Through nine releases and a few hundred live performances each year, roots singer-songwriter Brock Zeman is used to doing things his way. A fiercely independent musician, the 31-year-old Zeman hails from Ottawa Valley.
Zeman’s body of work has earned comparisons to the fertile songwriting ground known as the State of Texas. From that state alone, revered songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark have painted vivid pictures using only words, something that Zeman is rather capable of himself.
He has performed with the likes of Steve Earle, Blue Rodeo and Corb Lund. Zeman has had his work hailed as “intelligent, tuneful, heartfelt songs served up with an authentic but understated style.”
As unlikely as it might seem to some considering Brock has seemingly found his calling in the realm of country and roots music, Zeman says he has taken more than one page from the world of punk and the do-it-yourself ethos.
“I was very heavily influenced by punk rock and the do-it-yourself ethic to begin with. Frankly, I am really grateful for that too,” Zeman says. “It taught me a lot about being an independent artist and making the music that I want to make.”
After being exposed to the likes of alt-country acts such as Whiskeytown and Son Volt, both of which had roots-country leanings but could also rock as hard as the next band when they want to, Brock knew that he had found his musical calling.
“I was mostly inspired by the fact that I could make music if I just sat down and kept at it. The same rules apply to everything in life but with music, things seem to work at a much faster pace. I did the typical songwriter whole bleeding fingers thing and isolated myself after I figured that out.
“I like to go by the songwriter handle. I spend a lot of time writing songs. When you write a lot of songs, some of them are bound to be half-decent. Once you’ve got a collection of a dozen or so good ones, you make a record.”
Making records is something that Brock is intimately familiar with. His most recent effort, Me Then You, was released just over a year ago in January 2012. He shares with the Times & Transcript that in addition to running his independent record label Mud Records, he has more than a few different projects that he is working on.
“I am hoping to have a new record ready for this coming fall,” he says. “I currently have a number of projects that are just waiting to be worked on. I have one concept record that revolves around a travelling carnival, while the other two are at different stages of completion. One of those records we have been referring to as the ‘low down and dirty’ record while the other one, we have only laid down the basic tracks for. We have also been working on an instrumental and more experimental project called Misters Splinters, which we hope to work on this year as well.”
As has been the case for Brock’s career so far, it seems as though his only limits are those he places upon himself.
Article published in the March 11, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript