Icon for Hire is a tale of battles, success, and identity. Like many artists and bands, they struggled to find their voice and their place. For Icon for Hire, however, their battles began after they had found success.
Founded in 2007, four musicians banded together, literally. It started as a pair, Ariel Bloomer and Shawn Jump, a duo as strong as steel they practiced in the living room and garage of one another’s home shortly after meeting. They had a vision, a flavor unlike any other. As they practiced, they wrote and developed their sound. Joshua Davis and Adam Kroshagen joined the musical ranks. Ariel and Shawn still stood as strong as steel together in the center of it all, but now they had nuts and bolts to go with them.
For two years, the group toured the midwest playing in local dives and clubs with enough energy to intoxicate the crowd. While touring, Icon for Hire released two songs, Icon for Hire and The Grey. Shortly after releasing The Grey, Joshua Davis the bassist for the group, left the band.
Similar to a balancing act by fate, take away a musician and add a label, Tooth & Nail. In July of 2010, they were officially signed and relieved. After two years of sleeping in vans and scrummaging money together to produce their songs, they finally had a stable foundation to lean upon. A label, they thought, that would push them to produce their best music and help them further their art. Soon after being signed, they went straight to work. Seeing the year out in the studio with Rob Hawkins and Aaron Sprinkle. Whatever they were doing in the studio must have worked, in August of 2011, Icon for Hire released their first full-length album Scripted to critical acclaim. Hitting no.7 on the US Billboard Hard Rock Album chart and various other rankings for numerous subcategories. Within the first week of sales, Scripted sold over 4,300 copies, a new record for the label.
Needing a bassist, Josh Kincheloe joined the trio. With a full set of musicians, Icon for Hire went on the road for an extended period of time. So long, people were curious if they were ever going to write music again. Rest assured, in October 2013, Icon for Hire released their second album, Icon for Hire with their newest and most acclaimed song at that point, Cynics and Critics.
If you think you haven’t heard much from Icon for Hire in awhile, you’re right. On June 6th, 2015, Icon for Hire broke their contract with Tooth & Nails records for creative freedom. At the same time, they announced that they would still be releasing new music and should stay tuned. Now You Know was released shortly after. A tooth grinding and nail biting song about females in society, ironic isn’t it?
5 months after releasing Now You Know Adam Kroshagen left the band to focus family endeavors. Can’t fault him for that. What happened to Icon for Hire between then and now is still a bit vague and ambiguous. It’s unsure if we’ll ever truly know what events took place during that time period, what we do know is that Ariel and Shawn went through a series of struggles. Tooth & Nail Records owned the bands first two albums, so the still existing band members were not receiving any gratuity from the sales. Ariel and Shawn tunneled down the economic hill, no funds to continue to produce and even to live off. Shawn began struggling with alcoholism and after they joined the Vans Warped Tour playlist in the summer of 2015, Music Cares funded for him to go to rehab. Shawn is now six months clean.
Ariel, on the other hand, kept working through this time period. Only a couple of days ago, March 15th, 2016, Icon for Hire published their Kickstarter page. They had a goal of $2,016.00 to finish producing their new album You Can’t Kill Us, I wonder who they’re referring to. As of today, March 21st, 2016, $40,510.00 has been pledged by 925 backers, myself included. If not the, one of the largest music funding pages on Kickstarter at the moment. Using the crowdsourcing platform and the bands motto of making music for the audience and having them be a part of it, Icon for Hire is releasing their new album in triplets throughout the year. A year long event that backers can get early. As well as receiving various rewards for the amount you pledge. I have received six advanced downloads of the album and am anxiously waiting for a signed poster from the pair. You don’t have to pledge a lot for a reward or to be a part of history, a chance to make music without the fingers to play.
Their tale of strife and revolution is one for the history books of record labels and artists. It’s inspiring to say the least, to rise above all the bullshit of society and legality and the forces of addiction to create something more, to create something that means more to the artist and the audience. To create with a message should be the purpose of all artists, not fame or fortune. Icon for Hire is more than a band but an incredible idle, whether you’re a musician or not, live with the courage and strength Ariel and Shawn needed to survive in their field.
To stay up to date on their events and tale in real time, they are avidly position videos and photos and simple posts to keep their loyal audience up-to-date on their journey.