Let me first start out by saying that this was a fun interview for me. I love me some rock ‘n’ roll-country-soul and Coy Bowles, a guitarist from Zac Brown Band, served me ALL OF IT through his thick southern drawl and his pure love for music.
The wildly popular country band is touching down in Seattle for their Down the Rabbit Hole tour at Safeco Field this Friday, August 31 @ 7 p.m. and in preparation - we of course had to get on the horn with one of the guys.
Bowles, who was vacationing with his family in Charleston, had just put his daughter down for a nap before jumping on the phone with me to chat about the tour, the upcoming show in Seattle and his love for the music scene here.
“We had been hitting the road pretty hard, and we’ve had two weeks off," said Bowles. "So for me - the band is the best it ever sounds when we come off of a small break and hit it again. Everybody is super pumped up and it seems like there is magic in the air all over again.”
The band has been home with their families and kiddos for two weeks so when there is a show after some time off, it’s special to the guys. Lucky for us that special time is this Friday's at Safeco.
“It only happens two or three times a tour so if I had to say [what I’m most looking forward to] it would be that not only am I excited to be in Seattle because of it’s great arts scene and it’s cool vibe specific to the music that I like, but there’s this kind of odd lunar eclipse thing where the band comes back after time off and we just hit it," he said. "Everyone is refreshed.”
It's guaranteed that the band will be revived and ready to rock, but for Bowles in his teenage years, the grunge scene in Seattle was very formative musically.
“Seattle is near and dear to my heart. The music scene was probably the main reason why I played music," said Bowles. "That all happened at a time where I was very open and in my teenage years – finding myself and understanding what 'cool' was and what self-expression in music was."
Soundgarden was a “big one” in the realm of musical influence and later in his career, Zac Brown Band had the opportunity to collaborate with Seattle’s late musician Chris Cornell on "Heavy is the Head" on their Jeckyll & Hyde album. Pearl Jam was also a staple in Bowles home growing up.
“I think Pearl Jam was probably the one that hit the hardest for me personally," he said. "My mom was really into Pearl Jam [as well as] my uncle. My uncle took me to their shows when I was a kid.”
This isn’t the first time the ZBB has stopped their tour in Seattle, or Washington for that matter, having played the Gorge Amphitheater several times.
“The Gorge is amazing. It’s a beautiful place to stay," said Bowles. "We get there early in the morning and just hang out and look at the beauty. Then we get to go out and rock out to a crowd who has traveled quite a ways to be there and be apart of something like that.”
Bowles chuckles and shares with me a time at the Gorge when him and “Zac,” (I flipped when he referred to him as Zac, like THEY ARE ON FIRST NAME BASIS...duh, but still) went adventuring at the Gorge and got themselves into a poison ivy bush. Doesn't that make you love them even more?!
For the show this Friday, the band is making Safeco their home for the night, adding it to the growing list of baseball fields that the band has played and will be playing at across the country.
“The tour has been based around some of the baseball stadiums [around the country],"In theory, you’d think that this show would be big and not that intimate but there is something about baseball fields, something about the older ones that are more nostalgic that adds to [the intimacy] of the event.”
As for what to expect on the set list - the band doesn't even know yet.
“We don’t really make a set list until that night and then we just fill it out," he laughs. "That’s the fun part. It makes it so it doesn’t seem predictable. We’ve been trying to vary the set list this year between songs that people want to hear and splashing in some covers and also stretching out and letting the crowd see each member of the band do their thing as well.”
But never fear - you'll be definitely be hearing some of your favorites like "Chicken Fried," that turned 10 years old this year.
“Some people say, ‘Aren’t you tired of playing Chicken Fried?’ But I think that that song is just as powerful now as the first time we ever played it. I don't get burnt out on playing any of the old tunes."
At the end of the day for Bowles, it's all about the crowd and how the music makes them feel.
"I love playing songs that effect people in a cool way,” said Bowles.
Simple, sweet and all you could ever want from a country music show. Yeehaw.
Zac Brown Band will be bringing their Down the Rabbit Hole tour to Safeco Field this Friday, August 31 @ 7 p.m. Find tickets here.