American Authors, the up-and-coming four-piece from Brooklyn, New York are headlining the Honda Civic Tour this fall with The Mogli’s and Oh Honey. They will be stopping at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo on November 3rd. I was able to talk to Zac Barnett, lead singer of of American Authors, in this interview and this is what he had to say.
Mark Ventrice: What made you decide that you wanted to be a musician?
Zac Barnett: “I always grew up around it. Both my parents were huge music lovers, and my dad was a guitar player, and he built me my first guitar and he taught me how to play. I’ve been playing in bands since 7th grade, and once I got into high school I got really involved in musical theater. I started singing in the choir along with still playing in bands. All those things put together brought my love of music out and made me want to continue with it as a career
MV: Who are your influences?
ZB: “We listen to everything, I grew up listening to classic rock like the Beatles, Led Zeplin, and Simon Garfunkle but at the same time I listened to a lot of modern rock as well. My first cassette tapes were Nirvana’s In Utero and Weezer’s Blue Album in like 2nd grade. It was always a mix.”
MV: Where did the name American Authors come from?
ZB: “It’s the idea that we see ourselves as authors with our lyrics telling stories and the american part comes from before we met in Boston we were from all over the United States. I was growing up between Minnesota and California, James is from Florida, Matt is from Texas and Dave is from New Jersey.”
MV: What was it like hearing your song all over on commercials, movie trailers, TV shows, etc.?
ZB: “It’s a dream come true and pretty much everything you grow up hoping for. What’s kinda cool too is we didn’t have any of this planned for those songs. We were just in the studio writing and recording. Some of the best advice we ever got was to just keep writing, so that’s what we were doing. We kept writing, and we kept recording and came up with “Believer”. We thought it was kinda cool, so we just sent it out to get some feedback on it; the song wasn’t even done yet. And so, organically, a friend passed it to another friend and next thing we knew it was on AltNation and Sirius XM Radio being played, and we were thinking the same thing with “Best Day Of My Life,” and next think we knew we were getting offers for it to be in commercials and trailers. Once these things start happening it’s so cool because you start writing songs for yourself to show who you are, and to see people gravitate towards, that is so cool”
MV: What was it like being on tour with OneRepublic and The Script?
ZB: “It was great! We have been huge fans of The Script and OneRepublic and we have been listening to them since even before we started playing music together. We got to watch them every night and hang out with them. It was really influential and exciting getting to see our idols on stage. It was a pretty amazing opportunity for us.”
MV: Do you feel like you got a rub from them?
ZB: “For sure. We definitely learned a lot about songwriting to be able to hang with them and talk with them and watch them every night. We learned about production and a live show with what we could do on our own.”
MV: What is your relationship with The Mowgli’s?
ZB: “The Mowgli’s have been our really good friends for a long time now. They were the first band that we ever went on a real tour with. They were the first big tour we ever did as American Authors. We have known them for a long time, and it is great to be back on tour with them now. They are some of the nicest people we have ever met.”
MV: Do you see the same thing in Echosmith and Oh Honey that people saw in you when you were first starting?
ZB: “All three bands on tour with us are killing it right now. Echosmith has their song and it’s climbing, and they are doing it the right way. We do see a lot of ourselves in them in the sense that they are all up every morning as early as 5 a.m., and they go all the way until night time, meeting every fan in the audience and just working hard. None of them have attitudes, they are all just humble, hard-working guys”
MV: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
ZB: “Recently we got one of those mini travel guitars and we have been warming up by playing a bunch of fun covers that we all know. We sing and scream along to those and get ourselves pumped up.”
MV: What’s it like being on a tour as big as the Honda Civic Tour?
ZB: “It’s pretty cool. It’s definitely the biggest production we have ever been a part of. It’s great, it came together pretty smoothly, and yeah, there are a lot of people, but we are all friends. Normally you have your 3 or 4 best friends that you play with in your band, but here its like having 20 really good friends with you.”
MV: What is your favorite song to play live?
ZB: “‘Luck’ is always fun and ‘Hit It’. I have to say though that ‘Best Day of My Life’ is always fun because we always get a huge reaction from everyone.”
MV: Is there anything big you guys are doing soon that people should know about?
ZB: “We have a few more weeks left on the Honda Civic Tour. Then we will be playing a few shows in Europe. Then we will come back and do a few more shows and some radio events in the States. After the new year we want to go back into the studio and record some new songs”
MV: Do you guys write better when you are on the road or off tour?
ZB: “I’m not sure yet. This is our first time, so we will see how these songs come out. We are playing one new song on the Honda Civic Tour, and the fans have been loving it, and it’s a song we wrote on the road. We just love writing, so we are down to write anywhere.”
MV: Why did you choose to cover “Yellow” by Coldplay on this tour?
ZB: “Coldplay is one of our favorite bands, and we are so inspired and influenced by them. We were going through Coldplay’s catalogue, thinking of what would be appropriate for us while also seeing what we could make our own and change up and make interesting. When we do a cover song we really like to put our own twist on it, and ‘Yellow’ was the perfect song. We made it a little more upbeat than it already was and put the American Authors twist to it.”
MV: Do you have any advice to give to college students?
ZB: “Do what you love to do in life, and have fun. That’s really what it’s all about. If you’re not having fun then there is really no reason to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do because you can do anything that you want. It took us a long time to get to where we are at, but we worked hard, and we didn’t give up. It paid off, and we are out here living our dreams now. Just stay humble, stay hungry, work hard, and have fun.
Preview by Mark Ventrice:
American Authors are an up-and-coming four-piece out of Brooklyn, New York. They got together in the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2006 and called themselves the Blue Pages. Fast forward six years to 2012 when they decided it was time for a name change, and they became American Authors. In the two years that followed, they have gone from almost nobody to one of the most popular bands on the charts in the country. “Best Day Of My Life” hit number 11 on the Billboard charts for pop music.The song has been used in commercials, TV shows and movie trailers. Most recently, they could be seen opening up for OneRepublic and The Script on the “Native Summer Tour,” but now they are headlining the “Honda Civic Tour.” With them is the Cali-based band The Mowgli’s and the duo from Brooklyn, Oh Honey. They will be playing at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, New York on Monday, November 3rd. These three groups have huge futures ahead of them, and this is a great opportunity to see them all together before they get even bigger.