If a word cloud of social-media sentiment could surround the current season of The Bachelor, you would be subjected to adjectives such as “boring” and “monotonous” alongside the requisite nouns “rose” and “nurse.” Is that because Zach Shallcross, a 26-year-old tech executive, has zero time for bullshit? Sure, the show’s drama-meter isn’t as high as recent seasons; there hasn’t yet been a crescendo of ladies crying on staircases or confronted by their country-music-star exes. Shallcross is a simple guy coming along for the all-expenses-paid ride, and his presence harkens back to the ease of the franchise’s earlier seasons: He likes family, football, and frozen pizzas. If you try to complain about another woman, he’ll stop you right there. And, most importantly, he seems to actually want to find the love of his life, as opposed to parlay his time on the show into a fleeting career in influencing.
Though America first met Shallcross on Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia’s Bachelorette season, his presence as a fairly normal guy in the franchise continues to suggest he merely stumbled into one of its casting calls. He’s quick to curse just as much as smooch, has a job to get home to when this is all over, and plays a mean bass-guitar line. “I always had a guitar in my life, which I still haven’t been able to master, but it’s nice to have one on standby,” he tells Vulture. Also, he’s totally cool with being considered the Nickelback of Bachelor Nation.
I want to start with an observation. I interviewed Trista Sutter last year, and she said a beneficial change-up for the franchise would be to pick a lead who doesn’t have a social-media following in order to emphasize the season’s love story. I think that’s what we’ve seen from you. Do you get the sense that viewers are dismissing that intention and writing off this season as boring?
When this opportunity presented itself, I only wanted one thing: the opportunity to settle down and find love. Historically, this show has been a lot of drama — unnecessary drama. You can’t be naïve to the fact that a lot of the relationships haven’t worked out. For me, it’s not about the fact that it’s a TV show or it gathers attention. I was kind of a no-name on The Bachelorette, but I wanted to have a relationship, and that’s what the show was built on. I’m hopeful I can find that. It’s clear that viewers aren’t used to a season like this, so their initial gut reaction is to be like, All right, this is boring.
There’s not a “shrimpgate” incident, like in Clayton’s season. There’s not an unrealistic, out-of-pocket experience on every episode. That’s not how I live my life and not what I’m looking for in a partner. That being said, there’s always going to be drama. When you have a group of women dating one man, it happens. But really, it’s back to the romance, actually finding a partner, and taking the steps to get there. That’s how I see it. I think fans are starting to see that.
I consider it a necessary reset. I mean, sometimes you can’t win. Fans ask for something, they get it, and they still complain.
There’s no pleasing and it’s ever-changing. You can’t make everyone happy. That was shocking to me. I’m new to this franchise; I never really watched the show. My sisters and my mom are big fans, but I didn’t recognize how serious the fans take it. Every year, they’re very critical of the lead. There’s always going to be several great options, and the show has to pick one.
You strike me as such a sane and rational person. I question why you would even want to be on this show. I mean that as a compliment.
It’s funny you say that, because when I was being considered for this, I was telling the executives and higher-ups, “I don’t need the show to settle down and find my person, but what a cool opportunity it would be. You travel the world and meet all these incredible people.” I’m an opportunist, but I also don’t need this show for it. I’m a yes man. I don’t like to live with regret. I think that was one of their tipping points: “Okay. Well, he takes it seriously and we’ve seen so many failed relationships. Maybe this is what we all need.”
From my understanding, you’re our first bassist Bachelor. Why did you choose the bass, the least sexy band instrument?
I’ve always loved music. I received a guitar in the fifth grade and loved it. I wasn’t very gifted or talented. I taught myself all the basic shit. You have to learn “Smoke on the Water” and “Iron Man.” I tried to master Metallica songs but could never get it. In middle school, me and my two childhood best friends were like, “Let’s make a garage band.” As everyone does. [Laughs.] It started off as Victorious Vengeance. We wanted to go for the rock vibe, maybe dip into metal. Then we changed the name to Public Disturbance.
One of my buddies was a great drummer and the other was a killer guitar player. He knew how to read music, and I was on YouTube trying to teach myself tabs. When we were doing our little garage gigs or talent shows, I was like, “You can’t have a great guitarist and a shitty guitarist and then a great drummer.” So I taught myself bass because a lot of the songs we were trying to learn had bass in them. I was like, “How hard could it be?” Oh, very. And I ended up really loving it. It felt like a little bit of pressure was taken off me, because when solos came it would be like, “All right, that’s not on me.” I had a good enough rhythm to where it was kind of fun slapping the bass.
