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Credential Recordings rock band Dizmas released their sophomore record earlier this year, bringing Tension to Christian rock listeners everywhere. We decided it was about time we caught up with the guys and talked to them about their name, calling, sound evolution... and, of course, the absence of vocalist Zachary Zegan's signature dreadlocks!
This interview took place on: 7/7/07

  • Jesus freak Hideout (Erin Moose): Please introduce yourself and tell me about the members in the band.
    Zach Zegan: I'm Zach Zegan; I'm the lead vocalist for Dizmas. We have two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer. The two guitarists are Josh Zegan, my brother, and he does backup vocals as well, and the other one is Jon Howard. Then on the bass we have Nick Aranda, and on the drums we have Clayton Hunt. And we make up Dizmas. So, it's a lot of fun.

  • JFH (Erin): So, "Dizmas?" I think I've almost heard this explained a couple times, but I always miss out on the point. Explain to me what the name "Dizmas" means.
    Zach: Well, Erin, Dizmas is Greek; a lot of historians and theologians of the Bible believe that Dizmas was the name of the good thief on the cross next to Jesus. It's not biblical truth, so for us as a band, we don't necessarily claim it as absolute truth. The reason we decided to name ourselves Dizmas is more so that whenever somebody did ask us that same exact question you asked us, "Where it came from? What it is? What it means," the first thing that we have to refer to is the day on the cross when Jesus Christ, in this guy's last breath, gave him a chance and gave him hope, and basically said "today you will be with Me in paradise." Just the hope for the thief that he had in those last minutes. That's kind of what we're trying to do is express hope to people found in Christ, and that's why we named ourselves "Dizmas."

  • JFH (Erin): So you just had your new album, Tension, come out not too long ago. How have people been responding to it?
    Zach: Well, everybody that has gotten it, I'm pretty sure has written us to let us know that they like it. So we've really appreciated that. There was a limited amount of copies that were shipped out to stores. So I'm not sure if there's a lot out there right now, but we're trying to get more out there. For everyone that's looking, if you're going into stores and they don't have it, request it and tell them you want it, and that way they can ship some in and you can get it. Everybody that has gotten the album has blessed us so much by contacting us and letting us know that they really enjoy it and like the music. One thing that's encouraging to me is the vocalists and lyricists have really appreciated the lyrics and that they're encouraged by that. So that's a blessing, it's awesome, we're really excited about it!

  • JFH (Erin): The style of Tension is a lot different than your first album. I've heard some people say, "there's no screaming, and that stinks! How come you guys changed it so much?" Personally, I love the new style. What is your response when people say to you, "I hate it… there's no screaming!"?
    Zach: Well I think that people out there need to also realize that when we recorded our first album, we were all 18 and 19 years old, we were still teenagers. That is the type of music that we all were listening to, and we were just regurgitating that. We were basically saying, "Hey this is the bands we're listening to and we're gonna sound like that and we're gonna try to make the same exact stuff." Another thing that's crazy is Jon Howard, our guitarist, didn't really write at all on the last record. He helped a little bit, but not a lot. So on this record, to have Jon fully in there, you're really hearing Dizmas for the first time, and we're actually hearing Dizmas for the first time. I think a lot of people need to understand that. If they liked the screaming or didn't like the screaming, that's up to them. It doesn't make much sense to me if you don't like a band just because they don't yell. You gotta appreciate the talent where the talent is. I can't speak for myself, but I know at least the other four guys in my band that I play with and that I sing with are amazing musicians, and they are awesome guys. They deserve the credit, and they deserve to be at least acknowledged. Just because I'm not screaming doesn't mean the music isn't good. To take it a step further, on the last record, we really felt people coming up to us, linking us to certain kinds of music that we never really intended to be in the first place. We've always wanted to be a rock band. It's okay to yell, it's okay to scream in a rock band. But when people are interpreting it in a way that you never intended, that they're calling you a metal band, or a screamo band, and you've just always wanted to be a rock band. So for us, I think it's kind of our retaliation and saying, it's not that we're not gonna ever scream again on any other records. We just want to let people know, this is who we are, and this is what we do it for. We don't do it for the screaming, and we don't even necessarily do it for the style of music. We do it because we love the Lord. We're gonna make the music that he inspires through us.

