Q&A: Folk rock band Saintseneca talks tour, new record

The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Little Zac from Saintseneca performs on the stage in May 2018. via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The rock band, Saintseneca, from Columbus, Ohio, who has been featured on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” series and whose track “Happy Alone” (2014) has amassed over 1.4 million streams on Spotify, has experienced acclaim and recognition in both the realm of the folk scene and DIY house show circuit. Ahead of its upcoming tour, during which the band is stopping in Allston to play at Great Scott on Sept. 21, the Tufts Daily sat down with frontman Zac Little.

The Tufts Daily (TD): So, you’re going to be back in Boston for the first time in over a year. Are you excited to be playing back in Massachusetts?

Zac Little (ZL): I am! I always enjoy playing in Boston. It’s been a good spot for us for a long time, so it’ll be fun to get back there.

TD: After Boston, you’re heading back to Columbus, right?

ZL: Yeah, that’s right. It’s just a short little East Coast run, and then we have a one-off gig in Columbus before we head out west.

TD: Are you excited to be playing back in your hometown? Is there anything different about Columbus gigs than other gigs, especially since you’ve played internationally at this point?

ZL: It’s probably the most stressful because everybody knows you and you feel like, you know, your friends and your family are there, and there’s something kind of nice about the anonymity of playing out of town — it feels high stakes. It’s just … wanting to deliver for the people you actually know.

TD: What can you say about this tour in comparison to past tours? Is there anything new or exciting people should be looking for?

ZL: Well, we just put out a new song, so we’ve got that and we’ve been kind of working on resurrecting some older songs we haven’t had in a set for a while, so that’s been kind of fun — just trying to breathe new life into some material that has been resting for a while.

TD: About the new song, “In a Van”In a Stereogum interview, you said that it was inspired by Chris Farley and his “Best Of.” Can you elaborate on how that influenced the songwriting process?

ZL: It was one of those things that I didn’t necessarily anticipate writing a song about. I was kind of self conscious about putting it out because it seemed sort of odd to me. But it was just a strange experience where basically I got together with some friends, and we were just hanging out, and we watched the Chris Farley “Best Of,” and I guess I was struck by a couple things. The way that this thing, this documentation of this performance — it’s essentially been the same thing all of the time, throughout time, but it accumulates different meanings throughout time. You know, watching those jokes now, it just has a different read, and I felt like that was kind of interesting, and that being kind of tangled up with feelings of nostalgia and something that was current 25 years ago, or something like that, now feels very situated in a bygone era. I was a little kid when that stuff was around, but being able to even remember it as a contemporary thing and then look back and be like “woah, this looks old,” is a disorienting experience to some extent. Just personally, too, the whole Chris Farley story is a bittersweet thing, because he’s someone you can see as really talented, but then there’s a sad tinge to it as well just because of his own struggles.

TD: In addition to being a songwriter, you’re also a visual artist. Do you find that the mediums ever influence each other? Is there any creative overlap between visual art and music?

ZL: I think there’s probably, definitely, all kinds of crossover. It’s sometimes hard to know really exactly what that is for me, but I will say that I’ve always kind of liked the platform that playing music affords for presenting visual art. I went to school for it and I always felt a little bit frustrated sticking things in a white box kind of gallery, and to me it’s a lot more interesting, and I feel that visual work gets to take on a different life and reach more people and engage more people when it’s in the context of playing music. Maybe it’s making a record cover or making a flyer or poster for a show, or even a t-shirt design, and it’s something that people incorporate into their lives and engage with in a different way than just like, “oh, cool, I saw that thing in a gallery and then I walked away from it.”

TD: Saintseneca’s been around for a while — it has a pretty rich history. What’s next for Saintseneca? Can people expect an album in a little while — is there anything on the horizon?

ZL: Who knows! I heard someone say once, “to air one’s intentions is to broadcast one’s failure,” so I like to keep the energy in this sort of secret place until it’s ready to come out. But, I don’t know, I’m always working on some stuff, so we’ll what comes of it I suppose.

Saintseneca plays at Great Scott in Allston, Mass. on Saturday, Sept. 21, and its new song, “In a Van,” is available on all streaming platforms.