An Interview with Off the Beaten Path
Written by Samuel Sharp on April 9, 2021
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your music library, then tune into “Off the Beaten Path”. The show is hosted by Zac McDowell, a senior at Kent State University. As a soon-to-be graduate in digital media production, Zac is a lover of all things music and film related. His show, which airs every Wednesday at 12:00pm, is a conglomeration of diverse music that Zac hand picks for his listeners.
“I mainly play punk rock, metal, alternative rock, indie, and death metal. Underground music”, he said. “It’s stuff that people won’t bump into on regular radio stations. I choose music that I like, but I also try to explore new music. I originally had a show on BSR called, “Punks Not Dead.” And I mainly played punk rock every week. This past fall of my senior year, I started doing, “Off the Beaten Path.” I still play a lot of punk rock, but the genre is more diverse now. I love music. And when I can find good music for myself and for other people, it just feels good.”
“I try and really focus on local artists that live in the area,” he said. “There’s some awesome artists right in our neighborhood, around all of northeast Ohio. There are bands on SoundCloud or Bandcamp that are so good, but they just don’t have the reputation yet. And I like helping these artists get their name out and reach more people.”
Many underground artists are like seeds in the ground, just waiting to flourish. When a previously unrecognized artist attains rapid success, however, several different things can happen. “Where an artist goes after they get popular depends on a lot of things,” Zach said. “It could be the band’s choice or the record company’s choice, but at the end of the day the band decides what music to make. But it’s hard. A musician’s record label can have a lot of control over what’s produced. The second the record label signs them, they pretty much own the band. A lot of the bigger record labels make these big contracts where the band has to put out an album or two each year. Sometimes the artists might want to go in another direction, but the record label feels that it’s too financially risky. Some people might say they’re selling out or getting poppy, but a lot of times this is just the record label’s decision.”
“That’s why it’s important to support local recording labels,” he said, “like Delayed Gratification, out of Cleveland. They just promote bands. Like, the bigger ones have so much say in the music produced. But local labels and artists create that diversity in the genre. If they want to make money but not sell out, you know, then the best route is to go local. Keeping art and content local is so important when trying to maintain that diversity.”
“Art can teach us so much about ourselves and about the world,” he said. “Whether it’s through music, poetry, sculpture, or any art form. I’m a firm believer than the pen really is mightier than the sword. The way I’m shaped, the way I think, is a result of the art that I’ve consumed. It helps form our world views and it sticks in our mind. We might look at something in an experience and say something like, “Oh, this reminds me of this one Rick and Morty episode.” That’s a funny example, but that show really becomes a metaphor for life, in some way. In the end, art is life, and it connects us back to life.”