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Artist Entrance Interview: Zach Householder

Aristides Instruments is proud to welcome Zach Householder of Whitechapel to the Aristides family. Whitechapel have been touring and recording at the forefront of aggressive downtuned music for years, and this gives Zach both a unique perspective on metal music and rigorous demands for a working musician’s instrument.

Aristides Instruments: Welcome, Zach. We’re very proud to have you!

Zach Householder: Thank you. I’m glad I was accepted into the Aristides family with open arms.

AI: The cool thing about talking to you about music is that you’ve been with Whitechapel playing heavy, raw, downtuned aggressive music for 10 years now. That’s obviously existed for a long time, but it’s something you’ve been doing and touring nonstop on for a decade. There are tons of bands just adopting that style now. What sort of perspective does that experience give you on the current metal scene and how have you maintained your work ethic and fresh songwriting over all that time?

ZH: We all know the world isn’t running short of metal bands. It’s definitely flooded with a lot of mediocrity and I’m not saying that like I’m better than everyone. Too many bands are trying their hardest to mimic other bands instead of just being creative and trying something fresh. However, doing something completely brand new in metal is easier said than done. My solution to simply writing anything that doesn’t seemed forced or mimicked is to simply take influence from what I love to listen to that makes me actually feel something and turn that into music that does the same to me when I write it. Pretty easy formula to follow.

AI: Obviously a large part of that lifestyle and the scene is the guitar. The tone. It needs to sound massive. More importantly, you need to be able to play it live and still sound massive. How are Aristides guitars playing into your tone searching and quality of life playing shows?

ZH: I’ve had to tweak a few things with my tone when I first got the guitars due to it being a totally different animal compared to wooden guitars. These guitars tend to resonate a bit more so I’ve had to make my noise gate a bit tighter. However, the one thing I’ve noticed from one guitar to another when it comes to Aristides is the consistency. I have two and even though they’re different tunings, they both sound and feel exactly the same. Wood can sound great - it can have life and warmth - but wood is also inconsistent. You can get two guitars made out of the exact same wood from the same tree and they could still sound different. The Aristides tend to sound a more even and well rounded all over the neck. The low strings especially tend to cut and stand out in the mix even more as well. I’ve played wooden guitars my whole life and really didn’t think an Aristides would sound good at all until I picked one up.

AI: We appreciate the kind words! I guess what it comes down to, is that it’s a great time to be a musician. There are so many gear options. You’ve been at other companies, played lots of fantastic guitars, why’d it come down to us?

ZH: I was with ESP for almost 10 years. I still love their actual line of ESP guitars as well, but I wasn’t playing those and had only ever received one custom ESP from them that whole time. I was extremely grateful for that guitar and it’s still one of my favorites to this day, but it made me realize something. I was playing LTDs and not these awesome ESPs. The LTDs weren’t exactly what I needed. They’re a big company and they have their hands full. I understand that, but I just wasn’t really stoked on backing and playing a product I couldn’t really get excited about. It looks bad on me and my band. There wasn’t really another company I wanted to go with so I was just kind of stuck. Ibanez has great feeling guitars but I’ve never been a fan of the woods or their overall sound and tone. PRS makes some killer guitars but aren’t really concentrating on the type of music I play. I jammed on a lot of other companies as well…Jackson, Schecter, Music Man, Kiesel… and none of these companies reached out and grabbed me with something that was going to actually do what I needed it to do and sound like I needed it to sound, personally. I felt like I was just settling. Finally, I got my hands on an Aristides and all that changed.

AI: Given we’ve been talking about your history of heavy music, navigating the industry, choosing which companies to work with: what’s one thing you would tell a kid in a small band that wants to do this for real?

ZH: The metal music industry is a cut-throat environment. Labels and management will take advantage of any young band they feel doesn’t know any better and can make them some money. My advice, get solid management you can trust and that has an excellent reputation. Don’t use a label. If the management is good, they’ll know how to do everything anyways. The label isn’t needed if you’ve already got an album to shop with in the beginning. It’s a digital world. Start there and see where it goes. The fact is, the contracts some of the labels probably give new and upcoming bands isn’t even worth using as toilet paper… much less writing the groundwork for the next possible 5-10 years of your life as a band.

AI: And now because of good strategy and music Whitechapel is there. It’s still a lot of work but you’re not that small band anymore, and you haven’t been for a long time. Congratulations! Hard work always pays off in the end. What’s next for you guys?

ZH: Writing an album at the moment. Hopefully begin recording early next year sometime. On top of that, we’ve got some Euro festivals coming up and maybe a tour in the USA to finish out the year.

AI: Thanks, Zach. It was a blast. Looking forward to a happy relationship with you for years to come.

ZH: Absolutely…and thank you!!