Things We Love: Zac Little’s picks

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From the March 27, 2014 edition

Just like the bottle rockets band leader Zac Little adores, Columbus folk experimentalists Saintseneca are exploding in bursts of color in the dark night sky. The group’s latest album, Dark Arc, is generating its share of national buzz ahead of its release Tuesday. NPR, for one, recently picked the album as one of its “First Listen” streams of the week, with Bob Boilen saying the band “has its own way of making contagious tunes — and its own way of making the complicated feel simple.” Little spoke a bit about that approach recently over drinks at the Dube while discussing a few of his favorite things.

BOTTLE ROCKETS

I feel like I was deprived of them growing up. When I turned 18, I remember I bought like 144 of them, and my friends and I set all of them off within an hour. It’s probably something I should have grown out of by now, but no. When I get the chance, I have to indulge. I try to limit it to special occasions. Birthdays, New Year. When I lived on Campus, I felt like I could get away with it a little more because of the environment, but now I want to be a little more respectful of my neighbors. I don’t want people to feel scared. But you know, if I’m in town I’ll set them off. What can you do?

OBSCURE STRINGED INSTRUMENTS

I play a bunch of different things, but I’ve never been able to just stop and be like, “I’m just going to play guitar.” If I see a stringed instrument that I’ve never seen before or I’m in some store, I’ll really feel the need to play it and probably want one. I’ve kind of amassed this library of stringed instruments. When we were making the record, all of those are on there. Not everything but a lot of stuff. The instruments themselves, the objects, are less what I’m interested in, but more their capacity to excavate in specific ways.

SALVADOR DALI

Probably the first visual artist I became really interested in. Whatever age you are, his work has this accessibility to it, and that’s something I’ve grown to appreciate more. It’s less intellectual acrobatics, even though there’s this level of rigor and sophistication to how well-executed it is. The whole notion of surrealism, I like that sensibility as far as music and stuff goes. That’s something I’d want to infuse into the kind of work I make too, having something with that level of accessibility and that people could appreciate, but also there’s something challenging as well.

BRASS DO-DADS

Brass is great because once you heat up it gets soft and malleable, so you can bend it, manipulate it and all those pieces you can join together in whatever way you want. Sometimes I’ll find something cool, like a little hook or latch, and buy it and not be able to bring myself to cut it up or solder on it. So I’ll collect little odds and ends, especially when I’m traveling. If I pick up a memento, a lot of times it’s like this brass lock I found while traveling.

COLOR OF COOKED SWEET POTATO

I can’t explain it. It’s this sort of intuitive thing. … It seems like the most perfect color. When I see it, I’m like, “Damn, that’s immensely appealing to me.” I do like sweet potatoes. Not every day, but that’s usually what I eat for breakfast. You cut it open, and after it’s cooked, it’s just the perfect color of orange. Something about that, whatever frequency or light is reflected from that has a good vibration. Even from the time I was very young, something about it I find nice to behold. It just looks good.