Billboard wrote: "On paper, it sounds like a novelty: an album of songs that celebrate hockey. But in the hands of The Zambonis (a pop-rock quartet named after the ice-grooming machine), the concept is elevated to an art form that won''t melt under the heat of critics or music fans. Despite the specificity of the album''s theme, The Zambonis rock out like the best power pop units. What''s more, they have a sense of humor about themselves...A timely and surprisingly appealing release."
Few rock bands have been featured in both Sports Illustrated and Billboard. But the lovably quirky all-hockey-rock Zambonis have managed the hat trick of impressing music fans, sports freaks and critics simultaneously.
The Zambonis were formed in 1991 when defenseman/guitarist/singer Dave Schneider imagined a group that played nothing but songs about hockey. What was once a joke is now the most popular sports-rock band in North America (not that the field is a crowded one). Explaining his band''s edge, Dave says, "We''re the only band in the world whose two biggest influences are The Beatles and Wayne Gretzky!"
In 1996, The Zambonis'' first full-length CD, 100% Hockey...and other stuff, cracked the Top 25 on both the CMJ and Gavin charts, spent 13 weeks on the CMJ Top 200 and worked its way onto NHL and NCAA arena playlists nationwide. Commenting on the disc, The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Slapstick meets slapshots...For the true hockey fan, this is a must. For the casual fan, it''s still one big smile." While Time Out New York anointed the band "The Pearl Jam of hockey rock."
The band followed up their first CD with a single entitled "Avalanche!" that exploded their popularity. The anthem was the rallying cry for the Colorado Avalanche''s 1996 Stanley Cup playoff run and appears on the band''s 1997 EP, Playoff Fever. The song, which received incessant Denver radio airplay, also led to a pre-playoff game command performance at Denver''s McNichols Arena (now known as the Pepsi Center).
Meanwhile, the band began to attract attention from mainstream publicity outlets that found The Zambonis'' unique approach an irresistible story. The band was profiled and featured on CNBC, MTV, ESPN2, FOX Sports, WNBC-TV''s "Live at Five", such syndicated puck programs as Hockey Week and Cool Shots, as well as New York magazine, Hockey Digest, New York Post, Nickelodeon, and dozens more.
Playoff Fever expanded their following with additional airplay and inclusion as the only musical group featured in the official NHL merchandise catalog, Hot Off the Ice.
In October 1999, the band''s second full-length CD, More Songs About Hockey...and buildings and food took the ice and brought the band even more friends and fans, plus a feature story in The New York Times, a Random Notes photo in Rolling Stone and more. "More Songs is our Pet Sounds," says goalie/guitarist/bassist Jon "Puck" Aley. A deliriously delightful 17-track collection of head-spinningly good pop-rock, More Songs includes winking new-wave Devo references in "Andy Moog Meets Robert Moog"; sneaky hooks in "Russian Pop Song"; horn-fueled, sunny ska in "The Breakaway"; a plea to Craig McTavish in "The Helmet Song"; and a mournful lament to Connecticut''s dearly departed icemen in "Bob Marley & the Hartford Whalers." Said the Fairfield Weekly at the time, "These aren''t just songs about hockey-they''re perfectly written, perfectly tuneful songs about hockey."
With their popularity rocketing as fast as an Al MacInnis slap shot, The Zambonis were soon asked to create a theme for The Boston Bruins. In the fall of 2001, "To Bleed Black and Gold" was featured as the title song to a highly rated New England Sports Network (NESN) one-hour Bruins special.
Soon after, the band eagerly accepted the Bruins'' invitation to perform at Ray Bourque Night at The Fleet Center in October, 2001. Due to popular demand, The Zambonis released a limited-edition CD EP that featured "To Bleed" plus live gems and unreleased rarities. The pressing quickly sold out and currently attracts feverish bidding wars on popular Internet auction sites.
In February 2002, The Zambonis made their most memorable appearance to date: a highly publicized on-ice performance during the 2002 NHL All-Star Game at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. In an appearance that revealed the band''s increasing popularity, The Zambonis performed alongside such notable mainstream acts as Jewel, Five For Fighting and Unwritten Law.
