By Nicholas Jason Lopez
The Ziggens – a well-documented favorite act of everyone from the late Bradley Nowell (who signed them to the Skunk Records label and had them open for Sublime) and Josh Fischel (Bargain Music) to a young Travis Barker – marked their emphatic return after 19 years this past summer with their 18-track album ‘Oregon.’
Originators of that classic California “CowPunkSurfabilly” sound that takes notes from favorable acts like The Sandals and The Ventures, The Ziggens have now celebrated three decades together and through that time, have performed on the Vans Warped Tour twice, put out nine records and toured with the likes of Dick Dale, No Doubt and Slightly Stoopid.
If ‘Oregon’ shows anything, it’s that The Ziggens won’t have big salty tears running down to your chin out of sadness anytime soon, because they simply haven’t missed a single wave.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with frontman Bert Susanka about what they’ve been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How did you decide on the band name?
Bert Susanka – The name “Ziggens” remains a mystery.
Music Bugle – What was the goal for your second single “Macon”?
Bert Susanka – “Macon” is just another Ziggen ballad. I like writing ballads mixed in with our surf style music. For this song, I drew from a few friends who lost their true love because he or she got tired of waiting for the person to conquer an addiction.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your LP ‘Oregon’?
Bert Susanka – ‘Oregon’ took a while to make because we recorded in Long Beach. I would drive from Redlands to North Long Beach twice a week in rush hour, but I loved working with our producer, Kris Jackson. Covid didn’t slow us down at all. We had a record to make!
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Bert Susanka – I’m from Huntington Beach and I love the ocean, I love reverb and I love my fellow Ziggens. I have the same drive as I did when I was younger. I just weigh more. My favorite thing in the world is writing songs.
Music Bugle – The late Bradley Nowell called you guys his favorite band. How do you feel about that?
Bert Susanka – Brad knew we were nerds and non-rock stars, but he loved us and our songs. It was an honor to see him smile. He loved surf songs like I do and told me he loved our live harmony singing.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Bert Susanka – I’ve been listening to The Sandals and Bob Dylan.
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Bert Susanka – My proudest accomplishment is faith in God. People try to talk me out of it, but no way, man!
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Bert Susanka – Social media helps to get the word out, but there’s no replacing being on the road adapting to a new venue every night. There’s no replacing that in a band’s development.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Bert Susanka – We’ve lost a lot of shows, but we try to adapt and keep positive.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Bert Susanka – The quote is my obsessive brain telling me, “Write, write, write…” and I happily reply, “YES.”