Nick Zammuto immediately raves about the Radiohead concert he'd just seen the night before after calling for an interview. "It was my first time ever seeing them; I'm still kind of riding high from that. It was amazing," he says. His newest band, Zammuto is, like Radiohead, currently also on hitting the road. It's starting its second run with postrockers Explosions in the Sky. "It was a blast," Zammuto says of being on the road with EITS. "They're just the nicest guys in the world." The audiences loved them, they were helpful to Zammuto, and apparently everyone spent the whole time in a good mood.
The even got some serious bro time with the guys too. "They invited us to their hometown of Midland, Texas, and they made us this beautiful home-cooked meal," Zammuto recalls. It was a chance for them to be friends in some natural lighting. "We got to play football with them out in front of their house. It was just one of those classic moments: This is what a tour should be like."
Though a seasoned musician, Zammuto is now on his own as a starting act after many years making music with the Books. "It's been a difficult transition, but right now, I feel like it's all coming together. It's starting to really jell," he says. Though they're still just starting out, he feels they've grown more solid. Also, this new act offers "much more of a rock show than the Books every played. The Books were more of a museum piece, kind of quiet, meditative music. This jumps off the stage much more." They're set with all of the appropriate rock instruments, and they use all of their energy. The band includes Nick's brother Mikey on bass, Gene Back on keys and guitar, and drummer Sean Dixon.
"Because the Books started out as a studio project," Zammuto says, "we didn't start touring until we had an audience already." Zammuto had never been an opening act and "properly" paid his dues as a performer until now. "Being the opening band has been a great experience, because when we go out onstage, nobody has ever heard of us. Maybe a handful of people are there to see us, but really, we're playing to an audience that has no idea what's about to happen. I love being in that position, actually, because I have a chance to surprise people."
The show also has a multimedia component. Zammuto makes videos to go along with the show, "to make a rock audience laugh," he says. "Hopefully not embarrassing but in a genuine way." He's not trying to be gimmicky but likes the crossover between the audio and the visual arts. One of the videos shows finger skateboarding; another is based on home videos of himself and Mikey. He points out, "Everybody sees themselves in these videos." Another has stock photos of people experiencing back pain. Apparently, there's "always a great need for images of people with back pain." He takes them in silhouette and places them against club lights. Makes it look like they're dancing. The band closes with The Greatest Autoharp Solo of All Time, a reimagining of an instructional video of an instrument that reminds Zammuto of A Mighty Wind. Cutting it up, Zammuto makes it almost look punk, calling it "this sort of prog-rock thing."
Zummuto lives in Vermont with his wife and three kids. "We love it here," he says, calling it a "perfect place to raise kids." Though two of the band's members live in New York City, they often come up to Zammuto's place to rehearse, record, mix, and master in his home studio. "I can do most everything from home, by design," he relates. Though the musician has never been to South Florida, others have told him, "People who make the effort to go all the way down to Miami, the audiences are just very appreciative." Let's hope that's true this time. Not that Nick Zammuto sounds like he needs the enthusiasm, but it seems like he deserves it.
Zammuto released a self-titled LP in April, and though the band will be announcing headlining shows soon, Australian band Gaultier has invited it on a September tour.