Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Zeeshan Zaidi From The Commuters

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? Happy National Scrabble Day to the remaining few people who can spell without autocorrect.
Let's start off with a nice story... Bryce Lacey, a 19-year-old Sam Houston State University student, was home visiting his father, Charles, a veteran of the Vietnam War, in Richmond, Texas. Charles Lacey was showing his son some of his old military photos, and Bryce couldn't help but notice that there was one man who was present in nearly all the photos. Charles identified the man as Kermit Powers, a war buddy of his who he'd lost touch with a few years after the war. It's been almost 40 years since Lacey and Powers have spoken, so Bryce decided to use the force of the Internet to see if he could help track Kermit Powers down for his father. His tweet, which included an old photo of the two friends, was retweeted almost 56,000 times. The Internet got together and Nancy Drew'ed the situation, and the first clue found was an obituary for an Evelyn Kelly Powers, which mentioned a son named Kermit, of Germany. Someone else found a LinkedIn profile for a Kermit Powers, but it didn't look like the account was used much (he was listed as "retired"). It did show that the man lived in Germany, though. A woman found a Twitter account for a man named Kermit Powers, who did look a lot like the man in the old photos. It showed that he was retired and living in Germany, but they couldn't be sure it was the same man that Bryce's father Charles was looking for. Then someone found a Facebook page for a man named Kermit Powers. The Facebook account also didn't look it got much use, but Bryce sent a message anyway. And he got a response! Speaking to BuzzFeed, Bryce said that his dad was "surprised" that he'd managed to track down and even speak to Kermit Powers. He added, "My mom will have to download Skype so they can talk." Good job, Internet! See, sometimes not everything on the Internet is awful.
Last night, Anderson Cooper and his panel addressed Donald Trump's comments on his discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to the Huffington Post, the conversation between the two world leaders led to a Trump revelation that, in Donald Trump's own words, the escalating situation with North Korea is "not so easy" to resolve. Here's the full quote, "After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that [China] had tremendous power [over] North Korea. But it's not what you would think." You know, just the international crisis that hasn't been solved for 65 years. The one involving North Korea and South Korea... which are technically still at war because they've never been able to agree on a peace treaty. That one. Apparently, Donald Trump has just now realized it's "not so easy." Look how flustered Anderson Cooper is! He can't even speak!

Isn't that funny? Isn't if funny how we're all in so much trouble?
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for United, SCORPIONS. By now you've probably heard about the terrible PR nightmare United Airlines is facing after a doctor from Kentucky was forcibly dragged off a flight. Just when we thought things couldn't possibly get worse for the embattled airline, a scorpion falls out of one of their overhead compartments and stings a passenger. According to, United passengers Richard and Linda Bell were on a flight back home to Calgary from Houston after spending two weeks on vacation in Mexico when a scorpion fell out of an overhead compartment and onto Richard. They didn't recognize what the animal was until a passenger sitting next to them told them it was a scorpion. (Linda told Global News Canada she thought it looked like a cute little lobster at first.) Richard quickly got the animal out of his hair and dropped it onto his tray. When he picked it up again, it stung him. Another passenger nearby threw the scorpion on the ground, stomped on it, and discarded the remains in the toilet. When the plane arrived in Calgary, emergency personnel came on board to examine Richard. He declined medical attention and an EMS spokesperson said he "showed no signs of distress." (Other than being subject to scorpions falling from the sky.) No one knows how the scorpion got on the plane, but the best guess is that it snuck on board in a passenger's luggage. I guess United is now providing in-flight snacks and scorpion stings? Man, tough week.
Before Sean Spicer was picking fights with Dippin' Dots on Twitter or toting "alternative facts" as the White House Press Secretary, he held one of the weirdest jobs on Capitol Hill... playing the Easter Bunny for the annual White House Easter Egg roll. According to "The Washington Post," Spicer played the Easter Bunny during the George W. Bush Administration. In those days, Spicer was the Republican National Committee communications director and moonlighted as the oversized rodent. Not unlike his current job, Spicer donned oversized clothes and paraded around as a mascot for something that most people don't believe in. In an interview with Politico that recently resurfaced, Sean Spicer admits that the suit "gets very hot" and that signing up for the morning shift is key. Spicer also says that he has been passing out candy as the Easter Bunny for two years, though he probably hoarded all the gum for himself. The only difference between Spicer's former gig and current job is that instead of scaring little children, he now scares adults.
Hey, check out these throw pillows. Notice anything weird about 'em?