Did you really just I Love You, Man me?
Slapping that bass. Of course.
Are you a Rush fan?
Not as much. It wasn’t played a lot in my house.
That’s fair. How many acts of public disturbance did you cause with your music?
We played a handful of little shows. Most of them were in my buddy’s garage. Our big outing was this middle-school dance in eighth grade. It was probably a thousand kids. We were the openers and we were sweating bullets. We played “Bound for the Floor,” by Local H. That’s their one-hit wonder. I was like, “We can’t mess this up in front of our first big crowd.” We brought the house down. We had a fog machine behind us. We felt like rock stars when we got off stage. There’s a little bit of footage out there somewhere.
When was the last time you picked up a bass?
It had to be early in high school. I went to a different high school than my buddies and we couldn’t sync it up again. Everyone just had different schedules. I started playing football. One of my buddies is a successful DJ now. I really missed it.
It seems that “After the Final Rose” could double as the perfect reunion for the band.
I would be more nervous for that than night one.
How did you access music when you were filming the show? Were you relegated to hotel radios?
When I was on The Bachelorette, there was no technology of any sort. No music. You could read, but there was nothing to scratch that music bug. I remember flying to one of our locations that season, and you know how planes have a screen in front of your seats where you can watch movies? That plane had a music section and it was only, like, ten albums. There was no rock, but there was a Weeknd album. I’ve never been a fan of the Weeknd, but I needed to listen to music. I listened to that whole album over and over again. It was euphoric. I look back now and I still have a special place for the Weeknd. But for The Bachelor, I did have access to Spotify.
Oh, that’s great. How did you access it?
No phone or anything like that. It was through one of those plug-in TV stick things. I was pumping myself up with every kind of music. It would be me and my producers, getting ready for the date, listening to anything from the Killers to house music. I’d put some Korn on. Slipknot is one of the last concerts I went to.
So you’re a nü metal guy.
I grew up on Korn. My first album I ever received from my dad was Korn’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1. I was probably in sixth grade, too young for it, but I loved it. My friend group is like, “Korn?” I’m like, “Yeah, with a K. Ever heard of them?” They’re like, “No.” Then you play them something and they recognize it.
I missed Austin City Limits this year for filming, and that’s probably my favorite music festival. I have to catch up and go to some concerts.
Your first concert was Nickelback. Do you remember your second?
I saw Nickelback when I was in the sixth grade. I remember Hinder, Chevelle, and Hoobastank opened for them. Hell of a lineup. When Hinder played “Lips of an Angel,” I was like, Hell yeah. My second concert wasn’t a rock concert. It was Jason Aldean. It was a blast. He loves fire and putting on a great show. That was one I worked security for. Sweetest gig out there. If anyone loves music, try to work in security or event management for a venue, because you get insane views at concerts. The amount of time you actually have to break up anything is pretty minimal.
Who would you say is the Nickelback of Bachelor Nation?
[Laughs.] I might be the Nickelback. I get the, “Oh, this guy. He’s the boring, corny Bachelor.” But I think I’m a good guy at heart. I’m not a bad person. Nickelback — they get made fun of with all the memes, but they’re good music. I don’t want to be cocky about it, but I get the corny label and so do they.
Anderson Cooper famously has a cardinal rule where if a first date mentions his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, he’ll immediately dump them. Do you have a similar rule for your uncle, Patrick Warburton, a.k.a. Puddy from Seinfeld?
I’m his biggest fan. I’ve always idolized him. It was never a negative. If anything, it was like, “Okay, you know who Patrick Warburton is? That’s almost a turn-on. You watch Seinfeld? Great. You dabble in Family Guy? Who doesn’t love The Emperor’s New Groove? Double great.” He’s the lovable character in everything he does. It’s not a turn-off by any means, no.
I hope, if anything, Chad Kroeger will reach out to you after this conversation.
That’s actually a funny story. I recently met a manager of his at some meet-and-greet and got his business card. I’m trying to shake his hand and tell him how influential he was to me. Fingers crossed.