Zach Doiron Says Goodbye California, Hello North Carolina

Ex-Pacific Haze Member Heads East; Mike Wilson Laments Old S.B.

<strong>FENDER IN THE GRASS:</strong> Ex-Purple Haze member Zach Doiron subs Carpinteria chaparral for Carolina country as he heads out east for new music opportunities.

CAROLINA COMES: Zach Doiron is heading east. The Carpinteria native, formerly a guitarist for Pacific Haze and Sprout, is leaving his cherished California shores for the forested frontiers of Asheville, North Carolina, in search of entirely new beginnings. As of publication, he is already on the road, likely now in the deserts of the southwest, just fresh from a Friday farewell show at the Carpinteria and Linden Pub. He’s traveling with two children in tow — a baby, due in a few months, and a brand new album, nearly finished with its gestation.

Doiron, 24 coming on 25, has already led a life filled with more than a books’ worth of adventures. The bluegrass-loving, banjo-picking surfer first visited the geographic origins of his heart’s favored songs on a wild, rail-hopping journey in 2012. Hiding amongst shipping containers, Doiron and friend journeyed to Nashville, where they found both resonance and resistance to Doiron’s musical dreams. Busking on the streets and romping through the woods with rainbow children, he found kindred spirits galore in the folksy thickets of Tennessee.

Yet it was also in this journey that he realized that not every music mecca is as hospitable as it seems. He recalled a conversation with S.B. guitarist repair friend John Mooy in describing Nashville: “Everybody there is musically inclined, but the first thing that’s gonna happen is everyone’s gonna ask which church you go to. And everyone’s standing there with their pitchforks, saying, I can do it better than you can,” he said. It’s a place where music school grads compete for a Taylor Swift songwriting or production credit — not quite the scene for a free-flowing, warm-hearted, music-for-its-own-sake soul like Doiron.

Doiron leaves for bigger horizons. He hopes for a larger creative community than Santa Barbara and environs can offer, music scenes that, though healthy, offer only so many venues and only so many nearby major markets. He’s going blindly — “or at least, with one eye closed,” he said — and just seeing what happens.

But he’s also going to shed an old shell. Pacific Haze’s rapid rise to party prominence in the 805 provided plenty of excitement and fun, but their newfound glory quickly wore away at the creative process. He found himself suddenly swarmed by admirers, revelers, and hangers-on, without so much as a record to their name. They quickly lost sight of the music that brought them together. “I felt like a tagalong to my own band,” he said.

Father-to-be-hood has prompted Doiron to revisit his roots, and in his time since leaving Pacific Haze, new positivity has come his way. His new album features exciting collaborations with a few surprise guest musicians. And life has even brought its own surprises. On his final day of a carpentry job, Doiron somehow found himself teaching Jeff Bridges and the Abiders’ namesake one of his favored tunings. “We stopped being who we were — we were just two musicians, jamming together,” Doiron said.

Fittingly, he played his final show where he played his first, when he was 14 or 15. “Why not tie it up in the place I started?” he said. But he’ll miss his times here. “I’m already nostalgic,” he said.

CARPINTERIA GOES: Singer-songwriter Mike Wilson has released a new music video, a paen to a long-lost Santa Barbara entitled “Song to Old Santa Barbara.” It’s a thoughtful song, even tragic, as he laments all the changes that have come upon his beloved beach towns. He sees the loss of the huge Santa Claus statute, removed from a Carpinteria storefront, as a symbol of a bygone time. “I feel like I’ve been displaced by the nouveau riche. When I was a kid, we had a healthy middle class. Not so much any more,” he said.


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