#TBT Update: Zach and the Hendersons will be playing at the Grotto on Saturday night in support of Daniel and Matt Mabe’s band (with Anthony Sosa), Jefferson Colby (to celebrate Daniel’s birthday), and the return of Bomb Atomic. Should be a pretty kick a– show, so go check it out.
The Hendersons 10:00
Bomb Atomic 11:00
Jefferson Colby 12:00
Fort Worth’s the Hendersons are probably my favorite local band right now. There’s just something different about what they’re doing, but they’re definitely onto something. I think this band is headed for some big things in the near future, so I sent the usual questions over to drummer Zach Mayo to find out what’s going on over there. He had a lot to say. See for yourself. BTW’s, that’s him staring a hole into my soul in that photo above.
Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?
ZM: I’ve always had music in my life. My mother was the Cantor every Sunday at church and can sing like an angel. My father played guitar, and my grandmother was also the Cantor at her church that we would sometimes visit. So, I always had music around me growing up. My older brothers (I’m the youngest of 3 boys) both were in band and played percussion and the French horn. I, however, decided not to follow in their footsteps and joined the orchestra program in the 5th grade to play the bass. Truly, I joined orchestra because I hated singing those lame-ass songs we were forced to sing in “music” class. But, I immediately fell in love with the bass. I was always a big kid growing up, and the bass just fit me perfectly. I started studying theory and performance, and my chops grew leaps-and bounds over the years. I continued playing bass in orchestra throughout my middle, junior, and high school years. All the while, I taught myself how to play guitar drums and the piano.
When I was in the 7th grade, my very good friend, Justin Elliott, started asking me if I wanted to “jam.” At that point, I had never really played “rock” music. I was only used to orchestra and church song arrangements. However, when i started playing with Justin, my entire outlook on music changed. I started playing drums more often, and Justin would play guitar. He was a madman when it came to the six-string, and I felt obligated to be just as much a madman on the drums. We had our two-man band, the Sugarmen, which was a very blues-heavy, garage rock vibe, much like the Black Keys or White Stripes. At the time, Justin was playing lead guitar with the Josh Weathers band and they needed an opening act. Josh was sick, and he didn’t have the will or energy to play for their full 3-hour bar set, so he enlisted me and J to fill in as an opening act. We played our first show at the Moon Bar to a crowd of people that were NOT there to see these two guys – they wanted to see Josh. By the end of our 1-hour set, we had the crowd in our hands. They loved it. After shaking hands with people and having compliments thrown at me left and right, it was then I knew I wanted to do this for a living.
Over the years, I’ve played in tons of different bands with different roles. I can honestly say that there’s nothing out there better than music – playing it, listening to it, practicing it. Every aspect of music plays a huge role in my life, and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything.
Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
ZM: The Hendersons are kind of hard to pinpoint and describe. Lots of people have told us that they remind them of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. There are also shades of Harry Nilsson and the Kinks. Nolan is the principle songwriter. He’s been influenced by all of the aforementioned bands, as well as a heavy influence of classical music. If you listen to Indian Summer, you might pick up on all of those. Kind of like a throw-back Harry-Nilsson-meets-Brian-Wilson-with-a-dash-of-Beethoven-and-a-sprig-of-Beatles.
Gun to my head, if I had to give the Hendersons a “genre”, I would say it’s Vintage Baroque Pop-rock.
Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?
ZM: I’m influenced by heavy-hitting drummer, Buddy Miles. The man was a beast. He could sing and play drums like a madman! I’m also heavily influenced (drum-wise, that is) by a man named Steven Kleisath. He played drums for a hardcore band called Armstrong, as well as the more-poppy Further Seems Forever. The way he moves around the drum kit showed me that there was much more to playing than just “keeping the beat.”
Nowadays, I find myself watching drum solos all day. Benny Greb, Thomas Pridgen, Mike Johnson, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa – watching those guys has shown me that drums can also have a melody. I know that sounds weird, but that’s the way I hear it.
My favorite bands span tons of different genres: Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine, Ray Lamontagne, AIR, Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, Ween, G. Love & Special Sauce, Otis Redding, James Brown, Menahan Street Band.
Me: Which of your songs means the most to you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?
ZM: I always love playing “Skid Row.” It usually gets everyone dancing and singing along, and I enjoy that very much.
Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?
ZM: The Hendersons don’t necessarily fit a perfect bill these days (especially in rock-heavy Ft. Worth), so I’d have to say that I would have LOVED to have been one of the acts at the Monterey Pop Festival back in 1967. But, only as long as we weren’t the ones following Otis Redding. That fucker brought the house down.
Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?
ZM: I’m a big fan of Vodeo (formerly Shake the Moon). Those guys are super talented and have great hooks. I’m also digging what the fellas in Arenda Light bring to the table. They’re super tight and well-practiced, that’s for sure. And even though, they’re not “new” at all, I spend lots of my time in the car cycling through Wilco records.
Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?
ZM: Tough call. I’d have to say it’s either between Ray Lamontagne’s Trouble or the Beach Boys’ Friends
Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?
ZM: I’m a big fin of how tight-knit a lot of the bands in FW are. Lots of us party together, share the same bills, and sometimes even share the same band members. It’s nice to feel like part of the “crew.” We’re all working together, doing the thing that we all love to do, and supporting each other along the way. There’s also the opposite side of the spectrum, where it can be difficult to crack into that “circle and be considered an outcast – especially if you’re new to the area and you’re trying to find the right group of people to play music with.
Dallas has always been a tough place to get your exposure to the masses. Every time I’ve played Dallas, it’s been for very few people. So, I guess the way to be known in Dallas is just say “Fuck it” and play for the small crowds as often as possible. Who knows? You may just gain a few more fans along the way.
Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?
ZM: The Grotto. Hands down. It’s kind of like our “home bar.” We usually can pack the house, even on short notice. We also like that we’re allowed to bring in our homemade Frito-pies or Beef Stew for our fans to munch on during dreary, cold evenings. However I really enjoyed playing on the new outdoor stage at Lola’s/Trailer Park. That place is going to be a mainstay for outdoor shows for years to come.
Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?
ZM: Some cat named Leon Bridges is doing pretty well for himself – or so I’ve heard. And Oil Boom is pretty solid. Chingalotus is another band that’s incredible. Cosmic Trigger makes my ears bleed (in the good way). Secret Ghost Champion has a record called Electric Neck and the Mercy Skull that I think EVERYONE should listen to. Jake Paleschic is amazing every single time I see him (and I’m super-jealous of his drummer Peter Wierenga’s snare sound.)
Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
ZM: I’ve been taking ballroom dance lessons with my girlfriend, Sarah Jane, for almost 2 years now. That shit is amazing, and does wonders for relationships.
A big thanks to Zach Mayo for taking the time. I think this is the longest post yet. If you haven’t had a chance to catch a Hendersons show, you’re going to want to do that. I have a feeling they’re about to blow up. You can check out their last record, Indian Summer, below, and keep an eye out for new material due next year. On a more somber note, Zach’s old band mate, Justin Elliott, passed away in a household accident last year. His family has established a scholarship fund to benefit local children in their musical and academic endeavors. If you’d like to donate to the fund, you can do so here. The Hendersons will be performing with Jacob Furr at the Grotto this Thursday, the 14th, if you need to catch a great show.
Photo Credit: Moi (yeah, I’m pretty awesome)