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Duo brings originality to local music

‘We believe in the power of Prog. We believe in drums, we believe in guitars, and we believe in synthesizers. We believe in odd time signatures, complicated harmony, and extensive soloing. We believe in music for musicians. Prog be with you.’

Killbot Zero’s creed encapsulates the notion that the music they produce is primarily for musicians.

On the surface the band stands out from other musical ensemble having just two physical members, with no vocalist.

For Bruce Vermett and Chris Cavera, it only takes two to tango.

With Vermett on drums and Cavera on guitar, Killbot Zero consider themselves ‘instrumental progressive video game shred metal.’

‘We have a good sense of what bands we like are not doing so we interpret their influence with our own twist,’ said Cavera, who is the Director of Recording and Music Technology at Terra Community College, where the band records.

Cavera attributes early progressive music from bands like Rush, Yes and ELP as strong musical influences.

Conversely, Vermett is inspired by newer and heavier progressive rock acts such as Dream Theater, Blotted Science and Symphony X.

Both musicians possess the same ideas in composing their music and together they infuse their own tastes creating the sound that is Killbot Zero.

Their sound is chock-full of heavy breakdowns, elaborate guitar-keyboard harmonies and even Nintendo inspired samplings.

The two were introduced six years ago by a mutual friend who played in the local band CRAZY eDDIE.

‘Early on we just jammed to Megadeth and Pantera,’ Vermett said. ‘We just got a feel for each other until we realized we wanted something more serious.’

The duo dabbled a bit writing their own stuff before Vermett went to the Los Angeles Music Academy in the fall of 2004.

The program was for 12 months and Vermett graduated in six, teaching the sight reading for the last few months before returning to Bowling Green.

He then enrolled at Terra, taking music classes under the tutelage of Cavera.

Soon Progzilla was born, however, the band changed names to Killbot Zero after finding out another Progzilla existed in the United Kingdom.

‘We wanted to maintain some sense of originality so we changed names,’ Vermett said.

Early on the band tried to incorporate a bassist and keyboardist, yet nobody took the project seriously except Vermett and Cavera.

Since then, Killbot Zero has utilized an iPod that projects bass and key tracks in their songs.

Some might frown on the aspect that a computer accounts for half of the band, but Cavera said it only adds to their dynamic.

‘We have no limitations to our writing and it provides unique character,’ he said.

Vermett adds that with progressive music there is no set shape; a significant contributing factor in the music’s appeal.

Cavera is drawn to the progressive landscape due to its technical qualities.

‘I don’t want to be bored, I want to challenge myself,’ he said.

It is this challenge of somewhat one-upping each other that fuels the band’s creative drive.

‘We feed off of each other’s enthusiasm,’ Vermett said. ‘We strive to impress each other and outdo our previous CD.’

Killbot Zero is currently wrapping up production of their third disc, titled CPU Assassins.

The beat doesn’t stop there as Cavera has already composed the majority of a fourth album, which will feature a 1940s science-fiction radio show with edited dialogue and perhaps several cover songs.

‘I just have so many ideas, just too much music and not enough time,’ said Vermett, who works full-time outside of the band.

Former high school bandmate Daniel Weber said Vermett really focuses on musicianship.

‘Bruce is one of the most gifted musicians I know,’ he said. ‘Few have the ear he has and the natural ability he possess.’

Cavera points out how refined Vermett’s drumming has gotten in just a few years.

After getting discouraged in grade school with playing the bell set, Vermett found more interest in sports. But since high school he has come a long way teaching himself to drum to the likes of Mike Portnoy and Terry Bozzio.

Cavera, who at age 11 stopped playing the trumpet because it tickled his nose, has also grown as a musician and is now known for his blistering sweeps on guitar.

The man behind the ax actually studied percussion at Ball State University before earning his master’s degree in composition and theory at the University.

Killbot Zero has a realistic mindset of the big picture and the future of the band considering their music falls into a niche market.

Inside Out, a German label, suggested the band could make a run at the business if they added vocals.

‘While we are open to adding band members, it could disrupt the character of the band,’ Cavera said.

Alex Kish, the primary booking agent for Howard’s Club H, said the band’s music is complex and different, and having no vocals is a good thing.

‘They are really reliable for shows and easy to work with,’ he said. ‘The music is pretty cool and you never really know what to expect.’

Killbot Zero is genuinely in it for the music and not the money and Vermett never wants to stop writing and performing the music he loves.

‘We are going to keep moving forward and making the project fun,’ he said. ‘It is great to make money, but it is the love of the music that drives us.’

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