  • JFH (Erin): Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
    Album cover Zach: Well I really like all the songs, and that's not just a political type thing. I'm not trying to answer that politically correct. I really do like all the songs. One song that really hits me every time I listen to it though is "Sun," the last track on the record. I think that sums up all the lyrics on every song together, in one song. Through the record, Tension, all the guys in our band were going through tough times, through things that we didn't understand; we didn't understand why God was doing things. Even today, still to this day, we go through things that we're just like, "God why are you doing this? Why are you allowing this to happen to us? Why aren't we successful?" Whatever the case may be. "Why aren't we rich and famous?" Whatever concoctions we can come up with in our mind of why God is a bad god or why He does not love. We do it all the time. That song is just us asking a question, "God, am I doing a good job?" Not necessarily am I doing a good job for my own gratification. "Lord, am I doing a good job because you deserve it?" So that's what I think is really at the heart of the whole record. It's just us wading through that darkness and that nastiness and trying to find Christ and finally saying, "Okay, I've found you, how am I doing?" So that's kinda why I like that song.

  • JFH (Erin): That's really cool. I think even kids that are Christians don't understand that it's not really about the music. It's that we know what God has put on your heart to sing or write about. And hopefully kids will be touched by that. What do you think of the "Christian band" label? And sometimes Christian bands go mainstream and people don't think they should do that. What do you think about it?
    Zach: Well I think first of all, you have to ask the question, "What is a Christian band?" So many people are quick to label a Christian band a "Christian band" because they play in churches, or because they're signed to a Christian record label, or because they tour with Christian bands, or because they say all the right Godly stuff from the stage. If you read the Bible, that's not what makes a Christian a Christian. A Christian is not somebody who is necessarily always signed to a Christian record label or a Christian is not always a person that always is walking around saying, "I'm a Christian. I'm a Christian. I'm a Christian!" What a Christian is, is a person who is sold out for Christ and living in a way that is glorifying to Christ. Living it. It's not about where you work, what kind of ministry you're into, or where God's got you in life. It's simply about, are you living it? Are you living for Christ? And are you permeating Christ? Is He coming off of you? We've toured with a lot of "Christian bands" that I've seen the way they live, and it's not very appealing. As another brother in Christ to them, I'm like, "really? That's how a believer lives? That's how they act? That's what they say?" But then we've toured with bands that a lot of people consider "secular" bands, and you talk to them, and they're the most Godly people I've ever met. The most God-centered people I've ever met. It's amazing. One band that I would really speak of in that way is Flyleaf. We've toured with them, and they've toured with you name 'em. You name the secular band, and they've toured with them. The thing that's amazing is Flyleaf is always centered on the Lord, and they're humble about it. It's amazing. It's inspiring to us as Dizmas. I think for us, Dizmas, we call ourselves a "Christian band." We also want to leave room for anybody to call us whatever they want to call us. If they want to call us a "Christian band," then that's cool. If not, that's cool too. We're just gonna go where God leads. We're gonna play where God puts us, and we're just gonna be faithful to Him. We don't need to worry about what people think about us. We just need to focus on what God has for us, and how we can best obey him, and be faithful to what he's called us to do. So that's what I think a "Christian band" is - a group of guys who are seeking Christ. Not only corporately as a group, but also as individuals, in their own individual lives.

  • JFH (Erin): How is the touring life? I know you guys are on the road a lot. Is it rough? Do you love it?
    Zach: Well, touring is great. It's a lot of fun. We get to meet a lot of cool people. I met you on tour. You get to meet a lot of really cool people and build relationships and friendships with them, and jump around, act like dorks have a good time. (Erin: I know ALL about that!) Yeah, you know! Exactly! It's cool being able to do that. The downside of it is the people that you've spent your whole life building relationships with back at home, like your family members. In some cases, girlfriends, or fiancés even. You're away from them, and it's not easy on them, and it's not easy on you. You really learn to cherish Christ above all else, and what it means. Because day in and day out that's what keeps you doing what you do. If He wasn't the center of what I was doing, I know I'd be done, I'd quit, because I want to be with my family. Not necessarily right next to them. But I want to be living in a way that is pleasing to my family, in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, or whatever it may be. I'm trying to stay focused on those things, on lifting God up in those areas. When you're away from it, it's hard to do that; to encourage them to keep seeking Christ, and for them to encourage you to keep seeking Christ. So I would say, touring is cool, but at the same time it's one of the hardest existences I could imagine. We have a tough time a lot, but we trust God. He gets us through it. He's faithful.

