When Zach Lombardo was 8 yearsold, he begged his parents for an instrument. They bought him a half-size acoustic guitar, and “it was history from there,” he said.
Lombardo, 27, released his new EP, “Endless Surrender,” in October. Prior to that, he had an album called “Away From the Light.”
The musician grew up in Seattle, mostly in the Madison Park neighborhood. Now, he lives on Queen Anne and works during the day doing office work for the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
While many musicians want to be unique or mysteriously artistic, Lombardo’s goal is to be accessible.
“I like to allow everyone to get something out of the product if they’d like to,” he said. “Whatever they want to get, I hope to provide them with it, because I have more fun if other people are having fun.”
Being accessible means catering his performance to his audience, and Lombardo’s audiences don’t necessarily congregate at the typical concert venue. Instead, he plays restaurants and bars. Once a month, Lombardo performs at McGilvra’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (4234 E. Madison St.) in Madison Park, and he’s on the rotation of live musicians at Paragon (2125 Queen Anne Ave. N.) in Queen Anne.
Matching the mood
On his CD and in the studio, his band backs Lombardo up. When he performs, though, he markets himself just as “Zach Lombardo, singer/songwriter.”
“So I can provide consistency and play the same content but cater it to the specific need of the venue,” he explained.
When Lombardo plays at places like Paragon, he caters to the mood of the crowd even more, he said, “because people aren’t there to focus their undivided attention on you.”
Sometimes, people will stop their conversations and listen to him play, “and that’s awesome.” But if people aren’t paying attention, Lombardo backs off and gives them more space. Catering to the audience makes it a more memorable performance, he said.
“If they hear a song they like, you can use that kind of as a lure to them: They’ll be more open to jumping on board,” he said.
Paragon has live music five nights a week, said manager Todd Ivester. Lombardo has been performing there for a little more than a year and is part of the musician rotation, he said. Hosting live music is good for business, Ivester said: “People come here to see the live musician, and I sell them alcohol.”
Lombardo brings a “nice, little vibe. He brings a little charm to the room,” Ivester said. “[Live music] brings a lot of energy. You’re looking at an artist who is putting their heart and soul out for everyone.”
People tell Lombardo that he sounds like John Mayer, a musician he doesn’t listen to much. Lombardo takes his main inspiration from musician Mike Doughty. Like Lombardo, Doughty switches between band and solo performances. He’s also not afraid to put out a “mish-mash” CD with unpolished songs right next to highly produced songs,” Lombardo said. That style was the inspiration for Lombardo’s first album, “Away from the Light,” which was “an amalgamation of a lot of years of work.”
His new EP is his first cohesive project.
Now that his EP is out and is getting “volume” locally, he wants to turn up the noise in other markets and hopes to start performing in Spokane and Bellingham.
“The album has helped me spread the word here, and I’d like to go regional,” he said. “That’s the next step.”
Whether Lombardo actually wants to become a famous musician off of his work is still undecided. A producer who worked on his album asked him, ‘Do you want to be famous, or do you want to have a life in music?’
“I thought that was a funny way of structuring the question,” Lombardo said. “I said, ‘I’d be happy with either.’”
If no one ever heard of him but could enjoy the songs he wrote through other artists, Lombardo said he would be happy. He’d also be happy performing, with a short, full-time music career.
It’s not a surprise that Lombardo would be happy just doing behind-the-scenes music work, because songwriting is the thing he’s most proud of.
“Sometimes the music I want to hear isn’t always...available to me,” he said. “So my way of counteracting that is just making my own that fits what I want to listen to.”
Lombardo doesn’t have a label and isn’t committed to a recording studio; in fact, his latest album was recorded at three different studios. He’d be interested in signing with a label, but only if it’s the right situation. A contract would need to be as beneficial for him as it is for the label because “there are so many opportunities for independent promotion that you have to make sure the pie is big enough to get a chunk.”
So, for now, he’s focusing on increasing his online presence and making connections. That’s a long process, Lombardo said.
“It’s kind of the deal where I’ve come a long way but I still have a long way to go.”
Lombardo will play the Paragon next on Feb. 8, at 9:30 p.m.
To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.