9.35 Questions with Joe Gepart of NonGrata; a Preview of a Tribute Extravaganza
I know the month of March is jam packed with some pretty big name headlining concerts. Between Tool, Korn, and All That Remains, we've got a pretty busy couple of weeks ahead of us, but who's complaining, right? One thing we can't forget is the local music scene. We have recently had a huge resurgence in shows locally at The Village Theater, Skylark QC, and The Raccoon Motel. One such show I want to point out is the Tribute Extravaganza coming up at The Village Theater featuring tributes to Slipknot, Stone Sour, Rob Zombie, and GWAR. I was fortunate enough to chat with Joe Gepart, singer for NonGrata and Absolute Zero, the Iowa City based Stone Sour tribute band and he gave me what I feel are the best round of 9.35 Questions to date.
Question 1. So I know that you wear a bunch of hats musically, but I'd like you to give our I-Rock 93.5 fans a breakdown of just all of the projects you have going on right now.
"Well first and foremost, I'm the singer in a band called NonGrata from Iowa City. We've been a band since 2017 and have been playing shows and building a local presence since then. I'm also a high school history teacher in Wilton, IA. It's a pretty crazy experience to come into work and have students ask me about music and want to talk about it. It gives me a lot of hope for the next generation. I stay pretty busy."
Question 2. Your band NonGrata just finished up a show at Wildwood in Iowa City a couple of weeks ago, what's it like playing that place? I know I'm a huge fan of the venue!
"We've always loved playing at Wildwood. When we first started the band, we played Gabe's pretty frequently but Wildwood has definitely become our home more recently. Music just sounds really great in that room and it helps bring live shows to another level. Some shows don't sell as well as others, so when that happens, you can definitely tell because there's a lot of space to spread out, especially with the balcony. But I tell you what, when that place gets busy, it gets PACKED!"
Question 3. Who would win in a fight; A hamburger or a hot dog?
"In a fist fight? Hot dogs are very resilient, definitely could take a punch like a champ. However, The Burger has a higher protein level and a greater surface are. I think the burger wins in the long run."
Question 4. What’s one thing as a young musician that you hate hearing from the “older” generation of music fans/musicians and why?
"If I had to pick one, I'd have to say, "I can't understand what you're saying, you're just screaming!". First of all, I'm not. Second of all, you're not listening. If you actually paid attention and listened, you would understand exactly what I'm saying and you might even like it. And no grandma, it doesn't hurt my throat. I've practiced how to do it properly and I'm not going to lose my voice by age 40. Oh look, now I'm on my soapbox... Next Question!"
Question 5. If you could wake up tomorrow and have the ability to play one instrument that you could not play today, what would it be?
"Drums, without a doubt. I know the typical answer is probably guitar. Everyone wants to be the next Slash or Eddie Van Halen, but I've always been obsessed with watching drummers play. They're the foundation, man. Everything else is built upon that. If you don't have a badass drummer, you can't have a badass band, and I'll stand by that."
Question 6. What are your three favorite pieces of clothing that you own?
"Ironically, my favorite clothing pieces are ones I don't even wear. The Crown jewel of my collection is a Leather vest I inherited that is signed by Ronnie James Dio. It has a huge hand painted viking ship on the back. That baby is NEVER leaving the house. My second one is an original tour shirt my uncle gave me from Motley Crue's '89 Dr. Feelgood Tour with the original album artwork on the front and a smattering of profanity on the back. That album artwork is just so badass. It's one of the first albums I remember owning as a kid. Perfect marketing! My third one was from the Machine Head show at Wooly's in Des Moines a few years back. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen. So much energy. If you're not familiar with Machine Head shows, they have a ritual that at the end of their show, they hand out a "Most Valuable Rager" shirt to whoever they think threw down the hardest during the show. I, of course, was losing my mind in the front row the whole time and at the end of the show, Rob Flynn walked to the front of the stage and handed me the coveted "MVR" shirt."
Question 7. Name a musical influence that people might be surprised to learn?
"People who have known me for a long time will know this, but one of my favorite musicians has always been Justin Furstenfeld from the band, Blue October. I still remember hearing the song, "Hate Me" for the first time when I was in jr. high and at that point in my life, I needed to hear that song, and I needed that band. He was an artist that taught me that it's okay to be vulnerable and it's okay to wear your heart on your sleeve. His ability to sing with such a deep seeded emotion is something that I've really only found in a handful of artists that is what makes him so inspiring to me."
Question 8. You are also a part of a Stone Sour tribute band called Absolute Zero. Can you tell me how that came about?
"During the Covid shutdown, before venues were opened back up, a couple of the NonGrata guys and a few of our friends decided to throw together a Stone Sour tribute band because we were so sick of not being able to get out and play shows. We have a blast playing together because It gives us an excuse to play songs that we just enjoy for the hell of it, and not have to worry about writing, recording, merchandising, etc. It scratches the itch without ever feeling like "work."
Question 9. What is the appropriate amount of time to wait before replying to a message? Seriously, I need to know.
"I'm a psycho about timing. I'm someone who always wants information right now. I don't have time to wait around all day. That being said, I'm the type of person that responds immediately. Part of that is that I'm the most forgetful person in the world and if I don't there's a good chance I won't. But the other part is a respect thing. If I expect that from other people, the least I can do is return the favor."
.35 The only thing I really want to be remembered for is……..
"The only thing I want to be remembered for is making music that helped someone when they needed it. I spent a lot of my childhood feeling like people didn't understand me, that I didn't fit in, and that If I tried to talk about it that would make me more of an outcast. Music is what helped me form my identity, it helped me find my people, and it showed me that other people do understand. If my music can do that for someone else, I'd call that a win."
You can catch Joe and the rest of Absolute Zero, along with some other great tribute bands at the Village Theater on Saturday March 19th. More details here, and on the I-Rock 93.5 app.