With the release of his debut album today, the multi-talented Zach Person is poised to shake up the scene. The guitarist-singer-songwriter has crafted a body of work that showcases each and every one of his multitude of influences. From sultry blues to fast-paced rock ‘n’ roll, listeners of all ages and musical preferences will find something to love about this record. Atlas spoke with Person via email about how lightning struck (literally) during recording, finding inspiration and tentative 2021 touring plans.
Can you tell us your origin story of how you got started in music? What set you on the path that you’re on now?
My mother was a great singer. She started me listening to all kinds of music from an early age. We used to sing songs around the house, “Proud Mary” (Tina Turner), being one of our favorites. I picked up skateboarding around the age of nine, and was exposed to heavy styles of rock music while at the skateparks. This led me to gain an interest in the electric guitar. With the simultaneous passing of my father, my mom wanted to give me an outlet to channel and process all of those intense emotions. At 10 years old I received my first guitar. Soon I’d be listening to and attempting to recreate the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
How would you say that your music has evolved from when you started to where you are now?
When I first started making music, I was heavily inspired by blues and classic rock music. It wasn’t until I started high school that I began listening to more indie and pop styles of songs. That period of time between high school and college age really opened my ears to all sorts of music (hip hop, neo soul, country, Americana, EDM, etc.). Also, living in North Carolina and Texas and traveling quite a bit throughout the states exposed me to such a wide variety of musical styles. Now when I write a song, you can hear every little bit of that leak out.
Who do you count among your biggest influences and inspirations?
I’ve always been inspired by the sounds of classic rock and blues music. That includes artists like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. More recent artists include Jonny Lang, John Mayer, The Black Keys, Jack White, Chris Stapleton, H.E.R., and Madison Cunningham. There’s also a guy out of Austin named Dave Scher. He’s my absolute favorite guitarist and musician. Definitely check him out.
With the new record out now, can you tell the story behind the album and how it all came together?
Well we had sort of a rough start. Early in the process of recording, our studio was struck by lightning. It damaged some gear and delayed us a bit in moving forward. Soon things were back up and running and we were about to get started for the second time when lightning…struck twice. Overall we were delayed about two months waiting on gear repairs and things of that sort. Once we got past all the lighting, we were able to fairly quickly get everything recorded and mixed. Working with Will Loconto in the studio is great because he is such a wizard behind the control board. He is able to craft these wicked sounding electronic elements to support my raw, indie/blues guitar tones. That mixed with Jake Wyble’s monster drumming creates a really epic wall of sound.
What would you say is the most important message that you’re trying to convey to your listeners? Are there any topics that you’d like to write about that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
It really depends on the song. Most of the time my songs are more metaphorical and up for multiple interpretations. I like it that way. If I’m ever trying to convey a specific message to listeners it’s probably more so in the way that I try to live my life and inspire others by bringing as much positive energy and faith with me wherever I go.
What song of yours resonates most with you?
It’s actually a song that didn’t make the record, but will be released in the coming months as a bonus track / single for a EU/UK release. The song is titled, “Remnants”. It’s a six minute ride that takes you through all of the emotions and has an epic guitar (and drum!) solo.
Every band or artist has a unique relationship with music- whether it’s how they started, how it’s affected their lives, etc. How would you describe your own relationship with music?
Music for me has helped give me a clear focus for as long as I can remember. As a young kid, I had these “phases” of obsession that I would go through. First it was comic books, then drawing, then skateboarding, and finally music. Music was and is the final phase for me!
With the pandemic still putting a lot of things on hold, what are you hoping for/tentatively planning for coming up?
We have plans for back to back European / UK tours beginning in late August of 2021 and Spring of 2022. I am really excited to see parts of Europe I’ve never been to, and to experience the music culture and fans that the continent has to offer!
Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about you or your music, or is there anything you wish you could talk about more that you may not get asked?
Well here are two quick “fun facts”. One of my favorite meals in a hot bowl of Pad See Ew, and one of my favorite TV shows is “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. It’s just written so well. A lot of people can’t get past the animated factor of it, but it really is a deep and thought provoking series.
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo courtesy of Zach Person