Interview: Derek Zanetti of The Homeless Gospel Choir

We had the awesome chance to interview Derek Zanetti of The Homeless Gospel Choir. We will also be putting up a review of his most recent album, I Used To Be So Young, later this week so be sure to check back for that. Check out the interview below! 

Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from? What kind of environment did you grow up in?
I’m right here from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania I’ve lived here my whole life and my family was pretty normal American family I guess. I have brothers and sisters and my mom stayed at home and raised us and my dad went ahead and worked as a construction worker. My parents were very conservative and not took us to church on Sundays and voted when it was time to vote and we did pretty much normal kid stuff played Little League and went to the candy store and am said the Pledge of Allegiance when we were asked to.

Who or what initially got you into music?
I can remember my mother showed us a video when I was about six or seven years old about how Satan was inside of some of the popular music like the sex pistols and the beetles and queen and Michael Jackson and the devil is trying to infiltrate the youth of America through their music and that really intrigued me so I started to l secretly listen to those bands to see if I can hear it or see it. And to me rock ‘n roll is just like a drug that I couldn’t get away from you and I want to listen to queen or the clash or Bob Dylan and you’re so moved by their words and your so moved by the music it’s hard to get away from that. And as of yet I found no evidence of the devil is in any of that music but if he is then I’m I’m completely fine with the devil.

You’re on A-F Records, which is run by members of Anti-Flag. How did you end up being on their label? How has it been working with them on this latest album, especially Chris #2 since he produced the album?
I’ve been good friends with the dudes at AF for quite some time and I think it was just a natural next step that they were to put out my record. There such amazing guys and honest and hard-working and very generous with their time and their resources and they just want to help me make the best record that I could possibly make and am I think we succeeded that. Chris number two is just an awesome guy has a great ear for music he’s a great motivator and when we got in the studio together he and I just clicked and we were able to put her heads together and really make a good go of some of the songs.

Your songs tell great stories. When did you know that music was what you wanted to focus on to get your story out there?
Well I knew from a long time ago that I didn’t want to work for anybody and I didn’t want to necessarily have a 9-to-5 job or spend my time working away and some office. And I like music and I like playing it and the more I play the more people tell me that they liked it and they wanted to support it. So about five years ago I just decided to pack all my stuff in my car and hit the road to be on to tour and I’ve been doing that pretty solidly now for about the last five or six years.

What was it like to have your debut pressed on vinyl since that’s not something many artists have a chance to do for their first album?
This is actually the third full length record that I’ve put out on vinyl the first two I put out myself. I love vinyl, I love the art that comes along with it, I like the aesthetic of listening to it, I like the the collectors, and I just wanted to participate in that culture. CDs are bad for the environment anyway so I just skip that step with the whole digital download thing if somebody really doesn’t have a record player doesn’t want to listen to it on vinyl they can just download it on their computer and just skip that whole process of having a CD.

In “Musical Preference” you mention liking Johnny Cash, Springsteen, Black Sabbath and others. Are they some of your biggest influences?
Absolutely I listen to music all day long every day and I’ve I’m influenced by everything from Public Enemy to Hank Williams, Black Sabbath, everything I can get my hands. I just love I love music and I am inspired by it all.

How was your tour after the album came out?
The record release tour was amazing I was out with the listener and 68 and we did a month-long tour together and it was awesome. The crowds were very excepting of the new songs and they really supported the new record and I feel very fortunate that I got to make something so special to me.

We’ll wrap it up with this. What are your plans now that the shows are slowing down and the release has been out for a couple of months already?
I tour pretty steadily so I’m home for a few weeks and then I go back out in November a week or two in December and after the new year I’m going to just keep at it. I’m going to Europe and I have a bunch of shows plan to play with Anti Flag next year and is really excited about that. The plan is to tour hard on this record for the next two years and see see how it all sorts out in plans out so far so good I just look forward to playing in front of new people in and making some new friends and seeing some new faces. I’m also putting out my second book in a few months and I’m gonna be doing some intermittent touring on that which is really exciting. I hope I answered all your questions the way that you wanted me to and thanks a million, I appreciate it.