Icon For Hire, the pop-punk duo made up of vocalist Ariel and Shawn Jump, experienced what most bands would consider an abnormal year – leaving their record label and alternatively creating music independently, with help from their fans.
The band that created a substantial following in the pop-punk scene with their debut record, Scripted and renowned tracks such as “Make a Move” and “Get Well,” realized that their survival in the music industry looked bleak as long as they remained contracted to a record label. While many bands struggle to make it without support from a label, Icon For Hire has flourished. With help from their beloved fanbase, the duo has grown considerably in the past 16 months, both as a band and personally.
Volume caught up with Icon For Hire in advance of their show in Charlotte, NC.
When and why did you decide to take your talents and creativity away from a record label? Was that a difficult decision to make?
We held out as long as we could, trying to make it work. Finally it became increasingly clear that we would not survive if we stayed with the label-as in, we would have had to quit music altogether and get grown up jobs. We begged them to leave, since they were letting a lot of other bands go at the time, but they refused. In Spring of 2015, we filed bankruptcy and were finally able to gain our independence. It was an excruciating, scary process, but we felt like we had to pick our pain: We could stay with them and slowly bleed to death, or embrace the fear and strike out on our own.
How much more liberating was it to create music and express your creativity without any ties to a label?
There is no comparison! As you said, “liberating”-that’s the first word that comes to mind. We can literally do whatever we want, with no regard for commercial success or impressing anyone in power. It’s just us and our fans now. It’s working.
How rewarding is it to have your fans support you in the way they do – they believe in you as much as you do?
We are incredibly grateful for them, and we’re fully aware that if we had a more “normal” fanbase, we wouldn’t have been able to succeed as an independent band. It’s been their passion, belief in us, and support that has allowed us this privilege. We are motivated by their stories-when we see our music making an impact, it’s a powerful incentive to keep creating it.
What was it like fulfilling the awards you set up for fans that contributed to the Kickstarter project?
It was fun, but also a lot of long, labor filled hours! Anytime we’d get overwhelmed by the volume of work at hand, we’d step back and feel the gratitude for so many people wanting to be a part of this. We’re not finished yet-in the coming weeks we’ll be signing and shipping out thousands of albums, so ask us again how we feel after that!
How has 2016 changed you, not only as musicians, but personally as well?
It feels like the trajectory of our whole lives has changed in this past year. Before, we were fighting just to survive, we were sacrificing everything to do this, and making music meant struggling. Now, we’re confident that we can continue to do this for years to come, we see the sustainability of this model. That’s a huge personal relief as well, to know you can keep living out our dream for years to come.
With only one week left of the You Can’t Kill Us Tour, what has been your biggest takeaway thus far?
We’ve been very moved by the intensity of the crowds. The rooms are filled to capacity with people singing every word at the top of their lungs, and we’re doing meet and greets that last over an hour after each show. We’re really excited about how many newcomers are showing up-over half the crowd has never been to an Icon For Hire show before. It’s amazing to know we’re still growing, especially since it’s all word-of-mouth marketing. Our fans are our marketing plan.
How does this tour differ from those in the past?
There’s a different energy in the room. This is our first headlining tour as an independent band, and the first time we’re touring on a record that we all made together. It feels like a victory celebration.
If you could sum up 2016 in three words, what would they be?
Electric, connection, freedom.
Icon For Hire, along with Stitched Up Heart, perform at The Rabbit Hole in Charlotte, NC on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show can be purchased HERE. For more information on Icon For Hire and additional tour dates, click HERE. To read more about the band’s Kickstarter campaign, click HERE.