Over a phone call with Zac Farro from HalfNoise over in the states, we had the pleasure to catch up with the multi-talented individual talking about the new album ‘Natural Disguise’, which was all fully produced by him. We discuss and get stuck talking in depth about the album making, life, achievements and much more.
What got you into music? What made you think yes this is what I want to do. Did you play instruments or write music first?
When I was 9 I went to this class and there was someone that bought in a drum kit, and so I volunteered to play and I’s never played any instruments before so that’s kind of what introduced me to the idea of playing or being a musician at all. It’s pretty random I didn’t come from a musical family at all. Then it went from drums to touring around and then kind of writing my own music, so it was kind of a snowball effect.
What sort of music did you grow up around in your family?
My mum listened to a lot of 70s disco music, and my dad was more classic Jackson Brown, James Taylor. Somewhat country but classic singer songwriter so it was a mixture of both. It wasn’t till later on that I discovered the Beatles and The Rolling Stones for myself. My parents were more of their own music so that was a huge influence on me but I didn’t really grow up with it like most people. I guess it’s kind of eclectic. Again, my parents weren’t super musical so there wasn’t always records going on at the house. It was more music here and there.
Who inspires you musically? What first got you into drumming?
I’d always play with my brothers, so it was my older brothers. They would show me records and we kind of played off each other there.
How would you describe your new music? What’s the story behind the new record?
Well, the new Half Noise record is very if I had to describe it to someone who hadn’t heard it before I’d say indie-rock music. If I had a longer time to explain it I was listening to a lot of 70s Afrobeat music. I was really interested in the energy of African culture and African music and how percussive it was and how it would groove on the same thing for a long time, not just a 5 or 4 minute song structure. That mixed with old Kinks, Stones and Beatles songs that were very direct its very simple ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, just guitar part, vocal, drums and bass, very simplistic. I just wanted to connect the dots for people. I think a lot of music these days are very overthought so I just wanted to make an easy listening rock record where everybody could understand it.
Your music has the 1960/70s type of vibe, something that you can dance to from song to song. It’s nice to experience it, is that what you’d say you were going for?
Thank you. That’s what I was going for. There is a lot of bands that pull from that era and whether its Bowie or The Beatles just because it was such an impactful time. I think for me I want to pull from that but also introduce a new way of thinking instead of always looking backwards. I guess that’s a bit of a challenge because everything under the sun has been done. One thing that was really cool for me was just really believing in myself. I produced and recorded the whole album by myself so it was a big step for me as an artist. I really hope that people not only enjoy the record but also really research it and look into it because it was a really big step for me as an artist not just lyrically and musically but a challenge to trust myself to record everything on my own.
Talking about your music and doing everything on your own, what is your song writing process like? What was the most fulfilling song to write from the EP that sends you back to a certain moment?
Well, I love the songs that come out initially and they’re just like a lightning bolt hits you and you just have to go. A lot of times I would be eating lunch or out with a friend and I would get a guitar part stuck in my head and I’d have to go home and put it down. Some songs are more of a challenge than others, some came more effortlessly than others. For me the song writing process normally starts with a guitar idea or a keyboard; something melodic or I’d hear a vocal melody, then I start building the track around that certain section and then piece it together one by one. It’s funny because you add all these things and then its addition by subtraction; you have to eliminate things because you don’t need every single bit on there.
The album is great and it tells a story from beginning to end, song to song. Is that what you were aiming for?
Everything that we make has a complete conclusion. I think great art always tells a story and for me it was ‘Natural Disguise’. The whole title and meaning behind it was to not disguise myself or to see other people and to not hide behind acting natural but you’re kind of disguising and hiding things from people and not being vulnerable. I just try to strip it down. Even have the music sound very straight forward like guitars and bass and drums and vocals, just very simple. There’s definitely elements to it but I wanted to strip it back for me and straight to the point even with the lyrics being very pointed of things towards my family, or past relationships or even people I’ve see that are acting so fake but try to act natural. For every song I can put the mirror up to myself as well and say I can use that advice, so I think with the whole world of social media and everywhere we live we can make ourselves whoever we want to be but the truth is you are just who you are. So I think it is a really almost coming of age record for me in feeling like wow this is who I am and this is what I have to offer.
Would you rather play on stage or record and make music?
Honestly I’m really happy with my life playing in two bands and playing with other artists because I get both. They’re two completely different energies. Live shows are the one night you get to play with these people and it’s special on its own. And a record, people are allowed to hit play on this as many times as they want and have a difference experience with it. So there’s different power to each one so I really enjoy both.
Is there anyone that you would love to collaborate with?
I mean Paul McCartney, even though that might be a bit of a stretch. I think for me I have already run into a lot of people that I’ve looked up to. Yes, it could be someone famous but for me it’s all about the heart and the friendship behind it so if somebody is just a great player and a great person that’s who I’d want to work with. I don’t really care to work with the most famous person in the world cause it’s all about who you connect with.
You mentioned you are a producer but you are also a photographer. What would you say is the most challenging and do you enjoy them equally?
The cool thing is every time I work with an artist, I just finished a record for my friend Becca in Nashville and the whole while she was doing a vocal take or something and I’d be taking photos so it’s really cool to be able to do both. Then we went out to California to finish her record and I took a bunch of photos out there. I think what’s cool about being a musician and a producer is you travel a lot. I have also been dabbling in music videos as well. I see music visually and not just audibly, so it’s really cool to be able to exercise those muscles as well. Just because I always like to be creative. I honestly just like doing it all.
What would you say makes you strive for greatness?
It’s seeing my peers and friends working just as hard as I am. I feel like I picked genuine people that are surrounding me. We all support each other and they all tend to be in the art world. You only get one shot at this life so I try to make the most of it.
Is there anything that you are doing now or something coming up that you’d like to share with us?
Right now, I’m really focusing on content like music videos and I just want people to hear this new album ‘Natural Disguise’ because I really feel like once people sit with it, there’s going to be a demand for s to be playing live. Right now, we did some festivals in the UK and we did some in the US over the summer so right now I’m gearing up for next year and maybe the end of this year to have people really hear this record and want to see it live.
HalfNoise’s first new album ‘Natural Disguise’ is out now!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOE HART
INTERVIEW BY ROJAN SAID