A fixture for years at Hilton Head Island clubs, watering holes and festivals, bearded groovesmith Zach Deputy rode out of the Lowcountry on a wave of sunny vibes, a gift for gently rolling island soul and a fairly insane work ethic.
"I think this year we're going to do roughly 260 shows," he said. (Last year? More than 300.)
But for his third CD, "Another Day," out Tuesday, Deputy took a different route, trading his "island-infused drum'n'bass" for a more acoustic-oriented singer-songwriter approach. Deputy talked about the new record's Brooklyn birth, his amended approach and why local fans might want to keep their New Year's Eve free.
Question. Tell me about your history with Hilton Head.
Answer. I was born in Savannah, because when I was born Hilton Head Hospital wasn't even there. I was raised in Bluffton, and I went to middle and high school on Hilton Head. To make a long story short, I started doing really significant business at Riders Lounge twice a week and some business in Statesboro and Charleston, and that's when I started to tour. You could say Hilton Head is my birthplace when it comes to music.
Q. How does one get started around here?
A. It's all kind of an accident. One night, after I'd quit a job, I walked to the Brick Oven, where my friend was working, and she was complaining about a guy who was supposed to play that night -- he just bounced. I was in the right place at the right time. I said, "Well, I'll do it," and that's how I got my first solo gig. After a while I went into Moneypenny's -- that place was awesome, they'd go until 7 in the morning -- and I asked the owner, "I have nothing to do, can I just hook up my guitar and play?" And he said, "Sure," and afterward, "Come back next week, we'll do it again."
... It took a good while to make it happen. All the other gigs I got on Hilton Head I just lied (laughs). Someone would say, "We'll give you the gig as long as you play 75 percent covers," and I'd say, "Yes sir!" And wouldn't do any at all (laughs).
Q. Did you ever get busted?
A. No, because for all those daytime gigs I played a lot of island music, and they just didn't know if it was my own music or covers. I didn't play the "Brown Eyed Girl"/ "Cheeseburger in Paradise" thing. They were my own songs; I just found a loophole.
Q. What's the vibe like when you come back home for a show?
A. I don't want to jump the gun, but I want to do something special for my hometown, so we're looking to do a New Year's Eve show here. We're going to try to do it in the Coligny Theater, so we're going to make our own venue for the night.
Q. How did "Another Day" come about?
A. I was in New York, and my management group led me to (producer) Scott Jacoby. We pretty much instantly had a bromance and said "We're going to make a record together." The problem with me is that I've got so many songs that the hangup is picking the direction. I played him a couple slow tunes, and he said, "You need to make an album with that stuff on it," and I said, "Well, OK, here's 25 more" (laughs).
Q. What led you in that direction, writing-wise?
A. With the loop machines, it's pretty much all groove. I need a balance and a break. A lot of times after the show we'll go to an afterparty or something, and I'll play acoustic music, or when I'm home, I'm playing acoustic for myself. When I just write music without thinking about it, it ends up being a ballad, something soulful. So we picked all these songwriter songs and made an album.