In a little office of Seattle's Sit & Spin, drummer Zach Velmer gave me some of his time to chat about life, love and music before their final show of the week. On the previous night, Sound Tribe Sector 9 gave an incredible performance at Berbati's Pan in Portland, OR. They were so on it and created a frenzy of love and good vibrations enough for the entire state of Oregon. The musicians had come out to rock the house and 20 hours later, Zach was still glowing.
D: How do you think the week has been?
Z: I think it's been great. As Sector 9, the entity, the family, the Sound Tribe... I think we're on fire. On fire. It's pretty much just rolling over from the tour, the Colorado tour, the Denver shows... Elevating, elevating, elevating. And we all feel like that. Like, the shows have just been... wow. The shows have been off the hook. The fans have been beautiful. The shows have been packed. It's just... incredible.
D: Are you psyched to go back to Georgia?
Z: Yeah. Yeah, I am... No and yes. [laughs] You know? I'm excited about going home. I get to go see my mom...
Z: My pops, my bro. I haven't seen them in a while.
D: Since you've been in California, you guys have written like 14 new songs, right?
Z: Oh god no. We've probably written... Right now we play twelve of the new songs... 14... Yeah, probably 14 of the new songs. Yet, there's another... 10-20 that we can't play right now that were written but we're still working out.
D: When it all started out, it was just you and Dave [Murphy] and Hunter. And then it was...
Z: Phipps and then Jeffree. I feel like we've been together for 10 years, almost, you know? And it's only been 3 and a half. It's crazy.
D: Is that short?
Z: It feels long. But it feels good. And the growth is just... We sold out in Portland last night and we've played it like 4 times. The Arcata thing blew up, you know? I mean, are you kidding me? The people are coming. The people are sharing. The people are on it. The people want, you know? The people are wanting more. That's what I feel. And I feel like, they're getting it.
Kids are elevating on the level of the music and on the energy of the crowd. I mean, it's so crazy, because watching the crowd last night. At the beginning, it took a little bit for everybody to kind of get in it. But then everybody got in it and everybody was just smiling at each other and it was just, you know, different. It was good. You go to another show, and it's not that.
D: Another band, you mean.
Z: Yeah, exactly.
D: You go and you don't really take away anything from it at the end of the night.
Z: It's like, that was a great experience but... You know... Our intention is... We set our intentions in that... What we're trying to do is just keep truth. Keep truth of our intentions and share with these people. Make these people go home and take the inspiration and the love and the fun-ness (if that's a word) home and do their art. That's what we promote - Time Is Art. Once we get all these people doing their art, then it's just off the hook. Then it's just a carnival, a celebration of life - love in full effect. That's what it's all about.
D: You guys definitely inspire me, personally.
Z: You get to do what you... And it's a chain reaction. Because more and more, we get to do interviews. And before it was like, "I'm not doing an interview. Whatever. I don't feel like doing interviews." We get more and more interviews now and my interviews are just getting better and better. And really getting to know these people, these people interviewing us, and then turning it on them. Not trying to make them like me or like the band, if they've never even heard us, but to definitely influence them to know where we're coming from. And to flip it on them, and they're asking all these questions. And then, I'm like, look, we get to provide you. You like to write. You like to do your art. We get to work together and you get to do your art, as well as I. I just get to talk about it. How blessed am I, that I can say what I think about this, and what I think about that, and it gets printed. You know? That's amazing. Some people... That's not even their perspective. They have no idea what they're doing or anything. And they're like, oh wow... They never thought of it like that.
I feel like we have definitely turned some lights on.
Z: [laughing] You know what I'm saying? Definitely... and sparked some love into people. I'm all about it and I just want to keep doing it. You know? It's fun. It's fun for me, dude. I had... I had an incredible time last night.
D: You looked like it.
Z: The energy coming back... I feel like the people are open and it's like, they're channelling it, too. Letting it go through them and coming right back at us. You know?
D: I think the music has opened some hearts and some minds.
Z: It's just amazing that we have the opportunity to even indirectly... And we have to be careful, too, that we...
