06
Mar

"I forgot who I am, and I am making it up."

Today I am a strange spiral, sitting in a Phoenix hotel lobby sipping strong coffee and staring off into space. With my Silver Lake square on Sunset suddenly stripped of all the trappings of home and my brown baby grand, keeper of so many secrets and stirrer of so many spirits, on its way to its next adventure, I find myself spinning, gathering speed, ready to slingshot into a future beyond speculation. Segovia starts in the same key in my headphones as the Jose Gonzalez record on the hotel speakers, and the universe reminds me again to breathe deep and let it all unfold.

After last year’s Andrew McMahon summer tour with OAR and Allen Stone (all of whom have amazing new music on the way), I felt drawn to the fall in the northeast and wound my way back into the changing of the leaves, the year’s songs rattling in my bones. Meanwhile Jer Coons was tearing up the floors in his Park Hill Studio back home, and upon my return we, along with our co-producer and engineer Eric Maier and our spirit guide/construction expert Nelson Lime, set about kicking down walls and installing windows, moving pianos, painting, drinking all night, stumbling the streets and ultimately emerging with a record once the trees had all been worn bare to welcome winter. It’s called “I Am a Guest” and seems to sum it all up, for now. More news to come soon on that front.

As 2014 beckoned so did the warmth of the west, and I wandered back to my small bootleg studio to again share my wall with the dancers and to set up shop for some recording and rehearsing. I woke up the morning of my return and cut off all my hair to put an end to an era and felt the year truly begin, albeit a few days later than the calendar would insist.

I’ve been grateful to barely notice or quantify the passing of time, the palm trees swaying fast and the billboards a blur as though seen through the window of a speeding train. So many opportunities to play, write and record with some of my favorite singers and songwriters have kept me a willing passenger on a wild ride.

I just finished tracking keys for the upcoming LP from the Damnwells - some of the most simultaneously beautiful and badass songs I’ve had the pleasure of playing on. Do yourself a favor pre-order a copy here.

I’m also excited for everyone to hear the upcoming White Sea record I played a small part in last year while between McMahon tours- the wonderful Morgan Kibby of M83 has created a massive landscape of dreamy arena-sized synth-rock with this batch of songs, and the single and its glorious accompanying video should give you a taste of what’s to come.

Beyond that I’ve also been playing some music with my friends Genevieve and Chris of Company of Thieves for Genevieve’s new solo project. Keep an eye on her website for more info- the new songs are huge and this girl is such an inspiration as a writer, a performer and a spirit.  

Some more new music is in the works with Andrew and our bandmates for some more exciting projects, but for now I’m on the road with my old pal and frequent collaborator Erin “Syd” Sidney playing with ARIA award winning Australian songbird/shredmaster Mia Dyson on a string of southwest dates that will ultimately lead us to the horrifyingly amazing circus that is SXSW. One of the best singers and guitarists I’ve ever heard, and she’s got a new full-length on the way that sounds like Bonnie Raitt snuck in and cut a record with the Heartbreakers during the sessions for Damn the Torpedoes. The new single is up exclusively on Billboard this week and the record is blazing its way through a crowd funding campaign with my good buddies over at PledgeMusic.

Now it’s on to Tucson - check Mia’s tour dates and come check out a show if we’re going to be in your neck of the woods. 

Chief, the spirits have got me-

Clark

17
Dec
Mercury falling but no complaints here. Soakin up the last of this winter world, and before I wander back west I’m gonna test out some new songs on a new piano @thomasjohncadrin reportedly has up in the mountains. We’ll be singin startin around 7 this Friday up at Big Jay Tavern, 3709 Mountain Road, Montgomery VT. Video evidence may or may not follow, for those of you who aren’t far enough out in the wilderness to join us.

Mercury falling but no complaints here. Soakin up the last of this winter world, and before I wander back west I’m gonna test out some new songs on a new piano @thomasjohncadrin reportedly has up in the mountains. We’ll be singin startin around 7 this Friday up at Big Jay Tavern, 3709 Mountain Road, Montgomery VT. Video evidence may or may not follow, for those of you who aren’t far enough out in the wilderness to join us.

