Zac Brown Band Gets a Look at Oz

There’s no place I’d rather be than in a Nashville recording session. I mean, all that talent in one tiny room? That would be heaven on earth. And sure, there are computers and mixing boards to fix the things that don’t sound quite so heavenly, but still.

However, when the Zac Brown Band hooked up with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to make their new four-song EP The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1, they didn’t do it the high-tech way. They went old school. Not like crammed-into-someone’s-garage old school. But they recorded the music to tape. Not to computers.

“We felt a little bogged down and just wanted to see how [Grohl] worked and kind of look behind the curtain at that land of Oz, pretty much,” Zac Brown Band member Clay Cook told Billboard magazine. “It opened up something in us that we were not tapping into before. It makes you work harder because you’re [recording] to tape, and there’s no editing going on as far as in ProTools and computers and stuff like that, which is the way we were making records.”

Cook explained that in a session, the singers and musicians could make things practically perfect and then edit the rest.

“You kind of play it about 90 percent well, and they can fix the other 10 percent of it and make it sound great,” he said. “But you can’t do that the way [Grohl] works, so it tapped into the real musicians in us. It was a little bit freeing to me.”

While Cook says he felt creatively free, he acknowledges that some of the band members were skeptical about dealing with a slightly different studio environment.

“There was a little bit of fighting, to be honest — not actual fighting but having to demand more of each musician,” Cook said. “But by the end of it, everyone was happy and it put us in a great place.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.