RockUnited.Com met most of the band members of Human Zoo at the of UFOR II "pre-festival party" a few weeks back. Human Zoo is a hard rock band, from Balingen, Germany. The band's line-up is quite exceptional: it's a great combination of guitar, bass, drums, vocals, keys and last but not least saxophone! The band is a newcomer (formed in 2004), but the band members have a lot of history behind them. There is no doubt that they are highly skilled musicians.

Human Zoo released their debut album called “Precious Time” earlier this year. The album features very powerful songs with extremely catchy choruses, and also a really good production by Dennis Ward. Zarko Mestrovic, the keyboardist and co-producer of the debut album was interviewed by RockUnited.Com. Zarko shared his thoughts about the band as well as the debut album with us and as a result a very nice interview came true.

Hello Zarko! It was really nice to meet you and the other guys of Zoo a few weeks back at the UFOR II festival. I guess all of our readers (Zarko's comment: "guess not many of your readers!") aren’t familiar with Human Zoo. So, could you introduce shortly your band history, band members and tell us something about our musical backgrounds!

Hello Mira. We were all delighted to meet you in the “Holiday Inn” in Schorndorf/Stuttgart. With regard to the band HUMAN ZOO, all the members come from a single town called Balingen which lies about 70 km south of Stuttgart, and they have known each other for years. We’ve been around in this line up since mid-2005, and HUMAN ZOO was started in 2004.

The musical background:

Tommy Strobel, drums und perc.
Ex Subway, European tour with Talisman, German tour with Axxis, 3 CD productions, including in Los Angeles, CD for VÖ in Korea, Japan and Europe. Co-operation with Fernando Garcia (Victory) and Dennis Ward ( Pink Cream 69), video made with Subway for C&A Young Collection with VÖ on MTV.


Markus Ratheiser, bass
Ex Glenmore, tour with Uriah Heep, Sweet, Doro, Axxis, Pink Cream, Iced Earth, U.D.O.World tour with SAGA, European tour with Saxon, CD productions Glenmore, several videos.



Boris Matakovic, saxophone
Ex Subway, CD production in L.A., German tour with Axxis



Thomas Seeburger, the voice
Ex Deaf Mute Blind, CD production, various appearances



Ingolf Engler, guitars
Ex Deaf Mute Blind, CD production, various appearances




Zarko Mestrovic, keyboards
Ex Vandenboerg, classical piano education; appearances all over Germany.



Is the band’s name a tribute to Gotthard, who have an album called “Human Zoo”?

No. A lot of people have asked us about this, but we chose our band name mainly because of its sound. We think it has a good ring to it. And, because we are musicians first and foremost and sounds are our business, we decided to call the band HUMAN ZOO.

Your debut album "Precious Time” was released this year. I have to say that I have been quite overwhelmed by your album. The songs are really nice melodic hard rock and the album sounds very good. In fact "Precious Time” has been produced and recorded by Dennis Ward. How did your co-operation start with Dennis? Are you planning to continue collaboration with him?

Well, thank you, we’re delighted that you appreciate our album so much. The co-operation with Dennis Ward resulted from a serious of coincidences. We had our first single "Straight on the Road" mixed in the House of Audio studios. Dennis Ward happened to be in the studios at that time and mixed our first single for us. That’s how we first met. We played a few gigs in 2005 during which Dennis Ward was helping out in another band and, as a result, happened to see us live on 2 occasions. We had a chat at the bar, and the result was the recording of "Precious Time". That’s how life is sometimes! You can’t always plan it.

Where did you get the ideas for the songs on “Precious Time”, both lyrics and music?

The ideas for the lyrics and songs weren’t planned. We just all met, played and wrote lyrics, and fortunately the result was our debut album.

There are many great songs on “Precious Time”. My absolute favs on it are “In the Rain”, “Keep on Rockin”, “Raise your Hands”, “Taste like Sugar”. Would you give us a track by track rundown of the album?