21
Nov
A couple years ago @coleykeys, @josephaballaro and I spent some hazy weeks in Silverlake recording some  music with some incredible friends, and a tune from those Smoke Signals sessions, “Searching,” is on NBC’s Parenthood tonight. One of my favorite records I’ve ever been a part of- check it at 10/9c and at smokesignalsband.com.

A couple years ago @coleykeys, @josephaballaro and I spent some hazy weeks in Silverlake recording some music with some incredible friends, and a tune from those Smoke Signals sessions, “Searching,” is on NBC’s Parenthood tonight. One of my favorite records I’ve ever been a part of- check it at 10/9c and at smokesignalsband.com.

20
Nov
Today the Young Volcanoes record is one year old. So it seems only fitting that we’re running a brand new batch of ten songs through the board and callin it a day. AND all orders for YV through the holidays will come with an extra copy whether you buy it on CD or vinyl at zacclark.bandcamp.com

Today the Young Volcanoes record is one year old. So it seems only fitting that we’re running a brand new batch of ten songs through the board and callin it a day. AND all orders for YV through the holidays will come with an extra copy whether you buy it on CD or vinyl at zacclark.bandcamp.com

20
Jun

4/19/13 4:24 am EST

Back of a bus named Batman headed south on 95, a tired haze all around.. nearly all the way through a book about being locked inside of oneself, unable to move or speak, and I must admit it’s reminding me of the ease with which I often take those gifts for granted. Airy, atmospheric Eno in my ears and when it fades, my brain, in search of more pleasure, more sonic synergy, picks out pitches of the various hums, rattles and buzzes from the engine and the wheels. Now the bus is an Eno track and some social media site is pulsing in my line of sight too, telling anyone who wants to know what everyone else is up to in the world.. some of these people I’ve known forever in real life, some who I may never meet for whatever reason- and suddenly I’m writing, rambling my way to this: what a life it is, to be able to move like this, to speak to so many people in this great humming mass at every step along the way. On nights like tonight when I worry about what’s going on somewhere else, I have to stop and scold myself, say hey calm down, be patient, take a deep breath and look around and be simply, purely grateful. Now it’s Friday morning and Eno’s Thursday Afternoon is on, though the sound of the road is way up there in the mix and not at all unwelcome. What a dream, what an opportunity, to be alive. To be. A new friend reminded me last night that we are how the stars see themselves. From the middle of the night, thank you for the light.

In an instant world, I often find myself in need of apologizing for my stone-age speed. A good friend, seemingly long-lost, recently referred to me as a ghost and it’s quite clear how easy it is for me to disappear. But I am here, though I’ve found it hard to speak up much lately. Truth is I’ve just spent too much time trying to figure out which “now” to live in.

I wrote the note above to send out into space as we traveled home from this spring’s headlining Andrew McMahon tour, and waited just long enough to throw it out there that I vanished again.

Not a day after we got back, on a darkened porch with the key almost in the door, I found a gun in my face. All my love for sound never prepared me for a bullet buzzing past my ear, and all my love for connecting with strangers never readied me for the butt of a nine millimeter buckling me to the ground while greeted with the growled refrain of “give it up.”

I still don’t have the words to explain even to myself how it’s made me feel- my job, my passion, my entire existence is devoted to being open to what each new acquaintance has to offer, what I can offer them of myself. For longer than I can even remember I’ve wanted to lower my overhead so that I could do more and more of what I love without having to take from anyone, and now I wonder how one person could ever try to estimate the worth of a human life in order to snuff it out and use it to bring their own overhead up.

On one hand, I lost all of my thoughts from the past six months, journals, songs, books that changed my life in which I’d scribbled thoughts I wanted to pass on to friends and family, tour laminates from every road I’ve traveled. On the other, I lost nothing, and gained another reminder that life is too short to waste a second wondering whether the time is right.

The last day of our last run, our driver told me of a moment in his life that now I’ll never forget. In the midst of one of those everyday disasters that come with any life, he lost his temper at the wheel, and found his boss, a blues legend who once drove a king, over his shoulder, saying, “Settle down, son, before you fuck somethin’ else up.”

