Solo artist, Zach Russack, talked to us about his experience in music thus far, his writing and recording process, one of his favorite memories as an artist, and more. Check it out below.
Where are you from?
I was born, raised, and currently reside in Hackettstown, NJ.
How long have you been an artist and how did you get started?
I’ll give the shortest synopsis I can, so bear with me. I joined my first band when I was 13 after I got my first guitar that year for Christmas to impress some ladies. My good friend and his older brother were looking for a third member to help grow their band called Reverse Order, so I joined in on the equation and started gigging out with them at age 14. Within the three years of playing with them, awesome opportunities arose, including performing at Bamboozle in 2008.
I then left to join a rock band called Crimson Fire as a guitarist/background vocalist, performing music in which direction I enjoyed much more. The lead singer and I kept the project alive until we had to go our separate ways for schooling, and even then, kept writing together for shortly after. During school, I didn’t pursue music as an artist while studying, but I did write some personal songs from time to time. After graduation, I started to go to open mic nights in my area, and played covers and my few original tunes. It was then that I realized that the enjoyment I was bringing to myself and others was something I wanted to pursue in a serious manner, which leads me here to this interview.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
My music has been described as a cross between Elliott Smith and Neil Young, with some tastes of all sorts of different bands/artists. It’s difficult for me to try and pin-point my sound most of the time—I’d love to hear what you think.
What was your latest release of music and can you talk about that a bit?
I released my first LP on October 14, 2016. The album is comprised of 10 original songs, and all of the songs were written and produced by myself. I also performed all of the instruments on this album, so I have this very close personal attachment to it—it’s my baby. The lyrical content of these songs sometimes may be arbitrary, but there are some tunes that have more of my personal demons released, that I am sure many can relate to alongside me with.
What is your writing and recording process like?
I’ll start with recording. As far as demoing songs, I do the recording myself to help my writing process flow. When it came down to this new LP, I had 90% of the tracking done at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, NJ by my best friend Gabriel Francis, and the other 10% at Flux Studios in NYC by my pal, Josh Welshman. The record was mixed by Josh Welshman and Scot Moriarty (Backroom Studios), and I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. I didn’t want to engineer this project because I didn’t want to torture myself with trying to acquire the “perfect” mixes, and I also wanted to be solely the artist this go around, not stress myself by doing everything. I oddly took the tracking process song by song vs. completing instruments individually for every song in a day. In the future, I plan to engineer my own EPs (at least I intend to).
As far as writing goes, it gets random quick. Most of the time, I think of the musical content first. I notice I begin by writing some sort of musical centric, whether it turns into a chorus, verse, bridge, theme, motif, etc. I write my stories and lyrics accordingly to the music that comes out, where I notice that some singer/songwriters do the opposite. Nothing too jaw dropping.
What are current projects you are working on?
There are some neat plans in the works no doubt. I can’t really release too much information yet, but I would say just keep in tune with my adventures on either my website or Facebook page. I keep adding new shows in and out of state. I am always writing (or at least trying to) as far as new music goes, so again, just stay on the radar. ;)
What is your favorite memory as an artist?
I held my LP release party at The Newton Theatre (Newton, NJ), and the show could have not gone any smoother! I had three incredible local openers (Evan Miklosey – Frenchtown, Gabriel Francis/Ben Scardo – Hackettstown, and Joe Cirotti – Hackettstown) perform a couple of songs each before my set began, and it surprisingly didn’t have a single hiccup—they were some incredible talent. My band then went on, which was comprised of all local musicians from Hackettstown (except my drummer Alex Generous out of Baltic, CT). Depending on a song’s arrangement, I would have all of my friends come on and step off stage for certain tunes that I had them learn, which was a neat way to cycle all of my talented friends that I wanted to share this experience with. I had everyone on stage for the last song, jamming out to Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In The Sand,” which was comprised of three acoustic guitars, three electric guitars, bass, and drums. We felt like The Outlaws for a minute. It was truly an epic and favorable memory as far as band memories go. I will never forget that night.
What are your goals for the future as an artist?
Some near future goals would be to achieve the opportunity to have a Tiny Desk Concert by NPR and an Audiotree Live session of either myself solo or with my band, whomever that may be. They both seem achievable. I will do everything I possibly can to reach those goals. As far as big picture goes, the goal is to keep spreading out my music around the country, and maybe even the world someday. The goal is also to keep writing—not just selfishly for my own pleasure, but for everyone or anyone that can or wants to relate. So, I plan on continuing to play shows all over, write more songs, add some permanent band members, and strongly present my convictions through my music successfully that helps draw people to my art. Connecting a community with music is a big reason why I pursue this path that I am in, as cliché as that may sound.