I sort of have an unbelievably perfect job right now: I get to play music with an awesome band, and film our wacky lifestyle to broadcast on the interwebs. You may have noticed if we are either Facebook friends or related. I have been working with Island Records to release a tour diary video every Friday of our adventures on the road. Here are the last four of them: our August tour with Andy Grammer, the World Series of Beach Volleyball, playing the same festival as Justin Bieber, and headlining the U.S. Open for Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day. Enjoy!
We played a show with our homeboys KONGOS in Alaska in July, and also got up close and personal with some glaciers, elk, moose, and reindeer. My dad did not approve of Dave ‘flipping the bird’ in this one.
I have always loved late night TV shows. I used to stay up and watch Conan until 1:30AM when I was 11 years old and be sleepy the rest of the day and get fussed at by my teachers. Well guess what, Mrs. Coley– I’m ON THOSE SHOWS NOW! SO TAKE THAT HISTORY PROJECT AND SHOVE IT! Sorry for that. Anyways…now that American Authors has a new single out, it’s TV show after TV show! We have done Live with Kelly & Michael, the Today Show, and Good Morning America, but the most fun we have had so far with this run of shows was on the Late Late Show with James Corden.
I wasn’t terribly familiar with Corden, Craig Ferguson’s recent successor, but I after watching his YouTube channel, I might have a new favorite late night guy. His English exuberance and biting wit are wildly refreshing. Reggie Watts as the band leader kicks ass both musically and comically (To be a bandleader/sidekick on a late night TV show is sort of a pipe dream of mine). Furthermore, you don’t have to wake up at 4AM to play on the late night shows like you do for the morning shows. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, because my job rules. I’m just saying: I’m not a morning person. See you on TV again soon I hope!
And if you’re still bored at work while reading this, check out this rehearsal video I made of the first time we actually rehearsed “Go Big or Go Home”:
“Oh My Sweet Carolina” is one of my favorite songs. Ever. As Ryan Adams strapped on his acoustic guitar in the middle of an amazing set at Governor’s Ball this past Saturday, my heart leapt in anticipation of hearing this gem, or perhaps another of my more mellow favorites from his catalogue. But there was a distracting pulse bleeding from the main stage: beats, bloops, and yes, even a few pew-pews courtesy of the other headliner of the evening, Deadmau5. “This song is not going to match that robot music over there,” Adams snarled. “Seriously, it’s like a Terminator nightmare.” The crowd cheered in approval; Deadmau5 may have had the lion’s share of the attendees, but Adams certainly had his faithful followers there to watch him sing, play, and rant. “Try writing this on your fucking iPhone!” he yelled, and then dedicated “Oh My Sweet Carolina” to the T-800, which was a more “old school” Terminator than the T-1000.
Adams’ new backing band may not have had the same unique ferocity that the Cardinals exhibited (his band from 2004-2009), but they brought a welcome raw rock energy and tore through some fan favorites like “When the Stars Go Blue,” “Cold Roses,” “To Be Young” (before which he said “This next one’s an oldie. Well…it’s an oldie where I came from”), and newer songs like “Dirty Rain” and “Gimme Something Good.” Adams was in a chipper mood in spite of the robot music remarks; he lead the band in an improvised minor key blues about a hotdog vendor in the crowd. With his vast catalogue and notorious onstage antics, you never know what you’re going to get from this guy.
“Thank you for choosing human beings instead of robots,” Adams said as they bade farewell after their final tune, “Come Pick Me Up.” The following day, there was back and forth twittering between the DJ and the rocker that seemed to have ended this mini feud amicably, with Mr. Adams stating that he was being sarcastic with his ‘robot music’ jabs and that Deadmau5 should ‘build that dream machine.’ Deadmau5 said he thought the whole thing was funny.
