UMSL student Zach Petzel (left) and Alex Dabney make up the band A Big Sad Whale, which embarked on its first tour this summer. (Photograph by Erin Petty)

When Zach Petzel isn’t in class, the University of Missouri–St. Louis senior psychology major is writing songs, playing local gigs and preparing for his first big tour.

Petzel, a resident of St. Charles, Mo., makes up the guitar, organ and vocal half of the progressive jazz rock duet A Big Sad Whale. The band, who’s other half is drummer Alex Dabney, took the stage last week at The Bridge in Columbia, Mo.

Before the June 22 concert, Petzel talked with reporter Caroline Feeney, of Vox Magazine, about the band, his music and how he was inspired to create his own twist of 1960s jazz and rock.

Unlike some musicians, he didn’t start playing a guitar when he was 3, hadn’t writing songs by age 5 and wasn’t born with the desire to play music. In fact, it wasn’t until his teen years that he discovered his passion for the genre.

“Actually, unlike probably most, I never was into music until I got into high school,” Petzel told Vox. “My parents took me to go see ‘RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles,’ and that pretty much is when I started getting into music, once I was shown the music of The Beatles. And that’s when I started learning to play guitar and all that.”

Visit the Vox Magazine website to read the full interview.

Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton