- 1 of 1 Photos | View More Photos
Matt Mangano enjoys spending time with his wife and two-year-old daughter at their Nashville home, but four days out of the week he's living life on the road as the bassist for the Zac Brown Band.
The three-time Grammy-winning multiplatinum act kicked off its Welcome Home tour and released a new Dave Cobb-produced album this May.
"It might be one of the most personal records we've done," said Mangano, who will play with the band on Friday at Blossom Music Center. "The band has changed so much over the years from a five piece to an eight piece. Its gone from stripped down to big rock production. We added horn and choir last year and come full circle to the core of the band. I think having made that journey showed the flexibility and musicianship of the band. It's refreshing that we've come back to not having a whole lot of production."
Mangano, who comes from a music production background, said it's easy to go down that hole.
"We have our own studio," he said. "It's really easy to over crowd our music with another idea, another part. That's a testament to Dave Cobb. He kept his eye on the prize and didn't let us get too far into production."
The release of the album coincides with a tour that kicked off in Georgia, the band's home state.
"It's fun to see how it all shakes out in the end," he said. "Everything is still changing. Every night we learn something new about the song and the way we perform it live."
Mangano said the biggest challenge of playing stadium tours is getting enough sleep.
"You're in the bus doing all these shows with people who have become good friends," he said. "There's a tendency to want to hang out all night, but then you have to get up the next morning."
The band travels with a gym in a semi-trailer truck and has a catering staff, so it is possible to live a healthy life on the road, Mangano said.
"Playing music is all I've really done best in my life," said the 41-year-old bassist. "The way Zac Brown Band tours is set up to do this for a long time. We play four shows on the weekend and then we can come home. You don't get worn out for being gone so long and you're able to maintain a happy healthy life and see your kids every week."
Mangano met Brown in 2002 in Atlanta while playing the bar circuit. The two reconnected in 2014 when Brown asked Mangano to play in the band.
"It's kind of like down hill skiing," Mangano said of playing with Brown. "You don't know what's going to happen next. When I joined the band I new all the material, but didn't have a chance to rehearse with the band. My first rehearsal with the band was my first show with the band. Live anything goes. We can extend a song longer than normal, deviate from the setlist. It's all up to how Zac is feeling. As a player, it's really exciting and I imagine as an audience member it makes a more unique special show."
Zac Brown Band will play with special guest Darrell Scott.
"He's opening act," Mangano said. "He's also playing in the band. He's an accomplished musician and song writer. He's written hit country songs for Dixie Chicks and Travis Tritt. We're all head over heals to have him playing with us in the band this year. He's our musical Yoda."