But to bring my fangirl mentality to full swing, Mr. Adams liked my photo on Instagram! My caption mentioned the human beings v. robots bit, and my friend Ross, who plays guitar in St..Lucia, commented on the photo: “Awww, is he grumpy? Does he need a nap?” And Ryan wrote back: “only when exposed to your shitty band, asswipe : )” Both Ross and I got a big kick out of this interaction; I assume Ryan was once again joking, as he and St..Lucia both played Coachella, and they are most certainly not shitty. Also, he included the : ) . So basically, we’re all best friends.
I am packing up my bags in an art deco style flat I rented for $50 per night in Green Market Square, which is more or less the Union Square of Capetown. Right outside my window, people come from all over the country to set up shop and offer wares of original artwork, biltong (amazing jerky-like meat snack), hand-carved elephant statues, and Zulu warrior masks. I have just rolled up some paintings and stuffed wine bottles wrapped up in t-shirts into my suitcase. Capetown has been home base for the better part of two weeks, and is one of the most cultural and exciting cities I have ever seen.
Me & Isaac from Modest Mouse
We played the Park Life Festivals in both Capetown and Johannesburg, and were the only other American band on the bill except for Modest Mouse, whom I have adored since living in the dorms at age 18 (sidenote: I most certainly got a picture with frontman Isaac to send to a very jealous ex-girlfriend who is an insane fangirl). Except for some expected technical difficulties with northern hemisphere plugs not playing nicely with southern hemisphere outlets, the shows were amazing, and the South African people could not have been more accommodating and friendly (Howzit, Bru?!)
We learned about the tumultuous history of Apartheid and the changes Nelson Mandela brought to the country. The promoters, who were native to the region, drove us through some of the most affluent neighborhoods, which are only a mile or so down the road from the shantytowns and townships that remain very impoverished and dangerous. It certainly made us realize how much we take for granted.
DUHN nunt...DUHN nunt...
OK so let me get to the part about the sharks. We drove a couple hours south to Gansbaai (and by we, I mean everyone except for Matt Sanchez, because he’s a total wuss). Before heading out to sea, the marine biologists showed us a brief safety video and reminded us not to be complete morons and stick our hands out of the cage. Most of us would abide by this rule. So we cruise out to part of the Atlantic where many sharks usually hunt, put on wetsuits and goggles, and climbed into a cage in the shape of a king size mattress. The chum guy (not sure of his official title) would toss a fake wooden seal into the water and drag it towards the cage, and lo and behold, giant great white sharks would emerge from the murky water and try to gobble that fake seal with ferocious speed and cunning. We saw a total of eleven sharks, and many of them multiple times. As you saw from my little shark documentary (sharkumentary?), James had to be a “badass” and reached out and grabbed a few fins and rubbed a few bellies of these man-eating sea creatures. Why he does these things, I’ll never know.
Back to NYC to rehearse the new material for upcoming shows and re-adjust to the time zone. See you soon I hope, Capetown!
As you may or may not know from reading my wikipedia page, I majored in TV production at the University of Georgia–the renowned Grady College of Journalism. I hustled to music school right after graduating, so my aspirations as a filmmaker were shelved for a bit. But I have been working with American Authors and Island Records to conceptualize some promotional content for the band’s current studio work in the form of episodes. I am now equipped with a fancy new Canon 5D and plenty of accoutrements to make a feature length film. And to be able to document this paramount chapter of the band’s career is going to be sensational to say the least.
We are heading to South Africa this week to play some festivals in Johannesburg and Capetown, and I’m definitely bringing my new axe (the camera) to get some footage of lions, tigers, and sharks (there are no bears, but we are definitely going on a cage dive to get up close and personal with some giant sharks). So look forward to some fresh content soon, and don’t tell my parents about the whole shark thing.
p.s. I don’t yet have a wikipedia page, feel free to start one for me.
My friend Conan let me take this photo at his desk.