D: You gotta keep it true.
Z: I was doing an interview in Athens. And this guy, his name is Ballard, is "the" writer in Athens. Pretty much, the last time we played Athens, we finally got love. People finally got it. In the papers and in the whole realm of things.
D: Ok. Besides family.
Z: Yeah, and they got what was going on. Before it was just, yeah, these guys are pulling in numbers, they're doing great, but they're still just probably just Widespread or whatever. Finally, we got love and it was off the hook. This guy, is just "the" guy in Athens who writes all the reviews. I started talking to him and just really broke through. I talked to him for 2 and a half hours. Like what I was talking about before, doing these interviews, letting people know where we are coming from, sharing what it is. These guys are asking us questions and I'm like, in a way, turning it around on them.
So, he's asking me all these questions - he's in a band and all this stuff - and he's like, "You guys don't drink." No, we don't drink. And he says, "And I hear that you guys don't have arguments?" It was so foreign, so crazy for him to say that there's this incredible harmony on the road with us. The communication is right there and right in front of us and it's not dramatized or whatever. Of course, sometimes it is, we're human. But it was just so foreign that there's this harmony. And it's like, man, there's 12 people on the road and we all understand. I am amazed and incredibly blessed to be a part of it. That's pretty much what it came down to.
There is so much love in this organization that it is absolutely ridiculous. Everybody feels it and it's a reflection of everybody else, too. It's definitely put out there.
D: Well, you guys are very selfless. There's no egos on that stage or backstage, even. It's just, you know, friends loving each other.
D: You guys happen to be very talented musicians, too.
Z: [laughs] I was in Atlanta and I got to see this private party where Billy Martin played at this art showing. I got to see him and I was like, Oh my god, it's Billy Martin. I went to talk to him and it was just like, he was just a bro. We just hung out. And I'm realizing that, too, after the shows, I try to go out there. And just be open to share with people. Sometimes it's like, "Oh you're awesome, you're awesome." And I'm like, well, how am I awesome? Tell me something. How did you feel? "I like this song." Well, what did you like about it? People are like, "uh..." And then more people are being open and being like, "Oh. Wow. I never... No one... You know what I really..." And then they're opening up and being more like that.
D: And then they have something more to take home.
Z: Each of us kind of try to put that out there. Some nights I don't go out there. Some nights I can't - I'm worked.
Z: You know what I'm saying? [laughing] I'm worked!
D: I can't imagine why.
Z: Yeah. [laughs] It's all just about the experience. And all of the love... And the love... It's all about the love, dude.
D: I know.
Z: An acronym for life, me and my bro Max from SF who I've been working with musically - we've been doing a little project: Life, Love, and Full Effect. Because life is hard, man. And these people that come to try and get away from their day jobs or from whatever they do. I don't know that reality. It's hard. It's hard to live in this world. I'll be the first to admit - I know that. As much love to everyone, you know? It's like, we're just trying to do it. We're just trying to live and be... and just be. And it's hard, dude. Because of The Man, and The Government and everything...
D: You have to really want to be free.
Z: Yeah, you know? And to realize that and to find your path and that's hard, too. It's really hard. We're incredibly blessed... I'm 22 years old. I've been doing this for 3 years and I know. I know what I'm doing and I know what I want to do and I know what I want to put out there. I'm incredibly blessed and I know that.
D: I find myself feeling blessed from the music at the end of the night.
D: So you're feeling it and you're putting it out there.
Z: Yeah. Exactly. People are feeling it and people are talking about it and people want it. People are looking for it. People are tired of going to shows and the kids are raging, man. The band's raging, they're awesome. I've been there, you know what I'm saying? But it's like, you're on drugs, you're on this, but what do you get from it? You get an experience, 100%, but people are wanting more. People are wanting more than eating drugs and going to shows. I know that. I know that because people are telling me that. You know what I'm saying? [laughing] And more people are telling me that. They're finding it other ways. Through the light, through the energy, through themselves. Being open and traveling without moving.