A little while back, during the Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Halestorm UK Tour, we locked our selves in a room with Shinedown six stringer Zach Myers and spoke of British people being smarter than Americans, saving guitars from burning buildings, and Bon Jovi throwing a spanner in the works for the acoustic covers album.
Let’s launch straight in then Zach. You’ve sold a stupid amount of records… do you have the best job in the world?
(laughing) YES! I was talking about that today, I have these small epiphanies in life where I’ll just be sitting there and I’ll just be thinking… guitar did this! I mean thinking about it, all I did was play guitar, and I’ve been around the world thirty time, just from playing guitar. Yeah, I have the best job in the world. I love what I do, and we all love what we do, we appreciate our fans and we really try to show that… You aren’t really going to get a better gig than this, maybe acting would be fun, just because you get to play another person. But I suppose we do too, we’re different off stage than we are on stage.
Would you ever move into or try something like acting then?
Yeah, I think it would be fun. I think that it’s an expression of yourself, and I think that no matter what you play, if it’s a role or something, there’s always going to be a part of you in that, I guess it would just give you a chance to express a different outlet.
Make’s sense I reckon, but back to this tour… this is Alter Bridge’s tour… but you’ve sold far more records than they have…
Yeah, yeah. It’s different you know though. In the States this tour would be flipped around, but these guys, they do killer over here. And for us, we’ve never been an ego driven band. I mean we are all men, so we have our own egos , but as a band we have never had an ego. As a band we’ve never said “we’re not going to play with this band because we’re bigger than they are in a certain market.” We don’t think we cant play with any band just because we have sold more records than them. Over here they’re a much bigger band than us, flat out!
Do you find it refreshing perhaps, not being as recognised here, as you are over in the states?
(Laughing) No… I want to be bigger here! But I think we will be, I think we’ve been working it for a really long time. Alter Bridge have been working it longer than we have. Our first show in the UK was opening for Alter Bridge at The Astoria. That was our first show ever in the UK, it was 666; June 6 2006.
I think I first saw you guys with Disturbed over here.
Yeah that was ’08, but we played three shows in 2006, yeah, June 6 2006, and then we did Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park.
Well, it was “The Sound Of Madness”, that was the album that went stratospheric.
Did that put pressure on you then to follow up, with “Amaryllis”?
I guess it depends on who you ask (laughing)! If you ask me, then yeah, but if you ask Brent, then I don’t think he was that worried about it. I think me and Barry, we were the most, I mean Brent was drinking a lot during “The Sound Of Madness” record touring. I mean he’s been off drugs now for seven years, but he was still drinking, so I think it was, well, it wasn’t a blur, but it was different for him. I mean for us, I saw the success that came with that record, and I was like “I hope we can top this!”, and I honestly think we did. I mean, obviously the industry has gone down a little bit, and this record didn’t sell close as to as many records, but you know…
Is that one more popular over here then, I mean it’s darker?
Yeah, “Amaryllis” is bigger over here than it was in the States.
I thought it seemed more favourable to the European market.
Yeah, I think it’s a more artistic record too. I mean, I think (laughing), this is where I get into trouble… I think, there’s smarter audiences over here. I mean, I’m not saying anything against my country, I love my home. I just think that there’s people in the States who just want to hear the same record over and over and over and over again. That’s not a fault though. There’s bands that I hear, that I love that progress and I’m like “I wish they wouldn’t do that!”. But that’s why I think this record did better over here. It’s a little smarter than “Sound Of Madness”.
Which are you more proud of?
And is there any particular track you prefer, any track you really like to play live?
The one that hits me the most is ‘Bully’, because it was one of the first songs we wrote for the record, and it was just about mine and Brent’s personal experiences. But then, my favourite song to listen to is ‘The Ghost’, we’ve never played it live, but I love it, and ‘I’ll Follow You’ is probably another one of my favourites. I love ‘I’ll Follow You’.
I’ll agree with that! Sorry to digress, but I cant help but notice your trainers (Black Nike things with pinky purple laces…), and I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that you have hundreds of them… why?
Well this is going to sound weird. It’s not about shoes for me, it didn’t start that way. It’s more about Michael Jordan. I just love Michael Jordan. Always one of my hereos growing up. His quotes and the things he would say. Such a driven guy, and I’m such a driven guy. It was all about Michael Jordan.
I remember the highlights of my life, it was all Michael Jordan… that’s probably why, and then I just got into the fashion side of it. You know, I’ve never been addicted to drugs or anything. I’ve never even done a drug in my life… I get addicted to shit! (laughing) You know what I mean, I get addicted to buying and shit. You know I’ve come in and out of that.
Fair play to you, if you can do it.
Yeah yeah, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do that. I’ve probably got 200 to 250 pairs of shoes.
And how many have you brought with you for the tour?
Two (laughing) it’s only a short tour! I’ve packed a really small bag. I’ve got these, and I was with Nikki Sixx last week and I bought some Converse. He talked me into buying Converse. I haven’t worn Converse in, like forever… and I have another pair of Jordans like these that I wear on stage.
Any other essentials you bring on tour with you, anything you can’t do without?
Laptop, always. I used to bring Gatorade from the States ‘cos it tastes different over here! I used to bring Skittles from the States ‘cos they taste different too. You guys, your Skittles taste like medicine (laughing). I don’t know if you know this!
