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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Zim-Zims perform Saturday in Davis

It’s understandable, but it’s stifling – Davis tends to house students throughout their college careers, but never for much longer. It’s terrible for bands, in particular, which dissolve not long after their inceptions.

However, this fate doesn’t hold true for the Zim-Zims, a three-piece group of UC Davis alumni who established somewhat of a Davis legacy throughout their time together from 2002 to 2005. Three years after their split, they will perform together Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Delta of Venus.

Formed in 2002 by Jake Mann, the band started playing well into their college careers. The band’s initial lineup consisted of Mann, along with former drummers Derek Burill and Blair Trigg and former bassist Mike Talbot. Eric Ruud, who played with the Legubitrons in his early years in Davis, later joined the Zim-Zims as their official bassist, joined by Teddy Briggs, who filled Trigg’s spot after his graduation.

“We came in at the tail end of [Davis’] vertiginous days,” said Trigg in an e-mail interview. “It was a good time to be a musician.”

The Zim-Zims put out two releases – one full-length self-titled album and an EP in 2004 titled Go Where You Are. With experience in both home and studio recording, Ruud described the advantages and disadvantages of professional recording.

“I feel like our first record gets the point across just as well as the second, in terms of the quality,” Ruud said. “It may not be technically as perfect, but I feel like the essence is captured just as well, and it’s just as enjoyable to listen to.”

“I’m always leaning towards sacrificing audio quality to making it at home,” Mann said. “It’s a lot of work and it can be stressful, but it’s really rewarding.”

Playing their first show at the Delta of Venus in May of 2002, the Zim-Zims soon went on to perform in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles, in addition to other local Davis venues. Their simple lineup of guitars, bass and drums embodies their musical style, which has typically been described as easy, pop-oriented rock.

“What I remember best about their shows is that they were so much fun,” said Michael Leahy, DJ of “Cool As Folk” on KDVS 90.3 FM. “They were the quintessential college-town indie-rock pop band that everybody knew, and everybody would come out for their shows. Between the three of them, they put out a great wall of sound that people responded to.”

“I think I first found them through their record at KDVS,” said Joe Finkel, who will also be playing at Delta on Saturday. “I was booking shows back then, so I booked them at Picnic Day and at my house. I like [Mann’s] style a lot – he has a sense of what good rock is.”

Their writing style, though never uniform, was most successful when each member contributed his own individual thoughts. Mann’s historical lyrical style, combined with the input of the other members, comprised some of the band’s favorite songs, such as “Monticello Song.”

With songs that explore ideas like urbanization and ghost towns, Ruud said that Mann’s understanding of the area’s geography and history contributes to the band’s lyrics.

“He has strong, emotional and resonant ideas that aren’t overtly emotional, in a way that a lot of rock music is these days,” Rudd said.

It was their varied interests that eventually led to the consensual split of the band, and each member went off to focus on his own interests. As a bassist in San Francisco-based group Sholi, Ruud finds himself closer to his own musical interests. Drummer Teddy Briggs has performed along with several other acts, including Boss the Big Bit and Joe Finkel. Mann has been working on a solo project, which he described as darker and more complex.

Even so, the Zim-Zims served as a focal starting point for each of the members, and the group members continued to flourish post-graduation.

“To build up a band takes a little bit more than two or three years,” Mann said. “It’s a time for one idea to take hold and spread, and sometimes it takes off.”

The Zim-Zims will perform Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Delta of Venus along with Joe Finkel and Mistlefinger. The two Zim-Zims releases, re-released by Leahy’s Crossville Records label, will be available, as well as unreleased demos and live performances of the band. Tickets are $3 each. For more information, visit zimzims.com and deltaofvenus.org.


JUSTIN HO can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.


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