Q&A with Zack Williams of The Lone Bellow: The kings of Brooklyn country
Country-rock trio The Lone Bellow came together in two unlikely places: a Georgia hospital and a Park Slope diner.
Singer-guitarist Zack Williams started keeping a journal while helping his wife recover from a horseback riding accident that nearly left her paralyzed. Friends encouraged him to turn his rhyming journal entries into songs.
After his wife recovered, Williams and many of those same friends moved to Brooklyn, working as waiters and using one of their workplaces — Park Slope’s Dizzy’s Diner — as a rehearsal and songwriting space after hours.
amNewYork spoke with Williams.
What is “Brooklyn country music”?
We said that one time, joking around. It stuck, and now that’s the price we have to pay. There’s a small-town feel in Park Slope, and I think that helped with our sound in some ambiguous way. But as for “Brooklyn country music,” that was an accident, and I’m sorry.
When did you realize you could turn your songs into a career?
When I started playing open mic nights, I realized that I really enjoyed that connection with a group of strangers — singing a song and having to win them over. There’s a lot of honesty that happens there. After having a life-altering situation go down, I no longer wanted to get a job with my family. I wanted to move to New York and see if I had what it took.
You recorded a lot of the album live at Rockwood Music Hall. Why?
Rockwood is our favorite place to play music. Ken Rockwood has been a mentor to me for the past seven years. My old band had the honor of opening that room for him. It has always been an incredibly special place. … We were trying to capture the energy of a live show, which is what you do when you try to record an album.
Is there a theme running through the album?
I think there’s an ebb and flow of tragedy, hope, betrayal and redemption. These are the first 12 songs the band did together. I think the record captures that moment.
If you go: The Lone Bellow is at Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park Bandshell on Saturday at 7 p.m., enter at Prospect Park West and Ninth Street, FREE, with $3 suggested donation.