INTERVIEW WITH NASHVILLE ARTIST ZACH CORNELL
Zach talks on his passion for his craft and the Nashville music scene
What was a childhood dream of yours?
I think I was different from most kids in that I didn't have a career I dreamed of since I was little bitty. I don't really remember having a big desire to do one thing or another, but I know for a while I wanted to run my own business. My folks run a successful small business back in Texas, and my grandad ran a service station for over 60 years, so I always admired that and just assumed that's where I'd end up. In a way, I guess I did. Just not in a traditional way.
Who do you turn to when you need someone most?
My wife. We kind of have a rule that even if we're at each other's throats, we can always table our own issue to have each other's back. There were times when she was fighting mad at me but she knew I was struggling with some things, so she still cut me some slack even when I probably didn't deserve it. She's been so supportive of this dream since the day we met, and she's always the first one to know when something's going on.
What was the first song you remember playing on repeat that made you want to get into music?
"Speed Trap Town" by Jason Isbell. It was just a half-story song about getting out of a little town, and it's such an overlooked song that my wife still asks me all the time why I love it so much. I think something clicked when I first discovered Jason Isbell, and everything about his songs made me want to do what he was doing. I was a freshman in college and my sister, Jill, sent me a song of his and said I'd love it. He immediately became my favorite artist and I wore out the two solo albums he had out at the time. "Speed Trap Town" was always the one that stuck out the most. I loved how simple it was and how there wasn't really much of a point to a lot of the lyrics, but at the same time they were telling the story of everyone who's ever lived in a speed trap town. I had played and sang casually before then, but that song gave me my first real idea of what I wanted to do for a living. I'd never had any idea up until then, so it was pretty cool to finally have that.
Tell us a story that you laugh about with your friends to this day?
A while back, my buddy Charlie McNeal and I took a trip up to Kentucky for a gig. The show was great, but on the way back the map took us way out into the boonies. We ended up on this little blacktop road in the middle nowhere at about 2 AM, and the road was wooded on both sides and it was just foggy enough that we were a little creeped out. We're miles from any houses, and out of nowhere we just see this guy in full hunting gear walking towards the middle of the road and staring us down, and it scared the life out of us. I sped past him and I'm sure we didn't quit talking about how creepy it was for weeks. Now we make jokes about it every time we see each other. I'm sure everyone else is getting tired of hearing the story by now, but we get a good laugh out of it every time we bring it up.
What is your favorite part of the music industry?
I think it's the way everyone in Nashville is constantly rooting for each other to succeed. Everyone here knows how hard it is to make a living at this, while also understanding that there's plenty of room for all of us to make a living. I've made so many great friends here, some who have been in the music industry longer than I've been alive and some that are new to town. But no matter someone's experience, age, or level of success, nearly everyone I know here is seriously rooting for me to succeed in the same way I'm rooting for them too. It really is like an extended family. I know Nashville gets a lot of hate these days, but honestly I think 99% has to come from the people that have never lived here. I knew a lot of musicians back in Texas that bad-mouthed Nashville, but none of the ones that did has ever made the jump.
What's your least?
My least favorite is probably the way a lot of bars treat musicians. I've had a lot of bar-owners tell me they'll pay me in "exposure," but can't do any kind of tangible payment. I don't know any other industry where that would be acceptable. Imagine if I told my plumber I would pay him by telling my friends he was really good at his job. He'd laugh me out of the room. I think the difference is that there's not a plumber in the world that will work for free, but there's always a musician that wants a gig bad enough that they'll play for free. Luckily, for every place like that there's a place that'll pay an artist fairly and make the bad days worth it. So it's really not that bad at the end of the day.
What is a project you're working on right now?
I'm finishing up a few songs in the studio right now that we're planning on releasing in early '22. I recorded the songs with a good friend and mentor, Jack Gavin, who also produced everything. I think these are going to be my best songs yet, and I'm really excited for y'all to hear everything!
Where can fans find your music?
Anywhere they can stream music, or everything is available as a hard copy or digital download from my website. I also do some cover songs and things of that nature on Youtube.
How do fans keep up with you?
Here's my links to my socials and streaming platforms!
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