Local music: Themidas Touch

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
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From the December 6, 2012 edition

A lot of struggle led up to Throwing Rocks, the free album Columbus rapper Themidas Touch calls his “magnum opus.” That struggle is still in progress — the climb to attention and accolades is especially steep for a scrawny white dude whose only hip-hop bona fide is hustle — but Friday’s release party at Carabar looks set to be a significant milestone along the way.

Zach Ziebel started rapping on Columbus stages under the name The Midas Touch in 2004, but he doesn’t really connect with the music from those early years anymore. The ideas still resonate, but his delivery needed a lot of work.

“The words are there, but the sound is not,” Ziebel said.

In 2009, Ziebel rebooted his rap career, wiping half a decade worth of his music off the internet. He thought about changing his name too, but manager/promoter Grant Gatsby convinced him not to abandon the Midas brand he’d invested so much time, money and effort into. Instead, he smashed “The” and “Midas” together into a single moniker.

“It’s like Thelonius,” Ziebel explained.

The ensuing years have seen significant gains for Themidas Touch. He’s opened for everybody from Clipse to Machine Gun Kelly and performed in front of execs from a dozen big record labels. (No bites yet.) Now he’s releasing his best collection of work, one built around the political rage of leadoff track “Warbucks.”

“People are rioting all over the world,” Ziebel said. “That’s coming here. There’s a growing feeling of disenchantment. I’m getting out in front of that.”

Throwing Rocks is not entirely a protest album. Global social unrest acts as a prism for Ziebel’s own quest for success, one that’s been aided by promoters like Dommy Styles, who helped Themidas get some of those big gigs, and acclaimed producers like J. Rawls and A.U., who chipped in beats for the new album. In a very un-rapper-like show of humility, he effusively thanked these people for offering up their talents.

“They were willing to take that gamble on me,” Ziebel said. “That’s not a small thing in my eyes.”