Storytime: Corey Zaks

April 14, 2016

Age: 26

Hometown: Island Grove, Ontario, Canada

Occupation: Musician

Hobbies/Interests: Music, film, vintage motorcycles and Mixed Martial Arts. “There is an art to all of my interests. I am always striving to express myself truly through everything I do, while having a good time doing it, because that is what life is about!”

When and how did you discover Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros?
“Edward Sharpe … I smile just thinking about these beautiful people and what they stand for. Years ago my love Astisha showed me this grainy out-of-sync YouTube video of this beautiful girl sitting in a field with this man beside her with grass and flowers in his hair playing a guitar. Even though the video was not the best quality, their captivating light shined though. There was a purity, honesty and innocence to it that made it so you couldn’t look away. Ever since that moment I’ve been hooked.”

How many times have you seen ESMZ live?
“I’ve seen them live twice now. The first time was at TURF Fest in Toronto last summer. Astisha and I waited hours before they came on to make sure we were as close an possible. Finally, the lights went dim, then all of them walked out on stage, picked up their instruments and started playing a heavy four on the floor building up to an explosion of blissful sound as Alex comes running out dancing and smiling. Being struck by his unorthodox yet mesmerizing style of dance. The purity of expression and no guilt for being who you are is something that they express that everyone can learn from. ‘Dance like no was is looking, we won’t judge!’

As the show went on, my eyes couldn’t turn away as every moment would draw you in more than the last. Alex spent more time in the crowd than he did on stage. Their overall love and gratitude for their fans really shines through. At one point, Alex jumped onto the barriers right in front of me, holding my friend’s hand for balance, and sang Man On Fire to the crowd. I was impressed with his balance on the thin cylindrical fence, haha. Once heading back through the crowd, he brought up a little girl up on to the stage. Her smile was as bright as the sun. He then picked up the girl and danced with her, swinging her round and round. I’ve never seen a band be more interactive and loving toward their fans. I have a video of this I put up on my YouTube channel for anyone who is interested in seeing it. Astisha was singing so loud and dancing so much that a kind person in front of us gave her their VIP wristband so she could get right to the front of the stage. So after lifting her over the barrier, she squeezed her way to the front where Alex invited her on stage. I’m not going to lie, what I felt during that show was something I hadn’t felt in a very long time. It really was a special and magical performance.”

Corey Zaks

Corey Zaks and Astisha

How has ESMZ influenced your life?
“ESMZ has influenced my life in more ways than you could imagine. I’ve been a musician my whole life and struggled with the ups and downs that road will take you. Just knowing Edward Sharpe existed meant that what I’ve been working so hard to do is possible! The last 10 years I’ve been working with the same group of musicians as a collective, trying to make it a full-time gig, but with the ever-changing music industry it’s been a struggle full of many let downs. Watching Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros was like hitting a reset button for me, giving me the drive to jump back into music like the energized starry-eyed teen I once was. After experiencing their breathtaking show at TURF Fest I set out to make music the top priority in my life again. The months to follow I spent organizing a concert with my band, Handsome Graham & The Cosmonauts, at this really cool venue in Toronto called Temple23. It was a lot of hard work, but in the end it was all worth it. We had videographers there that night to capture all of the magic, so if anyone is interested in checking them out you can find them on my YouTube page.”

Talk about playing in Toronto last month and what is was like opening for the band?
“Well, as soon as we heard about the Open Mic that the band was going to be holding, we started getting a couple songs prepared. Honestly, for that week after they announced it to the day of the gig, that’s all we could think about. It really was something that would be a dream come true. The day of the gig we showed up hours before we were supposed to, trying to make sure we had a chance for the Open Mic. No one was there but the band sound-checking so we just walked right past security. I had my guitar with me so I can only assume they thought we were with the band. I got to meet Nico first, great guy with an amazing guitar collection! After security realized we weren’t with the band they sent us out in the cold for a few hours, which wasn’t so bad because we got to meet lots of great people and musicians as we were singing dancing and playing guitar to keep warm. Once we finally got inside, we got to meet their tour manager Messi (Ryan Messick) and Crash, who was going to introduce us on stage. That’s when Crash gave me the nickname ‘Catfish’ — haha, probably because I had a very large beard at the time, which made it look like I had whiskers and small lips (just my guess). From there, they brought us backstage to meet the stage crew. That’s where we met the stage manager, J.J. Nicest guy, super-friendly and even offered us an extra bed to sleep on back at their hotel after we told him that we were from out of town and might have to stay in our car that night.”

What song did you sing?
“For this show, we choose to play original songs. The first one that we played was a song I wrote about meeting Astisha called Sunshine Bliss. The second song was one I wrote about the hard times of dealing with a loved one battling cancer, have hope and being there for each other. It’s called Love Is What We Know.”

What inspired you to open for the band?
Inspiration to do what you love with the people you love

What are your favorite ESMZ song(s)?
“This is a hard one but I would have to say… I Don’t Want To Pray. The lyrics and the overall meaning behind the song very well put. We shouldn’t have to pray. We should be able to live our lives being free and happy, knowing that there is a singularity between us and our maker. And goddamn, is it ever just a good foot stomping’ hand clapping tune! Haha … Every Part Of You. I haven’t been able to find a recording of this song – just a video of them preforming it in Mexico City. I love the part where Jade starts beatboxing. It makes me smile every time … Child. This song really hits home for me. I did an acoustic version of it live at Temple23… All Wash Out. There can be something very spiritual about music. When a song just hits you right, every note placed in such a way that it makes you feel high and you get goosebumps throughout your entire body. Sit back with your eyes closed in a quiet room and play this song and let it take you way.”

Any additional comments?
“Anyone who is a ESMZ fan – if they haven’t seen it already – has to watch their rendition of the 1970 Festival Express Tour. Taking a great idea and making it better. It’s called ‘Big Easy Express.’ They travel between shows across the American Southwest in a dozen or so vintage train cars from he 1950s and 1960s. I hope from reading this you become inspired to follow your dreams as I have. Life is too short to waste it not doing what you love. I can’t thank them enough for how they have inspired me to do what I love wholeheartedly again. Thanks for listening… until next time.”

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