Watch a video of the Zac Brown Band performing, and it seems pretty clear that they’re an extremely laid-back, friendly group of guys. The Georgia-based seven piece is set to play this Saturday, June 2, on the Bangor Waterfront, with openers Nic Cowan and Sonia Leigh – and as drummer Chris Fryar (pictured on far left in photo) said in a Bangor Daily News interview on Wednesday, it’ll be “the most fun you can have without getting arrested.” From their first hit single, “Chicken Fried” to the upcoming release of the band’s fifth album, “Uncaged,” the Zac Brown Band has amassed fans for a lot of reasons: their raw honesty, their freewheeling attitude, and their eclectic musicianship being just a few of them. Fryar spoke by phone to the BDN about life (and food) on the road, and what their new music means to them, and to their fans.
Ever been to Maine? What did you think?
Fryar: I haven’t been with the Zac Brown Band, but I’ve been to Portland a couple of times with a band I was in called Oteil & the Peacemakers. I remember how beautiful Portland was. Very picturesque. I also remember an awesome brew pub called Gritty McDuff’s. They make great beer.
Tell me about how you met Zac and came to join the band?
Fryar: We met in passing at a music festival years ago. I was playing in another band, and he was playing there as well, on the same stage as me. A couple years later, when Oteil was reaching a stopping point, a friend of mine called me up and said ‘Hey, I’ve got this guy Zac Brown, and he needs a drummer.’ I knew them already, and I knew they were amazing. Zac called me up, I auditioned, and here we are.
You guys are a legendarily foodie group of guys, with the Eat and Greets you offer (fan club members can get special passes for Southern-style dinners with the band). What’s your favorite dish you eat on the road?
Fryar: Well, we have Chef Rusty and his team of chefs, and they prepare food for the Eat and Greets we do on the road, which are a ton of fun. They travel with us to do that specifically. It’ a lot of hard work that they put in every day – Rusty gets up bright and early and tries to hit the local farmer’s markets. He’s big on supporting local people. He and his team prep it all and cook it. [As for favorite dishes], we don’t have it at Eat and Greets, but sometimes Chef Rusty will surprise us with a big batch of jambalaya. He’s from Baton Rouge, so he’s got the cajun cooking thing down.
What can you tell us about your new album that’s coming out in July?
Fryar: It’s called “Uncaged,” and with any luck it’ll be out right around July 10. We’ve really, really put a lot of heart and soul and time and effort into it, and we’re really really excited. We’re finished with everything, so now it’s just a matter of getting it all to the presses. In some ways, it’s a lot like our other stuff – we draw from various influences to create a collection of songs, and we still very much work as a collective. But I think what’s different for us this time is that we’re taking chances we have never taken before. Speaking from the perspective of drummer, there are definitely a couple of tracks where I was intentionally getting away from playing what was naturally expected. Rather than playing on the hi-hat and snare drum, I’d play it on the floor tom to add different colors and textures. It’s what the music was calling for. In the band’s opinion, one of the things that sets us apart is that we’re concenred with making great music and art, and less concerned with making the next hit. That doesn’t even factor in for us, though that’s great if it happens. In our hearts, and in our souls, we want to make great music and give our fans what the need. They’re the ones that keep this whole thing going.