Joey Rubenstein (Icarus the Owl) Interview

The last few years have been busy for Icarus the Owl. The Portland progressive rock band signed to Blue Swan Records in 2015, and have continued to grow their fanbase while evolving their signature blend of progressive flashiness and soaring pop hooks. Fresh off of the release of their new album Rearm Circuits on December 1st, I talked to singer/guitarist Joey Rubenstein about the album, and what’s next for Icarus.

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Hail the Sun continue to push their sound — and grow their fanbase while doing it

(Photos by Deniz Davenport)

In any rock music scene, far too many bands struggle to achieve the delicate balancing act of artistic progression and consistency. Acts are caught in a potentially perilous quagmire: Churn out reliable yet predictably similar albums, and run the risk of becoming stale. Take too big of a creative risk, and the increasingly fickle rock marketplace may abandon your band for the next big thing. Yet in this difficult landscape, few rising bands successfully navigate these pitfalls quite like Hail the Sun.

The Chico, California post-hardcore act got off to a strong start with their independent releases POW! Right In the Kisser! and Elephantitis, immediately establishing themselves with high-energy progressive riffs, vividly intense lyrical themes, and the passionate vocal delivery of Donovan Melero. The band’s steady grind of touring and promotion earned them a growing and passionate following in the post-hardcore scene, and their unique sonic blend began to attract the ears of some in the industry.

The turning point came when the band attracted the attention of Will Swan of Dance Gavin Dance. Quickly signing to Will’s label Blue Swan Records, Hail the Sun was set for a make-or-break moment. Thankfully, they delivered in 2014 in the form of Wake, an album that elevated the chaotic intensity of their early work while bringing a greater focus to their progressive songwriting structures. Only a mere three years after the album’s release, Wake is already considered by many fans of post-hardcore to be among the scene’s classic releases.

Despite the pressure of following up such a successful release, Hail the Sun have only continued to grow, both musically and in terms of popularity. After signing to Equal Vision Records, the band released Culture Scars in 2016, which streamlined their sound while still tackling serious themes focusing on the dark undercurrents of “normal” society. And now only a little over a year since Culture Scars’ release, the band surprise released their latest EP, Secret Wars, on November 10. After the more accessible sound of their last album, the band refused to stay stagnant, and Secret Wars contains arguably Hail the Sun’s heaviest and most technically complex songs to date.

And the band brought all of that energy to their just-finished tour with I the Mighty and Good Tiger, including their two dates at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, on November 18 and 19. Playing to sold-out crowds, Hail the Sun are continuing to prove why they are quickly becoming one of the biggest names in post-hardcore. Catch them opening for Glassjaw in Sacramento on November 26, and opening for Silverstein in the UK this December!

SONG PREMIERE: Chanta – “Saint St.”

Southern California musician Chanta has carved out a name for himself with the instrumental band inthebackground, blending soothing melodies and technical excellence with a strong emotional center. Today, he steps out on his own for the first time with the premiere of his new single “Saint St.” I got the opportunity to catch up with Chanta to ask him about the song, and hear about his artistic process.

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WATCH: Brand New’s full set at High & Low Festival

Fresh off of releasing their fifth (and likely final) studio album Science Fiction, Brand New headlined this year’s High & Low Festival on Saturday, performing to a packed audience at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, California. Containing seven tracks off of Science Fiction which the band performed for the very first time, in addition to many fan favorites, Brand New’s set was nothing short of electrifying. If you were not fortunate enough to attend, you can experience the entire set through the fan-shot video below. Thanks to Deniz Davenport for live streaming the whole set!

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