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Zach Irons

As the son of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, Zach Irons grew up immersed in music. Zach, not surprisingly, played drums from an early age, but soon discovered an even deeper passion for the guitar. Today Zach is the lead guitarist for both IRONTOM and AWOLNATION. In this episode we speak with Irons about the current state of the guitar solo, left-handed guitar, the roots of Red Hot Chili Peppers, IRONTOM’s new album, skateboarding, backpacking, basketball, and more.

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Transcript

Evan Ball:
Hello, and welcome to Ernie Ball's Striking a Chord podcast. I'm Evan Ball. Today I'll be speaking with Irontom and AWOLNATION guitarist, Zach Irons. Zach Irons grew up with music all around him. His father, Jack Irons, was the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eleven, Pearl Jam, and The Wallflowers just to name a few. Naturally, Zach took to music initially as a drummer before finding his passion for guitar. And today, he's the guitarist of both Irontom and AWOLNATION. In this episode, we talk about the current state of the guitar solo, left-handed guitars, the roots of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Irontom's new album, skateboarding, backpacking and basketball. Ladies and gentlemen, Zach Irons. Zach Irons, welcome to the podcast.

Zach Irons:
Hey. Thanks, man.

Evan Ball:
Have you come up with a way to describe Irontom's music that you like or heard any descriptions that you like?

Zach Irons:
I really haven't been able to do it verbally. I've been asked that question and that's a elegant way to ask it actually, because usually it's a little bit more abrasive. But yeah, no, I honestly haven't been able to figure that out because I'm a little too close to it to really understand what it means. It's so funny. It's like being so close to something, sometimes you have less objectivity to it then people that listen to it. In a way, I know my music worse than other people know my music, I think.

Evan Ball:
Yeah, it's an annoying question. I never quite know how to answer it personally, but here I am asking you a version of it.

Zach Irons:
Well, I mean, if I really had to boil it down I would just say, it's rock and it's inspired by my favorite artists, the greats of rock and roll, really. I mean, I wish I had a cooler answer than that, but my heroes and stuff. That's what I like.

Evan Ball:
Yeah, and I think related to that, sometimes in your music, there's a guitar part or a solo that comes up that feels unexpected to me and I think it's unexpected to me only because there are just fewer solos in music compared to a long time ago.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, totally.

Evan Ball:
What do you think's the current state of the guitar solo from your perspective?

Zach Irons:
Like you just said, I don't really hear too many of them and I think that guitar right now is almost... Maybe I'm a little bit out of touch just because I'm not a big social media guy or anything, but it seems like guitar is almost coming back around to where it's almost... Is the right word kitschy? It's like people use guitar in this way and it's almost cheesy. And people are like, "Oh my God, that's a fun little lick," and it just sounds like old Motown or something. But I think a lot of people are hearing it for the first time, to a degree, and their kids and stuff like that.

Evan Ball:
That's interesting. You use the word kitschy, almost like you're emulating something that's not in fashion anymore.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Someone wearing something from the 90s now and going, "Oh my God, you look so crazy." But everyone that was in the nineties was like, "Do you not know about Nirvana or Pearl... " You know what I mean? That's how I feel. The guitar is almost like a fashion choice in music more than what it once was, which was the staple of bands in a lot of ways. I mean, maybe that's not really fair to say wholeheartedly because there's so much music and I guess I'm only really speaking to alternative, poppy music because there's so much, for sure, but in that field.

Evan Ball:
Yeah, and you probably feel you are personally more drawn towards lead guitar compared to maybe other contemporary bands that you are around.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, I think so. I mean, at the risk of sounding weird, I'm from a different breed, I think, and a slightly different generation, even though I'm young. I really never really connected with this modern way of creating music until recently. I think there's a lot of value in it with using computers and using technology. I really like it now, but growing up that went against my principles to a degree, as a little reactive teenager and I don't know. I felt just being in a band and playing with people and not looking to seek approval and just playing for the sake of playing and building and growing, that's the paradigm that I was raised in. That's what I know.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Who are your influences or maybe what era are you referencing?

