Stranger than fiction - Brooklyn Paper

Stranger than fiction

Acting the part: In the new show inspired by their lives, rock band ZO2 plays their own music.
Scott Pasfield / IFC

Three Brooklyn rockers — with a delicious double-life — are proving that there’s a lot to laugh about when you’re in pursuit of a record deal in their debut television series, “Z Rock.”

Created by the Independent Film Channel, it’s a fictionalized, semi-scripted series based on the band’s Jekyll-and-Hyde conundrum as the Z Brothers — playing kids birthday parties by day — and ZO2, revving crowds into a frenzy with their straight-up rock ’n’ roll by night.

The evident camaraderie and ribbing between real-life band members Paulie Z and David Z — who are also brothers — and drummer Joey Cassata will feel familiar to fans of HBO’s “Entourage,” in which an actor on his way to stardom — and his buddies — navigate the absurdities of doing business in Hollywood.

“The [‘Z Rock’] storyline is absolutely based on our real lives,” said bass guitarist David. “Each episode is heavily detailed and scripted, and we fill in the blanks and ad lib the lines, like Larry David’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ — but with rock ’n’ roll enthusiasm.”

In the first episode, which premieres Sunday, the band members promise to get to the next day’s Z Brothers gig — playing a birthday party for the son of a coked-up music mogul — on time, but they are delayed by an irresistible liaison with some hot local moms after a successful ZO2 show at Park Slope’s Southpaw.

In real life, the ZO2 members assured GO Brooklyn that they do have a second album out, “Ain’t It Beautiful” — available on their Web site www.ZO2.com — and their days of playing kids parties are over.

“It was really only to fund ZO2,” explained lead singer Paulie, who proudly sports an enormous Jew-fro. “There’s no time or need to, now, unless Jessica Alba needs performers for her kid’s party — and then we wouldn’t want to be paid in money.”

Another similarity between “Entourage” and “Z Rock” are the outlandish antics of the managers Ari (played by Jeremy Piven) and Dina (comedian Lynne Koplitz) who struggle to keep their clients — and keep them in line — while threatening to steal their respective shows.

In “Z Rock,” Dina — who is a combination of ZO2’s two real-life managers — shines in every wacky scenario, from encouraging her aunt — Joan Rivers! — to hire the band as her opening act at a casino, to enraging her yoga class by taking calls from the Z boys.

Comic Lynne Koplitz, pictured with drummer Joey Cassata, lead vocalist Paulie Z and bass guitarist David Z, plays ZO2’s manager Dina, a merging of the personalities of real-life managers Bob Held and Lynn Lendway.
Jennifer Graylock / IFC

Like the TV show featuring The Monkees, “Z Rock” showcases a real band — “of goofballs” — who play original music, but that’s where the similarities end, said Paulie.

“Those guys were put together for that show; Davey Jones was in theater, they weren’t a band before that, and it wasn’t a show about their lives,” he said. “Their show had Monkees music, but most of wasn’t theirs, it was written for them.”

While The Monkees played pop music, ZO2’s sound is akin to “modern day Led Zeppelin meets Audioslave with a little bit of Aerosmith sprinkled on top,” summarized David.

Although the band is proudly Brooklyn born-and-bred, they say the borough doesn’t offer enough venues that cater to their fans.

“We play straight-ahead, melodic hard rock, and there aren’t that many places in Brooklyn — aside from Southpaw and an area in Williamsburg,” said Paulie, who threw a party celebrating “Z Rock” at Staten Island’s Lamour last weekend. “Lamour is more suited to our style, our fans.”

After the 10-episode television series kicks off on Aug. 24, ZO2 will be reaching more fans with their music than they could ever entertain in clubs, so that was the attraction for the band when it came to re-hashing their kids-band past on the small screen.

“For us, the reason to do [‘Z Rock’] is it’s an amazing outlet for our music to be heard,” explained David. “Radio is amazing, and TV is bigger than radio. If you see people like Gene Simmons and Bret Michaels, everyone knows who they are, because of their shows [A&E’s ‘Family Jewels’ and VH1’s ‘Rock of Love’]. Now everybody knows them by name.”

“Z Rock” seems to be embraced by the rock community with cameos by Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) and Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers) as well as John Popper of Blues Traveler in a recurring role, but ZO2 is still awaiting the reviews of their sitcom from fans and the media. The band told GO Brooklyn that they’re on board if there’s an offer of a second season of “Z Rock” on the table.

“The guest stars we got were amazing,” said David. “We were big fans of them, so on a personal level it was amazing. Hopefully, we’ll have future seasons to have more. We had a great time.”

Dave Navarro (center) plays himself in episode 6, when he agrees to direct ZO2’s video.
Jennifer Graylock / IFC

“Z Rock” premieres Aug. 24 at 11:30 pm on the Independent Film Channel, with encores on Aug. 26 at 8:30 pm, Aug. 29 at 10:30 pm and Aug. 31 at 11 pm. For information about “Z Rock” and future ZO2 performances, visit www.ZO2.com.

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