The huge US band set to conquer Aus

January 31, 2015 11:24 pm 20 comments Views: 16
Roots rock ... The Zac Brown Band are only a little bit country now. Picture: Cole Cassel

Roots rock … The Zac Brown Band are only a little bit country now. Picture: Cole Cassell.
Source: Supplied

DAVE Grohl provoked as much curiosity about America’s reigning musician class as he did about its rich history with his enthralling Sonic Highways series last year.

One artist who scored substantial airtime and has an ongoing musical bromance with the Foo Fighters frontman was Zac Brown, who collaborated on the Sonic Highways song Congregation.

The Zac Brown Band are huge in America. Like seven million albums, and another seven million plus singles, huge.

Stadium stars ... The ZBB played to more than 1.1 million people on their American tour l

Stadium stars … The ZBB played to more than 1.1 million people on their American tour last year. Picture: C. Taylor Crothers.
Source: Supplied

The countrified folk rockers played 63 shows to 1.1 million people in the US last year on their Great American Road Trip tour.

While wildly popular back home, like a lot of roots-based American touring acts, Brown and his bandmates are starting virtually from scratch to build a global fan base.

They checked out Australia in 2013, opening on arena stages for Jason Mraz and adding a Sydney headlining gig as buzz swirled about the supremely matchfit septet.

Brown is now determined that the ZBB get their numbers up here, booking a spot on the seminal Bluesfest in Byron Bay and in smaller arenas in Sydney and Melbourne.

“We are sowing the seeds. Obviously we have some great fans there but we have been planning over the last few years to try to get back down. It’s exciting for us to play somewhere like Australia,” he says.

Eat and greets ... The band cook and feed about 150 fans before most of their shows in th

Eat and greets … The band cook and feed about 150 fans before most of their shows in the US. Picture: Cole Cassell
Source: Supplied

The tour comes as they are working on their fourth album.

This is the record Brown wants to take the band to the superstar level. Just as Taylor Swift completely shrugged off her country roots to join the pop parade with 1989, so the ZBB want to find success outside of that musical camp.

“I have been doing nothing but focusing on this album for the last few months,” he says.

“We have a lot to prove this year, we have to prove we are coming into our own, that we are not just some country band. There’s nothing wrong with people thinking that because of our first songs but we’ve grown and this is going to be the most diverse album we have made.

“We want to rise up with the level of our shows, to play more iconic kind of stadiums and I think we can do it.”

They already have, with Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Boston’s Fenway Park on their last tour schedule.

But one senses that ZBB want to be Foo Fighters huge.

Zac Brown and Foo Fighters on Late Show with David Letterman

Grohl’s musical and now personal friendship with Brown resulted in the band’s 2013 EP, The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1.

“They’re unbelievable, the band is so good they can be tracked live; we didn’t f … with computers, we tracked live, four-part harmonies around one microphone. It’s rocking. People are like, ‘Oh, it’s country.’ ‘No, it’s not, it’s like the Allman Brothers.’ ‘No, it’s not, it’s jam band.’ I don’t even know what you would call it, it’s f … ing great,” Grohl told Rolling Stone.

Their mutual admiration society had rather inauspicious beginnings. They met in a clothing store.

It was the John Varvatos designer store in West Hollywood, where Brown was picking up some gear which had been altered for the Grammys.

He wasn’t going to let their random meeting pass without talking to the Foo Fighters man.

“I always wanted to work with him. We naturally ended up in the same place and started talking about studios, I had been working on mine and I had just seen Sound City (Grohl’s 2013 doco),” Brown explains.

HBO, Starbucks and Chase Present

Chance encounter … Zac Brown met Dave Grohl in a clothing store by chance. Picture: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

“Man, he is everything you thought he would be and in the process of making the EP, we became friends.

“He doesn’t just talk about doing things, he actually does them and we share that in common.”

Seeing Brown lent his talents to Sonic Highways, it would seem only fair that Grohl would do the same for the next ZBB album.

“I have sent him a couple of songs to listen to but as of right now with his new baby and the album release and the series and the tour … he’s in a bit of a whirlwind right now,” he said.

“But there will definitely be another Grohl Sessions one day.”

Aussie shows ... The Zac Brown Band will play at Bryon Bay’s BluesFest music festival in

Aussie shows … The Zac Brown Band will play at Bryon Bay’s BluesFest music festival in 2015, hoping to win some more Aussie fans. Picture: Supplied.
Source: News Limited

While the early adopters and the curious will have plenty of musical sustenance during their upcoming tour of Australia, hardcore fans will be miffed they won’t be getting any ZBB Eat and Greets here.

The band have an ambitious version of the standard Meet and Greet where fans can sometimes pay hundreds of dollars just for a few seconds of time and a photo opp with their favourite star.

The ZBB take an enormous mobile kitchen on the road during their American tours and will cook up a feast and eat with about 150 fans before a show.

You can see a version of it in Sonic Highways when the Foo Fighters were treated to a slow-cooked pig during their visit with Brown.

“We won’t have our kitchen or our groceries with us down there — we have to come over lean,” he says.

“But I would love to be able to do it there one day because Australian produce is amazing.”

Zac Brown Band have released new single Homegrown perform at Palais Theatre, Melbourne on March 31, Hordern Pavilion on April 1 and Bluesfest, Byron Bay on April 3.

www.news.com.au/entertainment/music

Leave a Reply