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Release the Sunbird's Zach Rogue Explores Fear and Fatherhood With Latest Project -- Exclusive Video
- Posted on Sep 13th 2011 2:00PM by Cameron Matthews
Gino DePinto, AOL
Spinner caught up with the singer and his tour mate Caitlin Gutenberger at our offices in New York City to discuss the band's eponymous debut LP, Rogue's fascination with Bloomington, Ind. and his sly homage to the great Robert Pollard.
This new project is definitely different from your work with Rogue Wave. What did you set out to accomplish musically with Release the Sunbird?
It's definitely a departure for me from what I was doing before. Or maybe it's kind of closer to what it was like when I was starting. From an aesthetic point of view, it's meant to be just a little more reductive and I'm not as concerned with dynamics on this project. I'm more concerned with emotion and mood. It was important for me to do a project like this where the focus is singing -- to be able to have space for the vocals to sit. I'm talking about relationships and the duality of male and female perspectives in some relationships -- to have the male and female sing simultaneously and embody what is being talked about.
It seems like we're in these accelerated times right now, where everything happens so fast -- the news cycle, everything is just so rapid fire now. [I wanted] to make music that was a little bit slowed down, a little quieter, a little detached from that reality. I recorded it in a town called Bloomington, Ind. which feels kind of detached from reality at times. It's this great college town but it really feels isolated so it allowed me to get into that head space.
The lesson I learned from this project is that you don't need a lot of elements to make a record. In fact, sometimes the more constraints you have the better you'll be. And we made a conscious decision when we were tracking that we only wanted to track just the essentials. And if we were gonna add something extra we had to all be in agreement that it was absolutely necessary. That created some space to hear everything. When those counterpoint melodies do come in, I feel like you appreciate them more because they're not just ubiquitous.
Is your band name Release the Sunbird based on the Guided by Voices tune?
[Laughs] That question has come up before. [I'm a] big-time fan. There's definitely a connection there and I'm definitely a Pollard disciple in a lot of ways. But it's taken on its own meaning for me, in terms of the metaphor of finding something inside of you and letting it be free. So I took it and repurposed it.
Gino DePinto, AOL
Because of the environment that it's in. I think the people that tend to live there really want to live there. The people that I was playing with were all from there and were so generous. They have incredible skill and a lot of people in Bloomington play in a lot of different bands. Everyone that plays music seems to know each other. They've all played in each other's bands at some point. We were all on the same page right away and I think that's because the mentality there is that no one's out to go become some mega star. They just like playing music and living in there town. There seems to be a sort of a sense of contentment in living there.
When I was tracking it about a year ago, the economy was really in the pooper, for lack of a better word, and it seemed like Bloomington was not connected to that. It stays the same, has its own ecosystem, its own economy because of the university. But nothing really seems to disrupt the mood there. And I didn't want to be disrupted either. There's a lot of natural beauty too. I wanted to make a pastoral sounding record and I had this mile walk to the studio every day, and it was always perfect weather.
How does the new band feel in comparison to Rogue Wave?
It's exciting. You know, I love playing with the guys in Rogue Wave -- we have a great relationship. But I think it's important for everyone, whether you're in music or accounting or whatever, to step outside of what you normally do and have some other experiences. It keeps your life fresh.
Gino DePinto, AOL
Were the other Rogue Wave members OK with it?
[Laughs] We're talking about it, you know. We'll be alright. It's nice to explore other things, everybody's busy doing their thing. So, we're good.
You had a really horrible back injury a couple years ago. Do you still have any residual pain?
Yeah, my neck. It was bad. I have nerve damage. This finger's still numb [shows index finger] so I play a little differently. But I'm a lot better. I gotta be careful with what I do, everyone has certain physical limitations. But I think the kind of music we're playing, I'm adapting.
Your band has weathered everything from spinal cord injuries to beating kidney failure. How have you all stayed together?
I've said they're gonna have to kill us off in order to make the band break up, because that's the only way we'll stop. They keep trying but nothing quite gets us.
Gino DePinto, AOL
I don't. I have a daughter though. There's this song called 'Running Away From Me' on the record that's about the terror of a child that knows how to walk, and spontaneously is like "Oh there's a parking lot, I'll got there really fast" [laughs]. She has me terrified all the time, but she inspires me in everything that I do: Mainly, to just try and be a better person.
'Always Like the Sun' is always feeling like you're not doing enough in life. When you feel the loss of someone who dies, you always feel like you never quite did what you could've done. You never were there enough, you never gave enough. Everyone experiences that when they lose someone. You're sad because they're gone and you're trying to adjust to that. You also reevaluate how to approach handling relationships. You need to tell people how you feel because sometimes you never get to -- it's too late. Trying to reconcile those feelings while trying to let go a little bit -- to let go of some of the guilt.