  • JFH (Erin): So is it cool being able to travel around with your brother Josh? Do you guys get in little arguments or anything?
    Zach: It's kinda cool. I have Josh, and then our guitarist Jon, his brother Joey is our road manager. So it's kinda cool. I think all four of us are kind of at an advantage, in the fact that we have our brothers with us. So you have that basis, at least somebody from your family is with you, and can encourage you, and you can encourage them. So that's definitely great, and we enjoy that. There are those times when you get in those brotherly arguments, where afterwards you're kind of embarrassed because you're just like, "oh, my brother and I just got in an argument in front of everyone!" It's just the typical brother argument, ya know?

  • JFH (Erin): So about a couple months ago you finished up touring with This Beautiful Republic and Ever Stays Red. Was that a good tour and did you enjoy being able to hang out with those guys?
    Zach: It was a short tour, and I don't know how it would have gone if it would have been longer, but as far as the guys that were on the tour, I would say it's the best tour we've ever been on. The group of guys, and the unity, and the connection between all the band members, and I'm talking every band member. We've toured with great bands before, but then you're touring with another band that's kinda "click-ish" and "rockstar-ish" and doesn't want to hang out with anybody else. But at least on the tour with This Beautiful Republic and Ever Stays Red, every single person was down to earth and fun to hang out with, and really, it just permeated a God-centeredness. There was just unity that I hadn't ever experienced. I love the guys from This Beautiful Republic, they're amazing! Then the guys from Ever Stays Red have been friends of ours for awhile. If anybody out there hasn't heard of them, you need to check 'em out. They're the most amazing guys in the world! Their music just cuts to the heart of what it's all about, just worshipping God and glorifying Him. We had a great time.

  • JFH (Erin): So is there one experience that you can think of that's been really cool? Something that happened with a fan coming to know the Lord? Someone you've been able to pray with?
    Zach: Immediately about ten stories pop into my mind. But honestly, there's one story. I don't share this one too often, cuz it's not one of the happiest stories I guess. It definitely has touched my life, and continues daily to do so. But I have this keychain right here, and it's got this cross on it. We played at Spirit West Coast about two years ago. When we went to sign autographs after our set, we were hanging out in the tent. This girl came up to me and she was crying, and she basically gave me this cross. Her mom died in a car accident, and she took the cross from the wreckage of the car accident. It's what she had to remember her mom by. She was living with her dad and her stepmom I believe, I don't remember exactly. She came up to me and said "I want you to have this, because you give me hope in Christ." She said, "there is something about watching you up on stage that gave me hope in something more than this." She said, "that in focusing and relying on my mom and even carrying this little cross around, I was focusing on the past and I wasn't looking forward to what was ahead." She said, "I love my mom, but I need to give you this cross so you can remember that I was a life that was affected by your ministry (Dizmas). So that you guys can know that I was a person you pressed towards Christ, and away from the past." So that was encouraging, and I'll never forget it because I carry the cross right here next to me. It's a touching story, and it's one of the ones I will never forget.

  • JFH (Erin): That's definitely an awesome story. Like we talked about earlier, about the whole "Christian band" label. It's awesome when bands are totally focused on the Lord on stage with their music, and even when they're just talking to the crowd because you never know how it will touch some ones life. What is something lately that God has been teaching you, or that you've learned from Him?
    Zach: One major thing, is hoping in Christ. I've gone through some tough things over the last year or two in my life. Nothing really as drastic as I'm sure many other people have gone through. Just things that really affected my life and really made me evaluate where I stand in my walk with the Lord. I just began to evaluate the things that I was hoping for in my life. One of them being, I hope Dizmas makes it big, I hope I can do this for a long time cuz I love it! Another one is hoping that I find the perfect woman to marry, that one day I'll have the perfect family. I have all these hopes and aspirations. But I realized that these hopes were coming above my hope in Christ. So I think it's a daily thing, waking up and surrendering, and saying "God, I'm gonna hope in You, and I'm not just gonna hope in You, but I'm gonna hope for Your coming." What it makes me realize when I'm hoping for these other things, and I can't have them, and they're not happening the way I would necessarily want, I realize how sinful I am, and how evil this world is, and how loving God is. It makes me just want to be with Him even more. And I say to God, "God this life is painful, it's hard, it's not fun, but when I hope in You, and I hope for Your coming, and I hope to walk with You, there's resolution, there's peace." So everyday, it's a constant reminder, just waking up saying "God I'm gonna hope for You. I'm gonna hope today, not so much that we put on the best concert, or I say the right things from stage. I'm not gonna hope necessarily that I get married tomorrow. I'm going to hope that You come back to bring me up with You today. I'm going to hope that that's gonna happen today." When you do that, all of a sudden everything else comes into perspective. These other things would be cool, but only if it's underneath God, and He is first. I'm learning to hope in Him, and that's awesome. It's really relieving when you realize that no matter how much you think about things or meditate on something, it doesn't change it. It's gonna remain the same. So what are you gonna place your hope in? What are you gonna do to move beyond that? It's hope in Christ.

