“In a world obsessed with genre-splicing and overly-hip categorizing, ‘Mannequin’ focuses squarely on populist, blue-collar guitars and hooks. This isn't indie rock, alterna-bluegrass, alt-folk, or post-black-metal ska-core . . . this is straight-up, '70s/'90s-styled, no-bullshit rock. It's technically a debut album, but these songs betray some long years honing some serious chops.”
Try on some Black and Blue-Collar Rock & Roll!
Zeroed Hero pours a classic blend of '70s and '90s style rock that’s more Muhammad Ali than Mike Tyson, featuring tight, riffy guitars and smart, thoughtful lyrics presented with sweet, memorable harmonies.
- Chris Franczek - bass & vocals
- Dean Kesler - vocals
- Katrina Harms - keys & vocals
- Stefan Truesdell - guitar
- Tony Kille - drums
Chris and Dean have been collaborating for decades; music, home improvement, bartending - they’ve even dabbled in an online cooking show. Theirs is the kind of chemistry that can only be concocted when best friends fuse with blood relatives. With a pent-up need for a creative musical outlet after the demise of their previous alternative rock band, the ambitious blue-collar duo focused their attention on a new endeavor and swung for the fence with their full-length debut album, Love Letters to a Mannequin.
The live lineup matches the diversity of influences on LLtaM and is infused with an array of badass talent packing more flavor than an artisanal ice cream shop. Chris seasoned his bass chops through cover bands and blues. Dean extracted his vocal style from powerhouse classic rock and musical theater. Stefan forged his guitar skills in alt-metal and tempered them touring nationally with reggae and funk groups. Providing the tock to our tics, americana & rock veteran Tony anchors the rhythm section on drums.
The band connects with audiences during their compelling live shows: energetic, passionate affairs that highlight the visceral rhythms, immersive grooves, dynamic ebbs and flows, rich melodies, and powerful harmonies that characterize the eleven tracks on Love Letters to a Mannequin and have earned them the title of the Madison Area Music Association's 2020 Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
Like your favorite pair of worn jeans, slide in and wrap yourself in the black and blue-collar rock & roll comfort of Zeroed Hero.
Loss became letters, letters became stories, stories became songs...
With a pent up need for a creative musical outlet after the demise of their previous band, Chris and Dean shifted their attention to a new endeavor and swung for the fence. The ambitious blue-collar duo set out to write a full-length self-funded album at time when most of their peers choose to crowdfund budget EPs.
After a particularly rough patch of significant loss, Dean turned to writing letters as a means to process the disarray. Never intended to be sent, these one-way communications became metaphorically referred to as “love letters to a mannequin” - a concept that would become the foundation for and title of their first full-length album.
Enlisting the creative firepower of long-time collaborator and former bandmate Chris, Dean set a course for an ambitious journey turning captivating stories into compelling songs. Chris explains, “We take a very riff-based approach to writing. One of us tosses a chunk onto the anvil and we alternate swinging our hammers until it finds a shape we like.”
Dean carried the letter approach over to lyric writing for the album. “The idea of trying to communicate with someone or something no longer available to you provides an interesting creative vehicle,” says the singer. As the writing process transitioned into recording, the pair released their collaborative DNA and reached out to several local musician friends to contribute fresh elements to the project. Chris recalls, “It was a lot of fun and deeply fulfilling to work with a bunch of great musicians who are also really cool people.” Collaborators came from a variety of genres: funk, jazz, blues, americana - nearly everything except rock. The results are an infusion of flavor and texture rarely found on a band’s first release.