Making Experimental Music, Living Off the Land: An Interview with The Books' Nick Zammuto

Nick Zammuto, half of the late great Books, has hit the sweet spot: An innovative musician who tours the country with his eponymous band, he returns to a home base off the grid in southwestern Vermont where he grows stuff, raises three kids, and chops a lot of wood. I like narratives like his: rather than the genius artist who can't seem to maintain relationships, he stays inventive (literally: his inventions include smoke-ring machines and vibrating lasers) while being a dad, husband, and homemaker. In advance of an appearance by Zammuto at the Walker Art Center next month, my friend and coworker Doug Benidt interviewed Nick, about all these ideas, from homesteading to woodshedding (in both senses: his recording studio is in a converted tractor shed).

A snippet on his thinking about living off the grid while making music in a digital age:
I’ve always been drawn to music that sounds like it’s moving backwards and forwards at the same time. I think my obsession with polyrhythms stems from this need to reconcile elements of life that move at vastly different rates. Not to be too grandiose about it, but our collective future seems to hinge on finding a balance between the world we create with technology and the natural world we evolved from. I think music is a great way to investigate the more spiritual side of this dilemma. We try to find the best of both worlds, and imagine ways they can coexist.
Zammuto, pictured above, sort of, in a self-portrait outside his studio/woodshed, plays the Walker Nov. 10, 2012. Read the full interview or listen to his new album.


Mark Gisleson said...

Thanks for this. The Books are absolutely one of the most innovative and intellectually interesting bands of the last decade, and deserve much, much more attention.

naz said...

good blog