  • JFH (Erin): That's cool to hear because I think a lot of people think, "Oh they're in a band, they're awesome and they don't struggle with the same stuff we do." So it's cool to hear that "band people" go through some of the same stuff that fans do, and they don't understand that a lot of the time. So now I've got some not-so-serious questions. I've noticed that a lot of people on your myspace, and the Dizmas myspace are saying, "Zach oh my goodness what did you do to your hair?!?! Where are your dreads?" Was there a reason you got rid of the dreads? Was it a spur of the moment thing? s
    Zach: Well, to be completely honest, it's everything in one. It was a spur of the moment thing, but at the same time, it was something I've been thinking about for years. I had the dreadlocks for about five years. It's on days like this when it's pretty freakin' hot when I think, "thank God I don't have the dreadlocks anymore!" For those of you that have never had dreadlocks, and people with thick hair can probably understand this a little bit, it felt like I was wearing a beanie everyday. And why would I want to wear a beanie on a day like this, when is so hot! So on days like this, I definitely don't regret it, but there are times when I miss them. The thing that really scares me is that there were people that were more attached to my dreadlocks than I was, and it was my hair! It's kinda scary! People will come up to me and say, "I liked your band, but now I don't because you don't have dreadlocks." I say, "Man you have some issues that you need to go to biblical counseling or something because if you like our band because of my dreadlocks, that's a little sad." So it's just one of those things where you feel the backlash from some people that are trying to prove a point. They're like, "I'm not gonna buy your new record because you don't have dreadlocks!" I say, "Well you're weird!" It's just one of those things where, I'm just like everybody else, I need to move on in life, I need to do things that are different, and I don't want to have dreadlocks for the rest of my life, and if the rest of the world doesn't mind, I'm gonna cut 'em. So that's kinda the mindset I was in.

  • JFH (Erin): Well I think you've told me this before, but what is your favorite part about not having the dreadlocks anymore? I definitely laughed when you told me this, but tell the people, because I think it's amazing.
    Zach: Well with dreadlocks, you have to keep all the loose hairs that are growing out in the dreads, so the thing that's awesome is that I don't have to crochet my hair anymore! Which is weird to some people, but that's literally what I did. I stuck a crochet hook through the dread, wrap the loose hairs around it, and pull them into the dread. That's how you keep the loose hairs in. So I think that's the best thing about it. One of the best things about it, if not the best thing is that I don't have to crochet my hair anymore. I can just wake up, get my hair a little wet, and I'm set to go!

  • JFH (Erin): So I think we're just about done. Are there any final thoughts you might have, or anything you'd like to say?
    Zach: Yes. If you are reading this, it officially makes you obligated to come to a Dizmas show. So I expect every single person that reads this to come to the nearest Dizmas show. As soon as we come your way, you need to be there. And you need to be the first person in line hanging out. You also need to say that you read this online. And that won't change anything, like you're not gonna get in free or anything, but I'm just saying that you're obligated. You have to come to the Dizmas show closest to you. So then, on top of that, my mom and dad are gonna get a dog, I think, and we are looking for names. So if you are reading this and you have a good idea for a dog name, you should myspace us, and let us know what a good dog name would be, and we'll think about it. But anyway, thank you Jesus Freak Hideout people! You're awesome! I love you….I love you….I love you….I LOVVVE YOU! Bye!

    Dizmas' latest album Tension is available now!


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