- Scott Williams
- (From left) Jessika Blanks plays keyboard and fiddle, Zac Hryciak is on guitar, Sean Williams plays bass and Lee Spratley on drums.
Zac Hryciak and high-school friend and fiddle player Jessika Blanks began playing music under the moniker Zac Hryciak and the Jungle Beat in 2007. They’ve become a Richmond favorite with their multipart vocal harmonies, rich storytelling and sexy rhythms. Lee Spratley joined the group on drums, and after a year-long band hiatus, bassist Sean Williams came on board and they released a first full-length record, “It’s Not a Big Deal” in 2012. The band recently released “Pale Flower,” a demo from its second album, “Fresh Beast,” with a hoped-for release in the fall.
Style: Tell us about “Pale Flower.”
Hryciak: First off, the title “Pale Flower” was taken from a great film by Masahiro Shinoda, though content-wise the two have few similarities. This song was written at a time when I was trying to write a collection of lyrically disorienting songs, and it was one of the few plucked from a pile that we decided to put on our upcoming album. Thematically, I suppose “Pale Flower” is about self-destruction.
What’s the process been like recording your second album?
“Fresh Beast” was recorded at Sound of Music with Bryan Walthall. During this process we have been honing our instrumentation as well as considering additional parts added in the studio. We wanted this to be a big-sounding record, and we were excited to be working in a professional music studio. The work that Walthall has put into our record is magnificent, and I must say that we felt blessed. [On the last day of recording], I walked out of the studio, red-eyed and stumbling to my car before finally collapsing into a brightly lit bedroom satisfied that we had started something great. “Fresh Beast” has taken a bit more work and has become a much larger-sounding record than we originally anticipated. We also forget how much larger our vocals are, which takes an incredible amount of time and focus. However we are confident in our work, and we are excited to share this as soon as humanly possible. Depending on how things go, we plan to release it sometime in the fall.
Do you feel the Richmond music scene helped you develop your sound?
The Richmond music scene has many different genres — everything from folk to punk and stoner metal. We usually get matched up with musicians and bands that have a completely different sound and vibe to our own. This has only helped us as performers, putting us in many different musical contexts and placing us in front of different audiences that would not typically hear what we got. The Richmond music scene has given us great feedback and a super confidence boost.
What do you have planned next?
We plan on going on a fall or winter East Coast tour after the release of “Fresh Beast.” We’re taking this project one album at a time. Tour funds and reactions to this album will give us inspiration on our next step as a band.
Zac Hryciak and the Jungle Beat perform with the Moonbees and Fools Errand at the Camel on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 9 p.m., $5.