Nope, can’t say I do. Never had American Skittles.
I don’t know if they are better or worse. I just know that over here they taste really different. But, Laptop, phone charger… I’m pretty simple, although, I’m addicted to Breaking Bad now. I jumped on that train, so I’m deep into that right now.
That’s what gets you through the tour then. We’ve touched on it earlier, about buying shit and what have you… You’ve got a pretty extensive guitar collection.
Oh yeah! (big smiles)
OK, so with that, if your house was burning down, and you could only save one of them, which would it be?
Oh man, it’d be a toss up. I’ve got a 1954 Stratocaster. It’s one of the first 100 Strats ever made. The serial number is 000076. So it’s the 76th Strat ever made in history. And then I have a 1958 sunburst Les Paul. So fire would have to be right on my ass for me to have to pick between one of those (laughing). I don’t have that many Les Paul’s though.
Do you use them for recording, or are they just collectors items?
Oh, both. The ’58 I used on “Amaryllis”, and I do a lot of tracking stuff for other bands. You know like just come in and play a solo or whatever. That’s when I get to use a lot of stuff. I only use PRS on stage.
Of course, I mean you have your own signature.
I know, that shit blows my mind!
How does it work with a signature guitar? Is it like an album, you know, you make the album, someone else produces it, but you get money back from it. Do you get royalties from the guitars?
Yeah oh yeah…
So, if I went into my local PRS dealer, bought a Zach Myers signature, you’d get a chunk of that?
Yeah, yeah… well not a chunk (laughing) small chunk. They make the money, but yeah me and Mark (Tremonti), all those guys, we have the same deal. We all make the same amount of money.
Do you and Mark ever play off against each other? You know… my signature model has three humbuckers… yours doesn’t, kind of thing?
Aww no… I mean he’s got an American one and I don’t. But my new one comes out in January, it’s pretty awesome, and I’ll be playing it tonight.
What’s special about it?
I can’t say, I can’t tell you (laughing). I’m not even supposed to tell you that it’s coming out in January. I’m now really hoping that this interview doesnt come out now until like the middle of next year. I’m playing the new one tonight though, it’ll come out at NAMM, and it’s awesome.
Well you say you’ve been tracking for other bands, you have your finger’s in a load of pies. What’s this about you having your own management company?
Aw man, I don’t do that anymore. That was like a Wikipedia thing. People can write whatever they want on there. I was managing a friends band, just to help them out. I mean Shinedown‘s done well, I’ve done well, I’ve made good contacts. So that’s why I kind of did that. I don’t do that anymore. Shinedown takes up a lot of time, and I am getting married next year.
Thank you, so I don’t really have time to manage another band or anything. You know I gotta deal with these three guys (laughing), I don’t want to have to deal with any others!
Well, one other thing I wanted to talk to you about was the acoustic covers… what’s happening, and what’s the status with that?
We are trying to figure it out right now. It should be all cleared up. At first it was going to come out, and it was going to be no problem. We were going to do it, film it, release it. We were going to film it really cheaply, but then we got Darren Doane, the guy who directs all our videos to do it, so it looks really cool, sounds really cool, and then we wanted to release it as an album too. That’s when you get into publishing, you have to get permission, and two of the artists were like “we don’t like anyone covering our songs”.. I’m not going to say who, Bon Jovi (laughing), and so that was kind of that. It’s going to come out. It will be out soon.
Is it going to come out as an album?
Yeah, both, and I think you’ll be able to like buy the videos on iTunes too, but they’ll definitely be on YouTube too.
OK, was it fun to do?
Oh yeah, it was great, it was so much fun. Brent‘s such a good singer. I love hearing him sing songs that aren’t ours. I mean we did it in two days. Five songs a day, super simple. I mean ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica took three takes. Everything else was like one take or two takes. We did this version of ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins. We didn’t rehearse it. I just kind of started playing, and he started singing it, and just became this kind of special moment. All the lights in the studio are off, so it’s a really dark video , but it’s really really cool.
Can’t wait to see and hear it all. So finally, festivals…
We didn’t do last year. We did the year before.
Would you like to come back… especially considering you are getting married?
Oh yeah, I mean that’s just going to take a month off and then I’ll be back. That’s August. I mean I’d love to. I’d like to see us on Download next year. I’d like to see us on some other festivals. We haven’t done a lot of UK festivals, just Download… what other ones are there? We’re not heavy enough for Bloodstock! I’d love to do Download again though.
We always have the discussions though about headliners. There seems to be no one really coming through, we have the same guys over and over. Metallica, Iron Maiden… do you think it’s time for us to move on to the next level?
I think so, but I understand where they are coming from. With that magnitude, you need to have a Metallica. To end the show, you need to have an AC/DC . You need to have all these things. I mean we’ve never played the main stage at Download. We played later in the day last time, I mean it was great we had so much fun. It was amazing, but, yeah, I’d love to play the main stage next year. I think we should.
Well, let’s make it happen. Listen, I’ll let you get off, thank you so much for your time, and hopefully let’s catch up next year at Download.
No problem, thank you, and let’s see you there.
Photography courtesy of Sabrina Ramdoyal