At first glance, you may see some pretty blue flowers! At second glance, you might see something a little more... penis-y. It's like one of those pictures you have to stare at for a while before you actually see what is going on. According to the original poster of the picture, their mother purchased the NSFW decor without realizing that the pattern is actually extremely phallic. It's a pretty understandable mistake too. Good news is that if you love the print and dream of being wrapped up in some penis flowers, you can buy a blanket using the fabric here:, you weirdo.
Have you kids seen the movie Ghost in the Shell? I was gonna see it until I saw this pic from the movie...

It's not exactly what I had in mind. Haha. That's stupid. That's as stupid as...

Awe. RIP, Billy. So, Easter if a few days away and if you're lucky you might get this in your basket...

But when you unwrap it you'll get this...

Surprise, motherfucker. So, I saw this pic the other day...

And I thought to myself it reminded me of something and then it hit me...

So, a lot of kids are on Spring Break and not every Spring Break is a success... like for these northerners...

Hyperthermia before liquor, you've never been sicker. Hey, did you see United's new new logo? No?

Just in case you didn't see what happened on that United flight, here it is...

Hahahaha. And now because it's Easter in a few days here is a picture of the Easter Bunny and two cute kids.

It's Thursday, so you know what that means...

A woman in Northern Ireland discovered part of an oven glove baked into her slice of bread... and she didn't even notice it until she began eating it. The loaf had been bought from a local shop just before Christmas. When the victim discovered the contamination, she reported the matter to the environmental health section of the council. The packet turned out to be full of shreds of the hessian-type cloth. Herefordshire-based Hovis makers Premier Foods were fined £750.

Yuck! Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Startling Similarities Or Differences Between The United Airlines Incident & Trump's Syria Strike
5. Was an appropriate use of force.
4. Resulted from a coherent, smartly-crafted policy.
3. Caused negligible damage to aircraft,
2. Improved the world's opinion of America.
And the number one Startling similarity or difference between the United incident and the Syria strike is...
1. Will help the Syrian civil war.

If you don't spot the Mindphuck don't ever read the Phile again. Hahaha. Alright, on Monday's entry I had my sister on the Phile and she talked about the event she put together called Hops For Hope and I thought I'd plug it again...

If you are in Orlando on April 22nd try and go. I will be there. Okay, so, I like to give people a chance in life. There's this comedian who likes telling jokes, but doesn't quite get the concept of what a joke is. He has been on the Phile a few times and tried but comes up shirt each time. Anyway, I thought I'll give him another shot as I am in a good mood. So, please welcome back to the Phile once again...

Me: Hey, Ollie, what's up? How are you?

Ollie: I'm okay, Jason. Thanks for giving me another chance.

Me: No worries. Okay, tell us a joke.

Ollie: Okay. Whats green and has wheels?

Me: Ummmm... I don't know. What?

Ollie: Grass, I lied about the wheels.

Me: Ugh. Ollie, that's not really funny. Try again, my friend.

Ollie: Okay. What is red and smells like blue paint?

Me: I don't know. What?

Ollie: Red paint.

Me: Hahaha. That's a little better. Okay, one more, Ollie. Make it good.

Ollie: How do you confuse a blond?

Me: Ummm... I have no idea.

Ollie: Paint yourself green and throw forks at her.

Me: Haha. Not too bad. Ollie Tabboger, the Guy Who Doesn't Know How To Tell A Joke, everybody.

J. Geils 
February 20th, 1946  April 11th, 2017
One thing's for sure... his corpse stinks.

Easter is an annual religious holiday celebrating the one-hour resurrection of your lapsed Catholicism.

