"YOU" Need to Check out this KILLER Zek Richards EP and Learn his Incredible Story!!!
We got a chance to chat with this up and coming country artist over the phone about his music, his military past, and what's next. The phone call was not recorded but transcribed to pen and paper as best as could be while still keeping up with the conversation. Due to that, Zek's words you see are paraphrased to best represent his answers.
CIC: You recently changed your artist name from Jonathan Richards to Zek Richards. What sparked the change?
Zek: Honestly, it was more of a marketing thing than anything. There are just so many Jon or Jonathan Richards out there, it was hard for fans to find my music. I've been in the business for awhile and things were just seeming to stay pretty stagnant. I thought, "What am I doing wrong?" My manager told me, "You're doing everything right, it's just too hard for people to find you online." It came to the point where I was either gonna fade away and disappear or I could make a change and try to explode. My middle name is Ezekiel and so we thought, "What about Zek?" I'd played with a girl in Florida and we billed ourselves as Zek and Korah. We looked it up, and I'm the only Zek Richards out there that we could find. Within the next day of me changing the name, we started to see huge improvement. Eventually I would like to get to the point where we can take Richards out, where you can just see the name Zek and know it's me.
CIC: You released your debut EP, "You" last summer. Let's talk about that for a second and what the next move is musically!
Zek: The first single for that EP was "Over You". It did pretty well and I really liked the tune. The next song I wrote was "This One's For You". I thought, "Man wouldn't it be cool to just do an EP called 'You' where all the songs have 'you' in the title?" We planned out the EP and recorded three songs that I was proud of. We've got it set up so that a portion of all proceeds from the EP go to support the Semper Fi Fund and everything they do to help recovering veterans. I'm in the works of recording a new EP that I wanna release later this year called "Everything's Changed". For this record, I wanna focus a lot more on the storytelling aspect of songs.
CIC: Your style is very rock n' roll heavy country. Was it always like that or how did you start out?
Zek: My dad was a touring musician in my early years. He was big into the country rock and southern gospel sounds. One day when I was four years old, I was watching him play and he put a red guitar in my hand. I had no idea what I was doing but was instantly hooked. My dad encouraged me pretty early on and I would gig with his band from the time I was 7-15. My brother's are musical as well, one plays classical piano and the others a drummer. As far as the rock influence goes, my first band in high school was a punk band called Breaking Barriers.
CIC: So it sounds like you were doing a lot of big things musically at a really young age; bigger things than some adult musicians may ever achieve in their lives. But after you graduated high school you joined the military. What motivated you to sort of put music to the side and pursue this career?
Zek: I was in high school and a bunch of my buddies and I had planned to go play some football out at the fields. Where we were playing, there were recruiters for the Marines playing as well and talking to us kids about what joining the Marines could do for us. I'll never forget, we played against the recruiting officers and I tackled the hell out of the head recruiter. So hard that I heard something pop, I don't know what. I got off him and he said, "That's the weakest tackle I've ever seen". He got up, popped his knee back into place and told me, "Pain is weakness escaping from the body". After he said that, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
CIC: That's super noble of you to want to pursue that path and I want to thank you for your service. While you were over there though, you got hurt?
Zek: I did. I was a truck driver over there and hit 5 IED's while driving. The first two were pretty mild and I was right back in the field after because I felt like I needed to do it. The next ones had me in recovery for a couple of weeks before going back out and then the fifth one is the one that sent me home. I went to the Wounded Warrior in North Carolina and that's when I really fell back into music. I did music therapy and it helped immensely and reminded me of how important it was to me. I actually have a tattoo on my left arm that says, "Music heals, overcomes, and changes". Through music therapy and the support of family, I was able to get better and better and now here I am.
CIC: Wow that's a lot. I'm genuinely inspired by your strength and courage and am so glad that you've been able to recover as well as you have. You mentioned your family though, tell me about them.
Zek: I've been married to my wife for 11 years now. We actually got married right before I left for my deployment. She's been incredible through everything though, from support in my recovery to support for my music she's always there. It was initially hard on her I think because she didn't come from a musical family and so when I started pursuing that she just wasn't very adapted to the lifestyle. But as we've continued to do this together no one has been a bigger supporter or fan then her. I show her everything I write, she takes care of the kids when I'm off at shows and she brings the kids to shows when they can.
CIC: Any little Zek's running around wanting to follow in their father's musical footsteps?
Zek: You know, I really don't push it on them because I want it to be something they want to do for themselves, not just because daddy does it. They toy around with singing and dancing around the house a bit but truthfully, they're big into sports. My daughter plays softball and my son plays baseball.
CIC: That's awesome, glad to hear that everyone is doing well, including you. Thanks so much for taking some time to talk with us, I can't wait to hear what you've got coming next!
Zek: Thanks for having me!
Y'all make sure you go follow @Zekrichards on all socials so you can keep up with all the cool stuff he's doing. Also, go get his EP "You" that's out right freaking now and available everywhere!