There is always something unique and unexpected going on with Brooklyn-based indie-rock band American Authors, which is fitting, given the nature of how their self-titled debut EP—released in August—came together.
Most bands come in with a specific idea about how they want the album to sound or what the lyrical themes should be, but lead singer/guitarist Zac Barnett says they had to develop a “plan B” of sorts to become the group they are today.
“A lot of people have this idea that when you start a band, you want to have a cohesive sound and really have your stuff in line and be this nice, tight package,” Barnett says. “Sometimes that works, but that didn’t work for us. We didn’t really find our sound until we just let that go.”
That letting-go process involved not being afraid to swap instruments and allowing each band member’s individual musical style to get thrown into the mix. “Once we started having fun with that, opening up and being adventurous, it naturally created the cohesiveness we were seeking,” Barnett says.
As American Authors are discovering with increasing regularity, opportunities for fun and adventure are everywhere. They have been touring across the country for a good chunk of the year and have had two singles—“Believer” and “Best Day of My Life”—getting significant radio and worldwide commercial attention, so there has been little time for them to stop and breathe. Even a flight has the potential to turn eventful nowadays.
“This morning, we did an acoustic set in an airplane on a Southwest Airlines flight,” Barnett says. “It’s this thing called Live at 35 they do in partnership with Live in the Vineyard, which is an event we played at Napa a couple weeks ago.”
Choosing not to simply go with traditional rock & roll instruments is more of the sort of outside-the-box thinking that the band employs. American Authors’ songs have a well-rounded, engaging rock & roll aesthetic to them, but in addition to catchy melodies and great guitar riffs, their hit single “Believer” features organic percussion and hand claps. “Best Day of My Life” employs a bit of banjo, “Luck” is one of a few songs to feature a mandolin, and, if you listen closely on “Home,” you can hear an accordion.
And the video for “Best Day of My Life” has two versions—the regular version and one shot entirely from a bulldog’s perspective.
“It was an idea we’d been throwing around for a little bit,” Barnett says. “ ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a lyric video with a dog eating the lyrics?’ But it evolved into more than that. We wanted to do something a little different and cool with it, so we teamed up with Georgia Bulldog Rescue. ... They had us work with a great pet who then got adopted right after the video shoot.”
But while the band has fun making uplifting music and endearing videos, their songs are not all about happiness. “Best Day of My Life,” for instance, talks about a person not wanting to leave the dream world because it is so beautiful there, and “Home” highlights the band’s ever-present struggle with sometimes needing to put their careers ahead of loved ones.
Regardless of their songs’ content, the band is proud to share themselves with their fans.
“When we started this band, the goal was to write the best songs we possibly could and have our music reach as many people as possible,” Barnett says. “We love that [our music] can help someone out when they’re going through a rough time. We like that we can have that kind of message in our music.”
w/The Royal Concept, Misterwives
741 S. Kilby Court (330 West)
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.