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum and the lead singer for the New York based band The Commuters whose latest EP "Before I Was Born" is available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Zeeshan Zaidi.

Me: Hey, Zeeshan, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been? It's been four years since you were. Holy shit.

Zeeshan: Thanks for having me again! That’s insane... time flies! I’ve been great, very happy to be back.

Me: You still have one of the coolest names out of everybody I ever interviewed. What is its origin? 

Zeeshan: Thanks, man, I wish I could take credit, but my parents picked it. Zeeshan is an Arabic word, meaning something like The Great One. Not a very humble name, but I didn't pick it.

Me: Oh! Congratulations on being a new father. How is that going for you?

Zeeshan: Fatherhood is great! And incredibly challenging as all parents know. It’s a journey, it’s nuts, it’s enlightening.

Me: You have a daughter, right? That's cool. Enjoy it now, my friend. My son is 17-years-old already. Time does fly, man.

Zeeshan: Two daughters! The older is 4 and a half, and the younger is 3-months-old. Time definitely flies.

Me: Having a child has changed your songwriting a little, right? Wasn't the title track to your new EP "Before I Was Born" about her?

Zeeshan: Yep, I wrote this song a few years ago after the birth of my first child. When she was born I was struck by the intensity of the relationship she had with my wife... and the familiarity. So it was about that, but more generally it is about how sometimes people in this world have such a strong, intense connection that you have to believe that their relationship transcends this life... will either continue after or existed before.

Me: By the way, I have a bone to pick with you... your song 'You'll Stay Right Here" made me fucking cry like a baby. Tell the readers what the song is about.

Zeeshan: It’s a message of support to someone going through a very tough time. I wrote it when I learned that someone very close to me was diagnosed with cancer. The song was my way of saying "I’m with you, and you’re going to beat this. You’re not going anywhere." That’s the main message. But in a secondary way I guess it’s also about the bumpy emotional ride experienced not just by the person suffering but by those who are standing by him or her. There’s a painful helplessness to that situation... I tried to capture it in the line, “You know that I’d gladly take your place / But it isn’t up to me.” As someone offering support it’s not about you, and you don’t want to make it about you... you just wish you could do more. (Sorry to make you cry, man!)

Me: It's okay. Both of my parents passed away from cancer in 2000... and cancer has touched my life in more ways to count. So, in way your song touched me. Have you heard many stories like that?

Zeeshan: So sorry to hear that, must have been incredibly tough… Yeah, once we released the song and the video the response was overwhelming. People whom I’d known for a long time dropped me notes telling me about how they had relatives, friends, parents who had battled blood cancer and other cancers... and either won or lost. Fans gave the same messages. It was so striking how widespread cancer’s reach is and how it’s affected pretty much everyone. That’s why we want to do everything in our power to help those searching for a cure... the proceeds from “You’ll Stay Right Here” all went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the video was made to spread awareness.

Me: We'll talk about the EP and stuff in a moment. You're originally from Canada, right, but now live in NYC. How long have you lived there?

Zeeshan: Yep, born in Canada, grew up in the Philippines, lived in Boston for 8 years and now New York for almost 17 years...

Me: Last time you were here I was meant to ask you something about Canada but I forgot... I ask all my Canadian guests of they are fans of one of my all-time favorite bands Barenaked Ladies. Are you a fan of theirs?

Zeeshan: Who isn’t? They’re awesome. Much respect to anyone who can stay together as a band for that long.

Me: Your music reminds me a little of David Bowie. Is he an influence of yours?

Zeeshan: Yes, huge! That just made my day. He was such an incredibly artist, visionary, and songwriter. So much depth and intelligence in everything he did.

Me: Where were you when you heard David Bowie had died?

Zeeshan: At home... just absolutely floored me. Was getting into the new album and then realized it was his parting gift to us mortals.

Me: You have known Uri, who is in The Commuters, and is your guitarist pretty much all your life, right?

