Posted by Editorial / Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Ed Zigo never thought much of his music career until coming home from school one summer. Even then, it would’ve been hard to convince the Westmain drummer–who last year helped produce the group’s debut album, “Glamour Fades”–that his hobby would become much more than that. Come to Leesburg’s Tally Ho this Saturday, Dec. 7 to see why D.C. music critics have given this group the nod. From a fully self-funded album to the Vietnam veteran who donated his American flag pants to the cause, here’s what Ed added about his time with this truly unique local band.
So you’re playing the Tally Ho this Saturday with Fastball.
Fastball was one of those bands that was pretty much everywhere in the late nineties early 2000s, so it’s weird thinking back, seeing those videos on MTV when you were a kid and now we’re playing with them. So we’re really excited for the opportunity.
Westmain is considered “authentic D.C.” Tell me a little about your history as a group and your connection with the area.
So Tommy, our lead singer, and myself are from Northern Virginia. Tommy grew up in Manassas and I grew up in the Oakton area of Fairfax…when we were home from summer break one year we were at a bar in Fairfax called Auld Shebeen. He was actually playing a solo set and I was removed from playing in a band you know, because of college—I had kind of put it down. And when I saw him I was blown away, so I went up to him during one of his breaks and said “I haven’t played in a while, I don’t know if you have a band, but I definitely think we could do something pretty cool.” A good friend of his down at Radford, our guitar player Paul, played with him a lot and they did gigs down there a little bit. Paul is from the Middletown/Strasburg area out towards Winchester…so Tommy came over a few weeks later and it was just instant—we were like “This is so much fun.” The next time we were home Tommy brought Paul, who was playing bass for us at the time. We eventually booked a gig at TT Reynolds in Fairfax. It’s no longer around, but that place was the hub of Fairfax local music. So we booked a gig there. I had no intentions of playing music outside of college and then one thing led to another and here we are, years later, still doing it. And it’s still fun—if anything it’s more fun than it’s ever been. We’re like brothers. It’s been a long strange trip but we’re really happy with where we are.
Critics have reiterated that your sound is a blend of blues, funk, classic rock, pop, Americana and even funk. Where do all these influences come from?
You know it’s funny, that’s one of our most loathed questions, who do you guys sound like or what kind of genre are you. And we’ve never had a good answer to that, to be honest with you. We do all sorts of things, we’re all products of our musical upbringings. To put it all in a nutshell, Seth and Paul come from a jazz-based/blues background where they were in jazz band and classically-trained. Seth actually went to Berkely up in Boston, college of music, so they’re all chops guys. They know jazz and the Xs and Os of music. Tommy and I are a little more unorthodox. I was in a punk-rock band in high school and tommy was always into the more singer-songwriter type stuff. So that’s a reason we’ve been able to sustain a good, loyal following and why people like our music—it’s because those different elements all came together when we started collectively writing. Sometimes that’s a recipe for disaster, but in our situation it worked perfectly…it also keeps things really fresh for us because we don’t have any limitations or boundaries. Never once in the creative process have we been like “No that’s not our sound” or “No that’s not working for us, that breaks the rules.” The sky’s the limit for us and we somehow pull it off.
When did you first get together?
The three of us—Paul, Tommy and I—played in a different band under another name. We played kind of sporadically when we came home from school, and the concept was original music that we would have fun playing. We’d have friends and family come out but it wasn’t really that serious. Things didn’t get really serious until Seth came in. He came from a pretty well-known band in the area called Natural Born Easy, an awesome southern-rock, blues-based band. So he pushed us…that was around 2009 when we came together, changed the band name to Westmain and that’s when we look at the true beginning of the current band as it is.
So you didn’t record right away. Any reason for the wait?
It took us a while to really grasp the concept of “We’re going to do this and take it seriously and try to do something beyond what our original expectations were.” So when Seth joined the band, that was the original start, the kick in the butt…we started recording in 2010, and the reason it took so long is because we were really hell-bent on funding the entire record ourselves by gigging—and that was not easy. As you may know, records are really expensive to make, and you have the birth of Kickstarter and all that stuff. But we were really determined—“If we’re going to make a record, we’re going to earn it.” For us, it was going out to play four-hour bar gigs in the middle of nowhere, trying to make 400 bucks just to get a day in the studio. That was a pretty trying time because we weren’t really playing a lot of our own music. Tha’ts why I would say the first record took a little longer to make, because not only were we coming into our own, we were trying to do everything ourselves. And to be honest, all of us are beyond thankful for that, because we’re a completely different band now even since the record came out…we look at it like “Man, that was two years of nonstop work and grinding and doing things just to get to where we are now.” So it’s definitely been a slow process, but it’s a process that’s made us extremely humble and thankful for every good thing that’s now happening.
The album was completely self-funded?
Yeah, we funded that record from start to finish ourselves. Yeah. Like I said…we’re talking Skynyrd covers, the whole “Freebird” shebang. But we did it with the bigger picture in mind. We knew this going in. We told ourselves the highest paying gigs are obviously the jukebox bar gigs where you play covers and they pay you a flat rate. So we knew going into it that it was not going to be easy and that it was going to be strenuous and a lot of sacrificed weekends and weeknights…it’s made us a much stronger band, not only as musicians but as friends. As cheesy as it sounds, we’re literally family. We’ve lived together for years, we’re brothers and were all in this together. None of us has any had any doubt since we started.
Who wears the awesome American flag pants?
So that’s our lead guitar player, Paul Davis. So the story behind those pants—and it’s really awesome. Paul’s girlfriend, her father is a Vietnam veteran, and when Paul and her first started dating she invited her parents down from New York to come to a show. Her dad basically went up to Paul and said, “I’ve got something for you that I think you’re gonna like.” And a few weeks later in the mail showed up these old school American flag pants. From our perspective it is meant to be patriotic—there’s been some questions, but the story behind it couldn’t be more patriotic, and we look at ourselves as a perfect example of an all-American band. So he started wearing those pants and it just became a staple of our live show. We’ll play shows where he won’t wear them and people will flip out, be like “Where are the pants!?” So now he’s kind of dug his own grave on those. He’s got to wear them.
Get your tickets now for Saturday’s show—and look out for the brand new, custom-tailored American flag pants when you’re there!
Saturday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m.—doors at 7 p.m.
Tally Ho, Leesburg
Tags: all-American, all-American band, all-American music, American flag, American flag pants, Americana, Anthony Baracat, Auld Shebeen, Berkely, Berkely College of Music, blues, D.C., Ed Zigo, Entertainment, Fairfax, Fastball, Freebird, funk, game plan, Glamour Fades, highway robbery, It's Alright, jazz, Kickstarter, leesburg, live music, local, local band, local music, Loudoun County, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Manassas, Middletown, MTV, Music, Natural Born Easy, Northern Virginia, Northern Virginia entertainment, Northern Virginia Magazine, NoVA, NoVA entertainment, nova magazine, Oakton, Paul Davis, pop, Q&A, rock, rock & roll, self-funded album, Seth Morrissey, Sirens, Strasburg, Tally Ho, Tommy Rothman, TT Reynolds, Vietnam veteran, Westmain