"I'd say that I'm trying to be as honest as I can," Zak Smith told BFTV when he connected with us to chat about his music. "I'm not trying to put on any show or put something over on people. I hope my music conveys that."
His newest album, The Precambrian Age, dropped in September. Now the New Jersey native is in the middle of every musician's second job - making sure people know about the music. Especially since his sound is just a little bit different from others. "It's rock music but it's kind of Americana based," he explained. "There are some alternative influences, but it's definitely kind of a rock album. Lyrics are always really important to me so I put a lot of time and thought into those. It's an Americana-ish rock album with a singer-songwriter vibe."
Lead song "Tombs Don't Roll Back" and second-to-last cut "Angelina" are Zak's two favorites on the album. But they're all the result of a lot of hard work. "The reason the album is called The Precambrian Age, it's because a lot of these songs are kind of older and it felt like I was working on this thing forever," he laughed, telling us that his creative process has changed over time. "I became very disciplined about it. I would write stream of consciousness stuff in this little journal that I had. These days, I don't do that as much. One thing I need is I need to be by myself. I work everything out in my basement."
His basement isn't exactly where Zak thought he'd end up when he first decided to become a musician. "It's way harder than I thought it'd be," he told us. "It's a double-edged thing because it can be more rewarding. It's way, way harder than I ever thought it'd be. For me, it is not glamorous. There'll be the occasional show where there's not a lot of people there. It's very tough. It was way tougher than I thought it would be."
But while he's come to realize over an already decent career - he's released six albums since 2007 - that professional music isn't the sweet life for most people, he also appreciates the value of all that hard work, and knows that there are things more rewarding than fame and fortune.
"I'd like to be successful and be able to sustain this forever," he reflected, "and I think overall, if I leave a body of work that I'm really proud of and it touches other people in some way, ultimately that's what you have to be happy with. Of course there's other stuff that goes through it - I'd like to have a record company backing me, that kind of stuff - but I really do it because writing music is the thing that makes me feel the best."
That and perhaps his other passion for the written word. "'Before I was really into music, I was into writing," he added. "I'm really into classic literature. I spent a lot of time reading the greats and the great poets." Whether it's in the pages of a book or the lyrics of an album, Zak has an appreciation for the ability to create art - and so it's only fitting that now, he's out here creating some art of his own, one song at a time.
You can download Zak's album The Precambrian Age on iTunes. For more on Zak Smith, visit his website (zaksmithband.com) and follow him on Twitter (@zaksmithband).