Q&A: Effie Zilch

in SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?

We are both third generation bay area-ers. The rich cultural history of where we grew up has been the white-noise noise of our lives. As such, during the making of our first album, we both decided to read Talbot’s book, “Seasons of the Witch” which is a deep dive into the sordid and magical history of San Francisco. There was one small line, in one small paragraph, in one large chapter on Herb Caen that caught our attention.

“Caen might run around with the midnight crowd, but he always imagined he was writing for a simple housewife out on the westerly windswept avenues. “Effie Zilch,” he called her and she would read his column after getting her husband off to work and making herself a pot of coffee, as she rested her slippered feet on the coffee table”

Effie Zilch – Herb Caen’s mythical muse. She helped Caen write his sixty-year column in the San Francisco chronicle, “A continuous love letter to San Francisco” that undoubtedly shaped the allure of the city far and wide. His writings became a welcome invitation to the misfits of the nation, calling them home. As a result, the street sounds of the 60s and 70s came to life and remain forever in the foreground of our music.

So, thank you Effie Zilch.

How would you describe your sound?

Effie Zilch: A of bit tripped out country and rock n roll with a lot more in the pot.

When did you first become interested in playing music?

Steve: My parents took me to see Santana when I was 8 or 9 years old.

Evanne: I sang before I talked and wrote my first song when I was 8 years old — a life-long love affair.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?

Steve: I’ve signed confidentiality agreements but some would be like when the lead singer started fighting the cameraman on the first song. Or, when Lee Scratch Perry walked on stage mid-song to congratulate each band member for absolutely no reason (but it was awesome). All artists remain nameless.

Evanne: Highs and lows are always funny to navigate. Like riding the big high of playing a big show and then shelping gear out the back alley by the dumpsters in the rain immediately after. Or when the lead guitarist got so mad at an “uninvited tambourinist” for slowing down the tempo, that he threw his guitar offstage.

What are you listening to these days?

Steve: Billy Joe Shaver, Alice Coltrane, Sly Stone.

Evanne: Big Brother and the Holding Company, Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Percy Sledge.

Effie Zilch

What does music mean to you?

Effie Zilch: A gift from the gods. A way to navigate this strange, strange land. A blessing and a curse. A calling — sometimes loud, sometimes soft.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?

Evanne: We were in each other’s band as teenagers. We walked into rehearsal of this new band at the same time and started talking in the hallway. I guess we’ve never stopped talking. Funny anecdote, I have a protective Greek father. Somehow, we got this bar gig on the other side of the bridge that I begged my dad to play. Reluctantly and very skeptically, he “chaperoned” me to the gig (given that we were underage and technically not even allowed to be in the bar). That night, Steve played “Little Wing.” My dad was so floored by his playing that he basically said, “wherever that guy plays, you can go too.” Here we are, 25 years later.

San Francisco is full of music history. Who are some San Francisco musicians who inspired you?

Steve: Santana (my first concert). I jammed with Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane) and Merl Saunders (Jerry Garcia Band) as a teenager. I’ve recorded with Edwin Hawkins and Melvin Seals early in my career so they were all huge influences. Also, my parents record collection. Jefferson Airplane, The Electric Flag, Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Neil Young (Neil counts as Bay Area).

Evanne: Mostly the same, The Dead, Big Brother, Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stevie Nicks (she counts too), Sly. My parents had a ton of records too, so we just grew up listening.

What’s the biggest challenge in becoming a musician today?

Effie Zilch: It’s easier now than ever to become a musician. There’s access to free music, free lessons, and it’s relatively easy to record with minimal equipment and without a record deal. The biggest challenge is to get paid for your work.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?

Effie Zilch: The Fillmore, The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Freight & Salvage, Frost Amphitheater, Sweetwater Music Hall. And now, The Guild Theatre in Menlo Park.

Where do you like to get creative in San Francisco?

Steve: de Young Museum and Ocean Beach (on Great Highway).

Evanne: Route 84 to Pescadero, Skyline in La Honda, Alice’s Restaurant, The MoMA, Legion of Honor, Marin Headlands, Stinson Beach. So many places!

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?

Steve: I consider myself a gardener.

Evanne: I am a full blown Trekkie. And I am (almost) fluent in Spanish.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?

Effie Zilch: Our Single, “Cut Through,” off our upcoming album, Trinity Vol 2, dropped on April 8! Available on all platforms. The video will be out early May…stay tuned!

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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