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Milwaukee based artist Zach Pietrini explores life perspectives in new album 'Rock and Roll is Dead'

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Audrey Nowakowski
Milwaukee artist and band leader Zach Pietrini performs in studio at WUWM

The last time Milwaukee singer/songwriter Zach Pietrini joined Lake Effect was in the spring to perform selections from and discuss an EP that he released along with Memphis singer/songwriter McKenna Bray, as a part of our Pandemic Performance series.

Prior to this collaboration, Pietrini planned on embarking on a tour of new music that was postponed due to the pandemic. After adapting to unprecedented circumstances and altering his creative process, Pietrini has released his second full-length album since locating to Milwaukee: Rock and Roll is Dead.

"Pressing into new territory, it feels good and exciting," says Pietrini. "And after again two years of feeling like you're stuck, like nobody's doing much of anything, trying to tour where you can, it's really exciting."

The new album focuses heavily on the theme of the contrasting perspectives of life; how we tend to interpret different moments and experiences as exclusively "good" or "bad" when they are, often, simultaneously both. Furthermore, Pietrini explores how our understanding of life events matures over time.

"I think this process has been a long one of what are private songs, what are public songs, what are songs that I care about, kind of learning to keep that balance well," he notes.

Despite the title, the album is very much a rock and roll album that pays homage to the artists that shaped Pietrini's life growing up in Chicago, listening to artists like Tommy Petty, Bruce Springsteen and more alongside his dad in the car. Pietrini says that Rock and Roll is Dead leans away form his past Americana/country realm into rock and roll and and indie side of him.

"This record in a lot of ways is way more ambitious just in that it's just way, way bigger," he notes. "There's a lot more going on. There's a lot more in the production end of things that usually it's like we're either out of time, money or both."

Pietrini admits the whole process to release this album has taken longer than any of his previous projects. He recorded the album with a small team in Pewaukee, Wis. and says the main learning curve he experienced was taking more of a leadership role in shaping the sound of his album.

"I noticed that with myself, protecting and carrying out a vision while trying to get a bunch of different people behind that same vision, it's just really hard for me to do, and I think I've come a long way from where I was when we started," he says.

Zach Pietrini will perform an album release show for "Rock and Roll is Dead" at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. on Sept. 30.

Zach Pietrini and Eric Anderson perform "What Are We Now"
Zach Pietrini and Eric Anderson perform "Seventeen"
Zach Pietrini and Eric Anderson perform "Dead End Town"

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.
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