'Hillcrest' Rock Opera/Comic Book To Be Released This Friday at Wizard World Austin
Austin-based rock artist Jonathon Zemek gears up for the official release of his comic book/rock opera project "Hillcrest" this weekend. The album part of the project will be out everywhere music can be streamed/bought - including Austin's own Waterloo Records - while the comic book can be purchased at this link, or at Zemek's booth at this year's Wizard World Austin convention starting this Friday, Sept. 21 through Sunday Sept. 23 at the Austin Convention Center. "Hillcrest" can be found at booth 1032 in Artist Alley at Wizard World Austin. At the booth, merchandise, CDs and books will be available and Zemek will be joined by "Hillcrest" illustrator Chris Rogers on Friday and Sunday, who will be live-sketching for interested patrons, as well as producer Matt Smith and vocalist Andrea Lindzey on Saturday. For tickets to Wizard World Austin, please see here.
"Releasing 'Hillcrest' at Wizard World this year was our way of taking the project into a realm that not too many people have done before at this level," said Jonathon Zemek. "I'm not sure if any musical project has actually ever had their release at this event - in the grand scheme, we wanted each aspect of the project to get its own spotlight and this was the perfect opportunity to get the comic book/artwork side out there to a great audience that fits our imaginative target demographic."
"Hillcrest" is a rock opera with an accompanying comic book depicting a fictional coming of age story penned by Zemek and Smith. The album features Guy Forsyth, Malford Milligan, Matt Smith, Andrea Lindzey and Roderick Sanford who lend their voices to characters in the story of "Hillcrest," while the book is illustrated by local street artist Chris Rogers. For more information, please see here.
Jonathon Zemek began working on "Hillcrest" in 2016 at the conclusion of his band, Soul Track Mind. Zemek sought to fuse music and art into a larger project of different mediums, deciding to tell a fictional coming of age story about a boy named Peter through an album and illustrating that story in comic book form. Crafting the plot of "Hillcrest" took over a year, with Zemek and producer Matt Smith working together to intertwine the music and narrative in an impactful way. Zemek wrote all the songs for "Hillcrest" and subsequently teamed up with Smith for the recording process at Lost Oasis Studio in Austin. Zemek called upon local renowned musicians to help give voices to the characters of the story, the townspeople of "Hillcrest," that play large parts in Peter's story.
"Hillcrest weaves in many ideas about the role we all play as a society to take care of one another and draw upon love and forgiveness when the things we held as sacred are taken away," said Zemek. "With music and art there is no greater way to tell a story and really make the audience feel it. When working on this project we wanted to create an immersive experience that truly captures the magical ability that only art has to move us."
Guy Forsyth, Malford Milligan, Matt Smith, Andrea Lindzey and Roderick Sanford joined Zemek in the studio to lend their voices to members of the town in "Hillcrest." In addition to the featured vocalists, Austin musicians Alex Felan, David Webb, Doug Leveton, Ben George, Zach Buie, Jon Merz and Brian Austin appear on the record, providing instrumentals to the songs.
Zemek also teamed up with Chris Rogers, a muralist named the "Best Street Artist" in Austin in 2015 by the Austin Chronicle, to create the artwork for the story of "Hillcrest." Rogers' vivacious, unique style caught Zemek's attention, and the passion Rogers put into the "Hillcrest" project shows how perfectly music and art work together to be a vehicle of storytelling. Rogers applied his signature style to comic book form, bringing alive the characters of the story in his and Zemek's artistic vision.
"When thinking about the visual aspect of Hillcrest, we wanted to bring in a non-traditional artist to bring a new and unique perspective on what the comic book can be," said Zemek. "Chris achieved this and more."
"Hillcrest" was recorded at Lost Oasis Studio in Austin and mastered at Terra Nova Studios, also in Austin. The album and comic book will be available for pre-orders soon, with a multimedia release show in September. To learn more about "Hillcrest," please see here.
Born and raised in Binghamton, New York, Jonathon picked up the guitar at 12 years old. Under the tutelage of local Binghamton guitar legend Roy Ettinger, Jonathon began learning the craft. In 2006, Zemek moved to Austin to pursue music and soon after became the co-founder of soul-funk band Soul Track Mind. In the band, Zemek experienced years of successes which included playing Wakarusa Festival, playing multiple SXSW Showcases, winning the Louisiana Music Prize in 2014, performing at the 2015 Texas Governor's Inaugural Ball and sharing bills with David Crosby, Enrique Iglesias, Tower of Power, Pat Green and Lady Antebellum. Soul Track Mind was also featured on the cover of Texas Music Magazine and written about in many publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, the Austin Chronicle and others.
Since 2016, when Soul Track Mind concluded, Jonathon has been busy with a host of new music and the multimedia project "Hillcrest." In addition to writing songs and performing, Jonathon spends time working with and helping out musicians through his company Zeda Royal. Zemek also works with All The Stars, an opiate and substance abuse organization. Jonathon is a voting member of the Recording Academy and is an active participant in their yearly music advocacy efforts. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.