Four days. That’s how long it took Zach Deputy to record his latest album, Sunshine. The LP plays like a mix tape, flowing from reggae to calypso to alternative rock. “Games” could easily be a Michael Jackson track, while “Stay” finds the Hilton Head native channeling Ray Charles.
But what’s most remarkable about the album is the scenario behind its birth. At a New Jersey hotel, the night before arriving at the studio in Woodstock, N.Y., Deputy’s truck, with all of his instruments and gear, was stolen — an $85,000 loss. Deputy’s famous for his one-man-band shows, where seated with a guitar behind a table of pedals and buttons, he’s able to create the sound of a full band, layer by layer. So losing all those pedals and buttons was quite the blow.
“We spent the whole first day calling and trying to find instruments,” recalls Deputy. “It was a stressful time, dealing with all that craziness and then having to perform and make that album.”
Fatefully, Deputy had already chosen the name Sunshine for the disc, behind his personal slogan of, “When life gives you lemons, make sunshine.” Lacking his gear and with four days of paid-for time in the studio, Deputy was forced to get creative, choosing instrumentation he might never have previously considered. Full band tracks like “Paramus” found Deputy playing the marimba, recorded Motown style without retakes and overdubs.
Deputy returns to Charleston almost a year to the date since the theft. He’s recovered nicely. He’s replaced most of his gear and grown his name around the country, including a residency at the Bear Creek Music Festival in November, where he played as many as five shows a day between acts in the main tent.
“I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m just not out of the tunnel,” says Deputy. The local soul-funk jammer says he’s particularly excited to celebrate his Scots-Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day at the Pour House.
“I wanted to do it somewhere close to home. It’s different playing in front of friends instead of fans, who see you as Zach, instead of Zach Deputy. And there’s a really good, wholesome vibe there,” he says. “I’m gonna party with everybody and get down and have fun.”