Zach Irons:
It's pretty wide range, but a lot of things up until the 2000s. I obviously have an affinity for the 70s music like Sabbath and Zeppelin and AC/DC. That started me, in a lot of ways, on the whole loving the guitar heroes of the past, that phase. I mean, it really actually started with me loving 90s, like Kurt Cobain and Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam and stuff. Not Kurt Cobain from Pearl Jam. But those are some of my favorite guys. Yeah, I'd say 60s, 70s, 90s really. And now I've really developed a love for the 80s, but that came later actually.

Evan Ball:
Well, I've noticed you play left-handed.

Zach Irons:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
Is that a Jimi Hendrix strat I've seen you playing?

Zach Irons:
I guess it looks like a Jimi Hendrix because I flip it the way he did just out of necessity because I have a strat. It's an old strat and I could never... I couldn't find one like that, that's left-handed, you know what I mean, and it was a gift to me. I just did everything that I could to learn how to use it and adapt to using that and now I've just become accustomed to playing right-handed guitars upside down. It's more comfortable for me now.

Evan Ball:
And just so everyone can picture this, it's a right-handed guitar flipped upside down, but then it's restrung, correct me if I'm wrong, where the thicker strings are still up top like they'd normally always be.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. Yeah, it's normal. It's strung like a normal guitar, where the low strings, where your thumb is or whatever, but the knobs are up top.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. You said it was comfortable for you. I was wondering what about the pickup selector? Is that right where your arm is?

Zach Irons:
Yeah, that's a good question. I've developed my own thing with it where I take it to this guy, Eric, he's a really good guitar guy. And I was like, "What can we do? Can we shave it down or something?" What we ended up doing was taking off the knobs. I take all the knobs off and the pickup selector switch knob, and then had him file down everything so they're really small and short. They're out of my way actually, but I can still grab them and switch them.

Evan Ball:
Oh, interesting. It sticks up enough where you can still change the pickups.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, I can get my finger under it. I mean, maybe to some people that don't have such brutal calluses, wouldn't like it very much, but it doesn't really bother me that bad because it's pretty flush. But I can still get to it in a pinch.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. How about having the lesser cutaway for the higher frets? Does that bother you at all?

Zach Irons:
Sometimes. I feel I'm not... It sucks because yeah, I'm not able to utilize the guitar as much as... That's the one thing that I don't like about it is the cutaway. I can't get up that high so I have to reinvent some ideas or pick up a different guitar if I want to get that higher, use an octave pedal, whatever it is. That I don't love, but it's really only four frets and it's those really high four frets that you can compromise with, or at least I think.

Evan Ball:
I have to assume you grew up immersed in music. Can you describe your childhood, at least in relation to music and the music biz?

Zach Irons:
It just was always happening. It was like you drink water as a human being and you get accustomed to being hydrated and that's what it is and that's what it means. It's like breathing. Not to sound pretentious or whatever, but that's how music has been for me in this life. It's been just always there. It's always in something. I've just deeply connected with and I've never really made a choice to become a musician. It feels as if I was already that way when I was born and I'm going to be that way after I go, whatever, I don't know. Not to get esoteric about it.

Evan Ball:
And I apologize. I should have front-loaded this question with more context.

Zach Irons:
Oh, no, that's cool.

Evan Ball:
Jack Irons, your dad is a founding member of a band called the Red Hot Chili Peppers and later, drummer of another tiny band called Pearl Jam.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. It's always funny when those names are dropped.

Evan Ball:
Pretty good resume. Yeah. Therefore, yes, you grew up in the midst of music.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. Yeah, I did. And he was in another band called Eleven that was a huge part of my life and the skill of those musicians had a huge impact on me too and-

Evan Ball:
And that band traces back to all guys that went to his high school, right, just like the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

Zach Irons:
Exactly. Some people might not agree with this, but in a sense from where I'm standing, that was the first permutation of the beginning of when the Chili Peppers were starting because it was a lot of the guys that ended up in the Chili Peppers just with a different singer. And Eleven was the singer that was in the Chili Peppers, but with his other band. My dad's carried on with his old time friends for a long time.

Evan Ball:
That is so cool. It's funny. I wonder what these people who become big musicians and in big bands, I picture them back in high school. Do you have any sense of what your dad and the other guys were like in high school?

Zach Irons:
I think my dad was pretty... He's a pretty do-gooder. He wasn't a bad boy. Some of those guys got out of control as we know with partying or whatever. They called him the "momma's boy" a little bit, but it didn't start that way. They love music. It began that way and I know that my grandparents let them jam in his bedroom. In a sense, all that stuff started in my grandparents house. They have a lot of stories. Apparently one time there was this kid spying on them jamming and they ran out to go be like, "Who are you?" And he ran away. And then later on, they found out it was Slash who thought they were cool and-

Evan Ball:
No way.

Zach Irons:
It was a whole scene. I mean, it turned into this whole thing.

Evan Ball:
Yeah, that's awesome. Funny to picture. And it's just a funny image to picture your dad and Flea and Anthony Kiedis and Hillel all in high school together, sitting in math class.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, totally. I know. It's funny, huh?

Evan Ball:
Yeah. All right. Could he have ever imagined, I'm just curious, the success that the Chili Peppers ended up reaching?

Zach Irons:
Well, what he says is it was on from day one with them. There was always an energy where it was just infectious, he said. He had struggled for years in bands or tried and done shitty tours and there was all this wonky energy. And then when that permutation lined up, it just was on.

Evan Ball:
Really?

Zach Irons:
It was like people were really... Yeah, the second show was sold out and they had no songs. They were just jamming. He says it was meant to be. I don't think he realized that his best friend would pass away and Frusciante would come and help bring songs in with the band that were going to make them be at the level they're at now. No one could have foreseen any of this level, but-

Evan Ball:
There was something. There was chemistry. There was energy.

Zach Irons:
Absolutely, yeah.

Evan Ball:
Yeah, and just to put your life in context here, what year were you born?

Zach Irons:
91.

Evan Ball:
That's right. When I was listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, me too.

Evan Ball:
Right. You know what's funny? I actually saw them the first time I ever heard of them and I think this would have been the era your dad was there. They played on the top of a skate ramp in Orange County. Do you remember Vision, the skateboard company? I don't know.

Zach Irons:
I do. Yeah. I actually know what you're talking... I heard about this. They played on a big half pipe, right?

Evan Ball:
Yeah. It was a double half pipe. All the biggest skaters were there.

Zach Irons:
It was indoors, right?

Evan Ball:
It was, yeah.

Zach Irons:
I've seen videos of that actually.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. I was nine, I think, but that was my first introduction to them and they were hard-

Zach Irons:
Nice.

Evan Ball:
... for a nine-year-old to comprehend at the live show-

Zach Irons:
Yeah, totally.

Evan Ball:
... but the energy was there, for sure. It was awesome.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. That's awesome though.

Evan Ball:
All right. I guess that begs the question. Why guitar, not drums for you?

Zach Irons:
Well, I started out as a drummer, honestly. That's what I always wanted to do and I just... My dad got me a drum set when I was five, a mini drum set, and I just really picked it up naturally and loved it. And as soon as I understood a straightforward beat, that was it. Put your hand over the other hand and play the high hat with your right hand and then hit the snare with your left hand. And as soon as I got that, I knew that I had good timing and stuff and I was like, "Oh, okay, I'm going to do this." I would try to play... There was a period of time where I was playing three hours a day and it got to a point where it was just too much drums in the house and I was having to communicate and go, "Hey, when do you want to play? You can't play today. It's too loud here. You got to do this."