On a flight from Salt Lake to St. Louis yesterday to start another spin around the states with OAR and Allen Stone, I sat next to a senior in high school about to find his feet back on on the ground in his own next step. We talked about school and success and made our way to free diving, something he’d dabbled in and I knew nothing about. I asked him how you hold your breath that long and he just said, “I guess you just learn that you have to stay calm, especially when it seems like things have gone horribly wrong.” Headphones in, we both sat back as the bird hurtled through the clouds and I burned through a new copy of an old friend, Breakfast of Champions, remembering all the things I thought I knew and leaving them 30,000 feet above the ground. As we touched down I felt light and free for the first time in a while, and I had to hand the book off to this passing stranger as a way of saying thanks for reminding me that we we all have wisdom to offer each other at every turn.. as long as we stay open and aware.

A simple truth that I learn again every day and hope to pass on with every step: strip yourself of all of our possessions, your prejudices, your philosophies, and all that’s left is an unwavering band of light.

Hello again and happy summer. Our tour dates can be found at www.andrewmcmahon.com/tour - hope to see you all soon.

All my love,
Zac
16
Dec

I will not be afraid.

Friday morning, fifteen miles from where I sat at Joe’s bar, picking out bits and pieces of Andrew’s records at the piano, the unfathomable unfolded.

A text from Tiffany told me to turn on the news and I expected amusement, forgetting mass media’s other stock in trade, tragedy.

I stopped my studies.

I stood and stared.

From Cavell I’ve learned the most extraordinary to be the ordinary, and from him I’ve heard the name for the sound I always sought- the hum of the world. In people and the beauty we are capable of creating, I find it every day.

Friday, I felt that hum, the center, the core of what it means and what it’s worth and what responsibility it entails to be alive on earth, compromised. Static for a second, sickness since. There is a town full of people who will feel this forever, but it hurts just to be human at a time like this.

Now I sit across from my grandfather and he asks me, “Why?” and I can’t think a thing but to say that we’re all too intent on watching and being watched. I close my eyes and I feel each part of my body simply as one tiny piece of one tiny piece and I know that the only thing that keeps the whole thing together is that each part is as important as the next. The whole is greater, more miraculous, more extraordinary, because the parts are each fulfilled by how ordinary and integral they are. There is no desire to be more, to be seen in hopes that celebrity will cease the search for a solution.

So today I resolve not to seek.

Today I will sing songs that sound to me like the best way I could describe the sun breaking through the clouds for just a second. Today I will be thinking about twenty-seven former futures. I have no interest in investigating- there is no information that will answer the question that’s on so many minds.

“The first thing you do is you gasp for breath,” my grandfather says as I listen as best as I can to two dialogues, his and my own running internal commentary. “You wake up and find out what’s happening.” He’s talking about when you feel as though something’s not right inside your body, but he could just as well be talking about birth, and he could be talking about death. In the end he’s just talking about being aware of being alive- inhaling deeply and knowing that as long as we are open and mindful, it will be alright, no matter what, because we all just happen to be here.

I’ve got a new batch of songs that didn’t seem to fully fall together until I stared at them this weekend, but as I squint and try the only thing that I usually find helps me understand what’s happening, I realize they’re all really about how short this experience is, and how simple. Made, spent. Semi-permanent. Between your beginning and your end, instead of thinking of how best to be seen in the midst of all of this sadness, there is solace in sitting back, calmly, and simply seeing that there is no beginning or end. Calm and quiet as I accept how Dan described it, “Joy at the start, fear in the journey, joy in the coming home.”

But then Caroline’s new record’s in the back of my mind, creeping through my headphones singin, “Take what all you want from me, I will not be afraid,” and I think of how much help we all need, some far more than others, just to remember every day that it’s not so bad. I think of a society that says to sit still, shut up and do as your told and wait for an explosion before even starting any type of conversation, and I think of the hum. I think, “so long as I got that spirit in me I will not be afraid.”

My heart is with everyone today and I hope that we can finally talk about what’s really at hand here. For now I will do all I know how to do- think of the soul and the spirit of this whole strange experiment inside this little angel that really did sit there on the dashboard of the van that summer, captured by Jeff Fry’s camera, and sing.

Tickets are here for the Mercury Lounge show tonight - I’ll be on at 6:30 sharp and would love to sing with you.

03
Dec

After a few days of rain and nonstop recording, the sun has broken through the California clouds and I wanted to pass along some photo evidence of my continued existence before heading back in for another day in the studio. So much to be inspired by every day out here and so many new songs to share with you soon… thank you so much for all the support of Young Volcanoes - you can still grab a copy on CD or vinyl here.. they’re hand-packaged and can be personalized in any way you’d like, so they’d hypothetically make a terrific gift if there happened to be a holiday on the way…

We’ll be back on the east coast on December 16th for a show at Mercury Lounge with Myra Flynn - you can grab tickets here and it’d be great if you could RSVP and invite friends here.. it’d be great to see a bunch of NYC friends for the last show of 2012. More soon- back in for another day of mining.

zc

20
Nov
It’s been a wild ride, but after a month in the van and a few days of glorious post-tour internet shutdown, I’m back in the Northeast, reconnected and ready to celebrate the official release of Young Volcanoes today.
For those of you who are just stopping by, you can find the first episode of what will be an ongoing road video series, Between Oceans, here. The great Chris Cullari shot this one, featuring me and Erin “Syd” Sidney playing the opening track from the record at the dark, intimate (closed for the day) Zoey’s Café in Ventura, CA, and it apparently struck enough of a chord with USA Today that they were kind enough to predict that “Young Volcanoes may erupt” when they premiered the video last week.
AOL Music is streaming the full album for a limited time, so if you haven’t heard the whole thing, head over there for your first listen. Then if you feel so inclined, it’d be great if you could stop by iTunes and write a quick review to let people know what you think (and of course, buying the record never hurts.) You should be able to find the digital copy anywhere that you prefer, but head over here to order physical copies on hand-stamped CD, 180-gram vinyl and even t-shirts & posters, all to benefit CPSP with 20% of each sale.
Finally, after some top-secret post-Tryptophan-coma recording on the west coast, we’ll be doing some more Young Volcanoes celebrating with a show at Mercury Lounge in NYC on December 16th – tickets are here and my good friend Myra Flynn will also be there. For those of you on the east coast who I met along the way with Chamberlin last month, some plans are also in motion for some early January travels, so I hope to see a bunch of you again then.
Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving, and hope you enjoy the record!
zc

It’s been a wild ride, but after a month in the van and a few days of glorious post-tour internet shutdown, I’m back in the Northeast, reconnected and ready to celebrate the official release of Young Volcanoes today.

For those of you who are just stopping by, you can find the first episode of what will be an ongoing road video series, Between Oceans, here. The great Chris Cullari shot this one, featuring me and Erin “Syd” Sidney playing the opening track from the record at the dark, intimate (closed for the day) Zoey’s Café in Ventura, CA, and it apparently struck enough of a chord with USA Today that they were kind enough to predict that “Young Volcanoes may erupt” when they premiered the video last week.

AOL Music is streaming the full album for a limited time, so if you haven’t heard the whole thing, head over there for your first listen. Then if you feel so inclined, it’d be great if you could stop by iTunes and write a quick review to let people know what you think (and of course, buying the record never hurts.) You should be able to find the digital copy anywhere that you prefer, but head over here to order physical copies on hand-stamped CD, 180-gram vinyl and even t-shirts & posters, all to benefit CPSP with 20% of each sale.

Finally, after some top-secret post-Tryptophan-coma recording on the west coast, we’ll be doing some more Young Volcanoes celebrating with a show at Mercury Lounge in NYC on December 16th – tickets are here and my good friend Myra Flynn will also be there. For those of you on the east coast who I met along the way with Chamberlin last month, some plans are also in motion for some early January travels, so I hope to see a bunch of you again then.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving, and hope you enjoy the record!

zc

04
Nov

Just a quick hello to publicly recognize how rad Denver is- last night I got to play a couple of totally different sets, one rolling totally solo and one where I got to really settle in with the Chamberlin guys and have a group conversation with the crowd on a different level than any I’ve experienced yet. Maybe it’s the altitude? Seriously though- it was a trip to see a bunch of old friends and family, and meet so many great folks- and it was nice to be able to answer most compliments with a statement that never fails to ring true: half of a good show is the souls on stage, the other half is the souls surrounding. Great sharing the stage with Strange Americans and Chella Negro as well.

