Casey Harris of X Ambassadors spoke with Chattanoogan.com in anticipation of the bands upcoming Tennessee concerts and forthcoming studio album.
Q: The band is set to play to two Tennessee shows (April 14 at Chattanooga’s The Signal and April 15 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium) on this tour. Do you have anything you want to do or see while in the state?
A: Well, we LOVE the food in Tennessee. We just finished rehearsals in Nashville, and of course we had to get hot chicken. Tennessee BBQ is the best too! We really haven't spent much time in Chattanooga, which is great, cause it means we have a whole new city to explore when we get there.
Q: The Joyful Tour will be stopping at some very historic venues, including the Ryman Auditorium and Red Rocks. What does it mean as a band to play these types of places?
A: Man, it's really really special to be able to headline all these venues. We've been the opener at Red Rocks several times, so we've had a taste of what it'd be like, but this is the first time we'll be the main act. I'm pretty sure we're going to be playing to the biggest crowds we've ever headlined for as well, and I'm so excited and humbled at how many fans are turning out! I've got a good feeling about this tour.
Q: What has been one of the most special or memorable venues you’ve played so far?
A: To be honest, I think the most emotionally powerful venue we've played was our Cayuga Sound festival stage. With the help of a lot of local people and organizations, we put on our own music festival in our hometown of Ithaca, NY last September. We had The Roots co-headlining with us, and a whole slew of other bands and artists who we love, and it was one of the most fun days I've ever had. Playing that stage, after a day like that, in front of family, old friends, and so many fans I didn't even know, man... It was just really powerful.
Q: What are some venues that you haven’t played, but would like to add to the resume?
A: Well, we'd love to play the big room at Madison Square Garden. We all lived in NYC for a long time, and that's kind of the end all be all of venues there. Talk about an iconic place. Here's fingers crossed...
Q: What was the creative catalyst behind the creation of your forthcoming album Joyful?
A: We really just started writing music. I'd say we've probably written at least three albums worth of material over the last year or so. The arc and story of the album started to reveal itself as we were in the process of cutting down the tracklist (didn't want to have more than 12 or 13 tracks). It sort of became obvious, as we were choosing our favorites, that the best songs were all of a certain theme, and if we put them in the right order, they told a very honest story about us.
Q: How will the overall sound of the new album relate to that of VHS?
A: This new album is a pretty big departure in some ways from VHS. We really embraced a lot of our soul, pop and R&B roots for this one. We also had the chance to work with several very talented producers on a few of the tracks, and that lends a new flavor to the sound. All that being said though, you'd definitely still know that we were the same band that recorded VHS, and we are still a rock band at heart.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about your partnership with Nat Geo WILD’s Earth Day Special Symphony of Our World. How did that collaboration come about?
A: The Nat Geo collaboration was really amazing. We are always trying to use our voice as a band to try and do good in the world. I guess the folks at Nat Geo must have heard about us, cause they reached out to our manager and we jumped at the chance. The Earth, and especially the life on it, is so important that people need to pay more attention to preserving it. On a personal note, I have also always loved film scores and soundtracks, so this was a serious treat for me.
Q: Was there a particular reason or driving force why this partnership was a good fit for X Ambassadors?
A: I think again, we just care about the world around us. We'll take any and every opportunity to use our platform to speak to people about issues that really matter to us. The environment and nature are definitely something we care deeply about, and we think more people should as well.