I first saw Guitar Zack when he was just 15 years old at Excuses Bar. Even then he had jaws on the floor. Since then he’s gone on to win the Albert King Award in 2006 and performed with B. B. King, Jill West and Blues Attack, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Randolph, Tommy Castro, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Black Crows, and most notably Steve Vai, appearing on two of Vai’s CDs “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Where the Other Wild Things Are.”
His career has taken a circuitous route with peaks and valleys. After some time in California, he’s been back in Pittsburgh working with Jarrod W. Tracey and David Katonik in the band Misaligned Mind for the last five years. Expanding upon his blues and prog rock roots, he has created a unique genre he calls “Psychedelic Blues Rock.”
I’ve seen Zack do amazing things both as a solo performer and with his previous bands No Slack, The Daves, Blues Attack, and as a guest. Often times too his creative muse has taken him to places strange and wonderful, too much so for me to get. Working with a band has allowed him to go to places both farther into his creativity and more accessible to us mere mortals.
His first record with the band featured Gregg Bissonnette (David Lee Roth, Spinal Tap, Ringo Starr) on drums and was produced by 6 time Grammy winner Pittsburgh native Jimmy Hoyson (Michael Jackson, B.B. King, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Goo Goo Dolls, Iggy Pop, Green Day, Les Paul, Lou Reed, Tom Waits).
He returns with a similar if not the same sound. The first single is called “How I Need You Now.” It definitely has a live feel and clocks in at a jammy 6:42. It features time changes, distorted vocals, long instrumental sections, and face slapping dynamics. Echoes of Hendricks and Zappa are hinted at while also immediately being recognizable as Guitar Zack.
The record is largely band performed with Zack on guitar and vocals – Jarrod Tracey on bass and backup vox. David Katonik on Drums and Backups and Dessa Marie is featured on “Halo”, “Heavy Butterflies”, and backups on “Sad Expression.” It was recorded at Studio L in WV by Rick Witkowski who worked as engineer, mixer, and co-producer along with the band and Dessa. Larry Luther from Mr. Smalls recording studio mastered it.
Zack told Pittsburgh Beautiful of the new record, “I feel like it’s a great introduction to how we currently sound live! Past Records and EPs probably only contained a fraction of a handful of the material that we would actually play at the shows. So there was a disconnect with the concert people saw and the take home album for further enjoyment… And now there is this 11 song album that represents a majority of our live performances… It’s jam packed with a wide, yet focused variety of moods, intensities, and tempos that will be sure to satisfy both the traditional sit down and listen to the whole album type listeners as well as being interesting enough for the ADHD type listeners that usually skip immediately to the next track out of repetitive boredom. If we can get those type of listeners to be compelled to refrain from hitting the skip button, then I consider it a successful album in this modern information overload world we now must face as entertainers.”