Getting That Dirty Shine With ZZ Ward

You may have heard her single “Put The Gun Down” or “365 Days” on the radio. You may even have her album, “Til The Casket Drops.” But did you know she was a Philly girl??? Jackie Anderson helps you learn more about ZZ Ward.

J: I recently saw you at Firefly and I think you’re my new girl crush. You did a great job! The audience really loved you.
Z: Thank you, thank you. That was so fun!

J: But I didn’t know you were from Abington until afterwards.
Z: Yeah, I was born in Abington then I lived in Bucks County until I was eight and then I moved. I moved to Oregon.

J: So do you have any family back here still?
Z: No. My grandmother lived in Hatboro but she passed away about a year and half ago. It’s unfortunate because with all the touring I do I get to visit people that I normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to see but unfortunately she passed before all this started happening, with me going on the road and such.

J: Aw, well maybe she had a hand in it.
Z: Yeah but my dad grew up there, my mom grew up in Germantown and Fishtown in Philly.

J: Awesome! I was reading other articles that you had done and I saw that you related to hip hop because the artists spoke of getting out of the places they were raised in. Was your desire to leave Oregon purely because of the lack of opportunity there or did you feel like a bit of an outsider?
Z: I guess I kind of felt like an outsider a little bit especially coming from the east coast; it was very different there. A lot of small things were different there. I’m sure I had a very heavy accent when I moved there. (laughs) It’s gone now but you know, I mean I did feel like an outsider with what I was trying to do there but the town was always really supportive of me in Oregon. I’m going to go back to a festival they have this summer so it’s really exciting to go back to the one festival they have in the town that I moved to. But the main reason I left was because there was just no opportunity there for me. I had done everything I could do there. I had sold my demo cd out of the back of my truck everywhere I could go and I was booking my own shows. I made a mini attempt at booking my own tour at the town fair and all over Oregon and just drive around… and I did everything I could do there. At some point I was like, “I have to leave. I have to get out of here or I’m not going to be able to do what I want to do.”

J: I saw also that your first band was with your dad. Is he a professional musician?
Z: He’s a local musician. We would play gigs all over the place and it’s kind of how I got into the blues. I got up on stage for some of the first times with him and that’s where I got my start on stage. I learned a lot of stage chops from that. I learned how to work with other musicians from that, too.

J: Is your mom into music as well?
Z: My mom likes music. My mom’s a psychiatric nurse. She can’t sing or anything (laughs) but she appreciates me.

J: How did your dad get into the blues? I don’t see a lot of people into that around here.
Z: I don’t know what it was. I don’t remember them being into the blues in Pennsylvania, when we lived there. When we moved to Oregon, I think there was a band that was getting started. My dad heard about this band and actually ended up getting in and they wanted to be a blues band. That’s how he started listening to the blues and we just got into it from there. That was my introduction to it.

J: I also saw your picture from your Record Day record and I just wanted to ask, How did you get so badass at age 11? How did you get that outfit? It was awesome!
Z: (Laughs) I was singing a blues song for some kind of talent show and I needed something to wear so I went into a tuxedo shop and sang them a song and they let me borrow a tux. I remember I was like, “I need the cane too. I need to have the cane.” That’s who I was then, that’s who I am now. Clearly I wore a lot less makeup back then.

J: I also wanted to ask since you have only been in LA for four years – did you try the college thing or was it all touring around Oregon before you came to LA?
Z: I thought about going to college. I think I took some classes but I knew that I wanted to do music. I knew I wasn’t really supposed to really do that. There’s nothing else I really wanted to do. I think my mom wanted me to get into nursing or something like that but it wasn’t for me. I got my C.N.A. license when I was like sixteen and I worked in a hospital for a little bit but it just wasn’t for me but I’m glad that I did it. I learned a lot. I knew what I wanted to do, always. I just knew that I needed to get into the city to do it.

J: The only other question I had for you is – what is the origin of your first name?
Z: Hungarian. Zsuzsanna is hard to pronounce so growing up people started calling me ZZ.

You can catch ZZ Ward on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC at 11:35pm on Wednesday, July 3rd.

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