And I remember I wrote a riff... Because my parents they were supportive of me in many ways. They got me a guitar and I had one sitting around and I wrote this riff and something about it just sparked something in me where I was just like, "I like the way that feels." And I remember sitting down on the drum set one day and just sitting there playing, being uninspired, and then stopping and I air guitared for a second. And I was really upset because I was really wanting to do that and I thought to myself, "I will never be as good at guitar as I am on drums and yet, I want to play guitar," and then I just decided to make the switch.

Zach Irons:
I could stay up all night playing for hours and not be told what to do and write songs. And the whole universe of notes was something that was so inspiring to me because I grew up in a house of just a drummer house. There was no talk of theoretical music in the notation sense at all and that was amazing to me to be able to convey emotions that deeply.

Evan Ball:
That's maybe what, 12, 11 years old?

Zach Irons:
I think 11. Yeah, I'm pretty sure.

Evan Ball:
And then fast forward, when does Irontom form or is it a gradual thing?

Zach Irons:
Well, it was a gradual thing. But technically, my singer Harry and I started making music together when I was, I think, 14 in 2005 or six or something. I can't remember. He was a senior and I was a freshmen and we just connected and then it was this touch and go thing for a few years as to like, "Are we going to start to try to play shows? Who's the band? Are you going to go to college?" That whole song and dance. That went on and I formed the rest of the band with the other guys and it was like I had two bands. It was like I had one project with my singer called Irontom and then I had this other instrumental band that was a little bit more out there and psychedelic. And eventually, I had to convince both parties that we should merge because Harry, the singer didn't like the band and the band didn't like him. And I was like, "Well, I like both so this is what's going to happen." Eventually, we pulled it together.

Evan Ball:
Can you tell us about the name Irontom?

Zach Irons:
Yeah. I mean, there's never really... I always make things up for this because it's fun. It's fun. I'd say, "Oh Christopher Lloyd found me. I passed out on the beach drunk. Christopher Lloyd woke me up."

Evan Ball:
Oh yeah. Give us one.

Zach Irons:
Honestly, no, I don't even want to do that right now. I had such a bad night's sleep. I can't even think straight. But honestly, my dad thought of the name. Was his idea. And my dad actually was the one who introduced me to Harry, the singer. I know it sounds weird that my... I mean, we were both playing at a talent show in high school. And after the show, my dad's like, "That guy Harry's pretty good. You should jam with him." And I was like, "He's a senior, man. I'm not going to jam with him." And then he just was... Yeah, he just called him for me because he knew that I wouldn't do it and it just started this whole friendship and he named the band. My dad had a pretty big involvement in the very beginning of this band.

Evan Ball:
Wow. Matchmaker.

Zach Irons:
He was in the band actually. He was the drummer at first.

Evan Ball:
Oh really?

Zach Irons:
And then when we start... Yeah, and then we started doing covers and Harry chose some covers that were unsavory to my dad and he said, "Okay, I'm going to let you guys do your thing now."

Evan Ball:
Okay. Irontom, not a specific reference to anything. It's just a cool name that came up.

Zach Irons:
I usually try to keep this secret, but I'll just tell you-

Evan Ball:
Oh, we can skip it.

Zach Irons:
I'll just tell you for now. It's just my last name and my singers last name put together but we didn't say it in the past because we didn't want the guys in the band to feel excluded because it is a democracy but it's just a good name. But that's why. That's the truth.

Evan Ball:
Wait, Tom, the Tom-

Zach Irons:
Well, because he doesn't go by Thomas.

Evan Ball:
Oh, okay.

Zach Irons:
His last name's Thomas. He goes by Hayes. People don't know that. And he did that for people's feelings, which I'm getting tired of. People got to stop having their feelings hurt so easily.

Evan Ball:
Sure. All right. How about Elijah? Is that a certain person?

Zach Irons:
Yeah, that's a skater friend of ours.

