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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Arts & Music

Grohl helps Zac Brown Band get on a roll before Tampa concert


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The Zac Brown Band’s sonic palette is widening again. The contemporary country act, which will perform Thursday and May 30 at the MidFlorida Amphitheatre, added bluegrass, Caribbean and reggae to its amalgam of sounds over recent years.

The adventurous band’s musical spectrum is growing once more. The Zac Brown Band is rocking out, courtesy of its desire to craft visceral cuts and a chance meeting with the guru of all that is heavy, Dave Grohl, who leads the Foo Fighters.

“(Vocalist-guitarist) Zac (Brown) wanted to make some songs that are more aggressive,” multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook said during a phone call from Nashville. “Me and the rest of the band are completely down with that. But the kicker is that Zac ran into Dave Grohl at a store in Hollywood and went up to him and talked about what he wanted to do. Dave signed on to produce us even though he never heard our music before. The sessions with Dave were awesome. He just completely gets it.”

Cook admits that he was geeking out initially while the was band was making “The Grohl Sessions: Volume 1” EP, available on iTunes.

“The first hour I was around Grohl, I simply couldn’t speak. It was like, ‘It’s Dave bleeping Grohl,” Cook said. “I was just out of my mind, but now we’re friends, and we hope to make more volumes with him.”

The constant risks the Zac Brown Band — which also includes fiddler Jimmy De Martini, multi-instrumentalist John Driskell, guitarist Coy Bowles, bassist Matt Mangano, drummer Chris Fryar and percussionist Daniel de los Reyes — takes is part of what makes the Georgia-based band one of the finest bands in country.

“I think you need to push the envelope,” Cook said. “You need to be the best you can be no matter what genre you’re in. I don’t mean to keep going back to Grohl, but he’s just that amazing. I saw him here last night at the Bluebird Cafe, and he was incredible doing the singer-songwriter thing. I’ve seen Sugarland, John Mayer and Shawn Mullins do the same thing and, well, Grohl is just on another level. We strive to be on that level.”

The Zac Brown Band has nothing to worry about since they’re one of the finest live bands on the circuit. Expect ZBB to showcase some of their Grohl produced rave-ups but also count on the hits as well.

“We switch up our set lists every night to keep it interesting to us and for our fans, who come out to see us on different nights,” Cook said. “But we have to do some hits.”

Indeed. ZBB has topped the country charts on 10 occasions. “So we’ll play the big ones, like ‘Chicken Fried’ and ‘Colder Weather’ every night,” Clay said. “You have to do that.”

ZBB is delivering those songs in much bigger venues this summer. Cook, who is a huge baseball fan, is thrilled that the band is headlining at a number of major league ballparks this summer.

“We’ve played the MLB parks with the Dave Matthews Band, but they were the headliner,” Cook said. “That was awesome, but now it’s even better because we’re the headliner now. That’s great and everything, but we also want to be the best we can be, like Dave Grohl.”

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