MI Local: Ann Arbor rockers ZZvava premiere ‘Hypnic Jerks’ from new album featuring cover art by Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry, writer/director of ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,’ created cover art for this versatile Ann Arbor rock ensemble.

Ann Arbor-based ZZvava, comprised of Anie Parker (from left), Jeffrey Freer, Jordan Collingridge and Nick Zomparelli, will release their fourth album June 15.

Ann Arbor-based ZZvava, comprised of Anie Parker (from left), Jeffrey Freer, Jordan Collingridge and Nick Zomparelli, will release their fourth album June 15.

Ann Arbor-based indie rock quartet ZZVAVA is releasing a new self-titled album on June 15 — their fourth so far — celebrating with a release party at Ziggy’s in Ypsilanti with Detroit’s own punk rockers Dear Darkness and Girl Fight.

The group premiered the album’s first single, “Hypnic Jerks,” on this week’s episode of MI Local.

And this might be what you’d call “burying the lede” because, as the headline indicated, the Michel Gondry drew the cover art for ZZVAVA’s new record.

Michel. Gondry — you know, the writer and director of films like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and visionary creator of iconic music videos like The White Stripes’ Lego-inspired “Fell In Love With A Girl.”

And you might find yourself saying, “Wait! What? How?” And the answer is still satisfying, even if it’s a little anticlimactic. According to the band, Gondry did it on a whim. And how fitting, since one of the most common words used to describe Gondry’s artistic style tends to be “whimsical.”

Why wouldn’t the Oscar-winner grab a pen in the spur of a moment and just casually sketch some album art for a Southeast Michigan-based rock group?

Cover art to ZZvava's 2024 self-titled album.
Cover art for ZZVAVA’s 2024 self-titled album, designed by Michel Gondry.

Band member Jordan Collingridge’s partner happens to work for Gondry, so he was already familiar with ZZVAVA. When he heard they were working on a new album, Gondry said he wanted to draw the cover. And anyone who follows the director of “Science of Sleep” and “Be Kind Rewind” on Instagram would see that he’s lately shown quite a knack for inherently whimsical sketches and animation.

The origins of ZZVAVA

ZZVAVA consist of Collingridge, Anie Parker, Jeff Freer and Nick Zomparelli. All four members contribute to the songwriting process, and each of them can invariably play the guitar, bass, drums and handle lead vocals duties.

ZZVAVA formed on New Year’s Day of 2018, having already developed camaraderie and chemistry through previous collaborations. By the summer of the same year, they released their first album, Mutable Moons.

Jump to early 2020: the band was just returning from a tour and getting ready to release their second album, Casual Crises, when  the COVID-19 pandemic hit, initiating a quarantine.

“We all just figured that Casual Crises would wind up being our ‘forgotten album,’” said Zomparelli.

While the band was understandably disappointed that Casual Crisis wouldn’t get a fair shake, their spirits were at least lifted a bit when they got the opportunity to play on the roof of the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, simultaneously a creative way to socially distance with live music but also pay homage to The Beatles atop the Apple Corps headquarters in 1969.

ZZVAVA go DIY on subsequent albums

After that, they went totally DIY for their third album, with Collingridge producing everything from a home studio, resulting in their third album, 2021’s Blah Blah

Which brings us to this week’s new self-titled album.

“We feel like this record best represents the sound we’ve been working on over the years,” said Freer. “We really wanted to capture the DIY nature of Blah Blah and its live show sound, and then take the more polished studio sound of Casual Crises and meet somewhere in the middle.”

“We had the best time working with [producer] Fred Thomas on our first record Mutable Moons,” added Parker. “So we knew we needed him, again, as a producer for this new one!”

Collingridge concluded that the band is tapping into a renewed sense of momentum as they look ahead to the summer.

“We’re always writing — and with this new album, we’re just putting our piece out into the world — and hopefully people dig it.”

Listen to this week’s episode of MI Local for two weeks after it airs using the player at the top. Check out the playlist below.

MI Local Playlist for June 12, 2024

  • “Fever Dream” – Twin Deer
  • “Desperate Others” – Same Eyes
  • “SideXSide” – 800cc
  • “Motor City Ambiance” – Madi Destroy
  • “Trade Coyote” -John Salvage 
  • “Hypnic Jerks” – ZZVAVA
  • “Independent” – Clipboards
  • “CaliSober(ing)” – Bale DeFoe
  • “Crystalline Forest” – Cloister Shadow
  • “Sagebrush” – Whiskey Charmers
  • “Future” – Dani Darling
  • “Anxiety” – Jade Nicole
  • “Enjoy The Ride” – Jill Govan 
  • “Healer” – Miz Korona
  • “Here’s to Changes (Intro)” – Nadim Azzam

ZZVAVA will perform an album release show at Ziggy’s in Ypsilanti on Saturday, with support from Dear Darkness and Rawhide.

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  • Jeff Milo
    Jeff Milo is the host of "MI Local" on 101.9 WDET. He's a longtime music journalist documenting the Michigan scene for 20 years.