Rochester Magazine: Tell me about the Rares Project.
Zakh Peterson: This project is a bit different. It sprung up during COVID. I love meeting new people, and I wanted a project where I can collaborate with different musicians from Rochester and the Twin Cities. And we’re recording our versions of hit songs from the ‘60s. We’re trying to emulate that sound. As if our band was playing that song in 1965 or whenever. We’re going to put these 15 songs on a vinyl LP.
RM: Wow. That’s cool. You’ve been a drummer for a lot of local bands.
ZP: I think I’ve lost count.
RM: OK. So I saw what I think was your first paying gig. You played with a band called My Haunted Past at the VFW in Mantorville in 2015. You were still in high school.
ZP: Oh, man. I just put two and two together! Your daughter is Hadley! She played guitar in our band.
RM. Yes. I didn’t realize that until I started doing research on you and saw you and Hadley were friends on Facebook. You guys got paid $8 each and you each got a steak dinner at the VFW.
ZP: I met Hadley because I was waiting for a music lesson with Alec Tackmann, and Hadley was in there before me and I heard her singing and playing guitar and I was like, “Wow, she has a really good voice. I need a singer.”
RM: I’ll put that in the interview, since she’s my daughter.
ZP: Definitely, definitely.
RM: Your LinkedIn describes you as a “proud father of the cutest little girl.”
ZP: Oh, yeah. Ely’ana. She’s 21 months now. There’s no words to explain being a parent. Just watching her grow is so inspiring. And it feels like a reflection of myself. It’s funny because a lot of things she does, I can still remember me doing those kinds of things as a kid. She’s just full of energy. She likes going to the park a lot.
RM: You’ve had a lot of jobs. I’m going to list a few, and you give me a word or two about each.
RM: Taco Bell?
ZP: Crazy busy.
RM: Dodge County Highway Department?
RM: Domino’s driver?
ZP: Paid the bills.
RM: Choir member for Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience?
ZP: One of the best moments in my entire life.
RM: OK. Tell me about that one.
ZP: I was walking down a hall at McNally Smith College of Music, my college at the time, and my choir teacher said, “How would you like to be in a concert? It doesn’t pay well, it’s $100. But it’s Game of Thrones.” I said “Sure.” So it ends up it’s at Xcel Energy Center. We go to rehearse and it’s just all these great professionals. Top musicians. I’m singing with all these fantastic singers. I’m like, “Why am I here? These guys are really good.” It was really exhausting. But the live show itself had thousands of people. And it was amazing. They had giant flames during the dragon scene, then flower petals falling from the ceiling, that sort of thing.
RM: Wow. You graduated from Kasson-Mantorville. Then you were elected to the Kasson School Board in 2018.
ZP: Yes. I was 21. When I was a kid, I was fired up about politics, but I didn’t like the party systems. I wanted to do something that’s non-party affiliated. So I was talking to some friends that were saying, “Well, you just care so much about school, why don’t you become a school board member?” I was like, “What’s a school board member?” [Laughing.]
RM: And now you’re in year three of a four-year term. Has it been what you expected?
ZP: Way more than I expected. The whole first year I tried to just keep on learning. I had to get all this information through the Minnesota School Board Association. I had to learn all of these policies that our school had. And I have learned a lot about myself.
RM: Like what?
ZP: Our school board uses StrengthsFinders, so we have learned about our top strengths. One of my top strengths is ‘analytical.’ That was surprising to me at first, but the more I kept on thinking about it, I was like, “Yeah.”
RM: The more you kept analyzing.
ZP: Ha. Yes.
RM: What kind of school board member are you?
ZP: I guess I’m very particular. I want to know the details. I do see myself as very analytical. I probably come off kind of like a jerk sometimes, but the other board members understand it’s because I’m analytical. At least I hope so.
RM: So is music something you hope to pursue as a career?
ZP: Yeah. For me, I’ve discovered that, after doing millions of jobs, that I really like music. It always comes back to music. No matter how tough it gets, I feel like that’s the only thing that I can keep pushing myself in. So, long-term, I’ve got to somehow find music to be the thing that I continue, whatever it is.
RM: So what would that be?
ZP: A musician’s got to do several things. So you give lessons, play with your main band, be a freelancer for other bands, do some recording things. It’s really a gig economy, the music business. That’s really it. I’m just trying to do these projects, like The Rares Project, to see how far I can go. To see how many fans we can get. They say if you get 1,000 die-hard fans, you can go wherever you want with it.