Zack Ordway is one of the most talented and under rated guitarists today. From his beginnings in the band In Theory, to joining Sky Eats Airplane right before the recording of their highly acclaimed self-titled album, he was also on their Sound Of Symmetry EP. Now he has a variety of projects, including Of Legends, Zelliack, Killtrox & The Motherships, and even some solo material. He’s even done a pretty sweet cover of the Mario Brothers theme song Here. Check out this interview that spans his entire career and answers questions that fans of each project may have.
MEB: So let’s start with your current project Of Legends. How did you end up in that band? How long have you known Luis for, prior to joining?
Zack: I’ve known Luis for years as we’re from the same area and have been playing in bands locally. I met him a couple times while I was in Sky Eats Airplane and learned of his “metal project.” I knew SEA was winding down (for many reasons) and I wanted to make friends with Luis in hopes of touring with Of Legends in the future. My plan worked.
So tell fans a little bit about your upcoming tour w/ Molotov Solution entitled “The Insurrection Tour.” How long will it be for and what areas do you all plan to cover?
It’s a pretty short tour, about 22 shows or so but we cover decent ground. Basically starting in the East and ending in the West. I’ve never heard of the other bands on the package but I’m sure they’re just as angry-sounding as OL.
How did “Killtrox and The Motherships” come to this earth? What is the current status of KATM?
Well one day I received a call from my good buddy Micah Kinard (Oh, Sleeper) and he told me he wanted to start a crazy, alien-themed, metal side project. We both have a common nerdiness for aliens and things of that nature so he asked if I would compose for the project, and I said yes. We worked on a couple ideas which later caught the ear of Travis Orbin while we were on tour with SEA. Travis loved what we were doing and wanted in on it. Then we became a trio. It’s purely out of fun. Travis and I saw this as an opportunity to really exercise what we can do musically and push ourselves to no limit. And this is the first time I’ve written to a concept, or story, which is fun. The songs we’re working on tell a story of Killtrox, an alien leader of sorts, and his quest to invade Earth. The first song we released, “Area Fifty Done,” is the chapter where Killtrox and his fleet crash land into Area 51 and wreak havoc, which is why that song is pure insanity. Because we’re all involved with other projects, Killtrox is slow-moving, but it’s moving! Soon the first chapter of the Killtrox story,” Death Bringer,” will invade human ears.
When can fans expect to hear the debut?
We’re not sure. Hopefully KATM will have an official release this year. No guarantees though!
How is the recording for the Zelliack EP coming along? What will be the title of the EP?
We haven’t yet decided on a title. Elliot and I actually have quite a few song ideas, including ideas that date back to when we first met. We just need the time to work on them. So far the songs we have up, “Without A Doubt” and “Autumn In Analog,” are songs that I’ve written and recorded at home. Soon we’ll meet up to really perfect these songs and release an EP by the end of the year. This is a project that Elliot and I would love to do full-time, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. But for the record, we’d both love to do a Zelliack tour.
I know that you are heavily inspired by jazz musicians; what are some musicians or bands that you would recommend people to check out? What about non-jazz bands?
Musically I’m really inspired by a trumpeter named Roy Hargrove. But to name a few guitarists, I really enjoy Guthrie Govan, Alex Machacek, Greg Howe, Pat Metheny, ect. Anything non-jazz really doesn’t matter.
What guitars do you stand by when it comes to making music? Any difference from playing live and recording guitars?
I don’t really stand by a specific brand of guitars but I do stand by one specific guitar. It’s a Jackson SLS that was given to me when I was about 16. After playing it for years, I’ve grown so accustomed to its feel that no other guitar feels as good as that one does.
And now for the question no one knows the answer to… What is the status of Sky Eats Airplane? Are you guys still together and just on standby, plan on recording soon, or anything?
SEA has endured a lot, from business problems to lineup changes to internal problems with specific members. I personally feel that the band was neglected by its label and management, which really kept the band from moving forward. But what really broke our spirits was the addition of SEA’s latest frontman Bryan Zimmerman.
I will admit we came to our decision on Bryan in a hasty manner after months of searching for anyone who was decent enough to front the band, and to our disappointment we settled with Bryan to get things moving. But touring with someone who was a pathological and compulsive liar, emotionally unstable, and a thief was just too much and was the last straw for us. After just two tours with this new lineup we could no longer stand to tour together. Contrary to what Zimmerman has said, we did NOT abandon him in Maryland in the middle of a tour or anything to that effect, although it was an idea. We finished our dates on the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour and headed back to Texas to play one last SEA show without Bryan.
SEA played its last show at Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth, Texas and had guests including Micah Kinard (Oh, Sleeper) and Luis Dubuc (The Secret Handshake, Of Legends) to fill in on vocals. We even elected people from the crowd to come up on stage and perform with us. It was actually a really cool experience but after the night was over, we all knew it was probably the end for Sky Eats Airplane. So we’ve officially disbanded and are all busy with many other projects, forcing SEA to remain in an indefinite hiatus. There have been “talks” about trying to put out another record just to appease the few loyal SEA fans out there, but nevertheless it remains unlikely. I’d rather focus on other things.
You have so many projects… Why aren’t any of them playing at Warped Tour this year? Which would you say is the hardest to work with?
Haha believe me, I wish one of them were on Warped. But not all of my projects are led by a label and management to help get us on such a tour. And, with the exception of SEA, none of my projects are difficult to work with. They all consist of close friends and musicians who I respect.
Would there be any chance of an In Theory reunion? Are you and the other band mates still on good terms?
I’ve always been fond of the idea of an IT reunion, but I’m positive that will never happen. I’m still in contact with guitarist Alan Summers and bassist John Erickson but no one else from the band.
Do you think it would be possible to pull off a tour with Of Legends, Zelliack, Killtrox, Sky Eats Airplane and Of Man Not Of Machine?
Haha, no way. A set from every band would be too physically demanding. Perhaps if I had a personal guarantee of $1,000 a night I could do it.
I feel that I must ask this, are there any other projects that you are working on? Anything solo?
There are always other things I’m working on. Some things I’d rather not mention but along with Of Legends, Killtrox, and Zelliack, I also offer my services to anyone who hires me to compose for them. I do think I should release solo material at some point.
What is your biggest inspiration to go out and play music every day?
Inspiration isn’t always there. But music is my one true love and I want nothing more than to pursue it. I also just want to hang out with friends all the time.
What hobbies other than making music do you have?
When I’m not working on music, I’m just your ordinary nerd. I solve Rubik’s cubes, play video games, watch Seinfeld, and avoid sunlight.
Would you say you like pho as much as Elliot Coleman (bandmate in Of Legends and Zelliack)?
No I wouldn’t say that. I’d say I like it more.
What advice can you give other people who want to form their own bands?
Learn to compose songs in full orchestration. Learn to play multiple instruments. Appreciate all kinds of music and allow them to inspire your music.
Any last words for your fans and people who live under a rock and haven’t heard any of your projects yet?
For anyone who follows what I do, thanks for the support and encouragement. For those who don’t, give these projects a listen and know that you are listening to music I’ve put my blood, sweat, and tears into. Unscathed by current trends with no image to sell you; and I do it alongside some of the best musicians I know. Also, follow the work of Elliot Coleman and Travis Orbin if you aren’t already. They are two guys who have genuine talent and skill that impresses me every day.