Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Musicians always have good stories. No exception when it comes to Zack O'Connor, bassist and singer with the Astoria-based indie/pop band Holiday Friends.
“I have a trophy for a llama costume contest at the county fair. I dressed [my llama] up as Michael Jordan,” he laughs. “I was the referee."
OK, so it's not exactly a rock star vomit party moment, but it tells you more about Zack and his bandmates than some crazy tour drama would. In fact, it seems there's very little drama at all for this group of six guys who support themselves with day jobs ranging from pharmacist to arborist to brewery worker. Even their music, full of tasty harmonies coated in Brian Wilson-y good vibes, is drama-free.
Despite their busy working lives and regular gigs, the guys in Holiday Friends — which also includes Scott and Jon Fagerland, Joey Ficken, Jesse Wityczak, and Kevin Robinson — have just recently managed to wrap up recording their sophomore album, Major Magic. "We finished mixing a couple of months ago; it's being mastered as we speak," Zack says. "We're hoping to self release it in August or September."
It's a dream come true for this Idaho native who grew up on a farm full of cats, dogs and yes, llamas. He studied English Lit in college thinking he might become a teacher, then in 2008, Zack met brothers Jon and Scott Fagerland, and the first incarnation of Holiday Friends was born. The teaching idea was left behind, and shortly thereafter, so was Idaho.
"Jon and Scott grew up in this area, and after college, I came out and visited them for a weekend and completely fell in love with it," Zack remembers. "I'm not super impetuous, but I went back after that weekend, put in my notice, and moved here two weeks later. I just had to be here."
Most recently, he found that he also had to be with girlfriend, Allyx. That meant making a commitment not only to her, but to her Bassett-Lab-Border Collie (!) mix named Mowgli. "He looks like sort of a stretched-out Lab with little Bassett legs," Zack laughs. "He's awesome."
It wasn't long before Mowgli became a bare necessity in Zack's life. "It went so well that when another Bassett hound came on our radar that needed a home, Allyx and I kind of looked at each other and were like, 'maybe we should get another dog!' "
The other dog turned out to be Bristol, who has doubled Zack's enthusiasm for four-legged family members. What he loves most is the reception when he gets home every day. "They're undone . . . they're beside themselves," he says. "You can be gone for five minutes or five hours and they're jumping all over the place. It just fills you up with joy."
It's obvious that music does the same for Zack, who is hoping that some day, he and his Holiday Friends bandmates might be able to play music full-time. Even if that happens, you still probably won't find him out partying much. "I'm a true Cancer," he says of his zodiac sign. "I love to be home."
And what footwear suits a homebody best? Leather slippers with soft sheepskin lining, according to Zack. "My mom has bought me a pair for Christmas every year since I can remember," he says. "I even take them on tour."
It was touring that brought Zack and Holiday Friends to one of rock music's holy temples, and he counts playing there as one of the proudest moments of his life. "We had the super cool opportunity to play at The Fillmore in San Francisco," he remembers. "We were in this room where floor to ceiling there's all these show posters of the bands that have played there. And I was having trouble breathing, reading these posters, and thinking about the fact that we were about to play there."
Next up for the band are gigs at a few less hallowed halls in Astoria and Long Beach, then a much-anticipated main stage show at the Mississippi Street Fair in July. It's a pretty good party from all accounts — which means Zack might come back with a "Behind The Music"-worthy story.
Then again, it'll be hard to top a llama dressed like Michael Jordan.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio. When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter.