An Interview with Nick Zammuto

Zammuto opens for Explosions in the Sky on Sunday in Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center. Nick Zammuto, one of the original members of The Books, released the album Zammuto last week. The first release after ending his previous project, this album contains music that is said to be in a category of its own.

The band is a four-piece rock set up: Nick (vocals, guitars), Gene Back from The Books (electric guitar, organ, keys), Sean Dixon (drums) and Mikey Zammuto (bass).  With the combination of a diverse range of samples of songs, acoustic instrumentation and a variety of other sounds heard in various situations, the musical style of Zammuto is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

On the release date of “Zammuto,” Nick Zammuto took the time to speak with MUSE from his homestead in Vermont. Zammuto shares his original doubts of his career, how much success the group has obtained in the few months it has been together and the unique environment he uses to make music.

MUSE: Congratulations on the recent release of the self-released album. How are you and the band celebrating?
ZAMMUTO: We’re trying to enjoy our last day with our families. Record release dates don’t mean much except for record companies and stores.
Touring with Explosions in the Sky is a great opportunity and celebration.

For the past year, your band has released some tracks. What has been the general feedback from fans and critics?
Those tracks were early versions of the ones released on the album. I had no idea if people were going to be interested in the music. I’ve had projects in the past that have had bad associations with them, but it was a great way to get in touch with people early on in the project. We released tracks every two to three weeks, meaning that right now, people have heard most of everything. People have said the same thing that it’s too bad that The Books broke up, but that they were looking forward to the new stuff. It’s a less conceptual approach this time. The Books was a meta-band where we weren’t playing much. This is an actual band — I really wanted to work with players on this record.

What are you most excited for with this debut album? What does it mean to you and the band?
It’s what we love to do. In a lot of ways, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I thought I was going to leave music altogether. With these guys, I rediscovered that joy. There’s real connection on stage. It’s so much fun.

How does Zammuto differ from your work with The Books, and in which ways is the music similar?
Fans of The Books will enjoy us — The Books was two to three of us sitting down, where the music was just a thing to listen to. It wasn’t party music. This music has more of a punch to it. I’m excited to play for a standing audience, and we’re taking a different approach.

You had your first shows a couple of months ago how did those go? What can we expect at the Davis performance?
Our music is visceral. We play pretty loud — it will leave room for Explosions in the Sky to be even louder. Our music is funny … it’s got this kind of humor to it. If you’re not expecting it, then it comes off as a surprise. People usually have smiles on their faces, and Explosions will entrance people as they usually do.

What triggers you to create music?
I need it. I need to work every day — I’m impossible to deal with if I’m not working. I work until I can’t work anymore. I have three boys, all under the age of six. My wife gardens and we all live on an old farm and grow our own food. I work in an old tractor garage. The boys have added a tremendous amount of energy around here — you might hear a boyishness in the record.

What’s the plan after touring with Explosions in the Sky?
We’re headlining a tour in September. We’re taking two to three legs around North America or Europe. This summer I want to work on new stuff. I wasn’t planning on making music for a huge audience — as long as there’s a core fan base, I’m happy to continue making music.

ELIZABETH ORPINA can be contacted at arts@theaggie.org.

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