Drummer and music producer, Zach Jones, has been grappling with the music industry for quite some time now. He received his first drum set when he was a toddler and eventually took private lessons, eventually participating in Marching and Jazz band throughout his high school and collegiate career. One of his first major live performances was opening for billboard charting act, Sean Kingston, during his 2010 tour. Since then, Zach has performed in and around the Lehigh Valley at 100+ venues with music partner, Tim Harakal, raking in roughly 200 shows a year since 2011. This includes opening for Rusted Root, The Wailers, and Louis the Child. In addition, Zach took on interests of pursuing a career in music production during his freshmen year of college where he purchased his first studio package.
During his time at East Stroudsburg University, Zach had the opportunity to record, produce for, and tour with billboard artist Chiddy Bang. At this point, Zach realized what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He decided to explore his options and went on to find an internship out of the Philadelphia-based studio, Wiseman Records, where he worked alongside Grammy winning string composer/record producer Larry Gold. Larry is accredited for his work on Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, and many other top charting albums. After Zach’s time at Wiseman, he was immediately approached by Grammy winning tracking engineer, Padraic Kerin, to work on the Black Eyed Peas lead member will.i.am’s solo album #willpower. In 2013, Zach scored his first major production credit on the album titled “Love Bullets” featuring Skylar Grey. Since then, Zach has been back and forth to the west coast working on an assortment of projects. He has had the opportunity to work with the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber for the NBA playoffs, Chanel West Coast, Brooke Candy, Cody Wise, Baby Kaely, and Jessica Reynoso from the Voice Philippines. Zach has been approached by Universal Music Group to ponder and negotiate an exclusive publishing deal. Currently, Zach maintains his lifestyle as a music producer and local drummer. He plans to continue building his clientele and perform at various venues. He encompasses aspirations to one day own a professional music studio and dive into software development for music plugins that integrate artificial intelligence.
Team Fader had the opportunity to speak with Zach about his experience in the music industry, but also his experience with hearing protection. Here's what he had to say!
1.) When you're in a loud environment, what are some of the things you notice about your hearing sensitivity? (For example, ringing in your ears, sound sounding dull, etc.)
Unfortunately as a drummer I have to experience some of the loudest sounds a band has to offer. I am directly next to the drums and cymbals (more specifically) which pierce in the upper frequencies. I find things to sound a bit muffled after a long show. In the studio, if we are really pumping the main monitors, I will notice a similar discomfort. It's amazing what a good mix engineer can do to a song in the 3k and up range...even at high volumes. Without a good mix, the consumer is doomed to have a pleasurable listening experience at any volume.
2.) What precautions have you taken over the years to protect your hearing?
I used to mix and produce music at very loud volumes. Us producers share this thing where we crave and want to FEEL the bass. However, over the last year or two I've started to mix and create at very low volume thresholds. If I can "feel" the music through my laptop speakers, it's most likely going to shine in any atmostphere. As for drumming, I've tried using Hearos high fidelity ear plugs. I find them to be a bit too muffled and uncomfortable. I have yet to get myself into a steady habit of usage.
3.) As a producer and musician, someone who relies on their hearing, are you or have you ever been concerned with hearing loss?
It absolutely concerns me everyday. Without my ears I would be next to useless in the music industry. They are the backbone of my studio work and musicianship.
4.) Is it possible for you to imagine to do your job with a high frequency loss? Can you at all imagine what it would sound like to not have auditory access to those high frequency sounds?
I can't imagine how hard it would be to develop a song that accurately filled out the frequency spectrum. One of the most crucial parts of producing well is picking sounds that are pleasant on the ear and compliment one another. It's also vital that I can recognize both good and harsh high end frequencies to either bolster or eliminate.
5.) What lengths have you gone to protect your hearing when you know you will be exposed to loud noise? What precautions do you currently take today?
As I said earlier, I try to use earplugs when I'm drumming as often as possible. I've even started to keep my radio down in the car. When I produce and mix, it's at extremely low volumes. Also, I avoid listening to music through headphones...especially ear buds!
6.) Some of the issues with conventional types of earplugs has been with comfort and
durability. If you had a quality pair of earplugs, is this something you would be more willing to use?
I've always hated the discomfort ear plugs bring. I never really liked how most conventional plugs sound either. I want to protect my hearing along with the listening experience itself.
7.) Throughout your music career, what would you consider your most memorable
highlight? (e.g. will.i.am., etc.)
Tough question...I have so many fun stories and cherishable memories. If I had to pick one, it would be the first time I got to see my name credited on a major label album (will.i.am). It was rewarding to know all the hours locked behind closed doors in attempts to perfect my craft had finally paid off. Never stop learning.