Southern soul: an interview with Zac Brown Band
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • September 04, 2012 @ 8:47am
There’s no denying it — Zac Brown Band is killing it this year. They’ve won multiple awards, and they’re playing a sold-out show at Darien Lake on Saturday, but we managed to sneak an interview with band member Coy Bowles
Zac Brown Band may have nine hit singles, two platinum-selling records and countless dedicated fans, but to hear its members talk, they’re just getting warmed up. After numerous nights in front of packed arenas and amphitheaters, things are just beginning to come together for this accomplished band of brothers, led by one of the most charismatic individuals ever to don a beanie and dominate radio.
We chatted with Bowles, guitarist for the band and an all around fantastic musician. Lending his guitar, organ and writing skills to the group, Bowles plays an integral part in the Zac Brown Band experience for fans. Coming a long way from the first band he started at 13 covering Seattle rock songs, he is now thriving as a member of one of the best groups of our time.
Take a look at the interview with Bowles below.
Where are you calling us from today?
Coy Bowles: Right now I’m in Atlanta. We’ve been off the road for about two weeks now and things have been going really good. We’re hitting a new phase of entertaining and the guys in the band are all taking it to a new level of performing. We’re adding the new tunes to the shows and getting a great response from the crowd. The fact that they already know the songs and are singing along is great. It really couldn’t be better.
You guys will be stopping by for a sold-out show at Darien Lake next month—any good stories from past visits?
CB: We had a layover on a day off in Buffalo before and went out for wings, drank beer and played pool. One of the guys with us—he’s basically a member of the band—our sound engineer is from Buffalo. So we’ll meet up with his family when we come and visit them. He’ll know where to show us around town.
Tell us about the new partnership you guys have with Jack Daniel’s this year.
CB: That was a really big deal for us. Jack Daniels is a really big company and to be at the same level to have them interested in working with us was incredible. They have been awesome to work with. They have this Jack Daniels bus with our faces on it and we get to talk to their employees who come to the shows.
Fans can hang out on the bus too. Everyone’s been great. It’s cool to see our fans at the shows and we’ll walk over to the bus sometimes to hang out. It has really amped up the band to fan relationship. It couldn’t be any better.
They do everything top notch. We shot a few “drink responsibly” videos for them and I thought they came out great. It’s been a great project to be involved with, especially to remind our fans to have a good time, but safely.
The new album, “Uncaged” has been doing really well. How was working on it this time around?
CB: This one was a lot different. We finished all the songs up just as we were about to record. And we have a cool arranging process too. We stayed five days in an isolated place, with just the band and some gear. We rehearse the whole time, changing a chord or two here, fixing a guitar part there. Basically we puzzle piece the album together. We had a lot of pieces of songs that we sliced together.
I’ve been in the band for five years and I get to hang out with these guys every day. They are my best friends, but this is the coolest thing we’ve done. To go in and do that album with all this creative energy—some nights we stayed up until four in the morning, finishing tunes. I went to sleep with 15 songs in my head that night. It was such a cool experience.
Then, recording at Echo Mountain in Nashville, that had a great vibe too. It was an old church and helped bring a lot of mojo to this album. It was exhausting, but such is life.
Any favorite parts about being on the road?
CB: Probably playing, but I really love it all. All we do is laugh all day long. We are constantly amping up our game on inside jokes between all of us. But, playing on stage every night is what makes it all worth while. Hanging out with these guys all the time could get old, but getting to play in front of 20,000 people that same night is something totally amazing.
The band’s been really cooking lately—especially the last couple shows.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform.
CB: I’m a sucker for mid-tempo and overly meaningful songs. Our newer one, “Goodbye In Her Eyes”—we’ve never played a song like that one before. Then, “Colder Weather” is the other one. To me, that tune is almost perfect.
Anything on your bucket list, besides musical domination?
CB: I would really like to travel more, maybe someplace like Australia, Japan or go backpacking through Europe since we’ve been all over the U.S. But when success hit the band, it was hard to adjust. I’m a small town guy. I wanted to play music and be successful, but I didn’t want to be famous. It comes with the territory.
Then I realized I can use the success to give back and help people. It really helped me grow as a person. I’m doing this camp, Camp Southern Ground and love helping kids. I want to be involved as much as possible. I also taught guitar lessons for a long time and just want to focus on giving back. It’s my near-future focus right now.
My Dad is a huge fan of you guys, but also loves to cook. I’m thinking about getting him the “Zac Brown Band cookbook” this year. How did that come about?
CB: The cookbook was awesome. It was Zac’s idea and an amazing idea on how he wanted the book—with all these recipe cards. The project was ready to go, but all these other things came up. I asked him if I could write the forward, since I also write children’s books and blogs. He said whatever since he was so busy.
I just decided to write it anyway and just show him what I could come up with. I kind of quarterbacked the group after that. Not taking anything away from Zac, the project just needed a god kick in the butt to get finished. It’s a cool project and Zac was awesome to let me get so involved. It taught me a lot about publishing and southern culture with the recipes.
I’m not a cook and haven’t made many of the dishes, but I have had the recipes Zac’s made—they’re all my favorite.
What’s your style when it comes to Buffalo wings?
CB: I like them hot, but not really hot. I am a ranch freak though. Give me some wings and a ton of ranch and I’m set.
And finally, what are some of your favorite songs to sing in the shower?
CB: They would have to be “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” “In The Still Of The Night” and “Runaway.”
Photo courtesy of ZBB.