The band fondly recalls the trip for another reason: They shared a dressing area with the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team, assembled as a full team for the first time since their Gold Medal victory in Lake Placid. "My most prized picture is me with Mike Eruzione," proclaimed Dave. "And we met Barry Melrose, Bill Clement, and Darren Pang, too!" he added.
In the fall of 2002, The Zambonis thrilled thousands of Buffalo Sabres fans with a notable appearance at the team''s HBC Arena. The band also provided Buffalo with its own shout-along song, "Hockey Party (Buffalo Style)," which is played at home games as well as on Buffalo modern-rock radio stations.
In winter 2002, four Zambonis songs were featured on the Midway video game NHL Hitz 2003. The game, playable on Xbox, PlayStation2 and Gamecube, has become a monster hit with hockey fans, and includes songs by such popular acts as Rob Zombie, Moby, Incubus, Hoobastank and Powerman 5000.
In 2003, the band attracted new fans with a late-Winter tour in support of skewed underground pop genius Atom and His Package. In March 2003, The Zambonis released a new CD, Chippy Sessions, a compilation of rare live cuts, singles, demos, and sneak previews of songs from their forthcoming full-length release.
Guitarist and Zambonis'' producer, Peter Katis, has made quite a name for himself off the ice as well. In addition to ongoing projects with his other band, The Philistines, Jr., Peter has gained acclaim for his recent recording work with The Get Up Kids, Guster, and, most recently, Interpol. Each act faced off with Peter, recording at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the home recording facility of The Zambonis.
In addition to Dave Schneider, The Zambonis feature: Jon Aley (guitar, bass, winger), Steve Tanksi (guitar, bass, forward), Mat Orefice (drums, defense) Tarquin Katis (hardcore vocalist, center), Peter Katis (Producer, chippy but solid defensemen)
"They''re actually funny and actually rock!"
--Time Out New York
"Their new record is as goofy, poppy and puck-obsessed as their previous two...Hockey heads and indie rock fans, you''ll love these guys!"
"The Zambonis may sound like a simple novelty act, but it scores repeatedly with a bunch of snappy little power-pop songs. Even if you wouldn''t know what a slapshot was if it hit you in the face, you''ll cheer."
--The New Yorker
"The Zamboni is a massive machine used to smooth the ice at hockey rinks, but these days the name has a much cooler reference.
--Mike Emrick, NHL Commentator
"I love The Zambonis!"
--Alexei Kovalev, New York Rangers
"The most insidious threat to Canadian hockey hegemony is...a quirky power pop band called The Zambonis."
--The National Post (Canada)
"You wacky singing hockey nuts!"
"With a repertoire comprised exclusively of hockey songs, you''d think they''re destined for a short run: A cult band singing about a cult sport...but their cult is getting noticed."
--The Village Voice
"Like a beach party on ice!"
"Dude, I love The Zambonis."
*2002 NHL All-Star Game (Los Angeles)
*ESPN NHL Cool Shots
*ESPN2 Playoff hockey coverage (featured song)
*MTV All-Star Game coverage
*MTV Road Rules (featured song, "Shot Score!")
*CNN Showbiz Today (5 minute feature)
*Brut Hockey Week
*WNBC-TV Live at 5 (feature story)
*FOX Sports Inside Edge
*Ray Bourque Night (Fleet Center, Boston)
*Sabres Fans'' Night (HBC Arena, Buffalo)
*CNBC Great Stuff
*Nickelodeon "Kablam!" (animated/live-action video for "Hockey Monkey")
*NHL Hitz 2003 (Midway video game)
*Game 2 1997 playoffs between Red Wings and Avalanche in Colorado.
*Superskate 2000 @ Madison Square Garden (with N.Y Rangers)
*1999 M.C.I Center Washington Capitols Game Performance
*2002 NESN-TV feature story (covers all of New England)
*1999 Fox Sports in studio performance.
*2000 Boston for our 1st on ice wedding (Bride, groom, priest all on skates)