Paulie Z is a different kind of American idol. He rocks hard on stage until the house lights come up, can sing powerfully enough to lift up an entire arena to its feet, works a crowd until every last person has left the building, and when he comes offstage, he is ready for the rest of the evening to begin.
Yet, throughout this entire scenario, not once do drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or anything resembling the stereotypic lifestyle of a hard-partying rocker enter into the picture. Asked why drugs are not a part of his lifestyle he will tell you honestly, “Just like drinking, a lot of it comes from our parents not doing it. Believe it or not, KISS was also a big reason for that too because Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons don't drink or smoke and they were our heroes growing up.”
It’s that model he still emulates to this day. His love of family, music,
and life are what drive him still, and are also what make him an unlikely, yet powerful role model for the kids his spends so much of his time trying to reach. Because he does believe in role models, he just believes role models can live a clean lifestyle, work and rock hard, and that success does not come in spite of those things, but can be achieved by it.
Every step of his life has lead up to where he is now, advocating for his vision of music as an integral part of a child’s education, and not just an extra-curricular activity. He knows firsthand music can further a child’s education, because it was an integral part of his.
Paulie grew up in a household filled with music. His dad’s vast record collection was replete with KISS, Deep Purple, the Rolling Stones, and Van Halen, and there was always vinyl spinning in the living room.
But there was the live component as well. He would watch his dad and uncle rehearse their own band, and fell in love with the sound of live music pouring through the amps.
Though he would go on to major in visual art in high school (Fiorello H. LaGuardia H.S. of Music and Art and the Performing Arts), and college (School of Visual Arts), Paulie came back to his first love, music. It was during college that Paulie discovered he enjoyed working with kids, playing guitar for group classes at the NYC Children’s Museum. It was a natural progression to form a band with his brother David called the Z Brothers, solely devoted to performing for young children.
But his musical aspirations were higher. After forming the rock band ZO2 with his brother, David Z, and drummer Joey Cassata he spent the next decade recording three albums, touring the country with his childhood idols KISS and Poison, and eventually, starring in his own TV show on IFC, Z Rock.
It was after Z Rock ended that Paulie began reinvesting his energies into working with kids again and re-building the brand of ZO2. Starting in 2010, ZO2 dedicated a portion of every ticket sold to every show toward donating a concert to a school. But what started out as a cross promotional education initiative for the band, eventually became a focal point for Paulie and ZO2, and in 2011, Rock Asylum was born.