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Let’s Get Loud is the title of guitarist Zach Person’s second album, but it’s also a mission statement that informs both the sound of his music and the impact it might have on listeners and even other artists. “There are a lot of kids who’ve never had the feeling of standing in front of a big, loud amp,” he says from his touring van somewhere in rural France. He’s spent much of the summer playing European festivals, with a North American tour slated for the fall. “That feeling excites me, and I want to bring that experience to people. I don’t want to make it deafening, but I want to wake people up in a good way. I want to inspire people about music.”

Volume is crucial to good, cathartic rock and roll, and Let’s Get Loud is designed to wake the neighbors, rattle the pictures on the walls, shake the paint off the walls. While he’s often mislabeled by critics and fans alike as a blues artist, Person, 27, draws from a dizzying range of sources: post-rock shimmer on opener “Feel It,” psych-metal shredding on “Gravity,” classic rock swagger on “Make It,” the punk bravado of “Show.” And he punctuates nearly every song with an unguarded “wooo!” as though he’s always caught up in the moment. It’s intense, bracing, smart, and very loud, especially for a two-man band: just Zach Person and drummer Jake Wyble.

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That idea stems from something his mother, a professional singer, told him when he started playing in Houston as a teenager. “She told me, You have to be undeniably good. That’s not the only way you’ll make it, but you have to be undeniably good. That stuck with me, and the idea of getting loud is connected to that advice. You have to cut through everything and get people to see what you’re doing.” His mother bought Person his first guitar, not long after his father—a prison guard—was killed in the line of duty. “She was looking for positive outlets for me, and she thought music would be good. She got me a guitar and said, You’re going to start doing this. Maybe less skateboarding. This is safer.” 

Zach Person
Person heading to the stage (Credit: Daniel Cavazos)

Person was an inquisitive student of the instrument, mastering the punk and metal riffs his friends enjoyed, then learning from the electric blues giants. Sabbath, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray, and B.B. King. He started playing out as a teenager and made his biggest splash as an American Idol contestant in 2016. “I did that for six months or so, and when I came off the show, that started my career officially. I did some corporate shows around Houston, but I didn’t feel like I was building an audience that way.” 

Instead, he moved to Austin, where he picked up a residency at a dive called Friend’s Bar, playing to college kids and tourists every Thursday night from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m.  It was an apprenticeship in loud. “You have to hold their attention so they don’t leave and go to the next bar,” he says. “So I did some experiments on them. What would happen is if I say, I’m gonna do a Jimi Hendrix song now? OK, some people get up and leave. OK, what happens if I say, I’m gonna do a Bruno Mars song? All the college girls go wild. So, what happens if I say I’m going to play a Bruno Mars song but then play ‘Fire’ by Hendrix? It’s funky enough, so they think it’s Bruno Mars and they stay. It was an interesting way to figure out crowd psychology. I was having more fun, and people were having more fun, too.” 

Zach Person
Zach Person live in Europe, 2024 (Credit: Fenna Dijkstra)

The main challenge for Person has been translating the loudness of the stage into a studio album. “On the first record [2021’s Zach Person] I didn’t know how to get the sounds I wanted,” he says. “I had the sounds in my head, but I didn’t know how to bring them out.” For Let’s Get Loud he and Wyble worked with Nashville-based guitarist/producer Tyler Bryant, who fronts the band Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown. “Together we were able to get a lot closer to what I had in my head, thanks to his knowledge and experience and my growing up a bit since the last one. I learned that the biggest asset to recording something that will move people is creativity. And time.” 

The latter is pressing for Person, as he wonders just how long he can sustain this volume. “As time goes on, it’s natural to question yourself and your abilities. I’ve tried to take a step back and ask myself, Should I keep doing this? But something always happens that makes me think it’s all worth it.” There’s a larger goal with all this loudness, which he hopes will elevate not just him but other artists working with in a similar vein. “I want to get my voice and my music out there so that I can be big enough to change the nature of the industry. I talk about getting loud so I can be heard and so I can disrupt the system.” 

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