INTO THE GREAT DIVIDE Interview: Zack Zalon on the creation of a ‘rock novel’

and the story behind his debut album 'Into the Great Divide'


Just when you think everything in the music world has been done, a million times over, someone comes up with an innovation that refreshes the listening experience and takes it to another level of sensory experience.  Zack Zalon has done just that and wrapped it up in a nice little prog package called Into the Great Divide.

Released on January 26, Into the Great Divide could very well be the first of its kind. A “rock novel” of epic instrumental proportions, this album is a progressive presentation of a tale of growth and progress wrought with struggle and strife. Zalon is charting new territory with his debut album and I had the pleasure of chatting with him to get the inside scoop on this musical innovation:

Immediately I had to comment on this innovative concept album and asked what turned him on to concept albums in the first place.

With respect to concept records: I’m not sure I’m into concept records per se, but I was definitely into this idea that I wanted to tell a story, I wanted to share a narrative, and especially with instrumental records, of which this is one, its really hard to do that when you don’t have a vocalist and you don’t have lyrics. It doesn’t give you the ability to tell an actual story of what’s happening within each track. So for me, that kind of necessitated what I guess what you would call a concept record in that I wanted to build this narrative and the way to do it was with this narrator and so if it was going to be a story where each track matched with that part of the narrative at the right moment then I guess in some respects it really became a concept record on its own.”

I managed to hold it back for a short bit, but I was dying to know how Mike Mangini (Dream Theater) came to be involved.

It really started with Richard Chycki, he’s produced Rush, Dream Theater and plenty of other bands over time. He got involved in the project really early. Once the majority of the content of the material was composed and mostly performed, we sent if off to Mike to get some feedback from him. Rich and Mike had a good relationship, and of course you know, having Mike Mangini play drums on this thing would have been a dream right, and kind of beyond any stretch of the original goal I had for the album. … ultimately he was really the final polish that the album needed to be cohesive and structured and really brought it to another dimension that I don’t think it would have had without his involvement.”

Before letting him go, I was curious if he had thought beyond this first album and set his sights on another goal.

I feel like Into The Great Divide is a really interesting vehicle for me and others, who are now really strong advocates for this, to be able to communicate music in a different way. And that’s the goal for us. In the long run our goal is to continue to develop music to challenge the status quo as much as possible without being unlisteneable. We’re planning a few things with music listening where its a shared experience. Its not live music, its canned music, but its done in a way that’s a little bit different than we’ve seen before. We’re trying to push the envelops in a number of different ways.”

I think Zack is certainly on to something with his avant-garde ideas and willingness to push the envelope.  You can check out my review of the album here, as well as the full interview below.

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