Interview ~ Ariel of Icon For Hire

Icon For Hire has always been incredibly passionate about the music that they create as well as the connection that they have with their fans. Although the band released two albums with a label and grew their fanbase tremendously, they decided it was time to take control of their art……..full control. The band gained independence from their label in June of 2015 and looked ahead to recording a new album for their fans and free from the suits that were keeping the band on a short leash. The band turned to their loyal legion of fans and launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year in support of their new album You Can’t Kill Us. The campaign went on to become the highest funded music campaign of 2016 to date by raising $127,000 of an initial $2016 goal. The band released You Can’t Kill Us in November to mostly favorable reviews and wasted no time hitting the road to support it. Although this is a band that rarely sits still for any lengthy amount of time, we were able to catch up with them for a bit to talk about the new album, their tour and more!

You’re releasing this album independently after releasing Scripted and your self-titled release with Tooth & Nail. That had to be a pretty liberating feeling to do this one on your own terms without “the suits” trying to tell you how you should do things?

Ariel/Icon For Hire: Yes, definitely! To know that the only people we really had to impress were ourselves and our fans made a big difference in the creative process. We felt like, “Okay, we know what our fans appreciate about our music- and we can give them what they want.” That’s an entirely different feeling from “Oh crap, is this catchy enough? We need to make a radio single so the label will actually push the album!”

Was there anything that you learned or took away from the process once the album was completed that maybe you didn’t know going into it?

We had a lot more confidence going into the studio this time. The fans had backed the creation of the record with their financial support, so we felt like they trusted us. It made the whole process fun and carefree- less stressful for sure. We are continually learning that you don’t always have to suffer for your art.

The incredible outpouring of support from your fans on your Kickstarter campaign must have been mind-blowing? Is it still the highest funded of 2016?

Yes, it was insane! We still can’t believe it on some days. We’re so grateful to each individual who was a part of that, who helped us make history. Because of our fans, we’re releasing this album without a record label, with no outside support. A lot of our growth has always come from word of mouth anyway, so in that regard this doesn’t seem like too far of a departure from the way we’d done things in the past.

Your press release said that you brought some fans into the studio to sing on the title track. Can you give us a little insight into why you chose that song and what that experience was like?

Having our fans sing on a song with us was a really moving  experience. We welcomed five fans into the studio, and we all gathered around the microphone it scream YOU CAN’T KILL US dozens of times. They also got to do their individual takes, which was fun. It just felt so full circle-here they were singing the title track off an album that they had helped us create! We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to end the record, so it became the closing track. We’re glad our fans voices are forever immortalized on that song.

How does You Can’t Kill Us compare and contrast to Scripted and the self-titled album? Since you had more control this time, is this closer to what your vision is for the band?

This album just came very naturally to us; it didn’t feel forced or contrived in any way. On Scripted, we were made to work with multiple co-writers, and we hadn’t really learned to stand up for ourselves. On our second record, we felt more in control, but we still had to run all the songs by the label execs, and that has subtle ramifications. You try to not care what they think, but it’s hard to ignore it completely. 

Was there a song that may have been more difficult to record, for whatever reason, than the others?

Lyrically, “Under the Knife” was scary, and I straight up say that in the lyrics. I didn’t want to write a song about self-harm, but I was having individual conversations with so many of our fans about it that it finally felt like I couldn’t ignore it. Musically, “Supposed To Be” was a challenge. We almost went back in and redid it-so we lucked out that our fanbase loved it as much as they do!

How was the tour with Stitched Up Heart? Any memorable stories, whether bad or good, that you’d like to share with us?

The tour was incredible! It was our first time performing a lot of these songs, and it felt amazing to connect with our fanbase after having been away recording for a bit. Seeing them face to face and hearing their stories means everything to us. It’s why we do this.

What’s been happening after the tour ended on 11/12? Do you have anything on your radar that you can share with us?

Since that time we’ve released the record, and we’re so proud that our first week albums sales are higher than either of our two albums on the record label! The reception for the new songs have been overwhelming-it’s been really emotional and rewarding watching everyone connect with the new material.

A couple of fun fact questions next for your fans! Are either of you binge watchers? If so, what are your favorites?

We try not to spend too much time watching shows because we really do spend most of our time creating and writing.  However, Shawn really likes Gold Rush though, and I’m a big Project Runway fan.

If you could go into the studio and do a mash-up with Linkin Park, which LP song and IFH song would you pick to mash-up?

“Forgotten” is one of my favorite songs by LP, so I think I’d like to try that with our song “Demons” and see if it worked!

Well, that’s about it on our end; would you like to sign off with a message for the readers?

Thank you so much for your continued support! We get to live our creative dreams because of you and we will never stop being grateful. Hope you enjoy the new record-we wrote it for you.

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