By Samantha Lambert
“I believe in our music and want everyone to hear it,” says drummer Zack Lewis of the Paul Johnson and the About Last Nights Band.
Lewis, a Crestview native and 1996 graduate of Crestview High School, is ready for the world to experience what he has put his heart and soul into. The band has finalized a contract with the Michael Entertainment Group, a management company, and has a booking agent, the M7 Agency. They also are working with a public relations company, High Road Publicity.
Lewis started in band at Richbourg Middle School and continued at Crestview High where David Cadle, the city’s current mayor, was the band director. “David Cadle had a huge influence on me,” says Lewis. “I would not be where I am today without him.” Lewis was awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, a nationally recognized honor, while in the band at Crestview. He was the first drummer from the school to receive the award.
After high school, Lewis received a full ride to the University of Southern Mississippi to play percussion in the marching band. He majored in percussion performance and minored in music business. He ended up leaving Southern Mississippi before graduation due to a gig with an up‑and‑coming band out of Jackson. He played with that band for about six months before moving onto Atlanta.
Lewis played drums with various groups in Atlanta for a few years and then moved back to Crestview. “By that point, technology had caught up, and I was able to do my music work here,” he says.
In 2003, Lewis met Mississippi native Paul Johnson, and the two began writing music together. In 2009, they formed the Paul Johnson and the About Last Nights band. They went into a studio in Valparaiso and did pre‑production on their first record, Game Show Rock Star.
“Paul and I wanted an album of singles where each song could stand on its own merits,” says Lewis. “We then toured for 19 months with that record and did well for an unsigned band.” After that, Lewis stepped away from the band for a while to focus on being a single father to his nine‑year‑old daughter.
In 2015, Lewis and Johnson released Property of Jones County, a more roots‑based Americana album. In November of that year, the two musicians got together with a friend from Atlanta, Tuk Smith, to work on the About Last Nights’ new record at RCRD Studios in Atlanta. Dan Dixon did the recording and engineering, and also played on the album.
In January 2016, Lewis and Johnson went back to Atlanta and recorded Give Up the Ghost, featuring the single “Burn it Down.” Lewis and Johnson were nominated for Album of the Year and Record of the Year in the Best of the Pine Belt Awards presented by Signature Magazine, a monthly publication in the Hattiesburg, Mississippi area. This year they were nominated for Best Live Act. “Our live show is great,” says Lewis.
Last year, they brought in guitarist Daniel Williamson and bass player Jordan May to round out the band. “We could not be happier with our lineup,” says Lewis.
The band’s influences include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and the Replacements. “Paul and I are always writing music, and we have a lot to say in our music,” says Lewis. “We want our music to give people an escape from their everyday troubles.”
Paul Johnson and the About Last Nights’ new single was released earlier this month. Give Up the Ghost will be released April 1. There are plans for a summer tour, and the band anticipates touring the rest of the year.
“When we started, Paul and I just self‑released,” says Lewis. “Now things are evolving very naturally, and the pieces are all falling into place. We have a dream team behind the band who believe in Paul and I as individuals and our music. I couldn’t be happier!”
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