19 Year Old Zach Waters,
Bringing Classic Rock
& Soulful Originals to Music
"I was 17 and I opened for Dokken in Sacramento.... 1100 people there and I remember feeling this huge adrenaline rush. When they turned on the house lights, and I saw the crowd, my heart stopped for a second!"
Who do you think of when you hear the words "blues rock?" There's a lot of great blues rock guitarists out there but only a few who really stand out. Maybe you've heard of a few of them; Eric Clapton, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Johnny Lang, Derek Trucks, Joe Bonamassa, Chantel McGregor, Danny Bryant? If you consider yourself any kind of guitar aficionado, one or all of these names probably ring a bell, or a power chord or two.
Well, start thinking about adding another name to this list; Zach Waters.
Born and raised in Roseville, California, not far from Sacramento, this young guitar phenom is ready to make some big-time musical waves of his own. (Remember, that's Zach with an "H"!)
by: Kreig Marks May 2, 2019
TRR: Hey, Zach. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
ZW: Thanks for having me.
TRR: You're welcome. Let's get this started. You’re only 19 but play the guitar like someone who’s been attached to the instrument since he was in diapers. When did you first get interested in the guitar and what got you interested?
ZW: I first became interested in the guitar when I was 10 years old. We always had a guitar around the house and my dad used to play these 12 bar blues shuffles. When I turned 8 I asked for a drum kit, and found that I was much more attracted to the guitar after 2 years of drumming.
TRR: Do you feel like you found the guitar, or the guitar found you?
ZW: I feel like the guitar found me, because it has always been in my life and has always been available to me, even before I had a desire to play. My first guitar was a Fender Acoustic.
TRR: Is it still hanging around the house?
ZW: Yes! I will keep that guitar for the rest of my life, I have it in its original case my pops bought with the guitar.
TRR: Your dad seems to be your biggest fan. Would you agree with that?
ZW: Oh yeah, definitely. It means the world to me to have someone in my corner. It can be hard sometimes to keep positive in an industry that is so particular and difficult to navigate through. It makes it easier when you have people who have your back and support you.
TRR: With your playing, are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
ZW: A little bit of both. I took guitar lessons for about 8 months to a year, and then I stopped taking lessons. From that point on I was mostly self-taught, using Youtube videos and listening to CDs.
TRR: I can hear in your sound how you are influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, Clapton, Jimmy Page and probably many others. Who do you really look at as your inspiration?
ZW: I really look to Jimi Hendrix as my Inspiration. He truly reinvented the electric guitar, and the sounds that a guitarist can create on it. He also comes from a time of adversity and new beginnings. His desire and ability during tough times, really means a lot for someone like me who is trying to make it.
TRR: That is true inspiration. Tell me about the first time you performed in front of a live audience. What was it like for you?
ZW: The first time I played in front of an audience I was 10 years old playing a recital. I remember I played “Running Down a Dream” by Tom Petty. I just remember having a blast on stage, and literally being upset when we had to get off stage.
TRR: What is your most memorable show that you’ve done so far?
ZW: Probably my first big club show. I was 17 and I opened for Dokken in Sacramento. There was like 1100 people there, and I remember feeling this huge adrenaline rush. When they turned on the house lights and I saw the crowd, my heart stopped for a second!
TRR: That's pretty cool. I wonder what the rest of your friends were doing when they were 17? When did you know that this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
ZW: I always knew that I wanted to be a performer to some degree, but I didn’t truly get serious about having a music career until I was 16 years old.
TRR: That's a pretty young age to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Most people don't figure that out until they're in college, even then, many have no clue. So, congratulations on finding yourself at such a young age.
TRR: In the 90’s, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang were a couple of the young guys who brought Blues Rock back to the mainstream. It seems to be making its way back again with path pavers like Bonamassa and Joanne Shaw Taylor. What is Zach Waters going to do to become a household name?
ZW: I definitely need to get on some bigger tours as an opener. I think expanding my audience will help me become a more recognizable act.
TRR: I think you're headed in that direction. Tell me about your songwriting. How does it start with you?
ZW: My songwriting comes from a place of reflection and experiences that I go through. Usually the music comes first, and lyrics come after I can really decipher what mood the music is creating.
TRR: Your song "Blue Eyes," did you write that on your own? It’s very mature for someone who’s only 19. Great job!
ZW: Thank you very much, and yes, that is a song I wrote my senior year of high school. I wrote it after my first breakup.
TRR: You wrote the song about the ex-girlfriend? Did she ever hear it?
ZW: As far as I know, she never heard it. I have no idea where she even is. (laughing)
TRR: Do you have any endorsements yet?
ZW: Yes, and always looking for more! As of 2019, I am endorsed by Tantris Picks, Thimble Guitar Slides, and Ernie Ball Music Man, as I am a member of Robert Knights’ “Brotherhood of the Guitar."
TRR: Congratulations on all of that. Endorsements aren't easy to get. Tell me about your gear. What are you playing on stage and what are you running it through?
ZW: Right now, I have been playing my 2011 Gibson SG Standard through a Blackstar HT-20 watt tube head, combined with a Marshall 1960A vintage cabinet. I also bring with me my Gibson Les Paul Goldtop and a white Fender Strat with Lace Sensor pickups. I also run a medium-sized effects board, with flanger, overdrives, delays, phasers, and a pitch shifter. Oh, and a talkbox.
TRR: To the novice, that sounds like a lot of gear. It's actually a nice, simple set up. You get some nice tone out of that setup.
ZW: Thank you.
TRR: You're welcome. When can we expect to see you in South Florida? There are quite a few venues that would be a great fit for you here.
ZW: Hopefully within the next year or so! I can’t wait to start touring the east side of the country one day.
TRR: What are your goals for the rest of this year?
ZW: For this year, I hope to release a single with a music video, and sign with a manager. As well as play 80+ shows this year.
TRR: 80 shows? That's a lot of shows! What are your goals for the next 5 years?
ZW: My goal for the next 5 years is to sign with a major label, and to hopefully put out some albums and tour extensively. It is my dream to win a Grammy award for best rock album one day.
TRR: Those are some nice goals. We'll keep an eye out to watch it all happen. Zach, good luck with everything you've got planned and keep putting out great music.
ZW: Thank you, Kreig.
For further information about Zach Waters,
check him out at https://thezachwatersband.com