In 2014 Zack serendipitously clicked on a blog about cult '90s Australian bands – and had a flash of inspiration. "One of the artists was this Sydney band from the '90s called Smudge – and the song that they had on that was The Outdoor Type," he recalls. "That was the first time I heard that song. So I listened to that and I thought, this is so good – it's exactly what I wanna sound like!"
Zack felt disillusioned with the music he'd been cutting – "it was getting a bit weird and electronic". But, on rediscovering classic Australian acts – Paul Kelly, The Go-Betweens, The Church – he began writing anew. "Finally I started to make the music that I actually enjoyed, as opposed to music that I thought would maybe get on the radio or something ridiculous like that," Zack quips.
Zack composed 2015's eponymous The Outdoor Type EP in a backyard studio, laying down almost all the parts himself. It spawned the popular singles When The Sun Goes Down and Are You Happy. Both attracted Triple J airplay and topped the AMRAP community radio charts. Yet it was the follow-up single, On My Mind, stomping urban folk, which went viral – eventually exceeding 100,000 Spotify plays.
Ever modest, Zack was surprised to receive a message through his personal Facebook from an enthusiastic A&R for North America's independent powerhouse Nettwerk Records. "The song got added to a few blogs in the States and they happened to just find it somehow. The head of the label flew over to Australia and I had a meeting with him and then got signed – it was really weird… It kinda came out of the blue." The Outdoor Type joins the Nettwerk roster alongside other Australian names such as Boy & Bear and Hermitude. Zack has also secured management with Wonderlick Entertainment.
Now The Outdoor Type is returning with a new single Rumination. Assisted by producer John Castle (Cub Sport, Vance Joy, Dustin Tebutt) and mixed by Steven Schram (San Cisco, Tigertown, Tiny Little Houses), Zack was determined to record live with his band, limiting any "studio trickery". "I've been playing with a live band for a while now and I decided to get them all in – 'cause it's just a much fuller sound when you've got a whole live band playing at the same time."
The lyrics of the new single Rumination suggest self-doubt, but its music is euphorically escapist. "Rumination was written in a period where I was beginning to become fed up with music – or, to be more specific, fed up with working in a call centre and being broke," Zack says. "The song is about the nature of the modern, routine-driven, fast-paced, nine-to-five, mortgage 'til you die time that we live in. It's a rejection of that – and, at the same time, a want to prove to yourself, or to others, that you are capable of all those things."
In the meantime, Zack has honed The Outdoor Type's live show on the local circuit – lately opening Vera Blue's three sold-out Melbourne dates, as well as supporting Alex Lahey and Tiny Little Houses. His five-piece band will perform at the Australian industry hub BIGSOUND – and, in December, their first music festival, NYE On The Hill. Already there's talk of a US run in 2017.
And Zack is steadily working towards The Outdoor Type's debut album. "I'm always demoing – I try to treat it like a job," he says ironically. "I spend two days a week in my studio, from nine-to-five, making noise."