Omaha-based indie pop band The Real Zebos release new album ‘No Style’

The Real Zebos is an Omaha-based indie pop band formed in 2014 on Craigslist, but frequently plays Iowa City. Their new album ‘No Style’ is a collection of songs by the band with no true cohesion — focusing on how The Real Zebos have no style.


Contributed from The Real Zebos

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

A little bit of fate is what brought indie pop band The Real Zebos together back in 2014. After finding each other on Craigslist, the small Omaha band first played in a dorm room.

Co-frontman of the band, keys and vocalist Connor Brandt put an ad on Craigslist for bandmates when he was a freshman in college, getting only terrible responses from people who failed to meet his expectations. Finally, fellow University of Nebraska, Omaha student Jordan Gaul replied from only two buildings down the block.

“He read the message and understood,” Brandt said. “That was a chance encounter, because we lived really close to each other, but had never met in person.”

The other frontman of The Real Zebos, guitar and vocalist Gaul said they began writing songs together and built up enough to begin performing. The duo took to Craigslist again to fill out the rest of the band, considering themselves a “Craigslist band.” They have played in Iowa City multiple times at venues like Gabe’s and the Yacht Club.

As Brandt put it best, the name “The Real Zebos” has no meaning. At first, they simply chose “The Zebos” because they thought it sounded cool. When they began uploading their albums to Spotify, they realized there was already a group called The Zebos.

“It was an elderly man and wife duo that made country bluegrass gospel music and for a while, we were like ‘they’re not a threat to us,’” Gaul said. “Whichever band gets bigger, faster, can have the name.”

Eventually, after trying to reach out to the other Zebos and not hearing back due to inactivity on their part, they decided to just call themselves The Real Zebos, because they are still The Zebos — just the real ones.

“I think we scared them off,” Gaul said.

The band’s newest album was released on Sept. 23 and is titled “No Style.” In the past the band focused on writing more focused and cohesive albums, but for this one, they wanted to “throw it all at the wall” since they had a collection of many different-styled songs.

Brandt admitted that was something he was insecure about when it came to The Real Zebos — that they have no real sound.

“In some bands you can hear a song and instantly tell it’s them,” Brandt said. “But at the same time, I think that’s our strength. That’s something we wanted to showcase here.”

Brandt’s feeling of “having no style” led him to write the album-name-inspiring song, “No Style,” which in turn helped him guide the writing process for the rest of the songs.

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The LP contains eight original tracks, including band favorite, “Cynical.” The other band members, guitarist Jake Strange, bassist George Cooper, and drummer Logan Swander are described by Brandt as very rock-and-roll, favoring heavy music — though “Cynical” is one of the softest songs on the album.

As the songwriters for the band, Brandt and Gaul don’t always get a lot of feedback from the rest of the group, though when practicing the song, they said — “that’s a good one.”

The writing process of the songs are almost completely independent between Brandt and Gaul. Often, they bring fully finished ideas to each other rather than working them out together, but they both agree on the difficulties of the process.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to start a song and it’s really hard to finish them,” Brandt said. “We have a bunch of songs that are almost finished and it’s so easy to procrastinate on that and just start something new, because that’s the most exciting part.”

Part of why their songs’ sounds vary is because they are less inspired by bands as a whole, and rather by specific moments in songs from their favorite groups.  The Real Zebos take inspiration from indie-rock pop crossover bands like Weezer, The Strokes, and Arctic Monkeys.

Both Brandt and Gaul have day jobs working as a graphic designer and project manager respectively, so an extended tour is not currently in the books for them.

“Unless we got put on some dope tour with a big nationally touring act,” Gaul joked not-so-jokingly.

They do enjoy playing in cities like Iowa City on Friday and Saturday nights. Their end goal, like all bands, is to go full-time, and quit their day jobs. Until then, The Real Zebos are focusing on their new album and releasing music videos for their songs soon.