To be perfectly honest, I like all the songs on the disc!? My personal favourite is "In the Rain" (probably because I composed it!). With regard to the sequence of songs on the album, the intro is a mix of individual snippets of several songs on the album. I kept the intro very progressive (I must admit), but I think it’s an excellent trailer to start the album with. "Raise your Hands" was picked as an opener because the song has great appeal and is relatively commercial in style. We then chose "Taste like Sugar’ as the second song because it’s a very friendly number. The riffs and melodies in the refrain are not depressing and technical, but rather underlined by a happy and joyful mood. "Hold the Line" deals with the subject of war and is marked by a heavy and monotone song structure.

I’ve already talked about "In the Rain". We also involved a gospel choir here, and I programmed our own orchestration together with a musician friend. It was all a bit more complicated, but there’s no doubt that the effort has paid off. "Let me Be’ was largely born in the studio. "Keep on Rockin" was developed entirely to suit our saxophonist. The opening solo and main solo in the track are played by the saxophone and is also one of my favourites next to "In the Rain". There’s not much more to say about the other tracks. "Give it Up" is a mid-tempo song that’s also catchy, and we added another faster song with "Keep on Rockin" to up the tempo a little on the album. The live song at the end and the acoustic version of the ballad "In the Rain" round off the album. I think there’s something for everybody on it.

What kind of feedback have you received for your debut album?

Evaluations and comments have been very positive. Neither we nor those responsible for marketing and sales expected such a magnificent reaction and positive appreciation from the international press. We only wanted to make good music for our own enjoyment, and then release a disc, so we're naturally very happy and a little bit proud that things have turned out this way.

You have been recently signed to AOR Heaven. Why did you decide to change your record label from BOB-MEDIA/Hammersound to AOR Heaven?

Naturally enough, every label takes a risk when it signs on new artists who have previously been unknown. The disc "Precious Time" was, fortunately, released by Bob-Media and Zxy Music without any major contractual risks arising, but also without a large advertising budget. The opportunity for Human Zoo to establish itself with its present status further in the music business through co-operation with AOR HEAVEN is simply greater from Human Zoo's point of view than through releasing another disc with Bob-Media.

Have you discussed the new album with AOR Heaven already? If so, when could we expect a new release by Human Zoo and will there be any remarkable changes in your music style?

The second album will be released in 2007. The songs for it are already being planned. The style will, of course, remain the same. We’ve been successful with this style, so we don’t see why we should make any major changes. I think the second disc will be more straightforward in terms of musical structure.

Human Zoo has one quite exceptional element for a rock band. You have a saxophonist in your crew. I think that this makes you stand our from melodic rock scene in a very cool way. I personally like it very much. Where did you get the idea for it?

We are all appreciative and interested in different styles of music. That’s why we have no problem in integrating this very versatile instrument in our music. We particularly want to try new approaches and fresh ideas in the area of hard rock. Our saxophonist Boris Matakovic was already playing in the 90’s with Subway on the Axxis tour. He’s an experienced guy who we like very much, so we met a few times to play together, and the result was fantastic. All the band members shared this opinion, so we doubtlessly integrated a musical instrument in our music that is normally not heard in the world of rock. But you can hear it with Human Zoo!

Have you been doing gigs in support of your album? Do you have any gigs lined up for the near future?

The most important thing for newcomers is to establish themselves in the music business, and we managed this with great success with the first album "Precious Time". The name HUMAN ZOO is also becoming more popular, and our chances to play much more live music are, naturally enough, even increasing. Plans for concerts in 2007 are in full swing, and it will probably be also possible to organise a tour for the album "Precious Time" in 2007. Talks in this respect are very promising, so be prepared for a surprise.

If there’s anything else you’d like to say to our readers, fire away!

I wish all the readers of Rockunited the very best for 2006! And don’t forget to buy the `Precious Time` disc this Christmas !!

And keep on rockin` ... every day. Cheers!

Interview & the "party" photo by Mira Suutari-Toivonen,
Other photos provided by Human Zoo,

26 November 2006
(c)2006 RockUnited.Com