With a hipster flair and easy charm it’s not hard to see why young singer/songwriter Zeek Power is steadily gaining attention as the front man of up-and-coming group Slip-on Stereo.
The four-piece band has just been nominated for a Deadly Award in the Most Promising New Talent in Music category. It’s quite an achievement, considering they’ve only been playing together for 15 months.
Zeek’s relaxed and confident vocal style is surely the legacy of growing up in a musical family and playing instruments from the tender age of three – even though he couldn’t reach the drum pedals!
Growing up in Rockhampton, Zeek says it was his father who first exposed him to the realities of being a musician.
“We went to church and Dad was in a band back then, so watching him go to rehearsals, sitting up late practising his craft and writing songs with his band mates definitely rubbed off on me,” he says.
“Dad’s side of the family is also very musical and every time we caught up with everyone on holidays, all of my uncles and grandfather would be jamming together. It’s just one of those things that, if you are exposed to a certain (behaviour) a lot, you learn and pick up on things yourself.”
After banging away on the drums as a youngster, Zeek moved on to playing the violin and finally the acoustic guitar. Shortly after picking up the guitar, he started to dabble in singing.
“At first it was just in the lounge room, not in front of anyone. It was just a hobby really,” he says.
His first public singing performance was totally unplanned.
“I was playing guitar at a school showcase for another student who was doing a cover. As it turned out, I ended up having to sing as well and that’s where it began. Mum and Dad were there filming and you can hear them on the recording, saying ‘Why does he have a microphone? I wonder what he’s doing?’” he says with a laugh.
“Afterwards people were saying ‘I didn’t know you could sing!’”
Zeek continued to nurture his love of music and last year all the right elements came together to form Slip-on Stereo.
“Clint Wallace and I grew up together in Rockhampton. We started out getting a small acoustic project up and running, just between us two. I then met Ash through mutual friends and we had a jam together and he said to me afterwards that if I ever had a project going he would love to be involved. We all got together and that was it. It organically grew from there.”
The funky four-piece act consists of Zeek Power up front, Clint Wallace on guitar, Ash Moore on drums and Phil Moore on bass.
Watching the band perform live, you get the feeling that musically they have a great connection. They have been compared to Maroon 5 and Gym Class Heroes, but mostly they just like to have fun.
“It’s something special [our musical chemistry],” Zeek says. “First and foremost we are pretty much brothers, so we get along before we pick up an instrument. The synergy that you see on stage is an overflow of the friendship that we’ve already got,“ he says.
The group toured with Busby Marou last year, which gave them a great start in learning the art of performance.
“It was really good to be going along with those guys. Because (Busby Marou) were drawing a lot of people to their shows, it was a good learning curve for us to see how they handled themselves on stage and even how they structured their sets. We pretty much just opened ourselves up and said ‘Look you guys, we are just going to watch you, and take notes so that we can go back and apply it to our own band’. And they are both great guys, really down to earth and genuine, so it was just a great experience,” Zeek says.
As well as singing with Slip-on Stereo, Zeek has a legion of fans on Facebook and YouTube, whom he affectionately calls his ‘Geeks’. They eagerly await the latest upload of a new cover or the odd original tune that Zeek manages to post inbetween gigging and touring.
“YouTube has been a really effective tool for me as a solo artist. It’s almost like a business card in itself,” Zeek says.
“It’s a great way to connect. I do some school tours as well. I’ll take a week out and sometimes play 2–3 different schools in a day. It’s an opportunity for me to connect with a big part of my audience,” he says.
Zeek’s musical inspirations are varied.
“I like to listen to a lot of old-school stuff, such as Al Green. Dad used to play a lot of this stuff on cassettes and growing up over the years that Motown feel really rubbed off on me… Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles…” he says.
He also names Relient K, an alternative rock band from Nashville, and Owl City as influences.
“I listen a lot to Owl City because of the subject matter and the way that he writes songs. It’s really cool. It’s not the normal kind of writing about broken hearts and love. I enjoy that sort of thing and try and convey that in the way that I write. People can tell a story, but if the audience isn’t really feeling a part of it, it will be a boring story.
“So I try to make it fun and interactive as well.”
Look out for Zeek Power on Facebook and head to www.sliponstereo.com for the latest news and gig info.