ZAO - JESSE SMITH & THE HOLY GHOST with TONKA TUFF, FLESH OF THE LOTUS, VOIDHIDDEN
Zao is a metalcore band from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and one of the metalcore groups that rose in popularity at the end of the 90's. Founded in 1993 in Parkersburg, West Virginia, Zao has hosted several musicians and endured numerous roster changes to the point where no original members remain. Former drummer Jesse Smith, singer Daniel Weyandt, and guitarists Scott Mellinger and Russ Cogdell are seen by most fans as the "core" of Zao.
Christianity has been a key influence in the band's work; because the founding members claimed to have a strong relationship with god, they were considered a devoted Christian band, which changed as time passed. Former drummer Jesse Smith slowly changed the band's vision. Because only half the band's members identified themselves as Christians, Zao no longer considered itself a Christian band but rather a group of open-minded artists.
To date, Zao has completed ten full-length albums, three EPs, a two-disc DVD documentary and multiple concert tours, garnering a limited but global fanbase and earning critical praise in the process.
- Roy Goudy - Guitar (1993-1997)
- Jesse Smith - Drums (1993-2004)
- Eric Reeder - Vocals (1994-1995)
- Mic Cox - Bass (1994-1997)
- Shawn Jonas - vocals (1995-1997)
- Kevin Moran - Touring Bassist (1997)
- Ron Gray - Guitar (1997-1998)
- Brett Detar - Guitar (1997-1999)
- Rob Horner - Bass (1999-2004)
- Corey Darst - Touring Vocalist (2000-2001)
- Matt Auxier - Touring Guitarist (2001-2002)
- Joshua Ashworth - Touring Vocalist (2003-2004)
- Shawn Koschik - Bass (2004-2005)
- Stephen Peck - Drums (2004-2005)
- Russ Cogdell - Guitar (1997-2006) (Left due to knee surgery, but joined the lineup again in 2007)
Jesse Smith & The Holy Ghost
Hailing from the small town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Jesse Smith has lived the all too familiar "ups" and "downs" of the music business for the last 20 years. As a founding member of the seminal Christian metal-core band Zao, Jesse went on to sell thousands of records, tour the world with some of the biggest names in metal, and influence the sound of countless major heavy acts.
Zao was praised in many circles as ground-breaking innovators but often times riddled with criticism and controversy.
Smith and his live band - drummer Brandon Joy, bassist Ralph Moyers, and guitarists Breyer White and Dakota Walker, also had the opportunity to hone their chops and test new material live as they took to the stage at renowned festivals like Milwaukee’s Summerfest and Delaware’s Dewey Beach Music Festival, as well as headlining and support gigs throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
Many a great lesson is learned through inner turmoil; Jesse came away from his struggle with personal demons with new perspective on life, one that allowed him to open himself up to help and guidance from others, and to mend past relationships gone awry. That same perspective brought his new music to a different level.
Jesse Smith & the Holy Ghost’s debut full length was recorded during the tail end of 2014 and the spring of 2015. The group of studio musicians, worked through Ohio’s minus-15-degree winter at Michael Seifert’s Ante Up Audio (Dave Matthews Band, Tori Amos, Fountains of Wayne) with Brandon Zano producing and engineering. With tours running through the end of 2015 and a release date set for spring 2016. The future is bright