Interview By EvilG / Live Photos by R&S Photo
Last weekend, one of Canada’s finest current heavy metal bands, Skull Fist, made a visit to my city for the first time. We didn’t get to do the interview in person this time, but we still got to pick Zach’s brain a little bit about the band. Enjoy!
It was so cool to see Skull Fist here in NL, your first time playing here. What were your expectations and did it end up being what you hoped for?
I never think about that, expectations. The city looked much nicer than most cities I see. Would be a real great place to skate with all the hills and stairs haha the people I was told were real easy going and that was real solid to be around. Felt at ease around the locals. Everyone we worked with was real nice to be around. We will definitely return within the next two years. I hear the skatepark is solid and I wouldn’t mind cruisin around a little
Do you enjoy, or often get to play new off the beaten track places where the audience isn’t spoiled from endless tours?
Yeah; Newfoundland was definitely one of those. It’s nice dude, it’s so far out there you almost expect the roads to be purple and the sky to be green you know, but it’s cool to play anywhere really, never picky on where we go, sorta just pick a region or get offers and say “ yeah sure dude, just book whatever you got and we’ll givr”. You can definitely tell the difference between big foot and little foot haha tons of differences
I love Way of the Road (2018), but it is different from the previous Chasing the Dream (2014) both in sound, mix, and cover art style. Was there a deliberate push to make it different, or was it just organic and that’s the way it came out?
I don’t know man, I sorta just write about whatever’s going on in my head at the time. I don’t assess things or even really think about it. I felt a little isolated at the time for a lot of those songs and probably confused so that’s how the album sounds I guess. It was written some years ago though I just wasn’t able to record it until my voice got better.
In a nutshell, what happened that led you to getting vocal surgery, and not singing for a while (that was sometime in 2015?). It must of been a scary, challenging and depressing time for you.
There were some things that I wasn’t dealing with very well, lost control i guess. Definitely learned a lot of things from it all. I think in some years I’ll be ok with some of those things. I’ve got my rain poncho packed now at least.
Is that related to why you left the band for a few months in 2015 – I assume that’s something you regretted as you quickly returned?
I hadn’t known my voice was wrecked then. I don’t know man, like I said, didn’t have an umbrella back then I guess and I just didn’t have the skills on how to deal with stuff.
I view “Bad For Good” as your break out song that really got a lot of attention – is that how you view it as well?
Yeah I agree. It’s the most accessible one for sure. It was actually in the studio when I added the harmonies and etc. The original chorus was much more boring, worked out. I was drinking a lot during recording and just felt a little bolder perhaps haha
Of course having that song in the hilarious movie “Deathgasm” helped – how’d the come to be?
They just emailed and asked. I hadn’t any idea how much hype it would get. Was a real fun movie and the guy is a super pleasant fella to interact with. Reminded me of a comedy trick or treat.
Besides having killer songs, you play some killer lead guitar. Tell us a bit about when you started playing, who influenced you the most and what kind of practice regiment you had?
I used to play every day when I was young. Started around 15? I liked all sorts of musicians though, I was always too impatient to learn songs and guitar players stuff, I just basically noodled around, wrote stuff and haven’t changed that approach at all. Learned the modes and just play around with it all. I still play a lot; same way I did as a kid. Noodle a lot haha.
How has that changed today – how much work do you put into keeping guitar chops up and learning?
Nothing really, I just noodle around daily. Pick it up a few times a day or just do some quick fudgin around. I play often but mostly for enjoyment you know, I don’t sit down and try to smash out songs or new licks. Whatever comes out is cool. I’ve got a few jam tracks that I made and most often I just turn up real loud and forget all that shit outside. Fuck reality.
What’s the idea behind the solo band Freedumb? Is it just an outlet for all musical things that don’t fit with Skull Fist?
Yeah, It’s just a collection of songs I wrote when I was younger / way younger haha or just silly stuff that don’t fit with the fist. I’ve got so many songs in my vault that I know I’ll never do anything with, so why not haha.
I’ve been to Toronto many times in the past 10+yrs to see concerts. I have always kept an eye out to see what local Toronto bands are playing. Specifically bands like Skull Fist and Cauldron…but I’ve never lucked into seeing either. Do you get to play many club gigs in your home city much and is your local scene supportive?
The local scene is really good with supporting its bands, for sure. There’s some real good ones over here. Answer with metal, Villain, Ammo, Manacle, Cauldron. There’s gigs real often but I don’t live in Toronto anymore. Haven’t played in a while but will do it in spring.
Does it matter where your band is located? Has being based out of Canada been a factor in your success to date?
I think it does, it’s impossible for smaller bands to tour here unless you live here. It’s hard for American bands to break into Europe. Europe bands it’s hard to break into America. South America is hard to play if you’re from Europe. There’s one prime spot in all this.
What’s next for Skull Fist – any more videos from Way of the Road? Working on new songs, new album in 2020 maybe?
Next album is already written. 2020!