We met Zach from ToTell a long time ago, when we were on the same bill for some show. I don’t remember the show. I think it was with HelloKelly. Maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is we met, and instantly fell in love…. with the music. Not that I don’t love Zach or anything. He’s actually one of the coolest down to earth guys I have come across in my years of being in a band/meeting other bands. He is an amazing singer, great songwriter, and has really nice hair. He also was awesome enough to take some time to answer some questions for me!
1-Who are you, and what do you do in ToTell?
-My name is Zach Havens, and I am the lead singer/keyboardist for To Tell.
2-Who are the rest of the guys in the band?
-We’ve got Nate Rundle on guitar, Mike Switzer on drums, and Justyn Schwindt on bass.
3-ToTell…. to tell what, Zach? Explain the band name to me.
-Ha funny question. The band name was kind of random (taken from a setting on a new keyboard that I had purchased), but when the band name came up it was essentially along the lines that people are not going to play music unless they have something to say. For us, it was almost a simple little vision statement that summarized why we were playing music. Sure we love playing shows, meeting new people, etc. but the main thing that we get to do is express to other people things we’ve been through and are going through. Whether that’s how I met my wife, things I think are a little crazy about the world, or even what my personal commitments are, I’m really lucky to be able to present those ideas to more than just my immediate circle of friends. So to tell what? Let’s say everything, and that’s a good start.
4-I just saw you on Breakfast Television in Toronto last week! That’s crazy, how was it?
-It was killer, dude – SUPER early (we had to leave London at 3am). Really cool experience. We’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback from it, and we were really stoked that we were able to play live on national television. I was super nervous (I always always always get nervous before we play), but it was an incredible time and a really fun thing to do.
5-You’ve done some crazy touring over the last year. What has it been like going across Canada in a van?
-It’s been a lot of fun, man. It’s been awesome to see this country from coast to coast as a result of music, and while the drives are crazy long, being stuck in a vehicle with the other guys in my band is always a good time. I really see the value, though, of touring the US considering how much closer everything is. But yeah – driving across the country is awesome – I highly recommend it, band or no band.
6-What has been the most memorable show to play at so far?
-Um, there have been a few. Last summer we were able to open for Mariana’s Trench in Sarnia, and we got the opportunity to play in front of 8,000 people or so – Huge stage, great sound, amazing crowd, lots of fun. And MT ripped it up. Another really cool show was one that we played in Waterloo. It was at an outdoor stage under a tent, and it was pouring out. About 300 or 400 kids packed under this tent for our set and we all just partied – Probably one of the most fun show experiences I’ve had. Other than that, we’ve played some amazing shows with amazing people, so it’s hard to narrow it down from there.
7-I hear a lot of The Rocket Summer/Jacks Mannequin/SoCo…. obviously a lot of piano rock. When did you decide you were going to front a band and play piano?
-Well, my parents decided the whole piano thing when I was four as they forced me take piano lessons. I hated the idea, but I’ve since warmed up to it. ☺ I’ve always been a huge fan of heavier bands like Emery, Underoath, etc. but when I wanted to start a band, the only thing I could bring to the table was piano since I don’t play guitar. With that, To Tell came to be with a strong piano influence. I still wish I could play guitar though – Definitely a “cooler” instrument haha.
8-You are, like us, in a faith based band. Have your beliefs gotten in the way of anything a long the way?
-No, I’d say definitely not. We are all Christians in the band, and our faith is what dictates how we live our lives. With that in mind, it definitely affects different decisions that we make, and for the most part it’s kept us away from a lot of really bad situations. That’s not to say that our faith doesn’t necessarily give some people incorrect assumptions about who we are as a band, but we really try to not be exclusive in the music we create. We’ll just as easily play a club in downtown Toronto as we will play a youth group in Northern Ontario, and if anything I think that the fact our faith allows us to connect differently with different audiences has been a huge positive. If you believe what we believe, we have a common ground understanding both on and off the stage. If you think what we believe is ridiculous, then we have a really cool opportunity to hear what those beliefs are and appreciate them.
9-You have 2 music videos out. Both are great. This is less of a question, more of a statement. Respond as you wish.
