In a creative medium where timing is everything, Zach Gill seems to have mastered the art of multitasking. Along with last year’s Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) album, Roses and Clover, and accompaniment work on tour and in the studio for Jack Johnson’s Sleep Through the Static, the singer, keyboardist, accordionist, and ukulele player has kept busy through collaborations with Aimee Mann (for the soundtrack to Arctic Tale) and a contribution to Brushfire Record’s holiday compellation disk, This Warm December. Among all that, Gill has somehow found time to record and release a solo album, Zach Gill’s Stuff, and give it the launch it so heartily deserves. On the heels of a recent supporting tour with Mason Jennings, Gill will return home to Santa Barbara this Sunday night, where he will round up some friends and take his stuff to the SOhO stage. Who will his friends be? It seems only time will tell :
So, why a solo project and why now? It just seemed like the time was right, you know? It’s been an idea that’s been around for years, and it’s something that will probably never truly be done. I have more songs. And there’s always [that] logistical thing with labels and when to release an album. Timing and albums, that’s the game.
Given your work with ALO and Jack Johnson, I’m sure your schedule complicated things somewhat. Did you budget a set period of time to record, or did you sneak into the studio whenever the opportunity presented itself? It was quick-maybe two two-week sessions. I intentionally wanted it to be that way because I wanted to get in there and see what it would be like without a band. I have been in so many collaborative situations, but I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve been calling the shots completely, so that was a really refreshing experience.
What surprised you most about the experience? That it was also a very smooth process! There wasn’t a lot of arguing. We just went in there to see what happened and to have a good time. I felt really good, and I think that’s because it was really fun.
What exactly does a solo album offer you that working with a band does not? I feel like the album actually speaks to me on a personal level a little more so than some of the other work that I’ve been involved with. I mean, any time you’re in a band situation, it is quite collaborative and there’s always lots of different elements working. And of course my work with Jack is really collaborative, whereas this felt very personal and very open.
So what was it like being the lone man at the helm? You know, you live and die by your own actions. When things don’t go well you can’t blame anyone, so that’s one thing. But I’ve been in bands since I was 12, so it’s nice to be in a more open situation. I certainly don’t plan on leaving any of those other projects behind, but it just felt like it was time to get this third front happening. And when there is something you feel like you have to do, you just kind of have to do it. It has unlocked a lot of things that have been locked away for quite a while. And it got things flowing again. I’m now excited about make another ALO album, more solo albums, and doing more stuff with Jack, movie soundtracks, and whatever :
Given that Sunday’s show at SOhO is the album launch, this is the part of the conversation where you surreptitiously enlighten me about everything you have planned for the evening : Well it’s meant to be a bit of a secret, but I guess I can tell you. I’m going to do part of the show myself and part with other musicians. There’ll be lots of different musicians coming by-and some surprise guests. There’ll been songs from the album, reworked versions of some old ALO tunes, and there’ll be a good time for one and all.
Zach Gill’s CD release party for Zach Gill’s Stuff kicks off at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 7. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Santa Barbara County Foodbank. Call 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for details.