’s never going to match the depth and breadth of a music scene like New York’s, but for a relatively small city suffering a constant exodus of creative types, I think we’ve got a lot to be proud of. For the future, I don’t foresee another stylistic trend like the garage/retro rock boom. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing these days, and personally that’s the way I like it.

DU: What about how the scene is covered by local publications?

WY: I’m very impressed with how the music writers I’m familiar with cover local music. They seem unflappingly willing to go watch and support every new, unknown band. That’s an important part of keeping a music scene strong.

DU: What projects are you currently working on and when can people expect it to be released?

WY: We’re currently recording our second full-length, and we hope for a release this year. There are a few music videos in the works as well for songs from our first album Taxis, and we’re very excited about these. We’re also doing our first tour this spring, with Child Bite.

DU: With such a variety of different venues in Detroit, what is your favorite, or at least your favorite atmosphere?

WY: I don’t think we have a favorite venue in Detroit. We’re capable of having a good time anywhere, although we do prefer it if we can get the lights turned down low.

DU: Do you have any expectations for the band or are you happy simply sharing your art with others?

WY: Maybe the classiest way to answer this question is to say that we would still be doing this band even if no one else cared. We have a lot of fun writing songs and recording them in our studio.

DU: What would everyone be doing if they weren’t in Zoos of Berlin?

WY: Zoos of Berlin is not a full-time job for us, so we’re all already doing what we would be doing if we didn’t have the band. Collin is a recording engineer, Trevor is an ad copywriter, Dan is a teacher, and I am currently unemployed.

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