Hard Rock supergroup A-Z made up of Metal greats has released their self-titled debut album via Metal Blade. In early 2020, Fates Warning and Warlord drummer, Mark Zonder, began working on new material with the vision of beginning a new, full-time band that would offer something distinctly different from his previous work.
The mission was to “deliver straightforward, no-frills Hard Rock that speaks to a broader audience”. The end result sees Zonder reunite with Fates Warning lead vocalist Ray Alder, along with bassist Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai, Warlord), guitarist Joop Wolters, and keyboardist Vivien Lalu. Zonder has been clear that this is not a “one and done” project.
For Zonder, finding a singer ended up being the hardest part:
I had sent out a basic song to over 20 different singers, some popular named singers and some unknown, but completely struck out. Then I just decided to call Ray as I was not sure what he was up to. I figured it could not hurt to get in touch. I do remember speaking with him back in the day and him talking about how he loved this kind of music. I sent him a track or two and he just killed it.
I found this a chance to do something completely different than what I am used to, being in a prog metal band for 30 years. I find the blend of the 80s, 90s and a touch of 70s style of music very cool, and it is great to work with Mark after all of these years.
The band’s name came courtesy of Alder – A-Z = Alder thru Zonder. For artwork, they turned to Hugh Syme (Rush, Fates Warning), who delivered the vivid image of a zebra eating an apple, encompassing the band name in a sly way.