Evan Ball:
Be Bold like Elijah is one of your songs and there's... Yeah, a video that features lots of skateboarding.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. The main guy skating in that video, his name is Elijah Berle and he's a friend and he's a really ballsy guy. He's younger than me and he seems like he's lived so much more and done all these things and has all these wild tales and is an amazing skater and a really good dude. And Harry just was inspired by him and wrote those lyrics and we got [crosstalk 00:18:20] him in a video so that was fun.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. No, I had a strong skateboarding era in my life, so I-

Zach Irons:
Oh, nice.

Evan Ball:
... thoroughly enjoyed the video. Yeah.

Zach Irons:
Cool.

Evan Ball:
You had a few little cameos skateboarding.

Zach Irons:
I did. I fell pretty hard there and then do you know Rodney Mullen? I'm sure you do.

Evan Ball:
Yes. Oh yeah.

Zach Irons:
He was in the video. I don't know if you caught that, but-

Evan Ball:
I did not catch that.

Zach Irons:
I have one of his signature boards. I was in Canada with AWOLNATION and we were all into skating together for a while and I went and bought one of his signature 80s boards, the ones that he invented a lot of his moves on. I liked it or whatever. I didn't think much about it and then that day, we were filming the Elijah video. He was just randomly skating on the Venice boardwalk. And my friend's like, "That was him. Should we go try to get him in a vid?" And if you watch it, he does a trick on his custom board that's mine in the video, just randomly.

Evan Ball:
Wow. I need to check it out again. Yeah. I mean, Rodney Mullen, I lost touch long ago, but early on, he was from a different planet, just pushing the envelope hard. Hey, you are not just in Irontom, but also AWOLNATION and it sounds like you had a connection with AWOLNATION prior to joining. How did this come about?

Zach Irons:
What it was, was we were looking for... Aaron Bruno, the singer of AWOL and us, Irontom, had a mutual friend and a manager friend and he hooked us up. And Aaron, he's a go-getter and always looking for new projects and we were always looking to get involved with somebody and get on some tours or record some songs. Aaron ended up coming over at a certain point and checking out a rehearsal and then fast forward, inviting us on tour and then saying he's down to record music with us. At a certain point, they have some... They were parting ways with their guitarist at the time and they just asked me, "Could you fill in for a few shows because we have..." It was funny. It was basically like, "There's a big, huge show in five days. You guys are going to be on this tour anyway, can you just fill in for the last leg of this tour?" And I was like, "That's a good test for me to have to push my brain to learn all these songs and go do a big show and be with new guys." I did it and we just really... It was really fate. We really connected and it didn't have to go so well. A lot of people play and it just leads to nothing, but it really led to really close friendships and musical connections.

Evan Ball:
Are you now recording with them, everything? You're a full fledged member?

Zach Irons:
Yeah. I mean, it's Aaron's band. He's the head honcho. He writes the songs. He's the visionary, but I'm as involved as one could be in his project [inaudible 00:00:21:17]. It's rad.

Evan Ball:
How did the experiences differ of being in Irontom and AWOLNATION? I guess that's one of them, where the writing process would be different.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, the writing process is different and again, in AWOL it's... No matter what happens in AWOL, it's like if Aaron has a feeling it's easy because you just go with Aaron's feeling whether it's agreed upon or not. It's his feeling and so it really actually makes it simple in a way. Whereas in a democratic band, there's a lot of opinions and feelings and things that it's a little bit more to balance.

Evan Ball:
How about the performances? Does it feel different like you're in a different environment?

Zach Irons:
For the most part, AWOL's a lot bigger and has a lot more fans than Irontom. We play bigger shows, but at the same time, Irontom was usually touring with AWOL and I was doing double duty. It was just a big, huge traveling circus for a while there.

Evan Ball:
What happens when you guys play Sail live? Does it get crazy?

Zach Irons:
Yeah. It always feels good. It's funny. It's like you wouldn't think that that song would be a good final song because it's slow and it wouldn't be a good final song if people didn't lose their minds, but they do. It's a great final song. But if no one knew it, we wouldn't play it last.

