Interview with Zerbin, Eclectic Alt-Rock with Emotion

Zerbin, as it stands today, is made of a dynamic and creative multi-instrumentalist duo: Jason Zerbin and Peter Mol, with a fluid collection of accompanying artists.

Zerbin is becoming wildly recognized across the continent for their eclectic alt-rock sound that is distinct, catchy, and broad in their emotional conveyance.

This is one of the interviews that I’ve been most excited to do since writing for Arthur, simply for the friend connection and my being a big fan of the music and people who make up Zerbin.

Jason was a part of the friend group and circles that I’ve been a part of since working in Ottawa some years ago. Seeing this musical project take off like it has is such an encouragement for myself, and I know for many others with notions of artistic ventures as well.

Zerbin and Mol are both such real and down-to-earth people that they are hard to dislike in any way, so a big thanks to both of them for making time to sit down and talk with me before their show.


As multi-instrumentalists, what are your favourite instruments to play, on stage or just at home?

Peter: Piano is absolutely my favourite. It’s something I don’t do in front of people as much, and in my mind, it is the most expressive instrument you can play. To me, it still sounds the prettiest.

Jason: Piano, too! The majority of writing I do is on the piano initially; it can be so big and loud, but also soft and gentle. The EP doesn’t have much in it, but our new stuff will have more in it.

The titles I’ve seen from your new EP and tour such as “Touch”, “Take Your Heart”, and “Lift” seem not only very positive and uplifting, but also personal and contact-focused. Was this your intention? What are you trying to convey to the listener through this EP?

Jason: The three songs you mentioned were written about a year apart from each other. I was trying to write what hits my heart, what was touching me the most emotionally. “Touch” and “Take My Heart” were about love and relationships. “Take My Heart” was more about, “hey, take this chance to trust me, you won’t be disappointed.”

I wrote “Lift” in the basement of my house last Christmas. It just kind of flowed out in a few minutes. The message is that there’s hope, you just have to lift your head up because it’s coming.

Over the years, how has your sound and/or approach to the music changed?

Jason: Between the two of us we have different background and styles, and so with Peter came more co-writing, more of Peter’s sound imprint. He is very knowledgeable with more music history and such. For myself, I’ve developed more melodies and harmonizing, as well as the development of my own sound and style.

Peter: My sound is very diverse. Because I have enjoyed many types of music over the years, I find I can be impressionable from other people’s styles. I’ve come to where I am in my personal style now though because of this opportunity to enjoy so much music.

What do you find is the most integral part of your music making process?

Peter: I think I would say honesty and originality. I often struggle with comparing myself to other musicians. Things we hear and see always influence us, but I think, more importantly, honesty. Honesty in presentation as well as in content is so integral to being a musician.

Jason: To me, it’s what to capture best in a moment. What the song is saying, what it wants to become, it’s as though they take on a life of their own. A song is like a child; what it is supposed to be and say can change and develop as you pursue it further. Sometimes, depending on the influencing factors, some songs change so much that they’re no longer what you intended for them at all, but it may work out very well for the album.

After touring with the likes of AWOLNATION, FUN, and Flaming Lips, how does this tour stand out? And what have been your favourite moments thus far?

Peter: Just traveling really. I have never done a full cross country tour, hitting all the major cities. It has been really good meeting new people, and seeing friends and people you love across the country. Seeing different cities has been great, trying different foods and coffee.

Jason: Yes! We love food and coffee. We like finding the different coffee shops and meeting friends across Canada. It has been interesting seeing how Canada is so different and yet, in some ways, the same everywhere we go.

Jason, I’ve known you for some years. Now that you’re married, how does this affect your touring time? Do you find it more difficult being away from home for so long?

Jason: It is a different dynamic for sure, the being away and everything … Can I be very honest? I don’t want to offend anyone or anything like that, but the hardest thing about being away and not seeing your spouse is sex. I can call or Skype, but if I’m not home, then I’m not home.

What do you think of Peterborough, or what you’ve seen of it so far?

Both: Coffee. We love trying different coffee everywhere we go.

What music have you been listening to lately?

Jason: Justin Timberlake, the first CD of the 20/20 Experience, and Bon Iver.

Peter: Peter Gabriel and Trent Dabbs.

If you hadn’t gone into music, what do you think you’d be doing now instead?

Peter: We get asked this frequently and I honestly don’t know.

Jason: I think I’d be a businessman and be rich, or be a prophet, or maybe a photographer?

These guys are on my list of musicians to watch! They make wonderful music with lyrics that can be pointed, spiritual, controversial, and poetic.

There are songs to make you think, make you happy, or bring you through the problems in your head to a realization of peace in the cosmos. Their music is proof that people of a spiritual inclination can make great music for people to enjoy and their inclinations shouldn’t be a reason for people to dislike their music.

Zerbin was last in Peterborough on Nov. 19 at the Red Dog. The boys have been home for the holidays with no new tour dates posted as of yet, but we expect to see some soon.

They’re also working on writing for their full-length album.