For Zach Tipton, aka Mister Zach, music is a passion he has to tame to face the drudgery of mundane life and work his day job, teaching biology to high-schoolers. But when each day is over, he returns to his songs.
Tipton started playing music at eighteen. Now 34, he's released three full-length albums and written music as the artist-in-residence at the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.
"They chose me," Tipton says. "I was there for a few weeks in the middle of winter. I don’t even think the park people were there. I was climbing on the dunes every day and brought my guitar."
Tipton also played around Colorado for a few years in the band Young Coyotes. He just released a new single, "Cult of Pain," and has a full-length album coming out in 2021. Like his most recent album, it will be acoustic, but the upcoming project will take a more melodically aggressive approach.
"I don’t want to soothe anyone with my music," he says. "I don’t hold back."
He's used the time saved by working from home this year for songwriting, going through around 600 forgotten tracks saved to his computer. While it was an exhausting undertaking, he was inspired to finish it.
Despite spending more time than ever writing music this year, Tipton also found himself holding back more than he wanted. Being a teacher has kept him busy, especially as he was forced to figure out how to teach high-schoolers online.
"As a teacher, hybrid learning and remote learning threw everyone [for] a loop," he says. "Just the constant change and the wave of information and news.... You’re more in a survival mode."
Sometimes he tries to incorporate music into his lessons, but his students don't really know he's a musician. Most of the day, he says, he's just waiting until he can log off and get back to his songs. For Tipton, if making music could be a full-time gig, he'd quit everything to pursue it.
"I would miss teaching," he says, "but like everything, you just roll with it."
Cult of Pain is available now on Spotify
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