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Zambonie brings Midwestern power pop to Notre Dame

Molly Griffin | Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Zambonie was founded in Michigan, but with one of the band members in graduate school at Notre Dame, the campus has become its new adopted home. The band will perform a concert Thursday at Legends at 10 p.m. The current line-up of Zambonie includes Erik Widman on guitar and vocals, Kent Widman on bass, Chris Sjoquist on keyboards and John Wert on drums. The band has a web site where fans can go to download music, find out concert dates, read band member biographies and find the latest news about the band. Brothers Kent and Erik Widman moved to the United States from Sweden in 2000, and while enrolled at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, they started the band with drummer John Haldane. Zambonie released its first full length CD in 2002, and the band played performed shows throughout Michigan and Indiana. In 2004, Haldane decided to leave the band, and percussion major John Wert filled in for him on drums. With one change already in the band’s lineup, the group decided to add a synthesizer to the standard mix of bass, guitar and drums. That decision led to Chris Sjoquist becoming a member of Zambonie. Zambonie has opened for such bands as OK GO, out of Chicago and has played at a number of festivals. Erik Widman enrolled at Notre Dame this fall as a grad student, and the band came with him to the South Bend area.The band’s sound is described by Erik Widman as “power pop, kind of like rock and roll and alternative, but it’s hard to compare it to stuff out there.” While the band’s use of keyboards could bring back memories of the 1980s, it is different from the power ballads of yesteryear. “It’s guitar driven and it uses synthesizer, but it’s not 80’s rock,” Erik Widman said. “It’s fun stuff.”The name “Zambonie” is in itself unusual, since a zamboni (with no ‘e’) is the machine that smoothes the ice at a skating rink, but the misspelling has a story behind it. “When I first got started I recorded by myself and one of my songs was going to be on a compilation called ‘Michigan Mania 2000’,” Erik Widman said, “I didn’t have a band name and ‘zamboni’ was one of the names I had been thinking of, but it was just by pure stupidity that I spelled it wrong. I was born in Sweden, so I have an excuse.”Thursday’s concert at Legends will be Notre Dame’s first exposure to Zambonie, and Erik Widman has high hopes. “I hope that it will change their life and that they’ll never be the same after the show,” he said.