Heels & Picks: The many faces of Zach Manzano
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I like Zach Manzano. I hardly know the guy, but we gravitate in the same circles and he often cracks me up on social media with his posts, which are a mix of emo rocker and super “Star Wars” nerd. It’s probably because I am an emo rocker and a super “Star Wars” nerd, too.
The most recent Facebook post I saw from Manzano was a slick flier to announce his appearance as new “Star Wars” character, Kilo Ren, at GameStop Waikele this week. According to Manzano, he’ll be there “alongside other Jedi scum, rebels and creatures alike.”
(Manzano is also the kind of guy who takes a photo I posted on social media of two of my young violin students fighting with their bows, and takes the time out to use his graphic skills to turn their bows into light sabers, much to their great delight. Seriously dude, thanks for that.)
On the music scene, Manzano is a member of both Beware the Bear, with whom my band recently shared the stage at 82Fifty’s album launch, and rock staple Above Reproach. He is also works as a graphic artist and a videographer. The man has skillz — yes, with a “z.”
So what makes Manzano tick? Which of his many hats does he prefer to wear? Why isn’t Luke Skywalker on the poster for the new “Star Wars” movie?
I checked in via email to answer these questions and more.
HONOLULU STAR ADVERTISER: Where did you grow up? Do you have siblings?
ZACH MANZANO: Waipahu, but recently got a house in Mililani. One younger sister.
SA: What made you get in to music? What about graphics and videography?
ZM: The initial start was from the ’80s rock/hair metal that my parents would play on an hourly basis, when I was as young as I could remember. I remember watching these old VHS tapes of these bands and their live concerts from across the globe. I saw Eddie Van Halen and Richie Sambora, which made me realize that, ok, I’m playing guitar.
Years later I started discovering music of my own, being drawn to the punk/pop-punk/alternative only added fuel to the fire of me wanting to play music. And it wasn’t long until my family all chipped in together to get me my first guitar; it was over from there.
I got into the digital media / freelancing gigs by accident. I learned the minimal of things in high school and some of college, but seeing all these graphic-intense ads from magazines that I read made me tweak out on my computer, and I just kept at it. I added the video/photo part as a tool to add to my arsenal, and over time I have had the honor of taking shots from a variety of live concerts as well as making music videos for the local talent here in Hawaii.
SA: Where did you learn to do graphics and video work?
ZM: I would like to give credit to my old school, but I honestly will say it was during my post college days where I just messed around on my computer learning all these different design techniques. And I am still learning to this day, which is awesome. I love personal growth.
SA: What bands are you in, what do each of them play, genre wise and what is your role?
ZM: Active bands would have to be:
» Beware The Bear (Pop Punk): My role is lead guitarist, back up vocals. As well as graphics/marketing, recording engineer and producer.
» Above Reproach (Pop Punk): Drummer. Graphic designer.
» Solo Project (Zach Manzano): Playing everything lol, graphics/marketing, recording engineer and producer.
SA: What is your favorite “Star Wars” movie and why?
ZM: “Return of the Jedi” for me – It just solidifies what the entire trilogy was about. Bringing all the visual pieces together of the force, Jedi, sith, rebels, light saber fights between father and son, starship fights, everything is jammed into this last chapter, (or) so we thought. Not to mention the Ewoks and Slave Leia.
SA: WHY IS LUKE NOT ON THE NEW “STAR WARS” MOVIE POSTER?!!
ZM: I think it was done intentionally to show that Luke is in exile for a reason. Meesa thinks he just sorta snapped and turned into this super saiyan Jedi/Sith or maybe a combination of both? I don’t know.
I was always intrigued by the fact that Luke was in all black in “Return of the Jedi” — very Sith-like. Something is going on with Luke, either way its gonna kick us in the face. Hard.
SA: Tell us about some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on.
ZM: Every single music video I’ve done with the local talent here in Hawaii, there’s always a gap/wall that separates an artist from a fan, and for me it’s getting to know them on a fun/personal level. I get to do just that, along with making a music video with them. And what makes me feel even greater is the amount of belief and trust they had in me to deliver.
SA: What’s coming up for you?
ZM: Music wise: Other than gigging, finishing up the EP for Beware The Bear, establishing myself as the new drummer for Above Reproach as well as finishing up my solo album “Revival.” Music video and photo shoots are coming up real fast that I need to prepare for mentally.
SA: I liked the synched-up head-banging that Beware the Bear was doing at 82Fifty’s album launch where both of our bands performed. Who choreographs your mean moves?
ZM: It honestly came naturally, we love putting on a visually exciting show and we aren’t afraid to show it. We get to go nuts and have fun for that half-hour. We get to live.
SA: What came first, drums or guitars?
ZM: The inspiration came first. The hard work, support, and love that my family has given me throughout the years is the main reason why I want to strive to be the best that I can be and in whatever I get involved in.
But to answer your question, I was a pots-and-pans drummer when I was toddler, and then a guitarist in the years to come. But it seems now I’m involved in both and everything in between. (I) love it, I am very fortunate to get to do what I do.
SA: What visual artists, videos, movies and bands are inspiring you right now?
ZM: Obviously the new “Star Wars” movie coming out is getting me super antsy.
I listen to a weird batch of music, other than the pop-punk; I have had Tom Petty, James Brown, Coltrane, and Hugh Laurie in the recent mix. Oh and various jazz stuff from the ’30s. I love mafia movies.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.