Buffalo Killers

An interview with Bassist/Vocalist Zachary Gabbard
by Michelle Harper
July 2016

Buffalo Kilers - Homegrown Rock on the Farm

Buffalo Kilers - Homegrown Rock on the Farm

Buffalo Killers guitarist Zach Gabbard couldn’t be happier.

After ten years, six albums, an EP, touring with The Black Crowes and working with producers John Curley, Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys and Jim Wirt (Fiona Apple, Incubus), the band is slowing down to break new ground making music in their very own studio.

Brothers Andrew and Zachary Gabbard and drummer Joseph Sebaali formed Buffalo Killers in 2006 after their previous band Thee Shams broke up. Their 60s garage band psychedelic sound drew crowds by word of mouth, and got the attention of Alive Records, who Zach says are like “family”. After touring with The Black Crowes and working with Black Keys guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach on the production of “Let It Ride” in 2008, Buffalo Killers began making an album annually beginning with “3” in 2011, followed by “Dig. Sow. Love. Grow in 2012 and Ohio Grass (Record Store Day) in 2013. Sven Kahns joined the group in 2014 to play guitar and lap steel and the album Heavy Reverie was released. Their EP “Fireball of Sulk” came out that same year.

With things moving quickly, Buffalo Killers did a lot of touring, and as Zach recalls, it took a lot of time away from making music, and took a lot of time to recuperate once they got home.

After the whirlwind of 2014, the Gabbard brothers then took some time to pursue other projects, with Andy making his solo debut entitled “Fluff” and Zach producing Handsome Jack’s album “Do What Comes Naturally” (both projects with Alive Records).

Now, says Zach, he’s “way content” to slow down and make music on his picturesque 160-year-old farm outside of Dayton Ohio called Howler Hills (which has a Facebook page of the same name).

“We built a studio in the barn on my farm, and we’ve been working on that and collecting songs. Every record we’ve done differently. We’ve gone into the studio not knowing any of the songs. Andy and I write the songs and bring them to the table. We go in Friday, walk out Monday and the record’s done. With this album, the goal has always been to have our own studio, to walk out of my back door into the barn and record. It’s been a longer process just because, you know, collecting gear, collecting songs and we don’t go on the road as much.”

“We have a garden, we have a big melon patch, a pumpkin patch and chickens. As a family, I moved out here like 5 years ago.

Howler Hills Farm is our studio and our home. Over the past 5 years we’ve been building this place where you can do whatever you want. That’s always been the goal.”

Zach points out that every album Buffalo Killers made was made differently than the one before it. And, while all the producers and labels he’s worked with were “great”, his mission on the current album is very clear.

“You know, over the years we made records with other people. Always we came to building this studio. Everyone always told us what we couldn’t do. You can’t do that, you know everyone acts like you need all this stuff and you’ve got to keep everything separated. With this record, all I wanted to do was do everything that everyone told me I couldn’t do. That we couldn’t just record in the barn. But Alive Records is supportive, and we know we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. We’re just sitting back and taking our time…and breaking all the rules.”

One would expect this approach would yield some really interesting sounds, especially from a band whose sound has been compared to The James Gang, Mountain, and even the Beatles.

“We’ve just been really into getting weird noises, you know (for the new album). When you need a cowbell, you go outside and pull one off the side of the barn, run it through an amp, as raw and weird as we can make it is what we’re really trying to do.”

Despite being more than a little past deadline with this latest project, Zach is satisfied with the progress, because it’s being made in his own studio, on his farm, his way. When asked if there’s anyone he wants to work with in the near future, either on his projects or theirs, his answer leaves no doubt.

“I’m very satisfied where I’m at. We have our studio now and I can pick and choose what shows that we do, and I know that the label is supportive. All of our labels have been supportive a lot, and I’ve made a lot of great relationship. Honest, I’ve worked with all kinds of great people already, and I’m cool with what’s happened. That’s good enough for me.”

Buffalo Killers has always gained a following by word of mouth. Their homegrown rock sound has spread organically, and Zach is confident it will continue to do so in the future.

“We’ve always had good things happen. There’s never been any kind of major giant push behind us. We just do what we do and it happens naturally.”

Buffalo Killers are playing AtwoodFest in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday July 30th at 8:15pm on the Alchemy stage.

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