The Ziggens

Known for their eccentric, goofy, humorous way of blending punk and surf rock (sometimes with a definite country influence), the Ziggens aren't a major name in the rock world but have enjoyed a small cult following since the early '90s. The Ziggens have always been based in Orange County, CA, just south of Los Angeles -- a logical place for artists who are into surf rock -- and the four-man band has a long list of influences from different musical eras. Clearly, they're into '60s surf favorites like the Ventures, Jan & Dean, and the Beach Boys -- they've even been compared to Annette Funicello -- but they're hardly an exact replica of artists from the Lyndon Johnson years; their sound also owes a lot to old-school punk bands of the '70s and '80s. The Ziggens (who like to describe their quirky approach as "cowpunksurfabilly") have never been known for taking themselves too seriously; they obviously identify with punk's more fun and lighthearted side, which means that they have more in common with the Ramones and the Dickies than with militant, angrily sociopolitical agitators like the Sex Pistols, the Dead Kennedys, the Clash, and early T.S.O.L. (before T.S.O.L. got away from left-wing politics and reinvented themselves as a heavy metal band along the lines of AC/DC, Accept, and Dokken). Think of the Ramones performing "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" and "Rockaway Beach" or the Dickies pounding out the nutty "You Drive Me Ape, You Big Gorilla" -- that's the type of wacky, absurdist punk that has had a major impact on the Ziggens. And when the Orange County residents incorporate country influences, one is reminded of rockabilly and classic honky tonk rather than slick, glossy country-pop or countrypolitan -- in other words, they sound like they've more likely to listen to Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, or Merle Haggard than Kathy Mattea or Trisha Yearwood. After their formation in 1990, the Ziggens provided several albums in the '90s and early 2000s and recorded for the Skunk and Cornerstone labels. In 2003, Cornerstone released a best-of collection titled Greatest Zits: 1990-2003, which spanned 13 years and contained a variety of material that the Ziggens had selected themselves. The Ziggens' lineup has included head honcho/founder Bert Susanka, aka Bert Ziggen, on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Jon Poutney, aka Jon Ziggen, on bass, Dickie Ziggen on lead guitar, and Brad Conyers, aka Brad Ziggen, on drums and background vocals.
Alex Henderson, Rovi