American Authors & Andy Grammer
w/ Matt McAndrew
District Square, Kalamazoo
Aug. 11, 6:30 p.m. doors
districtsquare.co, (269) 264-4229
One listen to American Authors’ smash hit single, “Best Day of My Life,” and it’s easy to think the band has only seen sunshine and good times.
But talk to lead singer Zac Barnett about his band’s road to success and a deeper different story unfolds.
While writing “Best Day of My Life,” the band had been living together in a small Brooklyn apartment, having dropped out of Berklee College of Music in Boston, where they first started the band five years earlier.
Barnett had just lost his day job, they were almost out of money and then Hurricane Irene swept in and struck New York City.
“The only thing we had going for us was the four of us sticking together and continuing to write,” Barnett said about those rough times. “With that song, there was definitely the idea, ‘Well you’ve got all this stuff going on right now, what are you supposed to do? Do you quit or just keep going and find that escape?’”
That escape has become the band’s new reality as “Best Day of My Life” found near-ubiquity on a string of television spots, commercials and radio stations across the country.
Even now the band enjoys hearing how new people continue to discover their music every day despite some considering them an overnight sensation.
“We’ve been a super DIY band for a really long time,” Barnett said, alluding to the band’s self-released early material. “So however people hear about us is great. As long as people like the music and enjoy themselves and it makes them happy, that brings joy to us.”
Barnett and company also love winning over new fans via the stage, whether on the road opening for OneRepublic last year, or following a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway earlier this summer.
“We’ve never really done a show like that, and that demographic — that’s not usually what we’re used to playing,” Barnett said about the first-time festival event. “But we always want to have fun at a show and make the best out of it. It turned into one of the best frigging shows that we’ve done.”
American Authors have just finished recording their second album and plan on a tentative fall release for the follow-up to their 2014 debut, Oh, What A Life. They’ve also released a new single, “Go Big or Go Home,” a tune featured during the NBA playoffs that speaks directly to the band’s philosophy.
So what’s some advice he’d offer up to enterprising young bands?
“This is going to sound so cheesy — but you really need to go big or go home,” he said. “It’s so rare these things are overnight and you just find your place. So you’ve got to take those chances. You need to go out and network and mingle and hustle every single night. You have to do it yourself.”