When guitarist-vocalist Zach Gabbard split from his group Thee Shams and started Buffalo Killers with fellow Shams, his brother Andy and drummer Joey Sebaali, he didn’t think it’d amount to much.
But then Alive Records signed the trio and released their self-titled debut in 2006 and have since released their three other records including last year’s aptly named “3” and next week’s “Dig. Sow. Love. Grow.” that’s already acquired a lot of pre-release buzz.
Once again, the guys recorded “Dig” at Candyland Recording Studio under the tutelage of Mike Montgomery. Whereas “3” was tightly planned out and orchestrated, “Dig” saw the band doing things they hadn’t done before: recording parts of the record without rehearsing, learning the songs on-spot and recording on the first take.
“It seems like every record surpasses the last record,” Gabbard said. “I’m super-proud of it [“Dig”]. I’m very proud of us as a whole, the band and the three of us are a really good team and everyone cares about each other. And to play and have those moments onstage and look over and it’s my brother and Joey, it tickles me to death.”
Critics label the band as classic rock or psychedelic rock, but they will soon discover the new album purposely oozes a fuzzier sound.
“With this record, we just wanted to rock again, to just bite someone’s head off again,” Gabbard said. “And I think we accomplished that. Sometimes you get wrapped into wanting to be super-deep or really try to say something, and sometimes it comes down to let’s just f---ing rock.”
The truth is, Gabbard is quite pensive, saying things like, “When you lie down at the end of the night, and you cuddle up with your kids and you go to bed, that’s all that matters.”
A couple of years ago he escaped the city and moved to a farm between Cincinnati and Dayton with his wife and kids. Since he plays a lot of shows in both cities, he basically has two hometowns.
Gabbard credits working with Ohio music royalty as one reason why the band’s been so successful. He’s taken guidance from Black Key Dan Auerbach (who produced their second album “Let It Ride”), John Curley of the Afghan Whigs (they recorded at his Ultrasuede Studio) and Kelley Deal of Breeders fame (she sang on “Could Never Be” on their last album).
“As far as Cincinnati goes, think about all of the bands from Cincinnati that have gone out and done things,” he said. “It’s super-inspiring. It should be for anyone who’s in a band. When I first started out playing music, it was like, oh, we have to start going out on the road and I realized that just by watching what everyone else was doing at the time.”
Over the years the road has become a conflicted medium for him. He loves to tour, but he misses his family and thinks his home life would be greatly affected if he was constantly gone.
Luckily, the band decides when they want to tour. They’ll do a brief tour for the new record and they might finally get around to playing some gigs in Europe, where they have a head-scratching following, even though they only played there once.
“To be able to make records and travel and go places and there’s people there that want to see us play, it still blows my mind,” Gabbard said. “I always expect for there to never be anyone there.”
With Thee Shams imploding and a regular job never panning out, it’s clear Buffalo Killers is what Gabbard was meant to do with his life.
“Everyone’s happy and everyone’s into doing it,” Gabbard said. “I’m in a very good place. I’m very lucky that I have guys that I love that I play with, and my wife supports me in anything I want to do, and I have two beautiful kids. I’m a super-lucky man.”