Zach Pietrini is a singer-songwriter whose music balances vulnerability and friendliness with ease. Primarily fronting the Zach Pietrini Band, the artist collaborated with McKenna Bray this past year on “The Modern Love EP.” Before that, his last release was a 2019 EP titled “Nashville.”
ME: To start, how did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?
ZACH: I got involved through Ben Harold…he was working for them at the time and is also one of the musicians on the roster. He was working on trying to open up some venue partnerships, and he was like “hey dude, you better check this out.” It sounded great.
ME: Nice. Shoutout to Benny.
ME: So you just released this “Modern Love EP” with McKenna Bray, and you toured this fall. I know we talked for Breaking and Entering about it but for this record, what do you have to say about what went into this EP and how your partnership with McKenna Bray happened?
ZACH: Yeah, so McKenna and I met through a mutual friend; she’s from Memphis and I met her over the phone like two or three years ago now. We just chatted for a really long time one day in the summer and she just wanted to pick my brain about touring and I wanted to pick her brain about the South and getting more established down there. After that conversation we kind of decided that we’d go on tour together and that was right before the shut down, so we did, and we got a couple dates into our tour until everything shut down. We had all this time during lockdown to write a bunch of songs together and probably ended up finishing about fifteen. We only recorded five of them because of time and budget, and then we were going to do this thing where it’d be two separate bands touring but then it ended up being the two of us touring as one entity. It was really great; it was nice to share the load of being an independent artist. That’s probably one of the hardest things about all of this; every time you do a release it’s just kicking the machine back into high gear again so having a second set of hands to do some of the heavy lifting was great. Then just being out there on the road, having somebody there who’s got your back and is equally as invested was really good.
ME: Right on, awesome! Where’d the tour take you?
ZACH: We were in the Midwest and the South and we did 24 dates in about 30 days, so it was pretty intense. We kind of did it as a big Figure 8 and kicked it off in Memphis, did a massive circle all the way south and southeast, then back up through Texas and Kansas City area. Then we did a big loop through Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
ME: Dope. Probably a lot of cornfields you drove through.
ZACH: (laughs) Dude, I can’t even tell you. Illinois is so long and we saw a lot of corn.
ME: Yeah, you don’t really get away from that.
ZACH: Not in the Midwest.
ME: What’s your favorite thing about winter?
ZACH: We love Christmas. We actually still have all of our Christmas decorations up.
ME: My parents still have their tree up too.
ZACH: Love it, yeah. We don’t take them down until like closer to February and we start it like two weeks before Thanksgiving. Winter is very magical for Christmas but other than that I struggle with winter (laughs).
ME: I do too. I’m glad that you have that holiday spirit intact because without it winter is very grueling.
ME: So you have been involved with Twisted Path Distillery; are you still doing that?
ZACH: Very loosely. We had to take a break from shows and then especially with Omicron…we usually do a New Year’s Eve thing every year and we had to cancel that, so right now I’m still technically on staff but we’re not actively doing shows or anything like that.
ME: I do enjoy it there. I’ve only seen like one actual show there but it’s a good vibe. What’s your favorite of their offerings?
ZACH: Well I’ll say two things. As far as people who are making spirits, hands down in Wisconsin I think that they’re the best. That’s actually how I got involved with them, because I like their stuff so much. Brian the owner just did a really good job figuring out how to do what he wanted to do before they even opened. The booze is just fantastic and it’s also fairly priced. They’re hyper-creative there, where they’ll literally make a small batch of spirits just for a cocktail, and I don’t know a ton of places that are doing that. They’ll use their line in their drinks but they won’t make something specifically for a drink. They’ve got this one that’s called “This Drink is Bananas” and it’s like drinking a fruit smoothie; you can’t even tell it’s alcoholic…very dangerous and delicious.
ME: I’ve got to try that next time. I’ll let you know when I do.
ME: My last question is, what are you working on, now that tour’s over?
ZACH: I’ve got a few things kicking around. I’m doing some writing for a collection of music for licensing as well as for a film that I’m working on a song for. I produced my friend Paige Hargrove’s record and it’s really great; it’ll be coming out this year so hopefully I’ll get to have the distinct pleasure of getting to play drums in her band, which I love. I also did a couple of songs with the Milwaukee collective VUCA and one of those will be coming out this year as well. My band’s record will be out in October and I’m trying to figure out better ways to connect with fans so I’m in the pre-planning stages of how I want to release it and what all that’s going to look like.
ME: Sounds like it’ll be a fruitful year.