There’s an easy-going nature to Zane Lewis that helps people feel as if they’ve known him for a long time, even if it’s their first time meeting the Lubbock, Texas native. He takes an active interest in his fans and, while performing, sells himself in a way that that only the best performers manage to do. Taking time out of a busy CMA Music Festival schedule, Zane sat down with Roughstock, over a couple of beers, at the downtown Doubletree hotel in Nashville.
We discussed many topics, like first jobs (Zane worked at McDonalds), but we invariably got to a hot-button issue with all people making a living in the music business; downloading. I couldn’t believe it when Zane told the story about a fan liking his music enough to meet him but instead of buying the CD from the merchandise table, the fan “said nah, I’ll get it off of Limewire.” While any conversation like that is disheartening, Lewis then agreed that legal music purchasing from web stores like iTunes was definitely the future of music and that it was a great way to “reach the fans” quickly.
“My Father is my greatest influence,” Lewis said when prompted about who influenced his career. He was also heavily influenced by country outlaws like Waylon Jennings and 80's rockers like Van Halen (the original group). Those influences can be heard throughout Lewis’ self-titled effort, which was released earlier this year, particularly on tracks like the new single “Welcome to the Southland” and “Bad Ass Country Band.” The sound of his record is tight due to the work of well known songwriter/producer Brett James. “At first I was sort of intimidated (because of his success) but Brett immediately made me feel at ease,” Lewis said.
The record they made not only plays well in the Texas venues, like the Garland (Texas) Opry where Lewis got his start, but also on the country radio stations all over the country. It’s that universal appeal that brought Zane to the CMA Music Festival. Playing at Nashville’s Hard Rock Café stage he earned quick fans with a short rockin’ set which ended with Lewis smashing a couple of acoustic guitars and then subsequently signing the shattered pieces for fans. It was all part of “an amazing experience” for him and one he’s hopeful to make an annual event.
When asked about what he’d say to the people reading this Zane hoped they “enjoy the music enough to tell their friends.” He then jokingly said that if they didn’t, they should keep it to themselves, “Just kidding!” said Lewis. He followed that up by stating his thanks “for the fans support” and that “there’s something for everyone on the CD.” Zane Lewis carries himself like all artists should: like fans are his friends.