We chat with Zach Leone, frontman of The Morning Herald


morning herald

Taylor Malatesta Staff Writer

If you’re in the market for new music, look no further than the University’s own “The Morning Herald”—an alternative, indie-rock band with a fresh sound and an exciting new take on the typical college band. Last week, we spoke to The Morning Herald’s frontman, Zach Leone, and learn a little more about the band’s history, creative process and plans for the future.

The four-man band started with Leone and Dan Schmetterling, the guitarist, who grew up in the same Connecticut hometown and have known each other since they were 10 years old. The two have been playing and writing music together since high school, and, according to Leone, “by chance ended up at Villanova together.” It was here, during the fall of last year, that the two decided that if they wanted to keep making music, they had to “find some like-minded people who wanted to form a group on campus,” said Leone. In their search, they found Cole Chebi, a guitarist who was willing to learn a whole new instrument to become the band’s bassist. They also recruited Nick Miller, a University graduate who ran the Open Mic Club to play drums. As Leone explained, once the four got together, things “came together really quickly.”

The band, which has a distinctly indie rock vibe, akin to The Strokes, takes its stylistic inspiration from an eclectic group of sources, one of which is responsible for the band’s name. “The name of the band, “The Morning Herald,” comes from this band “The Vaccines.” They’re sort of this British, indie rock group,” explained Leone. Leone, who “wasn’t writing a ton of music at first” starting listening to “The Vaccines,” and a “lightbulb went off” in his head. He realized he wanted to make music just like theirs, and as a result, he explained, “The Morning Herald” “originally had this distinctly British tone that over time has evolved to suit a bunch of different musical tones.” Now, Leone says the group is seeking to make music that still has this same alternative feel as their early work but also “fits a bunch of different genres.”

But what makes “The Morning Herald”—with its various influences and multi-genre approach to music—so unique is the creative process behind its work. Leone’s main source of inspiration comes from everyday encounters and conversations, which start as simple ideas and expand outward to build entire songs, and then a whole album. “I’ll hear a word or a phrase and think in my head ‘that’d be a cool song title,’” said Leone. The title track of the group’s EP—“Pure Electricity”—came about in exactly this way. “‘Pure Electricity’ came from a conversation I was having with my friends,” said Leone. “We were talking about Mountain Dew and saying how it is legitimately like drinking just pure electricity, and that actually became a song in and of itself.” This experience not only formed an entire song, but it also gave birth to promotional material for the band. They put out stickers with the Mountain Dew logo backdrop with “The Morning Herald’s“ name splashed across it.

More than creating stickers, though, the group’s primary focus is trying to “create as much music as possible and send it out into the world,” said Leone. They’ve been able to do this most notably at the University’s Spring Concert last semester, when they opened for Saint Motel. They continued the momentum from this gig by continually playing basement shows at off campus apartments. At these shows, it was “interacting with a crowd that’s right in front of you” that was something that the band had “never really experienced before,” explained Leone. This kind of crowd interaction is what shapes the band’s desire to be a “college party band,” Leone said. However, as he also explained, they want to be a band that not only has a “college pub appeal on one side, but also suits this completely different audience that’s ready to go to an arena for an actual alternative show.” The result is, according to Leone, music that’s “built for both the pub and the arena.”

The versatility of the band’s music, as demonstrated by its success at local gigs and concert-style venues, like its opening for Saint Motel, allowed it to realize that its music “is accessible enough and listenable enough where it can appeal to a mass audience at first listen,” said Leone. This knowledge now guides The Morning Herald’s plans for the future of the band. Specifically, they plan to use their EP to build up a reputation which will allow them to fulfill their hopes of being “a touring band around the Philly area.” To achieve this end, Leone and the other band members are “in the process of contacting Philly music venues” and “hitting up as many touring bands that are coming to Philadelphia as possible to see if they want a local band to accompany them,” says Zach.

But, for now, the group plans to direct its energy to creating new music and spending the upcoming year seeing how things progress. “We’re a Villanova band – that’s what we’re identified as and until we make it to the Philly circuit, that’s what you can expect from us,” explains Zach. In the meantime, Zach and the rest of the band just want their audience to realize that they are simply “three kids in college, just having fun,” and above all they want listeners to be able to come to one of their gigs and “just not care about anything, just jump up and down and yell and have a good time,” says Zach. And it seems to have found just this response from the University audience, who Zach credits as being incredible supportive of their work and vital to their growth and success as a band. “The amount of support we’ve gotten from the Villanova campus is insane,” says Zach, who hopes for this support to continue in the upcoming year.  Knowing the nature of this University and its incredible community of students and faculty, I have no doubt that The Morning Herald will find just that.

The Morning Herald’s EP, “Pure Electricity,” and its new album, “Undiscovered Oceans,” are available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and more. If you have the chance, go check them out. They’re certainly not ones to be missed.