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Zach Pietrini Speaks To His “Seventeen” Self

From Chicago to Milwaukee, indie-Americana recording artist and singer-songwriter Zach Pietrini embrace the good and the bad in his sweet-sounding, reflective single, "Seventeen."

Zach Pietrini's Midwestern, indie-Americana songwriting aesthetic is often compared to a comforting, go-to, well-worn denim jacket. He leads The Zach Pietrini Band with honest storytelling and a palpable wistfulness, while the band backs him up with cues from Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and David Ramirez.

The Zach Pietrini Band recently released their ninth studio album, Rock & Roll is Dead, featuring the second lead single, "Seventeen." Pietrini says the single is "a nod to how we often look at things as binary" when we should acknowledge that the good and the bad happen for a reason, giving us a new perspective and helping us grow.

The sweet single, "Seventeen," is quite the heartfelt, gripping tune. It starts with dreamy, melancholy acoustic guitar stums and Zach Pietrini's crooning vocals that recall a naive seventeen self, wanting to get behind the wheel but not knowing what's coming his way. Whether the tale Pietrini sings is accurate or not, it could be a metaphor for the impending chaos of growing up and the many storms, valleys, and depths that follow.

The Zach Pietrini Band gradually pours their soothing and tender Americana Midwestern instrumentals through the speakers while Pietrini continues tugging at our heartstrings and inducing some weighty introspection. It's a chilling piece with melodies that will linger for hours on end and a message that'll make you think twice about dread.

Speak to your "Seventeen" self with help from the chilling styles of Zach Pietrini and his band, and check out their ninth studio album, Rock & Roll is Dead, now available on all digital streaming platforms.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Zach Pietrini. We genuinely admired the honesty and thoughtfulness provided in your recent single, "Seventeen." What inspired you to create this reflective piece?

Thanks! Much of this album is about perspective. What were things in the past, what are they now, and what will I do about them? I was reading an article somewhere about memory. How our brains store information is less like file folders and more like a wiki page (it can change every time it's accessed), which is funny considering our youth and upbringing. There are so many things we are unaware of as kids that we can see now when we look back, but ultimately there are things now we miss from being young because we forget or have an older outlook or just can't put ourselves back in the same place we left. It’s painfully impossible to see something exactly as it was, yet we cannot see things exactly as they are in the moment. Again, this led to the overall theme that perspective is the only thing that lets us know if something is positive or negative, as demonstrated with my car in the song. I crashed it, and drove it around that suburb; I fell in love for the first time in it; I have so many memories of being with friends in it. I also got my heart broken in it. With such a range of events, it's impossible to say this was a positive or negative experience in life. It just was. My real life was somewhere between those extremes. I wanted to try and wrangle some of that.

What tone or vibe did you have in mind when crafting the instrumentals for "Seventeen?" How did you want the overall sound to make listeners feel?

This was a bit of a tough one for me to land on for a feel and vibe. It took three versions to land on this final one. The hardest part was to keep it engaging but not take away from the narrative by making things too complex or involved. The idea was to start small and build all the way to the end. Sometimes that can get a little too boring as you are waiting for the payoff. So we walked a bit of a tightrope on that. Ultimately I wanted it to feel nostalgic and hazy which is why we chose a Springsteen approach, synths with acoustic and other real instruments. I wanted the music to communicate the limited nature of our perspective, like seeing something through smoke or colored glass. You know what you're looking at, but you can't seem to make out every detail.

What was your goal regarding the listener's experience with "Seventeen"? Did you want them to take anything specific from your lyrics?

My hope was people embrace less binary thinking about life and experience. It's common for people to say things like, “I loved being 17; it was the best years of my life.” Or “I hated my early twenties; they were terrible.” Not to say that we don’t have periods of life that are better or worse than others, but I don’t think statements like that get at the complexity of existence. In reality, there are probably so many sweet moments we miss or hard moments we try and erase or not think of. When you reduce life this way, I think it reduces your ability to live, like you have less capacity to experience it. I hoped to remind people how crazy, fun, harrowing, hard, and beautiful all of it is.

How does "Seventeen" fit into the concept of your recent album, Rock & Roll is Dead? How does this song add to the overall experience?

As stated, this is an album about perspective over time. The title track has a bit of a dirge feel, but it's also a love song. It's about seeing something you love (Rock & Roll) fundamentally change, and even though the nature of the relationship I have with it is hard or different, I still love it. Seventeen is the piece of perspective that is foggy, some of the other songs are authentic pieces, and some others are somewhere in between. This album is a bit throwback in instrumentation, style, and feel. I wanted it to feel older than it was, like a memory. Seventeen feels like a memory to me.



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