Playing video games? Check.
Reading books? Check.
Writing new music? Check.
This spring’s coronavirus stay-at-home orders came with a standard-issue To Do list for area musicians. But there was extra credit for Stew Arp and the guys in ZORILA: Since they all live together in Chicago, they’ve been fortunate to be able to write songs and practice together as a band, something many musicians working remotely have been struggling with.
The alternative rock band — Plainfield’s Anthony Hish, downstate Sidney’s Nate Finn and brothers Stew and Henry Arp of Paris, Illinois — will join us at 7 p.m. Friday, June 5, for a livestream concert/interview on the Chicago Sound Check Instagram. The band will perform favorites from last fall’s debut release, “Sidney.”
“We’ve been sitting on the songs from ‘Sidney’ for a long time,” frontman Stew Arp said of the songs that have been in regular rotation in rock sets since the band started in 2018. “So we’re ready to play some new music live as soon as everything opens up. We’re just trying to prepare ourselves to be able to release something new. Also we’re kind of going stir crazy, so to get together to jam, we’re enjoying that.”
In April, ZORILA, with the recent addition of unofficial fifth member Dave DeAngelis, released an acoustic version of some favorites from “Sidney.” But with a couple new songs already fairly far along, the band hopes to have a new release later this summer.
“We’ve been working a lot on just trying to get back in a really tight place where we are really rudimentary focused,” Stew said. “We’re trying to focus on being a really tight band again.”
A lot of his attention during the lockdown has been given to staying in touch and reconnecting with people. Stew said casual gaming has been cathartic and a way to turn his mind off for a little bit. “It’s a way that I could still interact with my friends I can’t see anymore,” he said. “We get on and chat, and half the time we’re just talking on the game chat and not even really playing.”
But more importantly, it’s given him and his brother Henry a chance to forge new ties with their family.
“I was able to kind of reconnect with my family, which I think has been the silver lining for me in all of this,” Stew said.
After losing his marketing job because of the COVID-19 crisis, he returned for a while to Paris, Illinois, where his parents and sister live.
“I’ve been able to get closer to my parents and been able to use this time to be with them,” he said. “Usually when you’re 25, you’re on your own … You’re not always thinking about your family because you’re focused on your career and your goals, but it’s kind of a blessing in disguise being able to spend time and make some memories with my family.”