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Newly formed indie band Zammuto to be Next@Wex

Courtesy of Temporary Residence Ltd.

Losing a job you held for years can be a disheartening experience, but it can sometimes be rewarding to start over fresh. 

Such is the case for Nick Zammuto, the former singer/guitarist of The Books, a two-piece experimental folk band that broke up in early 2012 after four albums and 10 years of making music. Just months after the breakup, he released “Zammuto” with his new, four-piece project of the same name. 

“It is anything but a sure thing to start a project like this,” Nick Zammuto said. “Everybody just said, ‘Make another record. Go for it. You’re not going to be happy unless you do it.’ So that’s what I did.” 

The Wexner Center for the Arts is set to host Zammuto at the Black Box on Mershon Stage at 8 p.m. Friday. The band is wrapping up its tour in support of the group’s self-titled album.

Performing with The Books began to lose its charm toward the end of the band’s life, Nick Zammuto said. 

“The Books started to feel like glorified karaoke to me when we performed,” he said. “We would play along with electronic rhythms, and there was kind of a feeling to the show that we could never break through.”

Nick Zammuto’s desire to work with other musicians spurred his new project. Nick Zammuto plays a synthesizer and guitar. Performing with him is Gene Back, a multi-instrumentalist on keyboard and guitar, percussionist/drummer Sean Dixon and bassist Mikey Zammuto, Nick Zammuto’s brother.

“I always wanted to work with a drummer, with a percussionist, so that was kind of how I started up a new project to really make it more live,” Nick Zammuto said. “I really wanted to work with players, and I feel like The Books just lacked that in a way.” 

Chuck Helm, director of performing arts at the Wexner Center, said The Books performed at the Wexner Center multiple times. Zammuto’s Friday show is a part of the Wexner Center’s Next@Wex series, which showcases up-and-coming independent artists in larger venues. 

“(Nick Zammuto) is one of the more experimental songwriters in the indie rock scene,” Helm said. “I hear great things about the live show.”

The live aspect of Zammuto is integral to understanding the band’s music, Nick Zammuto said. 

“The heart of the project now is really designed to be played live,” Nick Zammuto said. “I don’t think people fully understand the project unless they see the show.”

Concert attendees will experience a visual element alongside Zammuto’s performance. Images in the video include Christmas tree fires, people experiencing severe back pain as well as finger skateboarding, Nick Zammuto said. 

“I think of the video as the lead singer of the band,” he said. “Sometimes we’re just a band playing and then the video will pop in and do something very specific. It’s not an abstraction and it’s not a light show at all.”

Zammuto’s music isn’t only orchestrated by Nick Zammuto. The band operates within the scope of a musical idea of his, and then works from there.

“I had these crazy ideas and I put (the rest of the band) through the ringer to kind of feel what comes out,” Nick Zammuto said. “I put them in situations that they have to claw their way out of and I record the results. That tends to be what ends up on the record. I guess I kind of mastermind it, but it’s very much based on their performances.”

Emily Biesemeier, a third-year in art education and fan of The Books, had not heard Zammuto but is interested in seeing the band perform Friday. 

“What makes (The Books) stand out is that it’s not your typical kind of music,” Biesemeier said. 

She said she enjoys The Books’ first album, 2002’s “Thought for Food” the most out of the band’s other albums. 

“I feel different every time I hear it,” she said. “The more I listen to it, then I begin to understand more of what’s going on.”

Zammuto has one purpose in mind in its performances, Nick Zammuto said. 

“I feel like a lot of indie shows are brooding and kind of dark and humorless, and we try to do the opposite,” he said. “It feels good to play with these guys. I think there’s a lot of joy, and that’s really the purpose of the show for us: to bring the joy.”

Snowblink is scheduled to open the night. Tickets are on sale for $12 through the Wexner Center’s website or box office. 

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