When I first moved to Austin 7 years ago, one of my roommates introduced me to a close-knit DIY community that encouraged, promoted and supported each other in their endeavors. Music, art and print were all a part of this wonderful clique that hosted parties and events in the form of house shows that littered the east side of the city, but the crown jewel of the experience, for me at least, was a spot called the Grenada House. I saw so many amazing acts there from not only all over Texas, but all over the US and occasionally the world, and one of the stellar groups I became acquainted with was an Austin two-piece named Zorch.
Zorch, comprised of Sam Chown (Shmu) on drums and Zac Traeger on keyboards are, to date, one of the best and unique groups I have had the intense pleasure of seeing since I moved here. Simply put, no one else sounds like them; they merge hyperactive acoustic drum patterns with analog and digital synths, samples and effected vocals. All their songs are acid-soaked, YOLO singalongs that move from spastic freak-outs to tidal waves of ambiance and then there and back again. ‘Zut Alors’, ‘Cosmic Gloss’ and ‘We All Die Young’ are the best representation of these themes and textures, but all the songs on their lone album, 2013’s ZZOORRCCHH, are fantastic.
ZZOORRCCHH was released via the excellent Sargent House. They released a song for a Sergeant Pepper’s tribute project compiled by Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips and they were only getting bigger and bigger as a national touring act. It seemed like the stars had aligned for Zorch, but they have not been actively playing shows since at least 2015, and they have not put out any new music since 2013, and while Shmu is still an active artist, Zorch rarely posts anything new on social media of any kind.
So what happened? Life, I suppose. I didn’t ask either of the members what was up, but I have enough mutual friends with them to know that they both have big boy jobs and other projects that keep them busy. Austin is a city where you can cut your teeth, make a name for yourself, amass a following and live the dream, but it is notoriously difficult to make a decent living as an artist of any kind, and playing in a band is probably the worst way to make money playing music. The reality of this doesn’t really resonate with you when you’re young, but priorities change with age, so without knowing either of them personally and without prying into their own personal lives, I suspect that they just didn’t see Zorch making ends meet substantially, and that’s okay.
With that said, I did reach out to them regarding new music, and while they have no intention of playing any shows in 2018, they have “quite a bit of material” they plan to release in 2019, so follow them on social media and keep your ears to the ground for new music, because you will never hear anything like them anywhere else.
Words: Ethan Schrupp | @EthanSchrupp