Los Angeles native and former member of AWOLNATION Dave Amezcua steps back in to the spotlight with his latest solo effort, ZIMINY. The first single “She (Zoey Deutch)” harkens back to the beloved tones of 80s, surf and R&B music (think Bill Champlin, Beach Boys, Toto) with a modern twist.
I got the chance to talk with Dave about the concert that made him realize music is what he wanted to do for a living, where the name ZIMINY came from, why he named his single after Zoey Deutch and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
First off, thank you for having me! I was a lucky kid man. I grew up in a town that was exploding with great music at the time, producing bands like Incubus, Hoobastank and AWOLNATION. I actually played in the last two I mentioned, Hoobastank for brief period of time – greatest guys on earth – and AWOL for about 3 1/2 years. Prior to that, I was also in Under the Influence Of Giants with Aaron Bruno of AWOL. Just a really explosive energy came out of my community for a solid decade. [I was] grateful to be a part of it.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
Yep. Les Claypool, full stop. My first concert ever, well I digress as my FIRST concert ever was New Kids on the Block. That was tight AF, but I was already checked out asleep by the time they played “Hangin’ Tough” so whatevs – I was 6. Cut to 1995, what I consider my first actual concert, was seeing Primus on the ‘Tales from the Punchbowl’ tour at the Saltair in SLC. They opened with “Damn Blue Collar Tweekers”, and if you know the first drop at like 35 seconds into the song, the crowd was in sync bouncing up and down, and I lost my 12 year old mind. Never looked back. I actually played the Saltair years later with Hoobastank and got to tell that story on stage. [It was a] special moment for me.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music so if you had to describe the music you make without using genre names, how would you describe it?
Kinda like Sommelier’s, right? Have you seen that documentary on Netflix about people trying to become a Sommelier? They are describing wine by the smell of the nodes, and there’s this one guy that’s like, “Tennis balls. Black Pavement. Gravy Train.” I’m like, “What the f*ck is he actually talking about?” So if I had to describe my music, it is definitely tennis balls, black pavement and gravy train. 🙂
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
Easy. With my songwriting, I am heavily influenced by Chicago, Bill Champlin, Toto, Beach Boys, and in terms of modern music, I really love Cage the Elephant, Young the Giant, Tame Impala and I am a huge AWOLNATION fan, even though I was in that shit.
What made you want to branch off from AWOLNATION and start ZIMINY?
It’s actually been some time now since I was last in AWOL. There’s been a few bass players that have filled that position since my departure in 2013. I had kids. Kids can either become the priority, or take a serious back seat to your touring lifestyle. I decided to put them first. They are a little older now, so it’s easier for me to get back to this thing called music. I’m very happy to put my first foot forward with ZIMINY.
I’m so curious: what does ZIMINY stand for? Where did the idea for that name come from?
Honestly, I really don’t like band names. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Like Metallica – EPIC. In terms of ZIMINY, I just love bookends in the alphabet. I want a name that starts with the letter A or the letter Z. ZIMINY fell the freak out of my mouth when I said the letter Z and that’s the story. Sometimes, it comes as inspiration, and other times, it ends up a bad idea. I kinda feel this is leaning toward inspiration, cause I really think the name fits the sound of the project. It just feels good to me.
ZIMINY’S debut single is “She (Zoey Deutch)”. What is the song about? Why name the song after Zoey Deutch?[laughs] Okay so I wrote the song about my wife. But honestly, I knew I needed a hook name, kinda like an 80s song. Like Toto had “Rosanna” and “Pamela”, and I’m over here like, “Well I can’t use Lea Thompson, even though I still think she is so hot in Howard the Duck… ‘Cause that’s just weird.” But hey! I LOVE her daughter Zoey Deutch so much. She’s funny, she’s current, and she’s talented and beautiful. A perfect muse. That’s that story. P.S. – my wife is totally cool with the fake muse.
Something I’ve always been curious with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed ”She (Zoey Deutch)” or did it just come about organically once you were in the session?
I had this piano line that I actually wrote on a suuuper DX7 80s tone. I was going to track it that way, but backed off once I played it on an acoustic piano and found a nice middle ground for it to sonically live in the recorded realm. So I had the hook melody first, and then this lyric came to mind, “She’s my one telephone call”, which I immediately loved. Love the idea of being in jail, and who’s your one call? That’s my wife. I mean, If she doesn’t answer, I’ll try Zoey, but I’ll need to track down her digits first. But yes, I typically come up with one idea, and then pull on the thread and see where it leads.
Was there any major changes made to ”She (Zoey Deutch)” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
There is always a change. I wrote it three keys too high, and I actually didn’t want to have to relearn it three keys down before going into the studio. So I just recorded it the way I knew it, and then transposed the key 3 semitones down, then played live drums, bass and vocals over that. I NOW know how to play it acoustically in the key it was recorded, but did not at the time of tracking. There’s one example of a major change that takes place in a recording session.
What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach?
Man, I think when you put your first foot forward in anything, you are hoping it’s your best foot and that what you are putting out into the universe will land on it’s feet. No pun intended. I’m hoping for the world! What’s the saying? Aim high but hang loose? [Laughs] I don’t know. I would love to continue doing music as long as people are willing to listen and enjoy it.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I tend to nerd out over my friends and family, so AWOLNATION’s new release “Slam” is a jam, Fitness’ song “Dirty Work”, Dueling Whitneys, Jamin Wilcox is putting out some fine tunes and my brothers at Shift Pattern and Foil Partners are creative gangsters in the branding and digital world. My sister also has a platform called Beond TV with a ton of great content including musical acts. I’m truly lucky to have very inspiring humans around me.