A R I Z O N A the band, not the state, is the underdog you’ll want to root for.
The trio never thought anyone would listen to them collectively, but their heart and infectious electro-pop tracks has brought them to some of music’s biggest stages. “We started as kind of a joke,” lead singer Zach Hannah said during their performance at New York City’s Governors Ball earlier this month. “All of us were producers making music for other artists for a long time.”
Now the group is in the spotlight and there’s no slowing down. They have taken on the festival circuit making upcoming appearances at this weekend’s Firefly Music Festival and Lollapalooza in August. Beyond those sets, Zach along with band members Nate Esquite (guitar) and David Labuguen (keys), will also embark on their very own headlining tour. With so much on the horizon, we broke it all down with the ultimate heart to heart after their Governors Ball set.
Isis Briones: Amazing set today, guys! Zach, you opened up about your lives before the band, can you let us in on exactly what made you all switch from being producers?
Zach Hannah: “Sure, we’ve all been friends for the better part of 10 years and during that time, we all worked in different sections of media — particularly as music producers and song writers as well. It became our job and it was a wonderful thing because we got to do music, but at some point we got burned out. We pushed through as much as we could to the point when we realized, we just wanted to have some fun.
We made a song as an accident, which was our first song “Let Me Touch Your Fire.” We didn’t even know we were going to be a band yet. We had the best time, which pushed us to take time off to have fun as best friends and make music. We didn’t expect anyone to care, we did it for the love of it, and we’re still taken aback by how it’s been received.”
IB: It was definitely meant to be. Do you have a favorite moment as a band so far?
David Labuguen: “A favorite moment? I think for us it was finishing the album.”
IB: Nothing beats that, but were there any challenges along the way?
DL: Haha, dealing with Zach.
ZH: “We woke up one day and A R I Z O N A was a thing and I think the biggest challenge for us is to remember that now we have the opportunity of a lifetime, where we get to wake up, make music, do what we love, and create art with no boundaries. Now it’s our turn to speak.
We also always remind ourselves to stay humble and to do right not as an individual, in our case we all take into consideration each other as the best friends we’re making it with.”
IB: For sure, you guys have a lot happening. What has life been like on the road?
Nate Esquite: “It’s been wild. We did Hangout first, then BottleRock, and Gov Ball. We still have Firefly and Lolla, so we’re staying busy.”
ZH: “The festival circuit has been great, we’re doing a lot of shows through the summer leading up to our own headliner in September. It’s been so much, but at the end of the day this is what we signed up for and we’re learning to love every little nook and cranny of it in our way.”
IB: Are there any pre-show rituals among the group before getting on stage?
DL: “We always huddle then we say a little prayer. I personally always make the rounds between our production manager because I’m kind of OCD about everything, ‘I’m always like ok, is everything squared away?’ Oh and uh, I know Nate takes his shoes off.”
NE: “Yea, I take my shoes off. I never play with shoes.”
ZH: “I think that’s really it when we get together before the show. We are a diverse group of people with different beliefs and what not, so before the show we all get together to give our thanks to whatever we believe in. This is a wonderful thing that brings us together. We try to have a moment of humility before we go out and play for people that care about what was supposed to be nothing at first.”
IB: What’s A R I Z O N A’s biggest advice for anyone going after their biggest dreams?
DL: “I’ve been telling people to remain authentic to you. A lot of times, we like to push ourselves creatively and out of the realm of who we are. Take a step back and re-center to make sure that what you’re doing aligns with who you are as a person.”
ZH: “For me, it’s also important to stay true to yourself and to remember that nothing happens, if you don’t put work into it. A lot of people get pushed to their very, very edge. Standing there and looking over is difficult because you don’t expect to get pushed that far, so you back off. However, jumping off and free falling — even if you expect to hit the ground — is the scariest thing, but if you do it with your whole heart and you end up flying… well, that’s pretty cool.”
IB: Wow, I think I just teared up a bit. At the same time, I’m excited for your tour and what’s to come. What can we all expect next?
NE: “Mark your calendars, we’ll be out there in September and also opening up for Andrew McMahon.”
ZH: “We will be all over the world and it’s going to be awesome. Not only that, but throughout the summer, as soon as we get the chance, we’re going to be making a lot of videos. We produce our own visual content, so you’ll hopefully see that live on YouTube and we also want to make time where people can hang out with us as people. We’ll also be working on on the second album.”
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