Last year’s release of the “Sidney” full-length album ushered alternative rock band ZORILA onto Chicago stages in comfortable fashion, each song an engaging and emotional exploration of what bubbles just beneath the surface.
Transitioning from their Central Illinois roots to building a name for solid, tear-it-up rock shows at such storied Chicago venues as Cubby Bear wasn’t enough, though.
On a sleepy, snowy mid-April morning the band offered up some stripped-down, chill tunes perfect for a gray quarantined day with today’s release of “Sidney (Acoustic),” a four-song collection of favorites reworked from the original album.
The members of ZORILA — Nate Finn from Sidney, Illinois, Anthony Hish of Plainfield, and brothers Stew and Henry Arp of Paris, Illinois — love creating music and already have new songs in the works for release later this year. But the chance to give their original pieces a chance to shine in a new light was too tempting and has been in the works since December, according to Stew, the band’s frontman and lead vocalist.
“We wanted to re-release the music in a different way and show how we can be versatile sonically,” he said. “We’re an original rock band and we want to bring a full show, but we want to be able to play anywhere and we also want to be able to play for anyone. … What we enjoy the most is getting in front of people and playing music.”
For the project, the band selected four solid picks that truly showcase ZORILA’s introspective nature: “Clearwater,” “Disaster,” “Rollercoaster” and “Vices” (previously “Untitled”).
“They were all written on acoustic guitar for the most part,” Stew said, “so it was kind of cool to revert them back to their original forms.”
But the band didn’t simply strip and slow the songs for this version, instead spending time shifting key registers and reworking their roles for maximum impact.
“Nate did a really good job of that, I think. He wrote new parts (for lead guitar),” he said. “He didn’t play his traditional lead lines. … Less is more on this for him, which I thought was kind of a pretty selfless act, but it sounded really good.”
Each reworked take brings a new sensibility to the table, but none more than the self-analytical “Disaster,” which picks up a haunting musical undercurrent behind its self-exploratory vocals.
Also making an appearance on the new versions is ZORILA’s unofficial fifth member, Dave DeAngelis, who brought piano and string layers to the mix.
In addition to today’s new release, Stew said the band is finalizing a quarantine performance video due out for release this weekend.