Zac And The New Men Q&A
With their fourth and latest single 'Deeper' released earlier this month and a number of shows lined-up, Swansea's Zac And The New Men will be bringing their bluesy, rocky sound to a whole lot more people in 2022. Formed during lockdown. their excellent singles bring to mind a number of class acts stretching back to Hendrix right up to present day bands such as Black Stone Cherry and Royal Blood. Frontman Zac Davies took some time out to answer a few questions for BBMATB on the band, the singles (both past and those coming up) and what's next for the quartet.
Zac And The New Men are Zac Davies (vocals and lead guitar), Oli Poole (rhythm guitar), James Dye (bass) and Will Newman (drums).
Singles 'Second Chance', 'Lead Me On', 'Walking' and 'Deeper' are available on all the major digital sites. Next show is this Friday - 25th February - at 'Jacs' in Aberdare, South Wales.
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Zac And The New Men, could you give a short history of the band?
We formed during the Covid lockdown about a year ago. Will and I had been jamming together for a couple of years in high school and when the lockdowns hit I started writing songs and invited Will to play the drums on them. From there Zac and The New Men was born. We released the songs in January and February of 2021 and began making plans for writing more and getting out gigging. We invited Oli who had been in high school with us to join us as a keyboard player and guitarist and then found James who was on the same college course as Will and Oli to play bass.
Once the lockdowns ended in July we started doing some pub gigs covering songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix as well as the classic favourites of Kings of Leon, Stereophonics and The Killers, but we always threw in several of our own songs which seemed to go down well. We ended up playing about 30 pub gigs, 3 festivals and then when we got the chance we started doing our originals gigs. Our first gig was such a great experience, to have over 50 of our own fans there singing along and jumping to our songs was so amazing. It really made us hungry to do more. since then we’ve done a few other gigs including our first headline show in December and we had another on 5th February which was a sell-out!
And who would you say were the main influences on Zac And The New Men?
It's blues that I really love, the feeling that the greatest musicians can put into their music is something that gets you inside. Listening to Hendrix, SRV and BB King just make me want to pick up my guitar and play. More modern influences would be someone like Philip Sayce and Eric Gales. With the band, we love playing a more heavy rock sound that really gets a crowd moving. We all love the Royal Blood, Cleopatrick, Rage Against The Machine sound as well as the anthemic AC/DC and Led Zeppelin vibe. Basically if it’s loud and gets you moving we love it.
You've just released your fourth single, 'Deeper'; do you have a sense of how the single is doing out there in the 'big wide world'?
It’s going really well so far, we’ve been getting loads of airplay all around the world including being made record of the week and artist of the month, we've been asked to do a few podcasts and it’s not streaming too badly although for some reason it didn’t get released on apple music at the same time as the other services.
Of your four singles - 'Walking', 'Lead Me On', 'Second Chance' and 'Deeper' - do you have a favourite and if so why?
It has to be “Deeper”. It’s the first song that we all wrote together, we wanted a song that would get a crowd or an individual moving, so we wrote it based on a riff we’d been jamming. Lyrically, it’s about being judged by outward appearances and expressing anger at feeling held back by others perceptions of who you are.
It's meant to be an empowering and encouraging song that keeps you moving forwards to achieve your goals. Don’t be put off by others, do it for yourself, aim high and you will succeed. We think there's a rawness and energy that’s relevant to young people today. The whole song was recorded “off the floor” giving it a great dynamic feel with changes of tempo adding punch and huge guitar riffs providing the energy to push you onwards.
Where did you record the singles? And are they self-produced or did you have somebody help you put them together?
With 'Deeper' we worked on it over a few weeks and then started playing it at a couple of our pub gigs. Recording it, we’re lucky enough that we’ve been able to set up a studio and record the songs ourselves. We wanted to try “off the floor” recordings so we all played while we recorded the drums with Will and then we went back and each recorded our parts back to the drums. It means the track isn’t perfectly in time but we got the feel and energy that brings which is what we wanted. It did present some challenges with the production but overall I’m really happy with the sound.
Being a student, I was able to spend quite a bit of time mixing and getting the songs to sound the way we want so I'd do some of the production work and play it back for the others when we met. Their feedback was mostly constructive so I’d work on the mix again until everyone was happy.
What's next on the release front for Zac And The New Men - more singles or a longer-form release such as an EP or album?
We considered releasing an album and when we recorded back in October that was the plan but actually I think we’re going to try to release six singles individually in 2022. We really want to keep some momentum going with the releases so it feels like a better plan with the way the industry works at the moment to stay current.
I can tell you that out of our next three releases two are pretty heavy and one is a more commercial rock song. We’re not sure yet on the order we’re releasing them in but anyone coming to our gigs will hear us playing them live.
What's the writing process within Zac And The New Men - does somebody come along with a main idea for a song which the rest of you add your parts to or do the songs come out of a more 'jamming' scenario?
So, the writing we do when we meet for rehearsals, we get together for three or four hours twice a week and we normally spend an hour or so just jamming and working on a song. We normally start with a riff or a melody and work from there, it’s always the words that come last for us. With 'Deeper' we worked on it over a few weeks and then started playing it at a couple of our pub gigs and got it completely tight before we thought about recording it.
In terms of live shows, do you have any in the pipeline that people can come and catch you at?
This year is shaping up nicely, it was always the year we wanted to get ourselves out to a wider audience. We’ve got shows in Swansea, Aberdare, Tredegar and Pontypool coming up in the next month, then we’re starting to go a bit further afield. You can check out all the dates on our website: www.zacandthenewmen.com
And what's the favourite part of playing a show for you?
It’s the crowd. We all love the energy and noise you get playing to a live crowd. Having your fans singing along jumping and moshing to a song is the best feeling in the world.
Do you think there's a good music scene in Swansea and South Wales currently? Any bands from the area you'd recommend to readers?
It’s so good at the moment, there are loads of great bands all playing great shows at the moment. The last three shows that we’ve been involved with have all been sell=outs even on a Sunday evening and a Wednesday night.
There are so many bands in Swansea but if you’re looking for some amazing shows check out Apathy Avenue and The Fiends and if you want great music from the nicest guys in South Wales then The Rivers are your men.
And finally, what plans do you have for Zac And The New Men in 2022?
2022 is our year to get ourselves out and be heard. We’ve got six singles to release and a load of gigs and festivals lined up. Watch this space!