Evan Ball:
What are you working on now with Irontom, AWOLNATION or otherwise?

Zach Irons:
Well, Irontom, we finished a record, Cult Following, that will be out when this airs, I believe.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. But you just recently released an EP.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. You know what's funny is, I don't really know the technicality behind that EP. I was actually wondering what that... Because it's just an LP that we're making, but I think they labeled it on Spotify as an EP with half of the record songs that have been released.

Evan Ball:
Oh, okay.

Zach Irons:
I'd have to ask my managers about why that's called that because I don't actually know. It really just is leading up to an LP called Cult Following that will be out soon. I don't know how many are on that EP. Five or something, but clearly, I'm not really too involved in the business side of things.

Evan Ball:
I think it is five, yeah.

Zach Irons:
There's 10 songs on the album, or 11 songs on the album.

Evan Ball:
Okay, because I was actually noticing that because it looks like each song on the EP got released prior as a single and then put out as an EP. But then that EP's actually leading to an LP.

Zach Irons:
Exactly, and that album art is the LPs album artwork.

Evan Ball:
Do you have a favorite?

Zach Irons:
I can go back and forth. Sometimes I just am over it. I'm like, "Okay, I've heard this enough. I hate this. This sucks." You know what I mean? "We failed." And then I'm like, "Actually, this rules." I can't decide how I feel. I'm just a flippant character, I guess, when it comes to that stuff. But I like the song called, When a Dickhead Dies a lot and that has not been released. And I think that that has a lot of the Irontom's spirit and it's something that I've been wanting to do for a long time in terms of the vibe of it. For me, I was really, really inspired by Wu-Tang Clan on it and I wanted to make a hip hoppy Irontom song for years and I finally think I pulled it off the best that we could pull it off.

Evan Ball:
Awesome. Yeah. Looking forward to it. Any videos coming up then? I think you just had one for, was it Full Moon?

Zach Irons:
Yeah, Full Moon just came out. I like that song too. Yeah, Full Moon just came out and then there's a song called American Gothic that we're going to have a video for that is going to come out when the record is out.

Evan Ball:
Cool. All right. Let's try a lightning round.

Zach Irons:
Okay.

Evan Ball:
If you could tour with any band or artists, past or present, who would it be?

Zach Irons:
Probably Zeppelin, if I had to choose one.

Evan Ball:
All right. Ideal set length?

Zach Irons:
An hour and a half.

Evan Ball:
Okay.

Zach Irons:
Maybe a little less. We always leave them wanting more.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Favorite way to pass your time on tour?

Zach Irons:
Ooh, that's a really good question. I haven't figured that one out yet.

Evan Ball:
Okay.

Zach Irons:
I'll get back to you on that. I have no idea. Eating.

Evan Ball:
Do you actually seek out different restaurants that you might've heard of or are you a food guy when you go to these different cities?

Zach Irons:
Yeah. Yeah, but it just depends on where. I'm so tired on tour that I have to be in New York or Austin or major cities in order to feel like I want to get it out to go to these nice places. Otherwise, I just will just not go anywhere.

Evan Ball:
Well, especially when you're doing double duty [crosstalk 00:25:54].

Zach Irons:
Exactly.

Evan Ball:
All right. Here's one supporting or headlining. What do you prefer?

Zach Irons:
Headlining, definitely.

Evan Ball:
Okay. All right.

Zach Irons:
But Irontom has mainly done support tours and they've been great too. But you have to win the crowd over and that's what we've gotten used to doing. I like doing that too, but when people come to see you, there's just this carefree, fun.

Evan Ball:
Sure. All right. Is there a best gig you've ever had?

Zach Irons:
I have, but I don't remember. I can't tell you what it was, but I know afterwards it was like, "That was probably the best show that we've ever done in our lives." I've said that quite a few times. I'm a little bit of the boy who cried wolf.

Evan Ball:
Okay. How about a worst gig ever?

