Q&A with Jimmy De Martini

We chat with the Zac Brown Band’s violinist and vocalist about musical roots, influences, and the band’s evolving sound.

The Zac Brown Band
Photography by Diego Pernía

It has been almost a decade since the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band began taking over the country music charts. The band’s first hit album, The Foundation, widely appealed to listeners from all walks of life, winning over the hearts of country and non-country fans alike. The group of pioneering musicians continues to trailblaze with their jam-rock country beats and experimental sound. Their newest album, The Owl, keeps innovation on the forefront with unlikely collaborations from Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, and Skrillex. PBI caught up with the band’s violinist and vocalist, Jimmy De Martini, ahead of ZBB’s upcoming performances October 18 and 19 at Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach to discuss musical roots, influences, and evolution.

PBI: How were you introduced to music?

De Martini: My parents played music for me when I was a little kid. From a young age I remember my mom cleaning the house and playing The Beatles. My dad was really into British rock as well—a lot of Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, and The Police.

Who is your biggest musical influence?

I have so many. I grew up listening to mostly rock music—a lot of local bands in Atlanta like REM and The Black Crowes. I was into Metallica, Guns and Roses, Sound Garden, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, and Incubus. 

Is there anything fans should know about your personal musical style?

I kind of approach the violin in more of a guitar way than I do a fiddle. I was also learning the guitar at the same time that I began to play the violin, so there is a lot of guitar-style influences in the way that I play.

How did you become acquainted with Zac Brown? 

We were both on the Atlanta music scene. I was playing at Atkins Park and the bartender, Wyatt Durrette (Zac’s early songwriting partner), told me that Zac Brown was looking for bandmembers. He gave me Zac’s number, and I met Zac at a sports bar to play the next night. I’ve been in the band ever since.

How has the band’s sound evolved throughout the years?

On our first album there was a lot of inspiration drawn from Alan Jackson. Each album has its own unique sound. Early on it was a country thing; lately there has been a lot of EDM and pop inspiration.

What can people expect from your shows at Coral Sky?

A high-energetic, one-of-a-kind show. We have such a large repertoire of songs now so we will play songs from the beginning, the middle, covers, and our most current songs.

Could you ever see yourself living in South Florida?

I think I could. My wife would love it down there. If she’s happy there, I’d be happy there.


*This interview has been edited and condensed.





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