Jesse Smith has long been recognized as one of the best percussionists in heavy music. The multi-instrumentalist became founding member of Zao, perhaps the first metalcore band with roots in the Christian music scene to enjoy a credible, respected position in the mainstream halls of the hardcore and metal realms.
Zao began in 1996 when Smith gathered some friends together with the intention of starting a ministry-oriented, faith-based hardcore band similar to so-called "spirit filled" bands like Unashamed and secular acts Unbroken and Earth Crisis. Jesse Smith bought his first drum kit the weekend he formed the band.
After the 2002 album "Parade Of Chaos" Jesse Smith decided to depart the band in 2003. He was followed up by Stephen Peck for their sophomore album "The Funeral of God" (2004, Ferret Records), who soon after left as well.
Jesse Smith continued with the band Gods, featuring Bobby Green on drums. They called it quits in June 2006, after Green had left several months before.