-Thanks! I’m super stoked on how they both turned out. It was also sweet to have my wife play a prominent role in the one and then have my niece be one of the kids in the other. So glad you dig them ☺
10-Every bands most hated question. What is your number one favourite ToTell song?
-Yeah, that makes sense as to why every band would hate having to choose their favorite To Tell song.I’d have to say Change Me Now. It’s the last track off our full length, and I really love it because on a lot of levels it’s really simple, but it’s also a super artistic song. Also, when I wrote it I was going through some pretty crazy stuff, so I’m really really proud of what it says lyrically. It’ll be that song that I’ll listen to when I’m 50 and be like, “yeah, I’m so glad I wrote that.”
11-Nate, Mike and Justyn are all killer musicians, how did you go about putting the band together?
-They are all incredible musicians and even better dudes. Nate and I met through our old bass player. He was actually originally going to play drums for To Tell (he’s an amazing drummer), but when I lost my original guitarist, he joined in and has been with me for the longest. Mike filled in a couple times on bass and guitar, so I got to know him through just a few shows here and there. When I needed a more consistent drummer, he hopped on board and has been with me since. He grew up in a family of touring musicians, so the way he’s able to adapt so easily from a musical, tech, and travelling perspective is really amazing, and I’m so thankful for it. It’s kind of random how Justyn started in To Tell. I was in desperate need for a bass player, and I had my eye on this one guy. He couldn’t do it, and I honestly had no idea who I was going to get. Justyn is several years younger than me, and he always came out to our shows. He had just graduated high school, and I offered him the job. It’s kind of random, because he only played guitar, and even then I had never actually seen him play. However, he has an amazing hard-working personality, and I’m constantly amazed at how random it is that he plays with me, and also how perfect he is for the job.
12-We’ve had the pleasure of playing with you a few times (we need to make it more often), and we are, obviously, way heavier than you. How does it feel to be on bills where you are the musical man out?
-Haha I love it. As I mentioned, I listened to a bunch of heavier bands growing up (still do), and each of the other guys in the band were all in metal bands before joining To Tell. Honestly, sharing the bill with some really solid heavy bands makes for an awesome show.
13-Let’s talk gear. What do you use live, and in the studio? I remember seeing Something Corporate, and they legit rolled a piano out at shows. You obviously don’t do that…. tell me what you use!
-Well, at home I have a Kawaii baby grand piano, and on the road I use a Roland FP-4 keyboard. It’s 88 keys and fully weighted, and it’s pretty ridiculously beat up. It’s a beautiful thing, though ☺
14-ToTell dream tour, you and three other bands. Who do you choose?
-To Tell, Relient K, Rocket Summer, Emery
15- The first half of 2012 has been nuts for you. Plans for the next 6 months?
-We’re planning on releasing a couple new music videos over the next while. We’ve got shows booked all summer all over Ontario and into Quebec, and we’re also going to be spending a ton of time songwriting, recording, and getting ramped up for some new music – Very very excited!
16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?
-Five Guys – We’re pretty thrilled that there’s one in London now, so that’s definitely a huge danger! Also Boston Pizza is pretty popular since it’s one of the only places that has food at 1 in the morning haha.
17- Being in a band, In know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling ring for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be?
-Ummmmmm we’re all pretty light weight dudes, but I’d say probably Nate – The other two guys have tattoos which subconsciously makes me think they’d kill me or something ☺
18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?
-Well, I found myself in that position a lot, so last fall I started taking online courses through a university in the states. I’m working on my Bachelor of Science in Accounting, so whenever we have down time before our set, I’ll typically work on school (in BC I finished a test, like, 10 seconds before we went on stage haha). Justyn and Nate always play video games (League of Legends, SWTOR, WOW, etc.) and Mike sleeps – The man can sleep actually anywhere no matter how loud, so that’s usually how it goes.
19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In ToTell, whos the dad, mom, etc.
-Honestly, that’s a super hard question. I think that across the board, we all have our different roles and strengths and that at the end of the day we’re all just pretty much brothers…. Or fathers…. No, brothers (inside joke) bringing different things to the table.
20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?
-Wow, hard question…. Umm….. probably the cartoon show of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Mike’s Iron Man, Nate’s Thor, Justyn’s the Hulk, and I’m Captain America.