Icon For Hire is Hired!

Rock/pop act Icon For Hire straight from Decatur, Illinois is made up of Ariel (vocals) Shawn Jump (guitar) and Adam Kronshagen (drums). As of 2007 the band has been establishing their following and their source of sound by writing music, recording it, and performing whenever possible. Since this beginning the band has gone on to get signed to Tooth & Nail Records and says that “We are thrilled to be joining such an established and well-respected group at Tooth & Nail,” shares the band upon their signing. “It’s a label that has a history of consistently putting out good music and really working side by side with their artists. Because we’ve been doing this thing on our own for over two years, it feels great to partner with Tooth & Nail. We can’t wait to record our debut full-length and see where this road takes us.” The band has been working as hard as it is that their debut album will be hitting at the end of the summer and having worked with producer Aaron Sprinkle the band is quite anxious about how it will all turn out. Front women Ariel spoke with me to discuss the band's debut release upcoming plans, and what the band has done to get so far ahead.

1. Tell us about the band?

Ariel: That’s a loaded question… We're really just a group of average people trying to do something worthwhile with our lives, and music is our tool of choice. We started late 2007 as a progressive rock band and we had no idea what we were doing! We still don't really know what we're doing, but we know how to fake it better now.

2. Icon For Hire.... so have you gotten hired, Icon For Hire?

Ariel: Haha yes and no. On the surface, we recently signed with Tooth and Nail records so at first glance maybe it looks like the hard work is over. Far from the case, we want to make it a point to step our game up with every accomplishment or small bit of 'success' we may achieve. Our music, live show, and day to day interactions with people need to be growing as well....so yes it feels great to have so many opportunities ahead of us, but we in no way want to settle in where we're currently at.

3. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Ariel: We really want our lyrics to inspire people to live beyond their past, to get over themselves so to speak. We've seen a lot of our friends (and we've seen it in ourselves) be tempted to throw their life away based on the stupid things they've done or the unfair things done to them. In a way, almost everybody's had a hard life, you know? Most people have been tempted to give in to the pressure and just stop trying. We're attempting to write music that can help people get over their circumstances and realize a lot of other people out there need them.

4. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)

Ariel: Definitely. That has always been core value inside this band, which our music is authentic, and the lyrics are personal and genuine. We don't want to be up on stage every night playing some random person's song that doesn't mean anything to us, it wouldn't feel right. That being said, we worked with some talented friends and co-writers for a few songs on this album helped us form our ideas into a tangible piece of music. Lyrically speaking, Ariel is really protective and doesn't let a lot of people help her with that. As far as the writing process goes, we don't really have a formula down yet. Sometimes Shawn, our guitarist, will create a loop using Protools and we'll run with that. Other times Ariel writes songs on piano and we build the music around that. We all like to be very involved in the writing process and each contributes ideas.

5. Did you grow up wanting to play music, or when did the whole making albums thing come about and how?

Ariel: All of us had very different backgrounds but always knew that this is what we wanted to do with our lives.

6. How do you describe your music to people?

Ariel: We are a rock band that really loves top-forty pop production, so we enjoy throwing some of that in with the heavy rock riffs. Our vocals are fast and sassy, but we have brutal moments too.

7. What image do you think your music conveys?

Ariel: We hope we're conveying something a little more than just a straight rock song. We make every effort to put out thought-provoking lyrics, a powerful live show, and meaningful fan interactions. One of the things we've always kept in mind is that we don't want to be all about self-promotion, what good does that do? The goal isn't to get a million fans and sell a ton of records and then die rich, fat, and empty. We want to intentionally inspire our fans to give their lives to something bigger then themselves.

8. Where are you in the recording process of the new album?

Ariel: The album is recorded, mixed, and mastered so all that's left is finishing up the cover art.

9. You working with producer Aaron Sprinkle who's worked with Anberlin, The Almost, and Acceptance. How do you think he’s helped Icon For Hire?

Ariel: We worked with Aaron for half the record, and Rob Hawkins for the other half. Both are incredibly talented producers, as well as great people; however their style, the way they worked, couldn't be more opposite. So working with them taught us flexibility and how to adapt to different styles.

10. The new album is being released August 23 and is titled Scripted. What are your hopes and goals with this release?

Ariel: It's hard to say just how far it will go or how many copies it will sell; that's really not the point. We've made an album that we are so proud of and we're incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity. Whether people like it or not isn't central; we've created a piece of art that we're thrilled with and that is more than enough for us.

11. So how did Tooth & Nail Records get into the picture?

Ariel: They checked us out on MySpace-this was late 2009, back when people still used MySpace. We began dialoging with them and a few months later they came out to a show in Chicago. They offered us a deal shortly after and we felt like they understood what we were all about, so we decided to move forward with them. We know it's not exactly popular for a band to like their label, but they've been really good to us. We have no complaints.

12. How would you describe the overall sound of the new album? How does it compare to the EP work?

Ariel: We've mixed the hard rock sound with pop programming in a way that creates a fresh, interesting blend. Our EPs were self-financed and self-produced, so we've always been limited in regards to how far we can take the vision in our heads and bring it out in our music. For this album, we had the chance to take more risks and incorporate some different elements that we've always wanted to do.

 13. What qualifies you guys to be in a band?

Ariel: Great question.....We're probably some of the most unqualified people you'll ever meet. We don't have any formal music training, we come from a small factory town in the Midwest, and a few years back we were living the very lives that we're now trying to tell our fans not to. We've worked very hard to get to this point, holding down forty hour jobs all week then hitting the road playing shows, only to make it back 3 AM on Monday mornings. But we wouldn't have had it any other way, this is what we love to do and it's been completely worth it.

14. How about 2011, what else does it have in store?

Ariel: We're going to be in Houston shooting our music videos next week, and we're on a Tooth and Nail tour this summer with The Letter Black, Write This Down, I Am Empire, and Nine Lashes. We want to be out on the road as much as possible, make new friends, and continue exposing our music to new people.

15. What is your greatness/weakness as a band?

Ariel: Our greatest strength is probably our drive and DIY work ethic. We've had to sacrifice a lot to do this and want to continue pushing ourselves to keep growing as musicians and as people. I'd say our greatest weakness is how bull-headed we all are. Each of us thinks we're always right, all of the time....needless to say; things can get interesting when we're cooped up in the van for too long.

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