Arizona punks Authority Zero started broadcasting their mix of punk, ska and reggae to the nations in 1994 and haven’t looked back since. The band’s new album was produced by Bill Stevenson (of Black Flag/Descendents fame) over the course of three and a half weeks at the legendary Blasting Room and comes with some solid additions to what was already an impressive song catalog. We caught up with bassist Mike Spero to talk about his hometown of Tempe, AZ.
PRT: What made you first fall in love with the city?
Mike: I was born in Mesa and spent many of my childhood years in Tempe during the late 80s and early 90s. At that point, bands like the Meat Puppets, the Refreshments, and Dead Hot Workshop were getting started. I was three years old the first time I saw a live band playing. I was peering through a window from atop my dad's shoulders in downtown Tempe. That memory has always stuck with me and definitely helped to inspire me to play music. That band ended up being the Gin Blossoms at one of the earliest dive bar gigs.
PRT: If you had to come up with a marketing slogan for the city, what would it be?
Mike: "Best city in America to be in a haboob!"
PRT: Best place to play?
Mike: Yucca Tap Room in Tempe is great spot to see an intimate show one of our most legendary small venues. The Nile Theater is another well known spot in Mesa and one of our best all ages venues.
PRT: Best place to go for a late night drink after the show?
Mike: I find myself at Yucca Tap Room after shows pretty often. Jupe's is one of our best cash only no nonsense dive bars. I've ended up there many times after shows as well.
PRT: Best place to go for a late night snack after the drink after the show?
Mike: Anytime you find yourself still out and about after shutting down the bar, it's sort of an unwritten law here in town to go for the Mexican Fast Food option. Go for anything with a sign written in cursive and ending in "beto's" or "berto's" and you're in the right zone!
PRT: Best touristy thing to do in the city?
Mike: There are a number of touristy things to do throughout the metropolis but specifically in the Mesa/Tempe area, I would quite honestly say to go see some local live music. Local bands around our area have quite possibly some of the most eclectic mixes of musicians I have ever had the pleasure of seeing play live. Latin, country, punk, bluegrass/folk and jazz players can frequently be found among the local bands here collaborating and inventing new sounds all the time. Go see a show and discover a new band!
PRT: Best hidden spot in the city?
Mike: Pho Cao is a Vietnamese restaurant in Scottsdale that hosts live music 7 nights a week and is set up more like a club than a typical restaurant. They make the best pho in town and you'll almost always happen to stumble upon a great band playing there.
PRT: One thing you would like to see changed in the city?
Mike: I'd like to see the photo radars around town get taken down. Seems like they cause more problems than they solve.
PRT: What's your best memory about the city?
Mike: I once discovered two blue nose pitbull puppies near a park late night after a shift hanging with some co-workers. I brought them home, and with the help of some friends was able to nurse them back into good health and relocate them to a great home in Los Angeles with a friend of ours. Sometimes they come back to visit and I always get excited when they do! Most of my friends and I are dog people… I'm not sure how you could not be. Ha.
PRT: Where in the city did you get your heart broken?
Mike: Tempe.. duh.
PRT: Is there a historical fact about your city that makes you chuckle?
Mike: We had an infamous Sheriff for many years by the name of Joe Arpaio. If you happened to land yourself in his most favorite jail, Tent City, you'd be given a pair of pink undies along with the rest of your scrubs. Always thought that was funny!
PRT: Favorite song about your city you'd like to share, either yours or someone else's?
Mike: The Refreshments are one of my favorite bands. They were from Tempe, and Roger Clyne referenced Arizona culture, landscapes, etc. through his lyrics in great ways. On their first record there are lyrics about our music scene in songs like "Down Together" and nods to our city layout in songs like "Carefree". They were also a great example of what has now become known as the "Tempe sound" in rock and roll.
PRT: And last but not least, where in the city would you like to be buried?
Mike: When my grandfather, Jim Spero passes, wherever he lays, I'd like to be buried nearby.