Zach Deputy Pushes the Industry Aside and Goes His Own Way on His Own Terms

Gothic Theatre - February 20
Oskar Blues Lyons  - February 21
Pioneer Inn - February 22


By Brian F. Johnson

Zach Deputy releases a new album every night that he plays. The bear-ish Southern songwriter has released four proper studio albums in his career, but to him those aren’t as important as what he creates each night he’s on stage. To him those live shows (which he records) are why he does what he does and he’s not shy about pointing out why his studio albums pale in comparison.

“It’s like, if what you loved to do is cook food and your specialty is soup and you make the best soup, but there’s this guy who always comes along and throws a turd in your soup right when you get done, and then tries to convince you that ‘No, this should be in there, that’s what it’s like to make an album the industry way,” Deputy said during a recent interview with The Marquee.

Deputy explained that his first several albums did nothing but put him in enormous debt. Then a few years ago when all of his gear was stolen, he found himself in a place where he didn’t have the money to get back the things he needed to continue. Ultimately Deputy ended up losing his house and his R.V.

“It got to the point where I was looking at taking out this $350,000 loan and it was at that moment that I said ‘No, I’m going to work hard and pay it off right and do things in a smart way.’ When I put out an album this time, it’s not to make money. I don’t want to make money, but I definitely don’t want to lose the little bit that I have to do it. And when I do it, I’m going to do it where there aren’t as many hands in the pot. I’m doing it because I love the art and if I do make money, great, but I’m not going to put myself in a position to lose a lot,” he said. “As a human being I don’t want to feel pressured by my financial state and have to make decisions based on my financial state, as opposed to how I actually feel.”

Even though Deputy claimed that he’d put out an album a week, every week for the rest of his life if given the opportunity, he said that by and large albums are “stupid” in his opinion. “Releasing albums is stupid because people believe your current album is your current sound and I don’t believe in that. Albums lock you into a box, which is the opposite of what art should be doing — which is breaking outside of the box,” Deputy said. “But I record every show. Every show is different and that’s the art form that I enjoy so much more.”

Deputy, who has Puerto Rican, Irish, African, British, French and Cherokee heritage, grew up poor in the south, and the working class family he came from instilled in him this D.I.Y., can-do attitude. When one of his early bandmates couldn’t make a gig one night, Deputy alerted the rest of the guys in the group that they were going to nix the show and he was on the phone to the club owner (the line actually ringing) when he got the idea to play solo. He took an old delay pedal that he had and used it to create loops and his solo looping career started.

Soon his solo shows were packing venues on a Sunday, while he and his bandmates were playing to much smaller crowds on weekend nights. Eventually Deputy realized he could and should put all of his efforts into his solo career and have more fun doing it alone with more freedom to explore whatever material he wanted. Now, especially with the financial woes almost behind him, (he expects to be out of debt this year) Deputy finds himself more grounded, focused and happy to be playing live shows, and making his own decisions without the pressure of the industry dictating his every move.

“I grew up in a trailer park. I never had any money and any money that I got to make my albums I had to borrow, and then pay it back with interest. I came from a working class family. My dad built houses for 12 hours a day and he didn’t believe in cutting corners. But for the industry, I had to keep up this image of being something that I wasn’t and if I have to put on some sort of illusion to get fans, I don’t want the fans,” he said. “I want to be me, more than I want to have fans.” Doing what’s real in the long run will resound with more people.



Zach Deputy

Gothic Theatre – February 20

Oskar Blues Lyons  – February 21

Pioneer Inn – February 22


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