Propelled by four veteran musicians, the band has released two EPs and a single, with more on tap. They made their debut for Local Spins on WYCE, which also aired new music from several Michigan acts.
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As guitarist Dave Stanton puts it: “We just hit on a magical combination.”
That delectable musical mixture comes in the form of Zebra 3, a new West Michigan super-group of sorts that’s distilled its varied influences and extensive experience in a host of area bands to shape striking new pop- and soul-fueled rock at Grand Rapids’ all-analog Goon Lagoon.
Starting with seminal inspirations such as The Beatles and The Byrds – and born from the same lineup as the country/Americana band Diff & Dudley and The Big Sirs – Zebra 3 has leapt “out of the box” to create music demanded by the songs themselves.
“Our influences run the gambit,” insisted singer and multi-instrumentalist Mitch Wood. “In the studio, we kind of let the songs dictate what they want to be, and then make them that. I think we encompass every era. Often, we combine several different genres and eras into one song.
“Our goal is to write thoughtful, melodic songs for anyone and everyone.”
Joined by guitarist-singer Jack Leaver and percussionist-singer Todd Truman, Zebra 3 started recording its first batch of songs at Goon Lagoon three years ago under the watchful eye and discerning ear of studio owner and engineer Tommy Schichtel.
The move came after the same foursome released a vintage country album under the Diff & Dudley moniker.
But Stanton said other songs they concocted “were not going to fit in that same box. Left to our devices, we’re going to write melodic pop song a lot of the time instead of like a country song. We decided to not limit ourselves and just put the best songs forward.”
What has emerged thus far: Two four-song EPs (“Now Dig This!” and “Make the Seen”) and a Motown-hued single featuring guest vocalist Kathy Lamar (“Dead Presidents”), all released in 2021. The tracks have racked up thousands of plays on Spotify thus far, with “Love the Life You Live” and “Sunshine Girl” each topping the 25,000 mark. For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Wood and Stanton spotlighted the tracks “Sunshine Girl” and “Dead Presidents.” Scroll down to listen to the songs and the full radio show podcast.
A ‘STELLAR’ DIVERSE SOUND WITH PLANS FOR LIVE SHOWS IN 2022
The band not only hopes to eventually release a full-length vinyl package of its songs, but also plans to start rehearsing for its first live performances in 2022, complete with “a few extra players” to reflect the sound of the lush recordings.
Stanton said Schichtel and the Goon Lagoon, with its vintage gear, have allowed Zebra 3 to create “a stellar sound” for its music.
“A lot of the equipment that we record through is basically the same equipment that the Beatles had to record through. So, the fidelity of the sound of the recording is through-the-roof good sound,” Stanton said.
Adding to that classic sonic milieu: The tracks were sent to London to be mastered at the historic Abbey Road Studios.
Longtime West Michigan music fans, of course, would recognize Zebra 3’s members from other area projects:
Wood is a former member of the rootsy Dutch Henry, and performed in The Dushanes with Leaver and Truman; Stanton is a member of surf-rock’s The Concussions and pop-flavored B-Sides with Schichtel; Leaver is a solo artist and leader of the Tom Petty tribute band American Heartbreakers; Truman also performed in the band Mosey with Leaver and Truman.
After all that varied musical experience, Stanton and Wood agreed that Zebra 3 (the moniker is a “Starsky & Hutch” TV show reference from the 1970s) has created something truly special and distinctive.
“The mode of operations now becomes limitless as we have given ourselves permission to write any type of song that springs to mind,” Stanton said.
“The writing has now been shown to be very diverse in nature, which is the way we like it as we all have a wide range of tastes and influences.”
Added Wood: “The songs are catchy, they’re all very different from one another, but still sound like us. And we put out a positive vibe.”
Listen to more Zebra 3 tracks here.
This week’s episode of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights local and regional music at 11 a.m. Friday on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also aired new music from Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps, Kanola Band, The Epitones, La Furia Del Ritmo, Whiskey Hunter and Grace Theisen, as well as songs by The Fuzzrites (this week’s musicians’ pick by Zebra 3), Hannah Laine, Don Benson and Lokella.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (12/10/21)
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