The Bitter End is a musical landmark in New York. Many artists on their way up to stardom have played here. Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Patti Smith, Frank Zappa, even pop music's current 'It Girl', Lady Gaga.
But on November 12th, it was Zack Borer's turn. With its tables and chairs, intimate lighting, and being one of the best sounding small venues in New York, The Bitter End is a great place to show off one's talent. What does Zack bring to the table? "I try and make everything as groovy as possible. Nothing to boring", Zack said before the gig. "If you can't move a little bit there's no point, in my opinion."
As Zack starts his set he says the band's gonna "try to make this as funky as possible." Well... as much as a white guy with a fuzzy 'jewfro' can get, right? But, seeing and hearing is believing. The Zack Borer Band can be surprisingly funky. It's a testament to Zack's band mates who bring said funk and kick things to the next level. "We're five months into playing as a band, it's awesome." Zack said. "They're phenomenal, they make me look really, really good."
Zack's songwriting is solid. Lyrically catchy but not overly hooky. Lyrics like "You used to say when it got cold / That my eyes would be the same when I’d get old / And after everything I’m told I know that / Love can grab ahold and spit your soul to the end of the road" Lyrics that would not be out of place on an Aimee Mann record.It's not easy to label Zack's sound. While Zack describes his music as "Rock Pop with funk undertones", there's a array of influence. From Bob Dylan to Ben Harper. From R&B to Country.
And, as stated previously, the band is one tight unit. Bassist Andre Cleghorn (who plays a six-string bass predominately off sheet music) and Drummer Adam Jackson have a great chemistry while Lead Guitarist Craig Magnano jumps in occasionally with a jazz inspired guitar solo that fits well within the overall bluesy funky soulful vibe.
Zack states, "I really believe that there is a market for what I'm trying to do. I really believe that my songs are good enough and hopefully this band and I really think that the music is good enough and that's about getting into people. It's about trying to make people feel a part of something."
And it seems that Zack is succeeding at connecting with the audience. The place is packed and there are cute girls everywhere. Some are dancing, mouthing the words along with Zack as he sings. The crowd is into his brand of rock pop. And while there is some audience hold over from the show beforehand, make no mistake, they are all here for Zack.
When asked about his inspiration for his songwriting, Zack had this to say, "It comes from weird places and at weird times. I met a guy at the bar the other night... we started talking about art and and subjectivity of art, and he was very pretentious. And he was one of those people that was like 'Oh, what I like is the best' and I was thinking about it for 2 days... and I'm definitely gonna write a song about that.
"Something about that clicked and I when find myself thinking about something for two days it must mean something. And, why would this guy think that what he as to say is more important than what I have to say? Those are the things that inspire me. But then again I write songs about friends and ex-girlfriends and past experiences moving and all the crap that everyone writes about (laughs)."
Afterwards, Zack greeted his fans. Many he knew by name. He recalls meeting Ben Harper as a teenager and how Ben, who Zack considers his Idol, "was so awesome" and hung out with him and some friends for 25 minutes. Oh sure, at this early stage in the game, it's easy to be accessible. But he comes across as genuinely a nice guy. There are worse people than Ben Harper to emulate.
Zack is optimistic about his place in the music world. "No one writes my song. No one sings my song. Period. I hope people can find what I do relatable. I hope I'm relatable on stage to people. Because, I'm just a normal dude. Straight up, who didn't go to law school and decided to become a musician."
While some of Zack's music is available on iTunes, he's currently unsigned and itching to get his new band in the studio. Fortunately, Zack is optimistic about his music career as well as "trying to meet the right people. And trying to network and trying to and have somebody open some doors that might not be able to be opened for everybody else. That's how I approach it and I wake up everyday as positive as possible. And go at it full speed ahead... you know a good outlook."
To find out more about The Zack Borer Band, go to ZackBorer.com