Interview by Tanner Morris

I’m here with Mark Sands and Tanner Leier from the band If I Ran The Zoo. How’s it going guys?

Tanner: Good man!

Mark: It’s going, haha

If I Ran The Zoo is a rock/metalcore band from Fargo, ND. But you guys have had an impressive impact on the local music scene here in the Twin Cities. But we have been missing you guys while you took a break for a year or so. Care to elaborate on that?

Tanner: We’ve been missing you too! Basically we went through a line up change which caused us to be pretty quiet this past year. It sucked but we’re a much better band because of it, and we’ll be down in the twin cities a lot more coming up, as well as all over the U.S!

Mark: It was a tough break for us to take for sure. Granted I’ve only been in the band for about 5-6 months now, it was still kinda rough going through everything and trying to find new members that we needed for this band. However, the wait was worth it and we’re glad to be back playing shows for everyone.

Photo credit: Kaytlin Dargen Photography

Awesome. Well welcome back! Who are the remaining forming members of the band?

Mark: The only original members we have right now are Josh and Tanner. Everyone else is new

I see. How about we give everyone a proper introduction. Can you name everyone, from left to right in your current promo picture, and their role in the band?

Tanner: Sure thing! There’s me (Tanner Leier) on guitar, Rob Whiteside: Guitar, Josh Haider: Vocals, Mark Sands: Bass, and Sam Knutson: Drums

iirtz promo resized
Photo Credit: Bryan Hempstead // Bryan Hempstead Media

Solid. I really like that photo by the way. As a photographer myself, I appreciate the quality there. Who took that?

Tanner: Cool thanks! Our buddy Bryan Hempstead took it, including the rest of our newest ones. Make sure to check out his Facebook page, Bryan Hempstead Media .

Oh nice. I’ve seen his work before! Where was that? Or was it a super secret location?

Mark: Haha it’s a super duper secret location. Some may say it was in Narnia… For real though it was taken in Fargo. Me and Tanner were just driving around one day and he had mentioned it would be a cool location for new promos.


Haha nice. Moving on from the topic of locations only to be revealed through magical doors; You guys have had an EP out for a little while now. When was that released?

Tanner: We released ‘Edge Of The World‘ in July of 2013, so last summer!

Album Art

Did the reaction of that EP line up with what you guys expected?

Tanner: It actually was way more insane than we could have expected. When we put it out I wasn’t even going to check the charts because I didn’t expect anything crazy. Then I got a call, while on the toilet haha, that we were #7 on the iTunes metal charts. I logged on and saw our EP up there with Asking Alexandria and Metallica and was just pumped. Within the first few weeks or so Edge sold in over 75 U.S. cities and 10 countries, which I was pretty happy with considering we’re an unsigned band. During that time we kept getting blocked from responding on twitter to people talking about the EP. It was pretty wild.

Photo credit: Kaytlin Dargen Photography

Woah, hell yeah! And are you working on new music to be released any time soon?

Mark: Yep! We’ve been going in and out of the studio here and there working on some ideas for our next release. We will have a new single coming out this next year (2015) and are super excited to show everyone and see the response we get with it.

Awesome, where are you guys recording?

Tanner: We’re doing pre-production with our good friend Greg, Gregory Lindholm Productions, and then shopping around and hopefully recording at a next level studio. We have a few in mind we’d really like to go to.


I just listened to your cover of Timber the other day. You guys did a good job on that. How was the process of coming up with a cover song vs. writing material from scratch?

Tanner: Cool! It was definitely weird at first for me to take an already written song and have to change it enough to be cool and different while still making sure it’s the same song. The recording process was really fun though, we had about 10 people singing along for the group parts which is always awesome.

How was the process of filming the music video for White Walkers? That abandoned house looks pretty gnarly. Also, does that song have anything to do with Game Of Thrones? Haha.

Tanner: We actually just used the name from Game Of Thrones because we liked it, but the song has nothing to do with it haha. Filming for it was pretty crazy, Jason Talley and his crew were in charge of it and we filmed both of our videos in the same day. So as soon as we finished shooting for Edge Of The World we drove to an abandoned house between Sioux Falls and Sioux City. We had to sign wavers freeing the director and crew of liability incase of our death haha. We were setting up and there was cow shit everywhere so we were all stepping in it and when a few of us went around back to set up some lights we got charged by a cow and had to jump into a broken window in the house to get out of the way. When we were filming I was upstairs for my part and during one take my leg broke through the floor and was hanging through the ceiling in the room below. During Josh’s take, who was the last to go, he cut his Achilles tendon on a broken window so we had to wrap the shoot up and go get some medical supplies. We wrapped up our day at about 5am.

Sounds like it was a fun shoot! And maybe a dangerous one as well. But.. no risks, no reward. Do you guys have any upcoming shows? Please tell me you’re planning a bigger tour soon’ish?

Mark: Right now we are scheduled to play with Heartist (Roadrunner Records), SycAmour (Hopeless Records) on January 18th at Gio’s in Moorhead, MN with our buddies in Alistair Hennessey and The Following, should be a rad time! We have some other shows in February we’ll have announced hopefully soon as well.. as far as touring goes we’re also in the works with that. It’s all up in the air right now but we’re trying hard to get it all done haha

Very cool. Yeah touring can be hard. It’s a lot of time and energy. Especially DIY tours. But I hope your tour plans work out, because I do hope to see you guys on the road sooner than later. There are many ears throughout the nation that have to see what’s up with IIRTZ. Just gotta keep on keepin on. Guys, as I wrap this interview up, is there anything else you’d like to say?

Tanner: I guess I’ll just say thanks for having us on here and for anyone reading, we hope to see you at a show!

Mark: Thanks to everyone for putting up with us as we’re coming back as a band and being so patient with everything we’re doing. If you haven’t already yet give us a like on Facebook, follow us on twitter/instagram and keep up to date on what we’re doing in 2015!

Thanks for your time, guys! Can’t wait to see what the future brings us. 

Be sure to keep up with If I Ran The Zoo on their social media!

Twitter/Instagram: @iirtzmusic


And check out their online store here!


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