Zebrahead - Waste of Mind (Cover Artwork)


Waste of Mind (1998)


Zebrahead might be the guiltiest of pleasure bands on the planet.

Waste of Mind is the bands major label debut and is a slight revamp of their independent “yellow” album release. This is a product of its time, which fits right in-between the genres of Pop-Punk, Nu-Metal, Hip-Hop, and to a small lesser extent, Ska-Punk. There is no Ska on the album though, and they’ve never been a Ska band, but for some reason they can sit comfortably with all those acts that folks have forgotten these days and with a name like Zebrahead one might think they are a Ska band. I mean, what do you think of when you hear band names like The Poptart Monkeys, Liquid Cheese, Eskimo Callboy, and Awful Waffle? If you can recall the 90’s Warped Tour era and the stuff MTV was churning out, Zebrahead shouldn’t be a shocker to you.

Despite the year this came out (1998 = my favorite year of all time), this album holds up pretty well and can honestly stand as being the best of the band’s career. What probably makes this good is how it’s just undeniably catchy and fun! This isn’t Limp Bizkit or Blink 182, but if you wanted to say it was a combination of the two then sure, by all means do so. That doesn’t really take away from the fact that this album sounds great and is good to skate to for one random weekend afternoon on shuffle.

The production is the best any major label could pay for at the time. Each instrument (guitars, bass, drums, and a dj turntable of course!) really shine. Hearing those dj scratches mixed with rapper Ali Tabatabaee’s fast pitch spitting gel really nice on opening track “Check”. But of course that’s all outshined by lead singer Justin Mauriello who has a very smooth voice and makes each song bearable and linger on in your ears. Justin’s vocals became a trademark of Zebrahead and stood out since they weren’t snotty and gruff, but unique.

Everything else comes at a fast pace. Right after that first track is “Get Back” which had a music video for it. In that video you can see each member play their instrument in a living room while “funny” skits are going on to make the video seem to have something happening. For those who remember, music videos used to be like this… And then there’s “The Real Me” which has great guitars, a funk vibe and a chorus that is quite nice to sing along to.

After almost 50 minutes of music this might wear down on the listener like how maybe other Pop-Punk albums do, but really a credit should be given to Justin’s singing and the talent of the other members for making each track different enough to not be too samey.

It’s really a perfect storm of an album. This stood out amongst everything else at the time and its combination of different musical genres and techniques make it unique. The same can’t really be said for the rest of the band’s catalogue, and after the underappreciated third album MFZB failed and then Justin’s departure, the band’s original dynamic changed and it just wasn’t the same. Broadcast to the World wasn’t too terrible of an album though, so no knock on that.

Still, Zebrahead are hanging in there and they tour quite often. Just not in the states… You see, these guys are HUGE in Japan. Like, Godzilla huge. There’s no tongue in cheek thing going on there. Zebrahead have a massive cult following that only few bands get in Japan. Acts like Weezer, Anvil, and Cheap Trick get that kind of attention there, but also this band, so it’s jarring to see Zebrahead get such huge crowds when they play things like the Summer Sonic Festival and only about 60 or so on one random weeknight at The Launchpad in Albuquerque back in 2006…

And that’s where things will stay. Waste of Mind is a latchkey album for Gen X and it never moved past that time frame. But it’s hard to hate on it unless you truly did not like it at the time and still don’t. I doubt it would grow on you now unless you have decided to lower your standards or are maybe too high…

And honestly, each track is good to great so I usually don’t skip anything. Guilty pleasure fo sho.