2016 was an eventful year for Icon For Hire. They regrouped after the tragedies of 2015—returned from bankruptcy, record contract disaster, rehabilitation, and the loss of a band member—and created their own production and publicity team for their new album You Can’t Kill Us along with a release tour. If Icon For Hire didn’t have the dedicated fans that they do, You Can’t Kill Us probably wouldn’t exist. 2016 was created by the fans, the ones that originally donated to their Kickstarter campaign, who funded the album, the production, the tour itself. Now that they’re on the feet, what can we expect out of 2017? It’s got quite a year to beat.
In review of the last year and what everything meant, I sat down with Icon For Hire to discuss things from their point. What follows is a conversation from a fan for fans; a message from Icon For Hire.
Icon For Hire has been quite open and vocal about their personal experiences recently. If it’s possible, could you please expand on what happened with Tooth & Nail, regrouping as a band, dealing with your own personal problems, and losing a bandmate, etc.?
It really all went down around the same time and ended up being really overwhelming. We felt helpless, like all our years of connecting with our fans didn’t even matter if our record label could hijack our ability to keep going. All these internal struggles surfaced externally over Warped Tour 2015 when Shawn started slipping into addiction. When he was in treatment, our drummer decided he needed to focus on his new marriage. It was a very dark time for me (Ariel) personally. But it set us up perfectly to write a genuine album about overcoming the insanity that life throws at you.
Did you expect the kickstarter campaign to be so successful, so quickly?
Not at all; that exceeded our highest expectations. We were hopeful we would get enough to record an album, but ended up with enough to make a music video and tour to promote the album. More than the financial aspect, it was just really touching to have our fans come together and show their support and love that way!
What does the new album, “You Can’t Kill Us” mean for you guys?
You Can’t Kill Us is our story of survival, fighting back, refusing to let life take us down. We tried to incorporate a lot of our fans struggles’ as well- we wrote the album with them in mind and I think you can hear that in the lyrics. There are some songs where I’m very literally speaking to them and it’s not just some metaphorical message hidden in the lyrics. I’m straight up sharing what I want them to hear. Under The Knife and title Track You Can’t Kill Us are two such songs, and they seem to be some of our fan’s favorites, so that is really cool.
How did the tour go and did it live up to expectations?
The tour was insane-definetly our favorite tour we’ve done to date. We hadn’t been on the road in a minute so we really missed that connection with our listeners, and the energy in the room was amazing every night. We are really looking forward to doing more touring in 2017.
As a fan, what keeps me invested and listening is the true and blunt lyrics Ariel writes, is there a difference writing as a free agent instead of contractual one?
Absolutely. A lot of the difference is psychological, just knowing that some middle aged man in a suit doesn’t have to approve my lyrics. It makes me feel limitless.
What is the dynamic between Ariel and Shawn?
Shawn informs the production and a lot of the music transitions; I focus on the lyrics and melody. So basically, he works on making the song catchy, and I try to make it meaningful!
What does the future hold for Icon For Hire?
In 2017 we plan to continue touring and sharing the new record. I also have my first book coming out, in which I share my personal story of learning to move from self-loathing to self-love. We also recently launched our fan club, the Icon Army Headquarters, and we’re stoked to keep growing that organically.
What message does Icon For Hire want to send to their audience members?
It changes on a regular basis, but for today I want to tell you….you’re stronger than you think you are.