Local band My Hero Zero marks turning point with introduction of original music

My Hero Zero, led by singer Jason Olcese, will start performing original material when it performs around Centre County.
My Hero Zero, led by singer Jason Olcese, will start performing original material when it performs around Centre County. Centre Daily Times, file

My Hero Zero has been doing its thing for nearly a decade in State College, the eastern shore, Philly, Boston, Pittsburgh and just about anywhere within a 300 mile radius of Centre County. And, these days, its thing is growing.

Since its inception, the band has been performing what lead singer Jason Olcese calls the soundtrack of people’s lives in an ever-growing, listener-centered format that does nothing less than entertain people by performing their favorite pop songs in new ways.

“I’ve been working about 100 hours a week for eight years,” My Hero Zero lead singer Jason Olcese said.

It’s a cover band, which sounds easy enough to conceptualize, but speaking with Olcese for even only a few minutes makes it clear that label is not nearly enough. Besides, due to some personnel changes and Olcese’s quietly prolific songwriting career, My Hero Zero is turning a corner of sorts. It’s not so much away from its heartfelt brand of being a totally rocking pop cover band, but toward the inclusion of some original material to exist in tandem with the format the band has been so successful doing for so long.

“It 100 percent marks a turning point,” Olcese said.

The time is now. Olcese and his manager, Angel — who is also his super business-savvy wife — are working on a My Hero Zero album featuring all-original material. It’s a major shift for a band that continuously climbs to steadily shifting peaks of the cover band circuit. In one sense, it’s a risk — albeit a very calculated one — because the My Hero Zero brand has been very successful, so the band is approaching the inclusion of original music mindfully, with the intention of continuing to honor what its fans have come to love about the band.

“We’re probably going to do two different versions of it,” Olcese said. “It’s been fantastic to see what kind of potential there is. Now we want to phase in some songs. In some venues we’ll play the whole thing, but in other venues we’ll say, ‘we can’t throw out half a Bruno Mars song and think from an egotistical standpoint that our song is going to hold more attention than that.’ ”

It will all come to a head in March at The State Theater, when My Hero Zero takes the stage to roll out its new format, which will likely feature a selection of original songs followed by the band’s classic format, designed to get everyone dancing and singing along.

Tickets for the show go on sale Nov. 2. Tickets are $20 but half-price for 18 and younger.

“We’ve done that because it’s really important for us to stay connected to our young fans,” Olcese said.

In addition to the artistic changes going on with the band, there are some branding changes as well. That makes sense, because aside from the music, My Hero Zero has some significant brand recognition and, as Olcese sees it, the brand can be a catalyst to nurture the local music scene, young artists and musicians in general, and to serve the State College business community in a variety of ways, all via the continuation and growth of the band, the emergence of a media company, and, eventually, a recording label.

“It takes constant expansion,” Olcese said.

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.