Philip Zach spent two months silent.
Two months of rest and recovery, reflection and planning. Two months to heal the singing voice that had carried him through 15 years of performing with his three brothers in Remedy Drive, and two months to develop his solo project, Arrows and Sound.
Now a little over two years after the surgery that saved his music, Zach sips on his “sparkly water” as he recounts the journey from his former band, radio-sensation Remedy Drive, to his solo project’s self-titled debut album, pre-released on Bandcamp and available on iTunes on Feb. 26.
Raising roughly $8,600 with a Kickstarter project with 157 backers, Zach was able to finish the album with a lot of support.
“A lot of (my assistance) had to do with having trouble with my voice and going through a period of silence,” Zach says.
Even though Zach says he’s still scared to record vocals, fans of his ex-band, Remedy Drive, support him and have contributed to his highly successful sell of the album.
Building that fanbase required hard work. During one year, the brothers and their other bandmates traveled 285 days and spent the majority of their time promoting the band. Remedy Drive ended up signing with World Records and earning radio play with multiple hits such as “Along Along,” which reached No. 1 on R&R's Christian contemporary hit radio chart. While succeeding commercially, though, the band struggled with relational and creative issues. They hoped that moving to the next stage of stardom would help, but their issues only intensified.
“We realized these symptomatic issues,” Zach says. “Every time we would create, I’d want to take it in one direction and someone else would want to take it another direction. How do you marry those two ideas?”
On top of relationships within the band starting to suffer, Zach started to feel scratchiness and hesitation in his voice.
“For years, I had been singing all the really high parts,” Zach says. “I had to shout notes out to hit them purely, so after a couple more years I went to the doctor.”
Zach had vocal nodes.
“You may never sing again,” the doctor told Zach. “Don’t speak for a month and maybe they’ll heal themselves.”
In the fall of 2010, Zach followed the doctor’s orders and didn’t use his vocal cords for a month. After the month passed, the doctor informed Zach that the nodes had, if anything, gotten worse. He underwent a surgery to remove them and spent yet another month in silence. During this period of silence, Arrows and Sound was born. Soon after, Zach left Remedy Drive.
He left for two reasons: to heal his voice and to save his relationships with his brothers, “so that we could all chase the creativity that we had in our souls,” he says.
“I really dug into my soul in that time because I couldn’t talk,” Zach says. “I internalized all of my feelings and emotions. That’s when I really began to be interested in the gathering of sounds.”
Zach started to ask himself questions. “How does a sound affect our soul?” “How does a sound inspire or move us?”
During the second month of silence, Zach says he began to understand how someone with an abnormality feels.
“To get a glimpse into that world was very eye-opening,” Zach says. “To be the guy that was marginalized and minimized was odd. You feel like no one’s hearing you and no one cares what your opinion is. You’re just this thing in the room.”
After regaining his vocal strength and leaving the hectic life of Remedy Drive, Zach opened up his recording studio and began exploring his own sound. An obsession with investigating sounds soon manifested itself as Arrows and Sound.
“You go outside and you hear the rain and it makes you feel really small and insignificant, but at the same time, really fulfilled. Why is that? What is it about our souls that sense that? That bigness. And how do we connect with it?” Zach asks.
With Arrows and Sound as a tool, Zach is attempting to discover why we feel a certain way in response to a particular sound, such as rain. By incorporating natural background sounds in the album, Zach achieves this goal.
The album includes everyday noises typically created organically from odd surfaces and blends them digitally. Instead of using a drum kit to make rhythmic beats, Zach makes simple, homemade sounds such as a palm against a garage floor as the bass drum or a stick scraping against a fence as a makeshift symbol. He used these elementary noises to instill emotion.
“When you think of an arrow, it’s targeting the heart, it’s very specific,” Zach says. “The specificity of that is what really inspires me. You’re getting sounds to specifically target emotions.”
Because the album was inspired by sound, Zach said the lyrics followed after he made the music, perhaps to articulate what he wasn’t able to say during those two months of silence.
“(The lyrics are about) grief, loss and sadness with just a drop of hope,” Zach said. “Hopefully, they’re writing hope into my world through song.”