Zeeshan: Yep, pretty much all of my conscious life. We met when we were 6, in first grade. Classmates all the way until we graduated from high school.

Me: Is it a coincidence you both ended up living in New York and being in a band?

Zeeshan: Call it coincidence or call it fate. We both went to college in Boston and then lived there afterwards and moved to New York at around the same time.

Me: The band name comes from all you guys being from different places if I remember. Correct me if I am wrong.

Zeeshan: Yes, that’s part of it. It’s about being on a journey... through life, through the musical world... but always returning home.

Me: Do you have the same guys in the band as your last release "Rescue"?

Zeeshan: Yep! Same foursome: me, Uri, Ben (bass), Paul (drums).

Me: Okay, let's talk about "Before I Was Born." What took so long for you to release a follow-up to "Rescue"?

Zeeshan: Life… two of us had kids we were all busy, and then all of a sudden you look up and a few years have gone by.

Me: How would you compare the two EP's, Zeeshan?

Zeeshan: I feel like the second one is both a continuation and an evolution. I think they sound like they’re by the same band but with a slight departure sonically and stylistically.

Me: Did you do all the songwriting on this EP?

Zeeshan: Yep.

Me: All your songs have deep meaning, and you put a lot of thought into them I am guessing. Does songwriting come easy for you?

Zeeshan: That’s really nice of you to say. It all varies by the song. Sometimes the inspiration comes with a pretty baked out song idea. Sometimes I have a lot of writing, thinking and work to do. It’s definitely a craft that takes time and devotion for anyone.

Me: You guys recently went to Europe. How was that, playing over there?

Zeeshan: Amazing! It was just London, but it’s one of my favorite cities in the world and our fans from the U.K. have always been incredibly supportive so it was great to make it over there.

Me: How would you compare American audiences from European audiences?

Zeeshan: Honestly couldn’t tell the difference... I think people are people and fans are fans anywhere in the world.

Me: Is there a favorite gig you have played?

Zeeshan: There are several but one that’s particularly memorable is was our album release show around "Rescue." Great energy, packed the house, lots of press in attendance. Good times.

Me: You were once Senior Director of Marketing for Arista Records... that's a dream job. Why did you give it up, Zeeshan?

Zeeshan: That's right... I was Senior Director of Marketing for Arista Records. Did all of the online and sponsorship marketing for OutKast and CeeLo and the other artists on the label (Santana, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Pink, Dido, Usher). It was a lot of fun... Arista got merged into the RCA Music Group, and I was there for a few years before moving on into the tech startup world for a while.

Me: What you learned doing that you put towards The Commuters, right?

Zeeshan: A lot about how to connect with fans... let them know you’re around... engage them, and keep them loyal. It’s been very useful experience for sure.

Me: Did you go to school to study marketing?

Zeeshan: Not directly. Economics undergrad, and then law school and business school.

Me: A lot of people asked me if I would market the Phile. I just laughed at them... it's just a stupid little blog. What's your favorite marketing campaign you have worked on, Zeeshan?

Zeeshan: Not a stupid blog... it’s a great blog! I’ve had the privilege of doing marketing for a lot of great campaigns... one of my favorites was doing the online marketing for OutKast’s "Speakerboxx/Love Below" double album. We just knew we were working on a historic work of art. 

Me: So, when are you guys gonna play in Florida? I wanna go if you do.

Zeeshan: We should! Will definitely keep you posted.

Me: Alright, I hope it's not gonna be another four years before your next release comes out. The Phile might be ending in 2018, and I really would love to have you back here. Go ahead and mention your websites and everything. 

Zeeshan: Yes, will try to get my act together to bang out more songs more quickly! Also... that’s a bummer about the Phile ending! Will definitely try to come back before that happens... Your fans can watch our new video here: And find us online here: Website:, Facebook:, Twitter:,  Instagram:, Music Links:

Me: Continued success and enjoy fatherhood, my friend. Take care.

Zeeshan: Thanks, my man!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Zeeshan for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Monday with Pat The Batman Fan Evans. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a good Easter.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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