Zach Rogue is no stranger to darkness.
Or pain. The eponymous lead force of Rogue Wave has paid more than his dues since forming his indie band in 2002, including the tragic fire death of a former bandmate and most recently two slipped discs in his neck that pressed on his spinal cord and left him bedridden with pain and a lingering loss of feeling in his right hand. I had the chance to chat with Zach earlier this year about the band’s latest album Permalight, released through Jack Johnson’s label Brushfire Records. What resonated most with me about this record was Zach’s muse of transcendence from a state of painful confinement to recording sessions with renowned producer Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows): his 1967 Sears Silvertone guitar. Nearly recovered, though his hand still deadened, Zach was hesitant to start playing guitar again. “I thought I’d ease into it with my old Silvertone since it’s the lightest instrument I own.” Zach said he hadn’t used it much ~ never explored its tonal possibilities ~ but possessed it because he thought it was beautiful. “It’s almost like a toy with its lightness and chimey sound. I could strum furiously on it with such a beautiful chime. Secondary tones would emanate from it as blocks of sounds…I didn’t even know the chords I was playing,” Zach explained. “[This guitar] made it more about writing from a physical state and less about the merry-go-round in my head.” From mad, numb strumming came a new sound, new songs and the chance to record them with Herring in his “down the rabbit hole” Sweet Tea Studios in Mississippi. “Permalight is about optimism, but not unlimited, not in a naïve sense. It’s about trying to break past our own limitations.” In other words, finding that Silvertone lining.
© Jennifer Dowd