Acentric Magzine recently got the chance to chat with Icon For Hire during their latest tour. We talk about their unique sound, new music and their post-label music life. Here’s what they had to say!
More recently with the rise of EDM/techno/etc, rock bands have been adopting electronic elements into their music, how do you differentiate yourselves to be able to stand out from the rest?
How does your music continue to evolve with electronic music being more popular and prominent in mainstream music?
We’ve always been really drawn to that play between pop and rock extremes, and we pushed to incorporate that in our music from the first album. Shawn, our guitarist, became more and more proficient at ProTools, and he started producing a lot of our music himself, which added to that electronic element. As far as differentiating ourselves, we don’t think about it much anymore. We’re mixing rock and pop and hip-hop and whatever other random thing we’re feeling, so it becomes a big mess of all our favorite sounds and influences. Comparing ourselves to anyone else would probably stifle the creative process.
Considering this has been the sound you’ve gone with since day one, what was your/continues to be your vision for your music?
Our main vision is to make emotive music that connects with our listeners. We usually prefer to let the music serve the lyrical concept, but if we can do something innovative on the musical side as well that’s even better. We like creating stuff that makes our eyes light up and go “Oh shit!” when we’re in the studio. Those moments let us know that we’re going in the right direction.
How does your music continue to evolve?
It’s been fun to watch genre lines blur in the last few years; there’s less music purists than ever before and we think that’s awesome. The more acceptable it becomes to ignore specific genre lines, the more courage and inspiration we find to take things further. Our pop stuff used to isolate our metal fans, and we’d get grief from them if the album wasn’t heavy enough to their liking. Now people don’t seem to care as much, as long as they can relate to the song.
You’ve recently gained independence from your label. With all the struggles that come with self-releasing music, what were your thoughts and emotions when your Kickstarter for You Can’t Kill Us well exceeded your initial $2K goal and became the highest funded music campaign of 2016?
It felt like free falling-and it was scary at first. We were putting our fate into our fans, and they caught us. It was electric to be a part of, and really humbling too. We thought, “Ok, our fans have been telling us for years that they have our backs, and here they are literally proving that to us with their financial support.” We were like giddy little kids throughout that campaign-and the day we hit 100K we cried with joy. Such a huge relief.
How has it been since you left your label. What are some things you are learning to navigate through as you continue on with your band?
It has honestly been amazing. This is the most fun we’ve ever had as a band, the most inspired we’ve ever felt. To know that we have the luxury of making music and living our dream means more to us than it ever has-because it almost was taken away from us. If our fans were not supporting us in the way they have been, we may have fallen into obscurity and been forced to get real jobs instead of touring or making music. We’re just so incredibly grateful.
As far as any things we’ve had to navigate, there actually hasn’t been a significant workload difference without a label. We were always DIY enough that we just kept doing what we’ve been doing-songwriting, art design, social media, tour prep-it’s stuff we’ve been doing this whole time.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
That’s a really cool question. I’d say one of our biggest challenges has been appealing to traditional “industry people”. We feel like our fans understand us, but so many of the people up top are confused by us. People would assume we were a Paramore rip off, or they didn’t know how to market us because of the multiple-genre thing. It kind of forced us to go in through the back door and just go directly to our fans. And it obviously prepared us to do this independently -with just us and our tribe.
You’re coming up on your last few dates of the tour with Stitched Up Heart, how has it been so far? Any favorite moments from this tour?
It’s been great-this is our favorite headlining run we’ve ever done. The clubs are packed and everyone in the crowd knows all the words! Stitched up heart are all really good people-kind, sweet, generous.
One of our favorite moments every night is walking on stage and seeing the outpouring of love and energy from the audience. We took the year off to make the album so we’ve really missed that interaction!
Are they any songs you absolutely love playing live?
Yes! Lately, I’ve been really feeling “You Can’t Kill Us”. I keep getting chills during the 2nd verse, and sometimes I’ll just start to cry in the middle of it. It feels to intense to me-I’m saying these really direct lyrics that I wrote especially for our fans and they’re standing right in front of us and it’s all just so beautiful.
Ariel recently said “[you] created You Can’t Kill Us directly for [y]our fans, which made [you] get more vulnerable than ever. Mental health, self-harm, addiction – no topic was off-limits in the pursuit to connect with [y]our listeners in the deepest way possible.” What were the factors in wanting to get so deep and real with your fans for this record?
We owed it to them, pure and simple. They gave us so much to make this record possible, so we wanted to dig really deep for them. Also, we feel safe with them, like they get us. We know we can get vulnerable and share our craziness, and they’ve proven that they’ll love us for it instead of judging us.
What do you ultimately want to accomplish through your music?
Last night, a dad came up with his teenage daughter to introduce himself. He told us that he’d spent ten thousand dollars on doctors and counselors trying to help his daughter, and our music was the only thing that got through to her. That kind of stuff melts our hearts and makes us want to do this forever. We want more of that.