In the 11th issue of the Pure Rock Report, Mary Nikkel spoke with David Zach of Remedy Drive about the coronavirus crisis, social distancing, and how songs are serving as beacons of community and hope.
The past seven days have seen social distancing measures escalating to “stay home” orders in a growing number of cities and states. As the last standing tours canceled and artists found themselves unexpectedly at home, many of them quickly found ways to offer their songs as beacons of hope in the digital space.
Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman has been sharing a song a day on the band’s social media channels. Tenth Avenue North has been releasing a “Friends of Tenth” series, featuring friends from other bands helping them re-imagine their songs from home. Lacey Sturm has been live most nights this week on Instagram. And Remedy Drive’s David Zach has been live almost daily, playing fan requests– no matter how far back in the band’s discography they reach.
“We had all our March, April and May events cancel in the space of 48 hours last week. This is our family’s sole source of income so the initial shock of that news can be pretty disorientating– as it is and will be for all of us in most professions,” David shared with me. “Musicians got hit in the first wave with all the tours and events canceling. My kids felt the initial shock of it too and we talked about the different chapters of our lives we’ve been through together.”
Fortunately, David is no stranger to using Remedy Drive as a vessel for carrying hope into challenging spaces. The band has mobilized as a support to counter-trafficking organization The Exodus Road over the past 6 years, with the Zach family playing a role on the frontlines of the fight themselves. Now, David has found a way to sing hope into the trenches of a different kind of battle.
“Last week I was supposed to do 5 events in New York and Georgia. Instead I did five separate livestream piano concerts on my own from our home in Nashville,” he explains. “I’m not sure why I originally started streaming. We all so feel so helpless in times like these– can I really do anything to help? I’ve brought my songs to the table in the face of the slavery epidemic. Maybe I can bring these songs I’ve spent 25 years writing to help ease the burden we’re all carrying– and maybe contribute to hope in the midst of this fear.”
It’s an approach that really naturally fits the heart of everything Remedy Drive does: “Maybe a song matters. Maybe a melody matters now more than ever. Otherwise the virus wins. Otherwise the darkness wins. I will sing these songs on the shores of Babylon knowing that my melody will outlive any pandemic, any empire or colonizer– these songs will outlive slavery, oppression, sickness and sorrow. The hopeful have sang through the darkest of nights. I want to be counted in the number of those whose melody helped keep the darkness at bay. Maybe live streaming can help tear a small corner off of someone’s dark day, putting fear in perspective and helping light a small candle. Singing together long distance is a reminder that we’ll be united again after our quarantine, after our isolated captivity. Concerts will happen again– but also we’ll sing together again by a sea of glass like unto crystal.”
It’s a hope-filled perspective that is resounding across the music community as a whole. Ironically, it may have taken tours being canceled to truly see in a uniquely poignant way why those tours matter so much. In their absence, the unifying, life-changing power of a simple song stands front and center.
“The main thing I want for the Remedy Drive community is for us to come together in a hopeful way,” David Zach says when asked how the listening community can support Remedy Drive right now. “I love seeing all the connections being made in the comment sections of these videos. The best way for people to help us out right now is to start recommend RD for events coming up in the fall. I’m soaking up time with family, because I know we’ll have to play twice as many shows this fall to help the ends meet. People can pre-order our new album and get access to this entire back catalog from 1999-2006. Philip and I are going to open up our duo house concert series for more people to participate in this fall and even spring 2021.”
You can follow Remedy Drive on Facebook for more living room livestreams, and visit remedydrive.com for their merch. Beyond that, David offers some concluding words from the song “Throne,” words that feel intensely hopeful and fiercely relevant in current circumstances:
Come back to the safety where you belong
You prisoners of hope – return to your strongholds
The king is still – the king is still on the throne
Come captives and exiles – overwhelmed
Attracted by the beauty of a distant realm
Where the king is still – the king is still on the throne
By these rivers in our imprisonments
We won’t hang up our stringed instruments
For the king is still – the king is still on the throne
Oh hasten the day – awaken the dawn
Strengthened by the phrases of redemption’s song
The king is still – the king is still on the throne.