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2012 Artist Survey: Zammuto

Nick Zammuto Reflects on the Last Year

Jan 10, 2013 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar‘s 10th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2012.

Pick up the print version of the Best of 2012 issue to read responses from the following artists: Alt-J, Fred Armisen, Bear in Heaven, Camera Obscura, Chad Valley, Charli XCX, Choir of Young Believers, Clinic, CSS, Dan Deacon, Desaparecidos, Django Django, Efterklang, Egyptian Hip Hop, El Perro Del Mar, Grimes, Halls, Richard Hawley, Hercules and Love Affair, Ladytron, Liars, Lord Huron, Lower Dens, Mount Eerie, My Morning Jacket, The Mynabirds, The New Pornographers, of Montreal, Peaking Lights, Porcelain Raft, Laetitia Sadier, and Tame Impala.

Then download the digital version of the Best of 2012 issue to read all those surveys, as well as bonus responses from the following artists: !!!, Clare and the Reasons, Codeine, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Esben and the Witch, The Fresh & Onlys, Get People, Islands, Kwes, Lost in the Trees, NZCA/LINES, OFF!, Plants and Animals, Still Corners, Violens, Xiu Xiu, Young Dreams, and Zambri.

We are also posting additional web-exclusive artist survey interviews to the website. Here are responses from Nick Zammuto of Zammuto (and formerly of The Books).

Top 10 Albums Listened to in 2012

I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t listened to much new music this year, since all of my leisure time is spent with my three sons (all under the age of six). Here’s what we listened to at home and on family trips:

Radiohead: In Rainbows-My middle son likes the song “Weird Fishes.”

The Police: Message in a Box-Their favorite is Stewart Copeland’s song “On Any Other Day.” My wife only allows them to listen to The Police one hour per day.

Gillian Welch: Time (The Revelator)-They sleep, we weep. “I Dream a Highway” is my personal favorite.

Elizabeth Mitchell: You Are My Little Bird-These are timeless songs, great for any age.

Paul Simon: The Essential Paul Simon-Such great production throughout his career. My boys love “Mother and Child Reunion.” The band has been doing a cover of “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

Michael Jackson: Thriller-This has been a favorite since Halloween. The video gave them all nightmares.

Bee Gees: Number Ones-My oldest boy is a spaz like me, but my middle son can move. He does “Pass the Dishes,” the “Lawnmower,” and a host of other disco moves based on ordinary household chores.

Tom Petty: Full Moon Fever-Not sure why, but prepubescent boys love this record.

Daft Punk: Homework-A proper introduction to dance music and vocoders. Good for Lego time.

The National: Alligator-My kids really like alligators, although it’s strange to see a five-year-old sing along to those lyrics.

What was the highlight of 2012 for either you personally or for the band?
We played touch football against Explosions in the Sky on the street in front of their house in Midland, Texasand won. It turns out they suck at football.

What was the low point of 2012 for you?

The hardest part was saying goodbye to my first band, The Books. We had a good 10-year run, so sad it had to end.

What are your hopes and plans for 2013?
I can’t wait to get back in the studio. After touring for most of the year, I’m ready to write.

To what extent did the poor world economy affect your ability to make a reasonable living as an artist in 2012?
There are more touring bands than ever. It seems there’s always several good shows in any city on any night. I wish the pie was bigger for us all.

What are your thoughts on the 2012 U.S. presidential election?
We played a show in Vancouver, BC that night. It was amazing to see it from that perspective. I heard that if the rest of the world could vote, it would have been Obama by 80 points rather than two.

Steve Albini criticized Amanda Palmer for recruiting musicians to play in her backing band for free. Was he right to do this and was Palmer right to change her mind and pay her musicians?
That’s a tough one. No one was being forced to play for free. It’s hard to make blanket statements about people’s motivations to play music and what constitutes reciprocity in creative situations.

What pop culture phenomenon from 2012 would you most like to erase from your memory?
Cell phone usage during shows.

Were you affected by Hurricane Sandy? Do you think that climate change was partly responsible for the hurricane?
Yes, many friends and colleagues were affected in NYC. And last year Irene nearly washed our town away here in Vermont. As Alan Watts said, “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what: that is what our knowledge amounts to.” Unpredictability is on the rise.

Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
I had the chance to meet an Army photographer, who essentially carried a camera instead of a gun on missions in Afghanistan, for internal military purposes. We corresponded while I was working on the new record, and finally got to see him and his family at a show in D.C.

What were some of the rejected names for your band?

Sexsexful, Guys and Balls, Gay Karate.

Tell us about your first kiss.
I had my first kiss at the top of a pine tree with a girl who had chronic hiccups. She went on to be a cognitive scientist.

Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Explain.
We’ve got a shot at it. We live at the top of a mountain in rural Vermont. I’m pretty good with a chainsaw.

What artist or band deserves far more acclaim than what he/she/they are currently receiving?
Ursula Bogner should be a household name. She was an amateur synth enthusiast from Germany in the ‘70s who made some of the most beguiling music I’ve ever heard.

What most scares you about getting old?

What is the first thing you do when you get home from being on tour?
First I hug my wife and thank her for being amazing, and then I build a new Lego set with my sons.

Which song, other than one of your own, most tends to get stuck in your head?
“Freeze Frame” by J. Geils Band.


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