In the arena of live drum and bass duos bridging instrumentals and interactive visuals with vintage wrestling promos, one contender wears the belt: Wednesday Night Titans.
To witness drummer Zach Danziger and bassist Kevin Scott in action is to be transported back to the 1980s heyday of professional wrestling. Under the guise of their stage personas, wrestler Ted Technical (Scott) and manager, Stix “Hit Man” Jenkins (Danziger), the two spar with legends Hulk Hogan, Dusty Rhodes, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and more. As if the raging testosterone wasn’t enough to fuel these heavyweight matchups, Wednesday Night Titans deliver an innovative multi-media combination of visual elements triggered by future-fusion instrumentals.
“I mean, it kind of is sensory overload, but the response is that these people want to be overloaded,” Danziger told Live For Live Music. “They come on in and they think they’re on an acid trip. And I mean, maybe some of them are, but they’re just loving the feeling that they get from this music. Guys coming up to us, you feel like they’re going to tear your head off because they’re so enthused by what they saw. But that’s a good feeling. They love it! They’re just like, ‘I didn’t think I was capable of feeling all these feelings at the same time.’ I was like, ‘Okay, cool. Great. Tell your friends.'”
Wednesday Night Titans – Promo
Wednesday Night Titans is Danziger’s latest attempt at marrying triggered visuals and off-the-cuff music. If the concept is still hard to grasp, check out his 2013 TedX performance which presciently addressed the growing role of technological autonomy in music. He also explored similar creative avenues in the duo Edit Bunker. With Wednesday Night Titans, however, Zach Danziger and Kevin Scott are able to bridge this advanced musical concept with their lifelong love of wrestling.
“The cool thing about this project is that it’s been able to attract both music lovers and wrestling fans alike,” Danziger observed. “And what’s funny about it is, the people who don’t even like wrestling come out and they love it. And the people who do like wrestling come out, [who] probably haven’t heard music avant garde like this in their entire life, but they see Hulk Hogan on the screen and that kind of is what gets them in. What I’m trying to say is we get a very nerdy muso crowd, but we also get just some guy going to a bar in Cleveland, Ohio who just liked what they saw, who probably would not see anything else I’ve ever done in my career—and if they did go see it, probably wouldn’t enjoy it.”
The first Wednesday Night Titans gigs took place about five years ago, though touring efforts didn’t begin in earnest until just before the pandemic. Now, with a steadily growing Instagram presence and trickling word of mouth, the band has booked shows during Jazz Fest, a late-night SweetWater 420 Fest performance, and more. Even as the band’s profile continues to rise, however, WNT maintains an air of anonymity like a wrestler behind a Lucha libre mask—something the band briefly pursued onstage.
“We want it to be elusive on some level. We want you to be able to feel like you got to see the experience,” Danziger said. As far as putting out studio material, that’s a conversation for down the road. “We just don’t want to put that album out yet because we want the framing of this to be coming from a standpoint of, ‘This is a Blue Man Group-ish type,'” he explained. “It’s a thing you go see.”
Just like with professional wrestling itself, it can be difficult to separate fiction from reality with Wednesday Night Titans. How much of the performance is scripted and what is off-the-cuff? Is this a loving parody or a genuine tribute to an American art form?
“If it comes off a bit surreal and absurd, that’s ok,” Danziger said. “We’re trying to highlight and celebrate something that inherently had those qualities. It’s a tribute to those we’ve admired for decades.”
Musically, Zach and Kevin are trained combatants. At 15, Zach was a drumming prodigy at New York’s Drummers Collective. He can be seen online playing festivals all over the world with groups like Mister Barrington, Uri Caine Bedrock, and Donny McCaslin. Kevin boasts a resume that includes collaborations with Col. Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring, and other luminaries. Before that, however, Scott had dreams of stepping into the ring, an experience that lends credence to his portrayal of Ted Technical.
“Kevin wanted to be a wrestler when he was a teenager, much like many of us. … He might have done amateur, amateur, amateur stuff, but he definitely has done it. He’s tried it.” That is, Danziger added, “as much as Andy Kaufman tried to wrestle, and I’m damn sure Kevin could hold his own in the ring on that level.”
As for Zach, he possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling that would give even the most seasoned Phish fan pause.
“My love for wrestling goes very deep as an 11 and 12-year-old,” Danziger recalled, “where I got so into it that I’d show up at 6 a.m., I’d tell my parents I was going to school early, and I’d sneak out and I’d get on-line literally with the most unsavory looking scalpers in New York, outside [Madison Square Garden], at about 6:30 in the morning because I was told if you get there early enough, you might be able to get a ticket in the first row of MSG.”
“I was at Madison Square Garden when Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik to win the title. I still have my ticket stub,” he continued. I was at the first WrestleMania at the Garden with Cyndi Lauper and that whole cavalcade of stars. The minute I heard Gene Okerlund announce on TV that there was going to be this huge event called WrestleMania, I ran out of the house to the Garden and got two tickets.”
Wednesday Night Titans – “This Is Championship Wrestling”
Between Kevin’s first-hand experience and Zach’s exhaustive wrestling knowledge through the 1980s, the two form the perfect functioning wrestling brain. Together, they deliver a product that is aggressively original with the ability to dig its meat hooks into the rapidly-decreasing attention spans of today’s audience.
“Those who respond, respond on such a visceral level. People come up to us after the show and tell us, ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve seen in 20 years,'” Danziger said. “Of course not everyone’s going to think that, but I’ve been in groups for ten years where no one’s said that to me once. With Wednesday Night Titans, we’re getting that nightly.”
“So, I like our odds,” he continued. “We just have to find more of those people and get them out to the show.”
Wrestling itself was borrowed from the Greeks, but it took the American ingenuity of someone like McMahon to turn it into a spectacle like WWE. Danziger is the first to admit that “there are no original ingredients, only original recipes.” He has played with these ingredients his entire career, but this new original recipe is something you can only get at a Wednesday Night Titans show.
“I’d like to think that if you want us, you’ve got to get us,” Danziger said. Or, as “Nature Boy” Ric Flair put it, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”