Zach Gill performing with Jack Johnson in Christchurch, 2008
|Birth name||Zachary Dylan Gill|
|Born||May 18, 1975|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, accordion, melodica, ukulele, guitar, banjo, vibraphone|
Encouraged by his family, Zachary Gill began taking piano lessons in the third grade; in seventh grade he began taking guitar lessons as well. In 1987 Zach formed the band "One Percent Away" with classmates Dan Lebowitz, Steve Adams, Matt West and James Chung. Gill played rhythm guitar and sang, the group performed mainly cover material.
In 1989, the band broke up, but reformed under the name Django. Django began performing original material and Gill became the groups keyboardist and main vocalist. Throughout high school Gill performed in a number of groups as both a singer and an instrumentalist and even acted in a few musicals, receiving the lead role of Tevye in the Saratoga High School production of Fiddler on the Roof. In 1993, Django released a cassette of original music. That same year Gill moved with his band mates from Saratoga, California to Isla Vista, California where he became a student at UCSB.
At UCSB, Gill became a prominent figure in the university town's vibrant music culture, performing regularly with The UCSB Gospel Choir, The UCSB Jazz Ensemble and The UCSB Middle East Ensemble. in 1994, Django released a full-length CD and became a favorite band of the Isla Vista party scene.
In the winter of 1995, Django's drummer Matt West left the band and was replaced by David Brogan of Evil Farmer. In the summer of 1996 Django toured across the country, eventually basing themselves in Augusta, Georgia for the rest of that summer. While in Augusta they built up a local following and received the blessing of the Godfather of soul himself, James Brown. Mr. Brown encouraged the boys to finish school before embarking on a music career. Taking his advice they headed back to Isla Vista. Upon arriving home, Django officially disbanded. Gill continued to play music with Lebowitz and Adams, forming numerous other bands from the fall of 96 through the winter of 97, before emerging as the Animal Liberation Orchestra and the Free Range Horns in the spring of 98.
After graduating from UCSB with a degree in history, Gill began his career as a professional musician, working as an accompanist for UCSB's Modern Dance Department. Later that year he relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and began accompanying modern dance classes there as well. He also continued to perform with a smaller version of the Animal Liberation Orchestra and traveled with the group back and forth from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.
In 2000, Zach moved to Marin county, and began teaching music at a private school in Fairfax, CA. He also began working as a musical director for a number of theater companies in the north bay area. In 2001, Gill began performing as a solo artist under the name Zach Gill and the Fabulous Wonder Bakery as well as performing weekly as part of a dueling piano show.
In 2002, Gill left Marin and moved back to Santa Barbara. From 2002 to 2005 he toured heavily around the United States with ALO.
In 2005, he joined forces with college pal Jack Johnson. ALO was signed to Jack's label, Brushfire records, and Zach was also invited to join Jack's band. Since joining the group, Zach has diversified the group's trademark sound with his multi-instrumental zest, vocals, and dancing skills and ALO has become an international touring act. Over the past decade Zach has performed at festivals and on television shows around the world, including Saturday Night Live, Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Bonoroo, Glastonbury, Live Earth and the 2008 United States Presidential inauguration ball.
Zach's music has been featured in the "Curious George" film and soundtrack alongside Johnson. He has also collaborated with Aimee Mann and Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) on a composition, "At the Edge of the World" for the Paramount Pictures documentary An Arctic Tale.
In 2008 Gill released an eponymous debut solo project with Brushfire Records entitled "Zach Gill's Stuff". The album features guest appearances by Steve Adams from ALO, Tristan Prettyman, Merlo and Adam (his Jack Johnson bandmates). The first single from the album, Family, features Jack Johnson on drums and appeared in the movie "Baby Mama" with Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Greg Kinnear.
In support of his 2008 album release, Gill toured nationally with singer-songwriter Mason Jennings and with fellow keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth of the String Cheese Incident. In 2009 he was brought in by UCSB's Arts and Lecture to perform for alumni, faculty and the current student body.
In February 2010, Brushfire records released ALO's sixth studio album entitled Man of the World produced by ALO and Jack Johnson. Gill has been touring and recording with both Jack and ALO throughout 2010.
2012 saw the release of ALO's seventh studio album "Sounds Like This"
Zach Gill is notable for the fluid motion he exhibits while playing. An animated pianist, he rarely stops moving in his trademark jellylike, swaying way. His piano stylings ranges from haunting (Shapeshifter) to upbeat and controlled-substance induced (Wasting Time) to mythic sounding (Barbeque). His music is full of heart, humor, personality and top notch musicianship ("Don't touch my stuff"). His solo performances feel more like performance art rather than a traditional rock show. He employs traditional instruments like banjos, ukuleles and accordions in non traditional ways and uses story telling, audience participation and even hand puppets and hand made masks to enhance his compositions and performances.
- 2005 Dogwood Forest EP
- 2006 Snowman's Philosophy EP
- 2008 Zach Gill's Stuff
- 1993 Contact
- 1994 Tabula Rasa
- 1995 The Fasting Showman single off Santa Barbara unsigned heroes volume?
- 1996 Django 4 song demo Django with David Brogan
With Animal Liberation Orchestra
- 1998 The Animal Liberation Orchestra and the Free range Horns Vs. L.A.G.
- 1999 One Size Fits All
- 2000 Expressions hot tub EP
- 2002 Time Expander
- 2004 Fly Between Falls
- 2007 Roses & Clover
- 2010 Man of the World
- 2012 Sounds Like This
With Jack Johnson
- 2005 In Between Dreams
- 2006 Let it be sung single with Jack Johnson and Matt Costa
- 2008 Sleep Through the Static
- 2010 [En concert]
- 2010 To the Sea
- 2013 From Here to Now to You
- 1997 Magnum Family blue tape demo with Magnum Family
- 2008 Oh Mighty Engine with Neil Halstead
- 2009 Zee Avi with Zee Avi
- 2009 Montana Tale by John Craigie, played Piano, Organ, and Accordion
- 2011 October is the Kindest Month by John Craigie, played Piano, Organ, and Accordion
Zach has several music videos on YouTube both solo and with ALO. The "Family" music video is directed by The Malloys, and the "Don't Touch My Stuff" music video is directed by Matthew J. Powers.