UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
WITH ALAN K. STOUT
Zhach Kelsch is a professional drummer and drumming instructor who teaches at Northeast Music Center, Dickson City. He has performed and recorded with regional bands such as Fighting Zero and OurAfter and recently recorded with Aaron Fink. Kelsch plays with two bands from the Lehigh Valley area, Vicious and Doubting Thomas, and with Philadelphia-based band Modern Luxe. He is a Carbondale native and graduated from Carbondale Junior-Senior High School and Penn State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business. He has lived in Philadelphia for the past five years and recently relocated to Lake Harmony.
Meet Zhach Kelsch …
When did you first realize that you wanted to play drums?
I started when I was 6. My dad was a drummer, and he quit because he had me. (Laughs) And so he put the drums away. I was helping my grandmother clean the attic when I was 6 years old, and I found his road cases with his drums in them. They were these really cool 1976 drums. They’re called Vistalite, so they’re acrylic and you can see through them. And they were a bicentennial edition. I’ve since found out that they’re worth a lot of money, which is funny, because he bought them for like $500 and now they’re worth more than $10,000. They’re red, white and blue. … I’m 6 years old, and they look like jellybeans. (Laughs) I begged him to set them up, and though he was kind of rusty, he could still play, and I was just blown away just watching. Seeing each hand do something different, and the feet do different things, but it all comes together … I was like, “This is the only thing I want to do.”
Who are some of your all-time favorite drummers?
I’m a fan of guys that are almost the behind-the-scenes session guys. As a drummer, you’re not the “rock star” face, but I like the guys who have done it and made a living. They’re the guys that get hired by every artist, though a lot of people probably won’t know their names. Vinnie Colaiuta is one of my all-time favorites. Josh Freese. And a local guy, Kevin Soffera from Allentown, is a guy I completely look up to. And I’ve liked Danny Carey from Tool since I was 6, and I still like him now. He’s one of those guys with staying power.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
Tool, Metallica and nowadays I’ve really gotten into funk, and I’m into Lettuce. And I like the funk legends like Tower of Power and Earth, Wind & Fire.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to stay active. I’m a gym rat. In the winter I snowboard. In the summer I wakeboard, and I like to ride my motorcycle. And I like to read about business and philosophy.
I got to do a tour last year of the West Coast, which went from San Diego all the way to Seattle. Seattle is amazing. And I also liked Santa Monica.
Favorite vacation spot?
It depends on which mood I’m in. I love Vermont, and I also love anything Caribbean.
Favorite thing about NEPA?
I’ve travelled a lot from playing, but it always feels like home. The family is still here, and I’ve always liked it here.
Anything healthy … sushi and vegetables.
All-time favorite movie?
“Johnny Dangerously,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Shawshank Redemption.”
Favorite TV show?
“Seinfeld” and “Family Guy.” And I like documentaries.
Favorite type of reading?
I like magazines. I like Forbes and The Economist.
Biggest pet peeve?
A negative attitude.
I like a drink, socially. I was at a wedding last weekend, and I thought, “Alright. I’m not working. Let’s have a drink.”
Is there anyone, or anything, in your life that has helped define you as a person?
My dad. He’s an unbelievable moral guide. He’s the North Star. He always does the right thing. Everybody that knows him respects him. I try to follow his lead as much as I can.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at email@example.com.
photos by emma black