We’re enjoying a much-needed day off and I’m chipping away at some visual elements for some of the video we worked on the other day in Ventura. Hope to see some of you in St. Louis where we’ll be pulling another Young Volcanoes/Chamberlin doubleheader this coming Tuesday, November 6th at Cicero’s - tickets are here and it’d be great if you could pass this event invite along to any friends you think might be into seeing a good old rock and roll show and a ton of beards.

zc

03
Nov

The last few days in California have been so busy that I’m just now coming up for air somewhere in Utah. After a great visit to San Francisco the van chugged southbound toward Ventura, where reunited with two amazing friends, Syd and Dari. They were kind enough to put me up (and put up with me) for the night before Syd and I met up with Chris Cullari for a nonstop day of filming a few new Young Volcanoes surprises.

Syd, as some of you probably know, produced Young Volcanoes with me and makes really great records with artists from all over the world, and Chris and I have known each other since he hit me up, out of the blue, in 2006 about making a music video for a song off of my then upcoming EP, Ellipsis. Earlier this year, along with Jer Coons, we collaborated on the score for Chris’ new short, The Sleepover, which made its world premiere at Austin’s Fantastic Fest in September and has been collecting awards and reviews along the way since. You can check out the trailer here and follow the release details at the official site.

Since Chris and I have spent most of our time on opposite corners of the country since we met years ago, the times where we get to hang for a full day are few and far between. I’m really excited to pass along some of the fruits of our labor, but mostly I’m grateful to have had such a beautiful sunny day running around the mountains and the beach with him and Syd.

A typical tour tornado ripped through LA shortly thereafter, and as of yesterday morning, we officially started making our way back east. We stopped off in Baker, CA, where Chamberlin bassist Chuck Whistler’s cousins were awaiting our arrival as they took a short rest along their journey. Kait and John Seyal set off walking across the country from Lewes, DE on March 1st and, along with their friend John Slater as a support driver and their dogs Max, Grace and Old Brown Dog (and even a stray picked up along the way, my favorite, Jenny #9) they’re only two weeks away from their goal of walking from coast to coast raising awareness of pet therapy, animal rescue and more. It was a breath of fresh air to find these positive, thoughtful and hard-working souls sitting in the desert along the way. Through our short conversation, it was obvious that we were all in search of the same thing as we crisscrossed the land: to make a mark, to make a stand, to make a work of art out of our journey and ourselves. A term that quickly came up was “social sculpture,” and John flipped to a page in his road journal to show me where a fellow traveler had told him of a German word with no direct translation in English- Lebenskunstler- one who makes life into art.

This is what traveling the country is all about for me- meeting people who are taking advantage of the chance we each have to make something strange and wonderful happen with each step taken. Admit it, if you take a deep breath, it’s a pretty wild opportunity to be alive and well, and it’s not only easy but incredibly fulfilling to simply share that gift in whatever way you know how. Take a look at Kait and John’s website and check out some of their inspiring stories and photos from the road, and cheer them on for the final stretch of their trip.

And, if you’re in Denver, CO tonight, come on over to Larimer Lounge at 8pm – I’ll be playing a short Young Volcanoes opening set before hopping back onstage with Chamberlin, and would love to run into you. For those of you who missed the PledgeMusic campaign or haven’t pre-ordered yet, I’ll have CDs, vinyl, shirts, posters and stickers too.

xo

zc


Young Volcanoes is ten songs recorded on the road in the midst of a search for a reason to release a record in the first place. Out November 20th, the project has answered its own question- with thousands of dollars already on the way to Burlington VT's Cancer Patient Support Program, it will continue to benefit CPSP with 20% of each sale. Literate rock and roll with a purpose that keeps one foot in the future and one anchored in 70s songwriting and production.




Photo: Jean Fogelberg

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