By John Benson
Zach Rock has heard all of the jokes before.
No, he’s not related to Kid, and yes, that’s his real name. In fact, speaking to the latter point, this Youngstown native is making a name for himself in the Pittsburgh music scene as part of a relatively new group, Nameless in August, which makes its Northeast Ohio debut Friday at Cedars.
“We are a folk-rock band compared to The Avett Brothers and the Counting Crows,” said Rock, calling from the Steel City. “We ran into each other going to different open mics. I’ve been in two other groups, but this band is much more mature. When you’re young, you kind of think about yourself more than anything, but as you grow up, you realize it’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about what you’re making as a whole.”
What the group is making now is its debut studio effort, which Rock hopes to have out by the end of this year. Some of his favorite new songs include the mellow “Kentucky Snow,” the foot-tapping “The Way It Goes” and the soft-groove “Favorite Band.”
Even though the band is in the studio and recording is moving along, Rock senses Nameless in August will be more of a group people have to see live in order to fully understand or grasp.
“We thrive live,” Rock said. “You can take anyone in the studio and do track by track, but it’s not the same as the emotion that comes out when you’re on stage. The live version of the song is always better than the studio version. And in most cases, the live version is where all of the emotion is captured.”
As for the group’s obscure moniker, that dates back to last summer when the then un-named band searched for a title. Rock prophetically said, “We won’t be nameless in August.” Hence, the group was nameless and, well, there you have it.
Regarding his surname, Rock is what’s on his birth certificate. Actually, his family shortened the Polish name back in the 1940s. Still, it makes for interesting conversations.
“No one believes it’s your real name,” Rock said, laughing. “People look at me like, ‘What are you trying to pull giving yourself a name Zach Rock?’ We don’t even rock that hard. We’re more like Zach soft rock.”
Whether Rock is rocking or soft-rocking, the 2001 Struthers High School graduate returns to Northeast Ohio for his first hometown show in over six years. Considering all of his travels, including time spent spinning his wheels living in South Carolina, the singer-songwriter-guitarist hopes to impart a message of empowerment at the upcoming gig.
“Just be what you want to be no matter where you’re from or whatever that is,” Rock said. “I am going back there with the mind-set that this is who I am, and it doesn’t matter that I’m from a small town like Youngstown. My art and my passion are out there. And whatever your passion is, you should be doing it. Leave income and everything aside and just be happy with yourself no matter what that is.”