Grand Junction, Colorado-based Zolopht began life as reggae band at Mesa State College in 2009, and reggae remains at the core of what the six-piece outfit has done over the course of nearly nine years, two full-length albums and innumerable cross-country jaunts. In the meantime, the band has integrated its members’ various and far-flung influences — hints of horn-driven ska, prog rock, Americana, punk and metal, jazz and jam-band improvisation — in such a way as to forge a sound that defies genre, even in the face of that ubiquitous rhythmic skank.
“Our sound has been constantly evolving since the beginning,” says singer and rhythm guitarist Zac Grant. “At first, we were a lot more on the reggae tip. But being six of us, we have lot of different influences, so it’s kind of a melting pot. So it’s become more funky, more jammy, although the reggae is obviously still in there. But the way we describe our sound now is psychedelic funk-rock reggae. It’s sort of Sublime-meets-punk-rock.”
Indeed, on their two fine full-lengths — 2014’s “pH Balanced” and 2015’s “Flexor” — Zolopht exhibit a talent for crafting insistent melodic hooks, as well as the instrumental chops to extend their tight, well-crafted pop-rock songs into long-form jams when the band is on stage and the energy is right. They also draw heavily on the hesher spirit of lead guitarist Cam Vilar, whose classic metal six-string maneuvers — tasty crunch rhythms, harmonized melody lines, squealing harmonic fills — add an appealing hard rock flair to Zolopht’s mix.
“We’ve always just kind of written music that we enjoy listening to when we write songs,” Grant says. “We’ve never really tried to adhere to a particular genre. What has happened is that we’ve adapted to each other’s influences over the years. We were never only going to be a rock band or a reggae band. That’s made for a pretty wide set of demographics in our fan base. We played a show in Tallahassee, Florida, the other night, and we had people from 21 to 60.”
Grant says Zolopht are currently working on record number three, even as they push their way across the U.S. on yet another continent-spanning tour — the busy band logs between 175 and 200 live dates every year. The workload is par for the course for the six-piece, however, as Grant says members made the choice early on to keep all band functions in-house, committing to Zolopht as a way of life as well as a career.
“We do our own booking; we do our own marketing,” Grant says. “Our bass player does all of our graphics. This is our priority in life. So it makes for lots of mornings waking up early after a show and staring at a computer. But it has gotten easier over the years, as we’ve toured and returned to some of the same markets again, built up a reliable fan base and just gotten used to the things we’ve got to do.”
Zolopht will play Preservation Pub Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m.