Editor’s note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
There is a quote on the Zac Matthews Band website in which singer LeAnn Rimes says Matthews can “play and sing like nobody’s business.” She also calls him “charming.”
Both comments are unsurprising. Despite being in his early 20s, Matthews has earned a following with not only local country music fans, but also veterans in the industry. To date, he has opened shows for not only Rimes but for such names as Jake Owen, Billy Currington, Cassadee Pope, Colt Ford, David Allan Coe, The Kentucky Headhunters and more. He also had the honor of performing at the Grand Ole Opry’s famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee,
The Janesville native and Milton High School graduate has racked up his share of music industry awards, including being named the best new male act in country music in 2014 at the Texaco Country Showdown National Championships in Nashville, Tennessee. ZMB also has been recognized as a bronze “Best in Madison” selection in the 2019 country music category, was recently voted the top country band in Wisconsin at FoundIn Wisconsin.com, and is a past Battle of the Bands winner at the Hodag Music Festival in Rhinelander.
When not out performing, Matthews works diligently on increasing his extensive guitar collection and keeps grounded through family: parents Matthew and Renee, sisters Marissa and Morgan and the family dogs, Sadie, Lady Ann and Murphy Girl.
To learn more about Zac, or to find out where he’ll be playing next, visit ZacMatthewsMusic.com or search for “ZacMatthews111” on Facebook and follow @iamzacmatthews on Instagram.
1. What first made you decide to pick up a guitar? I saw the movie “Heartland” with George Strait and wanted to win over chicks like that.
2. What has been the best piece of life advice you’ve ever been given? To have thick skin because you can’t make everyone love you.
3. Name a popular actor/singer/artist who doesn’t appeal to you. I’m not a big fan of Cardi B. I don’t think you should sing about things like that.
4. Of all the places you’ve performed, do you have a personal favorite? The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the original Grand Ole Opry. There is so much history in the building. It was on my bucket list.
5. What is your astrological sign? Do you believe in astrology? Sagittarius. I do some days, but honestly, it freaks me out.
6. Fast food or health food? What’s your preference? Health food, when I can afford it. Organic products are so expensive.
7. If you could perform with any one person, living or dead, who would it be? Freddie Mercury. I would love to see him take command of an audience like at Live Aid and be there to shred for it.
8. You’re working on a new album to come out this year. What can you tell me about it? We are mixing classic country vibes with a modern pop twist. We will be taking a risk with this album.
9. You’ve opened for some pretty big names in the music industry. Have you had much interaction with those folks and, if so, what has it taught you about stage presence and interacting with fans? It always inspires me to work harder and to practice my off-the-cuff one-liners to appear bigger than I am.
10. It takes most people years to learn to play guitar, but you picked it up rather quickly. To what do you attribute that? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
11. At one time, you had considered going to school to learn music production. Did you ever follow through with that, or do you have plans to in the future? I did my general education at UW-Rock County, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on going to the big university yet.
12. When you’re at the grocery store, what item goes into your cart whether you need it or not? I am a sucker for cookies. Anything sweet, really.
13. Do you write your own music? What tends to be your inspiration for the songs you sing? Yes, my inspiration always comes from the mirror of my own life.
14. Having performed at the Ryman Auditorium, can you put into words what it means for a singer to walk those halls and get on the stage that has hosted some of country music’s biggest stars? It feels like a large No. 2 coming on. Very nerve-wracking, but also beyond special.
15. People would be surprised to know that I: Was picked on and bullied in high school about my music. It only fueled my will to succeed.
16. If I’m watching TV and (blank) comes on, I’m watching it to the end. “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” The greatest film ever released.
17. You started performing back when you were 17. Now that you’re older, what have you learned about performing that you didn’t understand back then? I have learned to slow down and soak it up a little more. I used to be the magician who would come out showing his very best tricks first. Now, I save them for the end. I have a more polished act.
18. What is the best advice you’ve been given as it pertains to music, who did it come from, and what were the circumstances? “Give ‘er the gas” by Gentleman Jim. I was in a band a few years back, and my bassist, who is no longer with us, used to say this to me. He would tell me that right before I hit my boost pedal to rip out a face melter.
19. Do you have any pre-gig rituals? I always say a prayer and take a shot with my boys.
20. Having accomplished so much at such a young age, what is the ultimate goal for Zac Matthews? I have already achieved my ultimate goal: to show the world that the time I put into this wasn’t a waste. I have already experienced more in my eight years than some people will experience in their entire lives. What a blessing; what a ride. Anything that comes after this is just a bonus.