Photograph Ryan Pettica
Zip-Zapp’s debut self titled album is best digested as an entire album. Every song swings in tempo and ambient tone, never burying the overall feel and theme of the album. The first note of the intro already sets this album apart from 90 percent of music today and 100 percent apart from anything heard in Cleveland.
Granted, Cleveland is having a small boom of psych-rock bands. A very welcome boom as it seems, but Zip-Zapp doesn’t let its pedal boards and synthesizers do the heavy lifting. The band’s music is the most guitar-forward psychedelia the city, and quite possibly the state, has to offer. This sound is probably why Zip-Zapp is loved by stoned millenials and 98.5 classic rock dads all the same.
Zip-Zapp hails from the far west – Vermillion and Sandusky. Bassist Travis Paluch describes the scene as nicely as he can.
“Unless you’re in a cover band, there’s nowhere to really play out there,” he explains. “So the metal bands go toward Toledo and the, well, not metal bands go to Cleveland.”
Paluch is one of two founding members of Zip-Zapp. Sam Daly, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, started writing and recording music with Paluch in 2016. The duo, plus a rotating cast of drummers – the band seems to have a Spinal Tap-esque past with drummers – and multi-instrumentalists, stayed in Paluch’s home studio to write and record the band’s first full-length album, only to later throw the whole thing in the garbage and start over.
“When we wrote ‘Ronald Raygun,’ we looked at each other and said, holy shit, we should sound like this all the time,” Daly laughs, explaining one reason why the band scrapped the first album.
Long gone are the days of scrounging up money and playing shitty shows, just to buy overpriced studio time in someone’s basement. Now, time is on the artist’s side as home recordings are sounding more professional by the minute – as long as you have someone who knows what they’re doing behind the board. Zip-Zapp is lucky to have Paluch engineering and co-producing along with Daly. The self-titled album is a masterpiece, hundreds of plays later.
How do you follow up a masterpiece? Release your second full-length album three months after your debut. At least, that’s what Zip-Zapp is doing. This November, Zip-Zapp is set to release another assumedly amazing album. This is the first time drummer Austin Harpel and guitarist Danie Monk get to hear themselves on the record. Paluch seems a bit overworked, but still very in love with the new album.
“We just added clarinets yesterday – all we need is sax and flutes and I’m ready to mix and master,” Daly says. “I’m almost embarrassed by the first album now, all these new songs are so good.”
There are two approaches to playing out in Cleveland. Approach one, play a very select few shows and let the hype build up around you, or approach two, play so much that you become a household name overnight. Choosing the latter demands a near-perfect product to create repeat customers. Zip-Zapp hasn’t said no to a show in four months. The band basically plays every weekend. Audiences are growing at every show, as Zip-Zapp has secured its rightful spot in Cleveland’s relatively new, yet amazing psych-rock scene.
Listen to Zip-Zapp for yourself on Spotify or Bandcamp, and follow zipzapp_psych on Instagram.