Zach Bellas is an American musician, singer-songwriter, producer, writer, and founder of the independent recording label SMB Records. He is most well know for fronting the band Groundscore (2008 -2012), his work as lead guitar player for The Pasadena Band (2015 - 2017), and more recently as the leader of Zach Bellas & The Company Band (2012 - Present). He currently fronts Zach Bellas & The Company Band, plays lead guitar for The Joey Harkum Band, produces records for his independent label SMB Records and writes for the blog Food, Sex & Music. He is a sponsored artist by PRS Guitars and 1710 Percussion. Since beginning his professional music career in 2008, Bellas has performed over 1,000 shows all across the USA and internationally, including touring in support of great bands such as Clutch, Corrosion of Conformity, and Flogging Molly. He has also produced and released five full length albums, an EP and several singles though his label, including some key collaborations with Hall of Famer Junior Marvin from Bob Marley and The Wailers, Jean-Paul Gaster from Clutch and legendary producer Don Zeintara. 2013 would mark the beginning of Zach’s solo career with the release of two full-length albums, four Washington Area Music Award nominations including Artist of The Year, and multiple performances at the SXSW music festival. Zach Bellas was born in Fairfax, VA and raised nearby in the Washington, DC suburb of Falls Church, VA. He currently resides in Baltimore, MD.
Zach Bellas began his music career early, after sending a demo cassette tape of his High School band to legendary Washington, DC record label Dischord in hopes of getting a deal. To his surprise, he got a response! They weren’t exactly eager to sign Zach and his band right away but, on the back of a post card that would change his life forever, ‘Melissa’ informed him that he shouldn’t be wasting his time looking for a record deal but instead should start his own label the same way that Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson did with Dischord in 1980 and release his music himself. He felt a little disappointed in not getting a deal, but the letter would stick with him and it’s true impact would not be felt until many years later.
In December of 2009, Zach would go on to found SMB Records. That same month his band at the time, the popular punk rock/reggae trio, Groundscore, would release their debut album ‘Healthy Children’ on the newly formed label. Recorded in Baltimore, MD by former Jawbox singer and Dischord alum J. Robbins, ‘Healthy Children’ is a perfect blend of smooth, dance-able reggae followed by intense moments of fervent punk rock. Often compared to the Bad Brains or Sublime, Groundscore found a wide and diverse fan base among fans of reggae, punk and psychedelic rock.
The guys in Groundscore toured endlessly for the next two years, all up and down the east coast and across the midwest, often performing two or three shows a day. They would catch a big break in 2010 when Jean-Paul Gaster, drummer for the world renowned hard rock band Clutch, agreed to play drums on one of the songs off the second Groundscore album ‘Speed Kills’, also recorded by J. Robbins, and take the band on tour supporting Clutch all across the United States. Success would be short lived for Groundscore however. Exhausted from touring and the realities of life on the road, bass player Nick Graves and drummer Chase Lapp would exit the group at the end of 2011.
In the Fall of 2012, Bellas would team up with producer and engineer, Frank Marchand (Bob Mould, Nils Lofgren, Pasadena) to create his most ambitious album to date. Featuring nearly a dozen of the Washington, DC areas finest musicians playing a variety of instruments including everything from piano to flute to a string quartet and even a guest guitar solo from Junior Marvin of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bellas creates lush sonic landscapes and dense arrangements on his solo debut, ‘Whatever You Want’. Sounding more like a cross between Neil Young and the Red Hot Chili Peppers than a Sublime album, Bellas's new sound was fairly far removed from his work with Groundscore and definitely had more of a straight-forward rock approach to it. Shortly after releasing his solo debut, Bellas delivered ‘Shoot The Messenger’ an acoustic album recorded at the same time as, and featuring six songs off of ‘Whatever You Want’ as well as six new tunes. Both albums would be very well received. Achieving radio play on over 250 radio station and resulting in four Washington Area Music Award nominations.
In 2014, after a full year of solo acoustic tours spanning the nation from coast to coast, Bellas put together a group of touring musicians and Zach Bellas & The Company Band was formed. After coming off a long nationwide tour, Bellas felt like the band had a group of songs exactly the way they wanted them and that they would sound best performed live in the studio. So, he returned to work with producer Frank Marchand and recorded seven tracks with the new band in two days, done almost completely live in one room. The result, ‘Let Me Out’ is 33 minutes of pure Rock ‘n’ Roll bliss. Big Drums. Loud Guitars. Solid Melodies. Good, simple and honest songs performed from the soul, with a great deal of integrity.
Relentless touring would once again present a problem and members of Zach Bellas & The Company Band would come and go. After recording an EP with a new side project Obscure Monuments - an homage to the DC hardcore scene of the 1980’s - with legendary producer Don Zeintara an interesting opportunity presented itself. A band that Zach had supported for several years with his various projects would ask him to join as their lead guitar player.
At first, it was just supposed to a few fill in gigs, but after a few months and a full nation wide tour, Bellas would join The Pasadena Band full time. Fronted by the extremely charismatic Joey Harkum who is well know for his lyrical wizardry and relatable songwriting, Pasadena had been touring the country vigorously and releasing records since the early 2000’s and had built quite a following nationwide. The band, however, was in desperate need of not only a lead guitar player but someone with a bit of business savvy, which Bellas carries in spades. In the two and a half years Bellas was involved with Pasadena, the band grew exponentially. With some solid organization and some clever marketing, the band would see ticket sales quadruple and online streams break 1 Million plays. After the departure of a few founding members, The Pasadena Band would be rebranded as The Joey Harkum Band and Bellas continues to work as lead guitar player.
2018 would see the beginning of Bellas’ newest venture - a blog and online TV show called Food, Sex & Music. Exploring what he describes as ‘Everyone’s three favorite things’ and staring Bellas himself as he travels the country uncovering all of the good, bad and ugly in the food, sex and music industries. The first episode featured Jimi Haha from Jimmie’s Chicken Shack.
Bellas has come a long way since receiving that fateful post card from the Dischord offices on April, 26th 1999. From recording sessions with his personal heros to sold out shows with some of the greatest musicians to ever grace the stage, but Bellas has barely begun to scratch the surface of his potential if you ask him.