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Ron Ziai: A Man with Cavernous Creativity

Interview conducted on April 16, 2010

by Sadaf Fayyaz

Ron ZiaiRon Ziai was born in Englewood, NJ on January 29, 1974 and was given the name 'Reza Ziai' having an artistic nature since childhood; he picked up guitar at a very young age and started practicing too. He played some cover in his schooldays as well. During his graduation studies course at Pittsburgh, During his high school days he played djembe and lead guitar in a blues band called "Blue Gill Bob and the Horsebreakers" mostly for fun. Ron also started an atmospheric band that was later called 'Cloudmachine' with his friends. They played several shows in Pittsburgh, but soon disbanded. Ron then formed and fronted a group called 'Diving for Orchids' where he sang lead and played guitar for the first time, but this disbanded too. He decided to go solo and create his own music after these experiences. Ron discovered the wonderful world of Digital Audio Workstations and started recording extremely rough demos. He released his CD which had all the tracks written and recorded by him that truly marked his creativity.

"His latest music rocks pretty hard. Totally surprised and pleased with his progress."
Joe St. Esprit (lead vocalist for The Doors Experience)

Ziai has finely crafted each song with an emotional weight that will appeal to all walks of the progressive world. Overall, it is the perfect balance of art - virtuosic and glorious instrumentation tinged with a touch of genius. Doesn't get much better than this."
Alex Jasperse, The Muse's Muse

Last month, I caught a performance by a guitarist who really caught my attention: Reza "Ron" Ziai, who plays a variety of instruments and gets some interesting sounds out of them."
"Observer-Reporter" journalist, Harry Funk, from Sound & Vision

You can find his music at: MySpace and CDBaby.com

Sadaf: Tell something about your education and music training.

Ron: I actually have no formal training in music aside from about a year of guitar lessons in high school and a couple college level theory courses. Both helped immensely, but I feel I learned the most from playing with friends and listening to a wide range of music. I can read tab and play by ear, but my site reading is, admittedly, quite poor. I can't underscore enough how important it is for up and coming musicians to play with people.

Sadaf: Tell about your inspiration.

Ron: The inspiration comes from three main sources: 1) Classical music, 2) 80's and 90's hard rock/metal music and 3) Traditional Persian music. Aside from those things, I get inspired to play when I dwell on the pain in life -specifically my life. The one album I've done was a compilation of many years of intense darkness and depression. I am moving away from that, but some things remain close to the bone.

Another thing that inspires me is poetry and the writings of ancient mystics. I've always been fascinated by visions, voices, and things from the Other Shore.

Sadaf: Give a brief intro of the band members.

Ron: HAHAHA!! Are you kidding me?! I don't have a band. The disc that I did last year (Ron Ziai - available at CDBaby.com) was entirely my own creation. Several friends played some back up roles (back up vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards). But I composed, produced, played, and engineered almost everything myself. I've always found that working with people to create something specific that I've had in mind has been almost a total waste of time. Groups have always been about "the least common denominator" to me. You get a sort of 'herd mentality' in groups. When I try to run things myself, I get too caught up in so many things, that I end up enjoying music better if I just engineered and produced everything myself.

Currently, however, after getting an endorsement with XOX Audio Tools, I am looking for band mates to work on new material to present in a trio format to help spread the word of the vibe I'm trying to put out there.

Sadaf: How and when did you get interested in music?

Ron: I remember exactly. It was when my brother was in dental school. He came home one weekend with a dog and a guitar out of nowhere. My parents were in total disbelief. It was funny. I just ended up playing the thing more than he did probably because he was studying all the time and I was just in junior high or something.

But before that, I was always listening to what my brother listened to. And when he wasn't listening to some 80's hair metal stuff, I was hearing what my dad was playing on the stereo - mostly classical and Persian music.

Sadaf: What was the first instrument you learnt playing and at what age?

Ron: It was the recorder. I was about 6 years old and I was terrible at it.

Sadaf: Who are your favorite bands and musicians?

Ron: This is always complicated to answer because it seems to change a lot. But the mains ones that seem to always stay are. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Tea Party (Jeff Martin), Radiohead, Vivaldi, Yngwie Malmsteen, Pagannini, Mozart, Beethoven, Metallica, The Doors, System of a Down, Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Sigur Ros, Nick Drake, Neil Young...I could go on and on. Lately, I've been listening to a ton of Katatonia. I'm really moved by those guys. Lately, I've been trying to get into jazz music again - but I'm struggling with that.

Ron ZiaiSadaf: Share a few lines on your album. What are your expectations from fans?

Ron: 'Pieces of glass from that car crash are stuck inside your face. Let me reach in and pull them out...one...by...one.
"A Sip of Wine"
I was going through a lot of pain at the time (emotional pain) and I was yearning for sympathy from friends and family and strangers even. This song was sort of a cry of help at the time. I hope it inspires others to not sit still when they struggle and do whatever it takes to get help and ultimately, offer help after you are well as a form of karmic debt.


'Will you drown with me. We don't need air to breath.
So tie these to your feet as I give you one last push. You'll reach out for my hands as you drown in the deep blue sea.'
"Drowning (the stone)"


This is a song about tricking a demon that you don't need air to breath and if the demon simply tied some rocks to its feet and jumped in the water with you, you'll be okay together forever. He agrees to tie the rocks to his feet and just as you are about to both plunge into the water together, you trick him and push him in instead thereby killing the demon. Many people seem to think my songs are all gloom and doom, but they really need to see what's going on. You can only use what you have...if you have pain and darkness, and then you use those things, but do something good with them.

Sadaf: What is your music genre?

Ron: I hate genre names. I guess I like the phrase Ambient Metal. Most people say I'm progressive, some say goth, some say indie. Who knows?

Sadaf: Have you ever played cover songs?

Ron: Sure. In high school and college I exclusively played covers. I got tired of that pretty quick.

Sadaf: What is your source of learning?

Ron: Existential literature, the classical radio station, other musicians. I particularly like to read magazines that are geared towards audio production and engineering. Sometimes I try to learn from other people, but I usually don't end up getting anything useful from most people. I rely on my own experience mostly.

Sadaf: How do you define music?

Ron: Music in general. Well, it is an expression of soul. It could be from a person, an animal, or an event, or almost anything else. It's just vibrations that come right from the center. Most popular music today is terrible because it is an expression of a world whose soul has lost its way. The manifestation is a commercialized form of mind numbing garbage. I wish people could be a bit more truthful and write music about other things that perhaps do not pertain to the entertainment industry. You can have music at a wedding, funeral, or on the frontlines of war. With so much going on today, you'd think there would be more diversity in popular music. Sadly, you need to go searching for anything decent.

My music is dark, but it is not negative. It was about a dark period in my life. Many people who have been hurt often end up hurting others or themselves. This album is in retaliation to that mentality. The music is about using what you have. I used the darkness to attempt to break through into a clearer, more open realm. I'm starting to get there.

Sadaf: Any message to your fans?

Ron: Be honest about who you are. Don't pull any punches with people. If someone doesn't like what you say when you're being truthful, screw them. The ones who do like what you're saying are the ones who matter.