Systems Officer has returned. The project, started by Zach Smith more than a decade ago, has been on hold while Smith was touring and performing with Pinback. But after his songwriting partner in that band, Rob Crow, announced earlier this year that he was stepping away from playing music, Smith found himself with the time and energy to pour into Systems Officer.
While Systems Officer has always been Smith's solo recording project, he'd also assembled a live band back in 2009 around the release of debut album Underslept. The band has been dormant for a while. With a new sense of purpose, Smith assembled a new band, featuring drummer Ely Moyal (Octagrape), guitarist Jason Hooper (Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects) and guitarist O (Fluf, Reeve Oliver). And on Monday, Sept. 21, Systems Officer played its first show in four years.
"We were doing it for a while, and we just kind of stopped because we got back to doing other bands," Smith says in the group's Kearny Mesa studio space. "I got the bug to do it again. I thought, why not make it more real, with a real band and real instruments. I missed going into a practice spot and hashing out songs. That was the main goal—to be a band."
Smith had originally intended to release the second Systems Officer album this year, but after playing with the band for a few months, the songs began to change, and in the process, the four musicians started writing new ones. It's slowed down the process a bit, but when they do finally release a new album—which could be as early as next spring—it'll have the input of all four musicians.
They're taking their time, but they're enjoying it.
"I think the having-fun component makes the work take longer, but it makes the final result a lot better," Moyal says. "It's like...making dinner slowly and enjoying the process."
"It's fun to work with new people doing stuff," Smith adds. "And we're still in the infancy, but...the main goal is that we just want to have fun. I kind of lost touch with that."