Zach Tate isn't your run-of-the-mill cowboy. While his lyrics and twangy vocals definitely give his music a country feel, the backing tunes are heavily influenced by the Southern strain of classic rock. Although Tate isn't even from the South, his music makes us glad that he finally made his way here.
Earlier this week, Rocks Off drove down to Coffee Oasis in Clear Lake to better get to know a (relatively) new face, and we returned home with three CDs, the recently released single "Cowgirl," two guitar picks and a few Zach Tate Band postcards. Cool, much? We sure think so.
Before moving to Clear Lake, Tate lived in Los Angeles for 12 years. And before that, he lived in Windsor, Ontario, just south of Detroit. He moved to California after getting divorced, at which time he bought a $200 van and started driving West.
"It's funny that this one was recorded while I was living in L.A.," Tate says, picking up a copy of his second CD, Texas Road. "It was before I even knew I was going to move here."
He made Clear Lake home after the cost of living in Los Angeles got a too high, but he doesn't have any complaints. In fact, he's grown pretty fond of the greater Houston area. Similar to many late-nighters, though, Tate is often perplexed by how little is open (even inside the Loop) after dark. Otherwise, he likes it here just fine.
Tate has recorded, mixed and mastered his music in Dickinson and in Los Angeles, but he may have finally found somewhere to go that's a bit more convenient.
"Somebody I know was doing a session there [at SugarHill], and I think we're probably going to end up [recording] there," Tate said. "We may even take some of our drum tracks and whatnot from the other place and take it from there."
As far as his musical style goes, Tate's somewhat of a fan of everything. And he isn't afraid to do things in the studio that can't be replicated during live performances. We're not talking Autotune; he means bringing in guest vocalists and musicians.
"I always liked that kind of eclectic music that the Rolling Stones played," Tate said. "You listen to some of these records, especially the ones from the late '60s and '70s... they were bringing in all kinds of instrumentation and all kinds of different arrangements for their studio songs versus what they do live.
His love for an assorted kind of music shows on his own albums.
"These records aren't nearly that ambitious," he said, looking down at his own albums. And while he's being modest, there are plenty of different styles of music demonstrated in his music.
"You know how it is when you set out to do one thing and you have a vision, and as people don't show up or as money runs out, it turns into something different," he said. "And in the end, there's always a song or a lyric that makes you cringe. I think that happens with everybody."
But even if they weren't what he had originally planned them to be, Tate's albums are solid, fun and varied. In fact, one of the band's most popular songs, a song about looking up an ex-girlfriend online (before Facebook was around), was featured in a documentary about Google.
See it here. You'll only have to wait 25 seconds before "The Google Song" begins to play.
There's a saying in the film industry, Tate told us, that movies aren't finished; they're abandoned. Apparently, even George Lucas said that of Star Wars, and Tate feels that the same applies to music.
Eventually, you've got to step back and just let it go, because it's never going to turn out quite the way you want it to. But if his previous albums are any indication, though it might not sound exactly the way Tate wants it to, anyone who listens to his next album is sure to enjoy it.
Tate's recent single, "Cowgirl," can be seen (and heard) here.
ZTB 2011: Charlie Glen, Zach Tate, Brandon Robbins, Lane Coker
Photo: Kim Taylor