While it’s not uncommon for certain acts to spill into different genres, Zac Brown Band has definitely taken it to a whole new level recently. Between collaborating with Dave Grohl or producing a record with Chris Cornell, the band has managed to not only blur the lines between country, rock and alternative music, but pull it off in a way that always seems genuine.
amNewYork had the chance to sit with guitarist Coy Bowles and discuss their musical evolution, their Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit and playing “Saturday Night Live” with one of their idols.
Your band was just immortalized with an exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. What was that experience like for the group?
It was oddly emotional. Our eyes are always on the horizon. So going there and seeing old pictures and this display of what our lives have been like the past 10 years and what we’ve gotten to accomplish was pretty overwhelming and emotional.
Walk me through playing “Saturday Night Live” with Chris Cornell last year.
Oh man, playing “SNL” was awesome, but playing with one of your childhood heroes was just icing on the cake. Such a cool dude, really professional. I think everyone in the band really sunk their teeth into music around the time Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Soundgarden were becoming big and changed music forever. So getting to talk to one of the founding fathers of that era of music, and he being cool with talking to us, it was really awesome.
For a “country band” your music has certainly picked up a heavy alternative influence lately. Did that happen organically?
I spent 3-4 years of my life where all I listened to was Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth and The Melvins, when I was 14-15 years old. Everyone in the band has this rock ’n’ roll background. Whether it’s Metallica or Pearl Jam or whatever. Everybody had that phase in their life. So if we want to write an alternative-rock song, it’s not really a stretch. It’s not contrived at all. It’s pretty honest.
It sounds like you could have been an alternative rock band from the beginning.
When you start out it’s not like some tactical military program. You just get a bunch of dudes in a room and whatever happens, happens. With “Foundation” being the first album, the songs were just more Southern rock [and] country themes, and it spawned from there. When you’re a true musician, you’re a sponge for the growth of it all. You’re always getting turned onto something else.