By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It is a great privilege to welcome American Authors to Jake’s Take.
The Brooklyn, New York quartet of Zac Barnett, James Adam Shelley, Matt Sanchez and Dave Rublin have had an explosive 2013. Their debut single, “Believer,” caught the attention of Alternative radio stations across the country. Plus, their second single, “Best Day of My Life,” was featured in almost every media medium ranging from TV commercials to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
In this edition of The Five Question Challenge, the guys talked about the challenging aspects they faced with recording their debut record and where the band will be traveling this spring for their first headlining tour.
Jacob Elyachar: Could you please share the group’s origin story?
Zac Barnett: The band itself formed in 2007, we all met through friends of friends and in some classes at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I met James and we started writing songs together. I also started to play with Matt, a classical composition major and drummer. Our bass player, Dave, who was electronic music production major, joined after meeting both James in a class and me online.
Dave Rublin: When we first all got together in a practice room for the first time is was hard to gauge what to expect. There was this burst of creativity and comfort. We found joy in playing music together and realized we needed to stay together, since I was last to join and they were looking for a final piece to the puzzle, I’m glad it was a fit and it all worked out so well.
ZB: We played many Do It Yourself tours that we set up, and toured the Northeast and parts of the Midwest for three years. When Boston became a little routine for the band, we decided to leave for Brooklyn, a hub for modern artists. We became incredibly inspired by the energy of the city and after we arrived became American Authors. We had the same line up but with new inspiration, we sparked a new sound. Three years later, we are here and extremely excited about the future.
JE: What were some of the most challenging aspects of recording your debut album? How did you overcome them?
ZB: Since we all write the music together, and are all individually strong songwriters…a lot of ideas get put on the table. It is a bit overwhelming to get thought all the ideas and agree on everything but all have a huge level of respect for each other’s musical mind. We all build ideas off each other extremely well. Since we can all play each other’s instruments, it is easy to hear parts for everyone all the time it fuels creativity. Also, the banjo was never supposed to be a part of this band. We literally were writing one day and wanted to try new instruments.
James Adam Shelley: I found this (the banjo) under my girlfriend’s bed and told the guys that I would like to give the banjo a shot. After many tries and two days of playing before hand, we recorded our first song “Believer.” We loved the freshness of the sound. Since then, I have become quite the banjo player and the instrument is in 75-percent of the material.
Matt Sanchez: An album is always a daunting task. Because we are brothers in sound, we rely on each other to give constructive advise to a certain song, melody or chorus. Everyone in the group has their own strengths; we all fill in the pieces to what the other is missing. We always all have to love it before it makes it onto the final product. It is really a one of a kind process.
JE: How long does it take you to create a song from conception to release?
DR: Different ways sometimes it takes minutes sometimes it takes months. Sometimes one of us comes in with one basic idea and we all work with it or we all throw ideas on the table and make it work. We are always thinking of melodies and chord progressions all the time. We record them into our phones and save them for moments we can work on them. Or if we are all together we can throw together an idea in a few hours.
JAS: Some of them are like tattoos, we have an idea for months, which does not leave our mind, and then finally have a moment to make it come to life and then boom… it’s there. For lyric writing, we write Individual lyrics then e-mail them to each other dissect and reassemble. It is crazy because were all usually trying to say the same thing.
JE: At the end of March through April, American Authors will be traveling on your first headlining tour. Where will the group be traveling? What can fans expect from your show?
MS: We will be making our way thought the Southeast and Midwest during March and April. Stops will include Dallas, Virginia, Florida and Wisconsin. We will also be in Austin for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival and even stop in London for a few days. Fans can expect a high-energy performance, some new songs from our upcoming LP and a great and memorable time. We always try our best to make it the best set we can! We pride ourselves with our live shows.
JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring bands that want to work in the music industry, what advice would you share with them?
ZB: Keep writing, keep playing shows and never be afraid of taking chances with your music!
You can learn more about the American Authors by visiting their website: http://weareamericanauthors.com/