Sophmore’s EP highlights local success

Zac Clark is not your average student. Instead of studying and partying, he spends his time playing and recording music. “Imagine Elton John fronting a punk band,” Clark says of his sound. Clark, a sophomore at UVM, has enjoyed mild success as a local musician since his days in Essex Junction. Energetic piano melodies with undercurrents of indie rock are characteristic of his music. And while calling it punk is a little far fetched, there is still “a lot of energy and a lot of that rock sensibility,” Clark says. Though inspired by classic rock – Elvis Costello and Tom Petty – and pop-punk – Taking Back Sunday and Saves the Day – it seems that the pop-punk background is more obvious. Whatever his sound, it has worked for Clark locally. He released his first solo LP, “Faking Amnesia,” just last year, which he basically produced alone at a local studio. “There wasn’t a lot of production going on,” Clark says, “wasn’t a lot of anyone watching over me saying, ‘Zac maybe you shouldn’t do this. Or maybe you shouldn’t repeat that chorus eight times in a row.'” Clark’s music has matured since then, with the help of producer Mike Poorman (Piebald, Tsunami Bomb), former drummer of Hot Rod Circuit. Clark’s sophomore work, an EP entitled “Ellipses,” was created at Poorman’s studio, strangeways, on Main St. in Burlington. “Ellipses” is more concentrated thanks to Poorman, who gave him a “real sense of economy,” in his writing, Clark says. Before working with Poorman, Clark’s work was primarily “a bunch of stuff that I thought was cool and that was kind of hit or miss as to whether everyone else thought it was cool or not,” said Clark. Since the release of “Ellipses,” Clark has started on his next full-length album, playing piano on other band’s albums, making an independent music video and touring. After building a fan base in the Burlington area early in his career, he has recently been expanding his audience to venues across the Northeast by opening for well-known artists like Ben Jelen in Boston and Teddy Geigel in Providence, and will be opening for Gomez this week at Higher Ground. But with his developing career, it is hard for Clark to live the life of a normal college student. “It’s been different but in the end it’s the same, just meeting new people, a different way of doing it,” Clark says. Clark will be opening at Higher Ground’s Ballroom Oct. 3 for Gomez.