Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too.
Who? Zach Sandford is an audio engineer at Warehouse Live who splits his time recording for Space City Records. He turned 21 years old in July, making him one of the younger members of the Houston music scene, especially on the engineering side of the business.
Sandford graduated from Media Tech Institute in September 2010 with his degree, ready for a job just about anywhere that could utilize his skills. His sights fell on Warehouse Live, which picked him up in 2011. But on top of contributing to the "nerdy" side of the scene, he plays in a band called Ahamkara.
According to Sanford, the name means "to be identified or attached to egoism." He describes their style as "progressive metal that is very melodic and rhythmic."
Home Base: "Warehouse Live, for sure. Various shows and various dates."
Good War Story: "If anything I'd say the fact that I've had to stand out in a community of older guys who have been doing the work for years and years and trying to show them what I'm capable of."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I've been in Houston for a majority of my life," Sanford says. "My music career has started in Houston and my experiences have started in Houston." He admits he doesn't describe himself as a "fan" of Houston, but that he "loves the diversity of the city" and that there's "never a dull moment."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Like many people, Sanford is no fan of scene politics. Asked about his biggest pet peeve, he replied, "How guided the scene is by the society which controls it. One year this genre is 'cool,' the next year it 'isn't cool' just because one major influence in the scene says so."
Ultimately, he concludes, "If it's good music, its good music."
5 Desert Island Discs:
- The Contortonist, Intrinsic: "This album is the turning point for metal in my opinion. It is so beautiful."
- Shpongle, Nothing Lasts... but Nothing is Lost: "This album is so powerful and has to be the most intense mixing I have ever heard. It takes you on a musical journey that blends the entire album into one big song. Ambient psybient.
- Rebelution, Courage to Grow: "First time I heard this album I could not stop listening to it, and still to this day I can't stop listening to it. 'Feeling Alright' is always a good song to turn down the night with."
- Born of Osiris, The Discovery: "Best metal album of last year for sure. Most inspiring and influencing album I've heard in a long time. The riffs."
- This or the Apocalypse, Monuments: "This album inspired me in so many ways, especially in my guitar playing. They jump into so many different waters in the album and mix so many styles of music."
Best Show Ever: "I would have to say seeing Zappa Plays Zappa at the Verizon Theater," says Sandford. "I think it was 2008. My dad took me when I was in high school. Probably one of the greatest performances I have ever seen from an entire stage of musicians. Steve Vai played at that show as well. It was incredible."
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First Song You Fell In Love With: "Honestly I think it would have to be 'More Than a Feeling' by Boston," he says. "I used to spend hours playing that song on guitar until I had it perfect."