Zero1: Actor/Comedian Hal Sparks on Growing Up a Metalhead in a Kentucky Small Town
Not a new jack to our community, Sparks told Noisecreep how he discovered his passion for metal: "I remember being in a flea market at 5-years-old and I saw the first KISS album in one of the bins I was looking through. I stared at the cover and was like, "What's this?!" It was almost like it didn't matter what it sounded like, I wanted it. It was like a $1.48 and my mom got it for me.
"I listened to that album constantly. But then about a year later, my church came out against KISS, with all of that "Knights in Satan's Service" nonsense. So I caught a lot of hell for liking the band. But yeah, my love affair with hard rock and metal started with KISS," says the 42-year-old singer/guitarist/actor.
Sparks grew up in a small town called Peaks Mill in Kentucky, not the easiest place to be a flag-waving metalhead in the early-'80s, but at least his father has his back: "I just had the attitude that I loved this kind of music, and I didn't care what anyone thought about it.
"Besides all of the imagery and cool music, I've always respected the musicianship in the metal world. I guess that comes from my dad who played bluegrass in our house. Let's face it – bluegrass is just redneck speed metal anyway [laughs]. There's a fine line between Béla Fleck and Steve Vai. It's all crazy fast, but in the end, it's all about the song."
Sparks eventually learned how to play guitar and joined his first band during his high school years. "I guess that was around 1987. Even though I was the guitarist in the band, I was also the only person that knew all of the words to the songs we were covering, so I became the singer as well. I was terrible at first, but I got better," he laughs.
Zero1 formed in the mid-'00s after Sparks hooked up with bassist Robert Hall -- a special effects make up artist and director that Sparks met while he was hosting 'Talk Soup' on the E! network. "Robert had lived at Robert Trujillo's [Metallica bassist] for a while and he gave him bass lessons. How insane is that? Anyway, we eventually got my cousin [Miles Loretta] on drums and things got started from there. At first, it was really hard for me to play guitar and sing at the same time, but one day I just woke up and it clicked. I'm a huge fan of King's X and other bands that have frontmen who sing and play an instrument, so that was really important for me to get down. The fact that Dug from King's X produced our first album is a dream come true."
Along with the rest of Zero1, Brian Crow (Guitar/Vocals), Bumper Renga (Bass/Vocals), and Lance Tamanaha (Drums/Vocals), Sparks will hit the road in May for a month-long U.S. jaunt with THC/Rocket Science labelmates Oedipus, before a trek across the pond for a handful of major Summer festivals. Look for a new Zero1 album to hit stores this August.
Zero1's eponymous debut album will hit stores in March, with its single 'American Psycho,' hitting all digital outlets Friday, April 13. Stay tuned to Noisecreep for more of our chat with Hal Sparks.