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How a Local Band Came to Soundtrack the Vancouver Canucks’ Playoff Run

The Zolas’ “Come Back to Life” is a good rallying cry for the NHL playoffs.

If you’ve been an avid viewer (or even a casual one) of the current Vancouver Canucks’ playoff run (2020 once again just defying all the odds), you’ve likely heard Zolas frontman Zach Gray belting out his band’s recent hit, “Come Back to Life”.

Sportsnet, the broadcast partner of the NHL in Canada, has used the song repeatedly over montages of the Canucks scoring goals and making saves against the St. Louis Blues.

The catchy track is an apt account of the ups and downs one encounters in the NHL playoffs, even if Gray and his bandmates didn’t write it with sports in mind.

“It’s the last thing I expected from that song, that’s for sure,” says Gray, still seemingly in disbelief. “There was a song we put out last album that [former keyboardist] Tom [Dobrzanski] was sure would be the perfect opening skate song, “CV Dazzle”. But I blew it by putting an f-bomb in the chorus.”

No, “Come Back to Life”, which is one of the singles off the Zolas’ upcoming album (Gray expects it to drop next year), has a more serious message than the Canucks defying the odds to beat the St. Louis Blues in Game Five (which they did on Wednesday night).

“It’s about the planet—when you actually think about what climate change really means or what decolonization means and what needs to happen for that stuff to get better,” Gray explains. “I think all of us have moments where we just don’t believe anymore. And this song is a little reminder to myself as much as anyone that we have to keep working together.”

So even though the line, “I’ve gotta tell you I can feel the bubble over my head” works perfectly for the current NHL, in which all the players and staff are currently in a so-called “bubble” away from the masses, it’s pure coincidence. 

“Our whole album is like this,” Gray says with a laugh. “It was written before COVID, and almost every single song, even ones we wrote two years ago, they all feel like they were written about 2020 specifically.”

Gray, who describes himself as a “lapsed hockey fan” since the Canucks’ ill-fated Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2011, was excited when Sportsnet approached the band to use the song: “There’s only so many pedestals on which to stand as a musician and being a song that people skate out to or that opens up a much beloved sporting event is one of them.”

He adds that while the Zolas have made appearances in TV and movies, they’ve never quite been showcased on “appointment TV, the way hockey is. Especially now that people have little better to do than watch hockey on TV.”

Hopefully the Blues don’t take the song to heart in Friday’s pivotal Game 6, but however this unfolds, Gray is hoping the original message gets out.

“I’m happy that it caught a wave like that with the NHL, especially now because our country needs more to hold on to each other more than ever before.”