Zack Baumgartner overcomes fear through music

Zack Baumgartner, solo musician and member of pop-punk band When the Sun Sets, performs on stage.

By Alexandra Yetter

Zack Baumgartner, solo musician and member of pop-punk band When the Sun Sets, understands hustle. Baumgartner works as a welder full-time, and plays shows late into the weekends. He writes his original songs in his free time.

He said through all this, the hard work has not dispelled his passion. Now, Baumgartner is preparing to release a new song Sept. 28 and gearing up for tours throughout the Midwest in 2019.

Since he fell in love with music when he was 5 years old, Baumgartner said he has used songs to connect with others going through hardships similar to his own. One of the crowning moments of his blossoming career has been using music to bring suicide awareness to his fans, he said.

The Chronicle sat down with Baumgartner to discuss using songwriting as a coping mechanism and a way to connect with others.

THE CHRONICLE: How did your music career start?

BAUMGARTNER: I started YouTube videos [in 2015] because I was too afraid to play live. When I started playing music, I didn’t have a ton of friends, and I didn’t want to be the center of attention. I actually started playing live because my grandma always wanted to see it. When she passed away, I had my first show. Unfortunately, she passed away before she could see that.

What inspired your newest song?

It’s called “The Wave.” When I was in school, I didn’t have a lot of friends so I was depressed about not having anybody and feeling like I wasn’t worth being here. I have a friend who’s been coming to some of my shows lately. He’s about 14-years-old, and he’s going through the same things that I was. “The Wave” is about walking him through this rough patch in his life. It’s really about walking anyone through it, showing how there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

What is the best and worst advice you’ve received about music?

The worst advice I ever got was that I shouldn’t go for it because everybody is rude in the business, and I shouldn’t even try because I wouldn’t hold up. I listened to that in the beginning. I figured out really quick that wasn’t the case, that everyone is really accepting in the local music scene. My best advice would be to write what you feel. There’s been a lot of people telling me you’ve got to write this certain style, you’ve got to look this certain way, and my friend told me that I just need to write what I feel.

What advice do you have for students looking to start their music careers?

They should be persistent. When you find band members, you’re not always going to find the right ones right away, but you need to look at what’s going to be best for you and what’s going to be best for them. The biggest thing in the music business is being kind to people, because if you’re not, nobody wants to work with you.

What’s a stereotype people think about musicians?

That we don’t care. There’s a lot of musicians that won’t take pictures or sign autographs after they’re playing. It’s not them being rude, they’re just busy. That’s why When the Sun Sets sits out at our merch table after every single show, we talk to everybody [and] we thank people for coming out because we truly appreciate everybody.