It’s going to be a fun change of pace to be the most important Zachary onstage at my upcoming show at Rockwood Music Hall, as I typically play second fiddle to “Prettyboy” Barnett at my day job. After the past year of touring with American Authors, I have had the privilege of hearing so many different bands, singers, songs, grooves, styles, productions, soundchecks, beats, etc. all over the world, and it has definitely reminded me about the power of music to connect with people. It reminds me of a fun Dave Grohl quote: “That’s on the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people, and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”
So I don’t think I’ll have quite as many people show up to my gig as Nirvana or Foo Fighters (I think the capacity of this venue is in the neighborhood of 100), but I’m nevertheless thrilled about sharing the new tunes with friends, fans, and the typical foray of weirdos who wander in from the Lower East Side. I usually play with a three piece horn section, which is a blast, but this time I’m going to have an extra guitarist and keyboardist to play a (mostly) brand new batch of songs, some of which I have co-written with members of some of my favorite local bands like Rocket & The Ghost, St. Lucia, and Matt Sucich.
American Authors have shows coming up in Orlando, San Francisco, Mexico, and South Africa over the next couple months, and a new record is in the works, too. I have started playing guitar for another artist on Island Records named Connell Cruise, sort of a World-Music-Sam-Smith type with a dynamite voice and a Zack-Morris smile.
Well, they’re not getting married; they got married about four years ago. And after doing some rearranging of boxes and guitar cases in my apartment a few days ago, I stumbled across an old hard drive with oodles of Flip video files, including these wacky wedding videos from my good friends from Berklee who got married in Austin in a very unique style. I asked them if I could leave in all the prurient details, and they said of course. Please excuse the sometimes poor audio quality, and my haircut. Enjoy.
A year ago today, I quit my hotel job to hit the road with American Authors. And oh man, what a year it has been: 18 countries. 200+ shows. 100+ flights. 10,000+ of miles of pavement. Countless new friends, fans, and family. Amazing food. Too much booze, probably/definitely. And I might have a story or two that will make you laugh, cry, high-five me, or wince.
What better way to cap off such a wild year than playing at the biggest New Year’s party in the world: Times Square in New York City. A million people in attendance in person, not even counting the millions watching from all over the world. We had to show up to Hard Rock Cafe around 2PM to make sure we had ample time to get through Elmo, Elsa, and the security barricades surrounding the main Square. The fashionable folks at Kenneth Cole were nice to enough donate some new suits to make us look spiffy (furthermore, ripped denim is rather cold when it’s 30 degrees outside). The event was sponsored by Cosmopolitan, Cover Girl, and Moet Champagne, and we wouldn’t be performing live on CNN until 9:20PM. And for a bunch of bored musicians next to an open bar with seven hours to kill, I am proud to tell you that we behaved ourselves.
NYPD walked us out to the stage through the droves of people while Florida Georgia Line was finishing their performance, waving along the way to thousands of rosy faces with ski caps and waving mittens. Apparently during our show, Kathy Griffin asked Anderson Cooper live on TV: “So what’s your favorite American Authors’ song?” “I never even heard of this band,” Mr 360 responded. Really, Mr. Cooper? I suggested to Dave that he tweet at them:
And moments later, Kathy actually read the tweet on the air! Take THAT Cooper! We promptly got some haters tweeting at us: “Who the F are you!! AC is a news legend with way more followers! You guys suck!!” etc. So we tweeted back that we were just kidding and Happy New Year and stuff. I’m not sure if that counts as having a “Twitter war” with a “noteworthy member of the media elite”, but hey–I’ll take what I can get.
Times Square went bananas at midnight. Streamers, balloons, confetti, music, fireworks. Drinking, kissing, screaming, dancing, shouting. By this point, we had certainly warmed up with some champagne and whiskey and were chock full of New Year’s cheer. We started our indoor show at Hard Rock around 1AM, followed by OAR, still in our suits (naturally), and brought the house down at this classy and exclusive Manhattan soiree. At 2AM, they served hotdogs, pizza and tater tots, which was my second favorite part of the night.
So for January through March, we have a handful of shows in Detroit, Utah, Mexico City, Phoenix, Orlando, and San Francisco, and in April we head to South Africa for the first time. And if you live in NYC and are not busy on March 1st, come see me play with MY band (The Zac Taylor Show) at Rockwood Music Hall. Until then, Happy New Year’s, MLK, Groundhog’s, and Valentine’s Day.