Max Cherry ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
American Authors is a band with a story they want to share with you.
Inspired by the likes of Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Weezer and even Tupac, the Brooklyn based band has been having a great year as they began their first headlining tour, performed at music festivals such as Lollapalooza and South by Southwest, released their first EP, and are currently in the final touches of releasing their first full length album which will be released in early 2014.
American Authors pride themselves on their use of multiple different instruments to create their unique brand of uplifting songs such as “Believer” and “Best Day of My Life“ which ranked 14 on Billboards adult alternative pop charts. American Authors will be performing in Boston on Friday, November 22nd at the Paradise Rock Club. Emertainment Monthly recently had an opportunity to sit down with singer Zachary Barnett and the rest of his band as they discussed performing back in Boston, Spirit animals, and hearing their songs on TV for the first time.
The four of you met at Berklee College of Music here in Boston. How exactly did that come about?
Well the first year there I met Matt Sanchez our drummer and we started playing together. The next year, I was the president of the Songwriters club and we met James Shelley our guitarist during one of those club fairs. Soon after, Dave Rubin our Bass player sent me a message on Facebook saying he was interested in meeting up with us. After a few short practices, we realized we had a really good thing going so we started performing together.
You called yourselves The Blue Pages then. When you switched the name to American Authors and moved to Brooklyn, were there any changes in the music style or the band’s image?
We were always influenced by a bunch of different styles of music and our music evolved but it was still our style of music. Our music is always changing but its still our basic style. The main change in our music was the writing. Instead of coming in with a specific idea we just jumped in to see what we could make. We would have a banjo or some instrument lying around and say, “Hey, lets try and put this in a song.”
Are you guys excited to return to Boston/ does it have a special connection to you?
We’re definitely stoked to go back to Boston. We’re looking forward to meeting up with a bunch of old friends and making a bunch of new ones of course. When we were based out of Boston we lived close to Brighton Music Hall and we were considered one of their house bands that would always be performing there. Those were some of out best shows early on. We always loved playing there. Yeah, Brighton has a lot of great memories.
How did you come up with the name American Authors?
We consider ourselves authors since we are telling stories with our music and using those stories to entertain our listeners. The America part came from the fact that even though we are based out of Brooklyn and met in Boston, we all come from different walks of life and areas around the US ranging from Florida to New York and so on.
Your band logo has a crown on the top part of the X, is there any reason or meaning to it?
Well Brooklyn is known as Kings County and we love Brooklyn. It’s our new home and it’s a big part of American Authors. So the crown just represents Kings County for us.
What makes American Authors different than other bands? What makes you guys stand out?
We’re a band that always brings a ton of energy to every concert we go to. We’re always trying to bring ourselves to the next level no matter what, whether it be the energy level at our concerts or deciding to add a new wrinkle into a song or using some random instrument and seeing how we can use it for a new song.
If you could describe your concerts in one word, what would it be?
Barnett: (Asking band mates) What’s the word for having a lot of ups and downs while telling a story and finally building back up to a point full of energy and excitement?
James Adam Shelley: Roller Coaster?
Barnett: No that’s two words.
Matt Sanchez: Dynamic?
Barnett: Yeah! Dynamic!
Your concerts and music have so much energy, how do you stay on your game after touring and playing shows every other day?
Even though our schedule shows that we play every other day, we’ve actually been playing every night, 2 or 3 shows a day. When we’re not performing we’re travelling or talking on radio shows. Yesterday was our most recent day off and we spent it on a 15-hour car ride from Texas to Georgia for our show tonight.
How are you able to keep it up after all the performances?
We love doing what we do so we do whatever we can to keep ourselves healthy so we can keep going out to perform. This is the first time we went on tour with such a crazy schedule like this so we’re trying to take it one day at a time and give every performance our all.
“Best Day” and “Believer” both blew up and are huge hits. Are there any other songs that you really like to perform?
Really we love performing all our songs. We’re lucky we just released our EP and completed recording our full-length album, which will come out in 2014. That way we can start performing those songs. The song “Hit It” and our acoustic song “Trouble” are crowd favorites. Personally, I like “Luck” because it’s a little different than the stuff we normally do.
I hear “Luck” has a great meaning behind it.
Yeah it’s about making sacrifices for your passions. You have to make your own decisions and do whatever is best for you or whatever you feel will make you happier. We had to leave some friends and loved ones behind when we tour but we all have to make sacrifices to do what we love.
You guys did covers of both “Royals” by Lorde and “Lights” by Ellie Goulding. Who would you like to cover next?
We love performing covers! We were always big Ellie Goulding Fans so we had a lot of fun making that one. Lorde really impressed us with its lyrics producing, melody and Lorde’s amazing voice. We might have released it too early though. (Chuckling) We think there’s a conspiracy on why it was never played was because we sent it to stations just as the original song was becoming a hit. We’ve been practicing another cover that we’re planning on adding to our sets in future shows on tour. I’ll keep that a secret for you to find out though.
Have there been any exciting or memorable moments on tour recently?
Performing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was unreal. Recently we performed in Austin and we were absolutely blown away. The only time we performed there before was at South By Southwest so we had no idea what to expect. They were great. Also, on our way from Houston to Austin, we performed on a Southwest plane. I guess now we can check rocking out on a plane off the bucket list.
How would you describe American Authors to someone who has never heard of you?
Indy pop alternative rock with an eclectic sound that is always trying to put new, cool songs together.
What would every member of the band’s spirit animal be?
Shelley: I’d be a Wolf
Dave Rublin: Definitely a Bald Eagle.
Barnett: I’d be a monkey… An orangutan to be specific. Really any monkey with floppy arms that swings from tree to tree.
Is there one band or artist that you would love to work and or tour with?
Ryan Tedder is someone we’ve wanted to work with for a long time. Chris Martin is a big influence and hero to us so working with him would be a dream come true. Honestly I could go on and on about people we’d work with. We love so many bands.
Is there any one moment that really resonates with you where you look back and think this was a huge moment for you guys?
Definitely when Alt Nation on Sirius XM radio began playing “Believer.” The song wasn’t even done yet. We gave them a demo when they had started to play it. It took a few weeks before we were able to send them the complete song. The first time we heard our song “Best Day of My Life” in a commercial, signing with Island records and immediately after starting our first tour with A Silent Film, and performing on the tonight show with Jay Leno.
You guys performed at Lollapalooza and South By Southwest this past year. How was the music festival experience for you?
It was definitely a milestone for us performing at Lollapalooza. We were a little nervous performing on the first day as the first acts against bands like the Neighbourhood. Once we went out on stage though and saw the thousands of people waiting to see us, it was definitely a proud moment. When we finished, there was just this warmth and happiness in our heart.
If the band had a mascot, what would it be?
It would be the bulldog from our alternate music video to “Best Day of My Life.” We actually met the dog earlier today. It was part of a collaboration with the Georgia English Bulldog Rescue initiative.
What is one instrument that you would like to include in your music but haven’t yet?
Kazoo hands down.
What is the one thing someone should think about when your music comes on?
Just be prepared to have fun and smile!