Zach Irons:
One time in Irontom opening for AWOL, a record label flew out to see us and my amp died within the first, I think it was the first three minutes of the set and then it took me 10 minutes to get it back up and running and those guys just were just jamming for 10 minutes.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. All the while being painfully aware there's a label watching your every move.

Zach Irons:
But afterwards, they were stoked. They're like, "Well, we saw worst case scenario and you guys did good." And we're like, "Oh, okay."

Evan Ball:
There you go.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. Then they didn't sign us.

Evan Ball:
All right. Favorite city or country to tour in?

Zach Irons:
New York, Chicago, Austin. There's always good times in those places. Country, it's definitely fun to go to other countries for sure. I can't say a fav but-

Evan Ball:
Okay. If you were a professional athlete, what sport would you want to be in?

Zach Irons:
Basketball. 100%.

Evan Ball:
Really? Okay.

Zach Irons:
I don't know how to play any others. I literally do not know the rules of one other sport. Basketball's the only sport I relate to whatsoever.

Evan Ball:
Okay. Have you played basketball for a long time?

Zach Irons:
No, I have never played. I just like it.

Evan Ball:
Oh, you just like to watch it. Okay.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. Yeah. I just am inspired by it. Maybe it's because I'm from LA where the Lakers ruled and it was just such a thing to be into, but I don't know. Michael Jordan Space Jam's a big deal to me, honestly. And I just watched The Last Dance, which was just the best thing I've ever seen in my life. I feel like that.... I don't know if you've heard about it or seen it.

Evan Ball:
I did not see it, but I saw how highly it was rated.

Zach Irons:
It's so good. I would recommend it, highly.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. All right. Any hobbies or interests besides music?

Zach Irons:
I'm really into backpacking right now. That's my favorite thing right now. I just talked to my buddy last night for an hour on the phone about tents and packs. Just nerdy stuff, but I'm just really down with it right at this moment. It's really nice to go connect with nature in times like this, just get away from your phone, get away from the psych of the what's going on and get out there and just go far out and swim and just be contemplative. It's really something that's important to me at this point in my life.

Evan Ball:
Is that something you do solo or do you have a group of friends?

Zach Irons:
No, I wish I was that hardcore. I have my main guy who got me into it, who we always are planning our trips and we're always like, "Bro, we got to..." Maybe we don't say, "Bro," but we're like, "We got to get back out." Always scheming to get back out there because you only have a few months of the year that it's comfortable to go because of the weather. You go to the high elevation. It's never that hot. You don't want it to be that hot, but in the winter, it's just out of the question, for me, at least.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Mostly around Southern California?

Zach Irons:
No, we actually go up to the Trinity Alps up there by Shasta. That's the area we like to go to.

Evan Ball:
Oh, way up there. Okay.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, yep.

Evan Ball:
All right. Favorite set of guitar strings?

Zach Irons:
Ernie Ball 10s.

Evan Ball:
Yes. You play regular slinky?

Zach Irons:
I do. Yeah. I mean, I've just gotten used to those now. They started getting put on my guitars in AWOL and then I just was... Now I feel weird if they're not on there. But there are these other ones that my friend put on my guitar that were apparently... They were just the Slinky 10s, but they were a little bit more high quality ones. I like those too.

Evan Ball:
It could have been Paradigms. They're extra strong.

Zach Irons:
Yeah. I think that might've been it. Yeah.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Yeah. They feel similar though. You can get the same gauges. All right. On that note-

Zach Irons:
Yeah, man.

Evan Ball:
Yeah, Zach Irons, thanks for being on the podcast.

Zach Irons:
Yeah, man. Thanks for having me.

Evan Ball:
Thank you for tuning in to Striking a Chord, an Ernie Ball podcast. Make sure you go check out Irontom's new album, which is indeed out at this point. If you'd like to contact us, please email [email protected]

Zach Irons:
Humans are humans so it's going to be fun and unfun at times.

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