As a band as likely to play the tearjerker pop hit “Last Kiss” and an Erik Satie minimalist classical piece in the same set, it’s not surprising guitarist Gerald Sicolvan says The Zooks considered Frank Zappa’s “Uncle Meat” and Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” as the group’s “Old and New Testaments.”

Founded in March 1970 by a group of friends from Dearborn High School, the band included a core of competent musicians on traditional instruments but also occasional ventures into chairs, in lieu of drums, and a vacuum cleaner to get a particular sound. The Zooks played out occasionally, including a few shows at Bookie’s Club 870. The band also released a 7 inch released in 1977, a 7 inch EP in 1978 as well as a track for a Detroit compilation record in the early 1980s.

The Zooks played live on WDET’s Dimension radio show in 1978. Through that performance, drummer Martin Bandyke started to appear on the program playing records and would eventually become a DJ/host on the station in later years. But, the performance also opened the opportunity for Bandyke to take part in some jam sessions with some local musicians. From those sessions, Bandyke and Siclovan formed the band Retro.

While members of The Zooks live in other states and, even, countries, the band has never officially broken up – the the group’s most recent gig was in 1982.

Music from The Zooks can be found on bandcamp.


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9 thoughts on “The Zooks

  1. I was honored to have a role in the 1971(?) Dearborn High School battle of the bands. I believe I was a Christmas tree that band members decorated. Many wonderful memories of hanging out with these guys in high school. They helped form my musical and artistic tastes that have lasted a lifetime.

  2. My parents and I are listening to the track from Detroit on A Platter and I’m really digging it. The no-wave style really stands out.

  3. A few clarifications. First: I’M THE BASS PLAYER, DAMMIT. Jerry actually asked me, while clothed, about joining The Salt of the Earth, but that band blew up right as I was about to join, so that turned into The Zooks. Maybe Dave Franczak played with us once or twice, but when he lost interest I took over bass. We played out sporadically right from the start, mostly terrorizing unsuspecting listeners and, before 1977, getting kicked out of about as many gigs as we completed. A lot of it in the early 70s was musical anarchy (Voyage to Anarchia from 1973 on Bandcamp is actually pretty tame). The funniest gig we got kicked out of was Jerry’s aunt’s wedding reception when Frank was using the legs from a doll to play Wipe Out on his drums. We played in my parents’ basement during our anarchy years – a big tip of the hat to them for putting up with it as long as they did.

  4. I recall a show we did in Ann Arbor at one of the UM dorm snack bars. We were doing some made up on the spot song and I was maybe playing my Eko Ranger 12 Electric guitar. At some point a woman in the audience came up and shoved a tomato slice in my face. So I turned it into part of the song vocals. The woman seemed to like that.

    Also, I’m not in China now, but I will be in a few weeks.

    1. Hi Roger
      This is Jeff Salem from Dearborn High School, class of 80. I remember you were a substitute teacher in one of my classes. I loved rock and I have a signed 45 copy of lead free! Me and my cousin listened to it all the time back then. I think about it every now and then and that’s what got me searching for the song tonight, I couldn’t believe I found it, so cool to hear it again. I can’t wait to play for my cousin, he’s coming up from Florida this summer,
      he’s gonna love hearing it again. Anyway, I just wanted to share a memory and say hello, THE ZOOKS!!!!!

  5. One of the cooler bands from that period..I really enjoyed hearing them play, and I still treasure their original two singles, my overall favorite, was the Zooks X 3 ep….gotta love Dog House & the Gerald Ford boogie…if any Detroit band from that time frame ,should have had a major label deal, ( like the Shoes on Elektra ) The Zooks, should have been that group. They have all gone on to greater things..

  6. Loved that show at the Dearborn Centennial Library. The second set was amazing. Still hoping for that setlist if you can find it Roger.

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