Turning the tables on Living Dayton’s Zac Pitts.
It was a dream come true. Pitts was playing his favorite song by his favorite band on the stage where they were about to perform live. Some might call it fate. Others, just luck, but for Pitts it was a moment of a lifetime.
For most of his adult life Dayton native Pitts was a member of a band and had a dream to write and produce his own music. Starting in his junior high school days he and his buddy, drummer Matt Harm, were making music with a single focus—to make an album.
“It’s thanks to my mom,” Pitts says. “I have always been a Blink-182 fan. My mom bought me a Tom Delonge Fender Strat and I was hooked. I played ‘All the Small Things’ in my sixth-grade talent show and have loved music ever since.”
Going Away to College
Pitts says he formed his first band with Harm in seventh grade, but the two lost contact after high school. He says he still wrote and produced songs on his own and formed another band while at college at the University of Dayton, but “it was missing the live element.”
After tracking Harm down through Facebook and then finding a second guitarist/vocalist, Mike Davis, they were well on their way. But it wasn’t until his third Blink-182 concert at Riverbend last summer that things really came together.
Pitts, along with a young bass player from the crowd, were invited on stage during the sound check to play “All the Small Things.”
“Everything came full circle,” Pitts says. “It was an incredible moment and it introduced me to this really great bass player, Steven Willis, who then joined our band.”
Throughout the fall the band learned Pitts’ songs and added its own touches and Pitts was excited about how well they ‘gelled’ and about having this live element in his music. Even better, Pitts says, “We’re actually pretty good!”
This is Home
Flee the Valley, as the band is known to fans, was born. The name, Pitts says, came out of a random conversation with a girl in an Oregon District bar soon after he returned to Dayton to co-host Living Dayton.
“We were talking about how so many people try and leave Dayton but they almost always come home with a new appreciation about how great it is here in the valley. It was exactly how I was feeling at the time. The valley pulls you back in and it’s the perfect place for me.”
Newly minted, the band decided it was time to start recording and booking some local gigs. It has played at Blind Bobs in the Oregon District and at venues in Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo. Most recently, the band had a chance to perform a show at the RockStar Pro Arena on Third Street in downtown Dayton. The gig also served as a premiere for the band’s recently released self-titled EP.
The Rock Show
Featuring six original songs now available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon, the EP features a blend of alternative, rock and punk sounds with tracks titled “Falling Apart,” “The Message in the Static” and “Let the Current In.” They call their sound pop punk. Blink-182’s influence is certainly there in the driving guitar and rhythms and the clever lyrics are powerful and easy to sing along with.
Pitts says recording and playing live is really what it’s all about. “Recently, someone I don’t know stopped to tell me they downloaded our music. That’s when I knew no matter what else
happens to us it’s just fine to be big in Dayton.”
A New Hope
While the band continues to look for new venues to play in the area the big plan is to produce a full-length album. “It’s always been a goal with my music—to have a full-length album. We hope to re-record the six songs from the EP and add six new songs.”
“I write music in my head all time.” So much so his Living Dayton co-host Katie Kenney has coined it Zac-ing Out. “I just space out and start putting together a song in my head and she can tell right away I’m not there.”
He believes that while he will continue to drive the ship in terms of coming up with song ideas the whole band will play a part in developing the overall sound. In the meantime the band will continue to play live and drive online music sales. And, of course, you can find him live every day at noon on WDTN Channel 2 talking to local Dayton business owners, nonprofit organizations and even a few magazine editors.
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