The rock band American Authors has performed all around the world, making a name for itself with songs like its recent hit, "Born to Run." The group is slated to play in Denver on Friday, March 17, for Channel 93.3's annual St. Patrick's Day festival, Keggs & Eggs, which promises to be a wild — if horribly early — party that starts at, gulp, 7 a.m.
Westword caught up with American Authors lead singer Zac Barnett ahead of the show to talk about his experiences playing in Colorado, how the band found success, his work ethic and big dreams.
Westword: How do you feel your music has changed since you first started playing?
Zac Barnett: We listen to so much music. Music is changing so quickly now that for us, we are always changing with the times and always evolving. We do like to take our roots where we come from and our core influences and fuse those with modern-day influences. It's fun to take all these cross-pollinating genres and figure out how to fit them into our music. We like to add an almost grittiness, or dirtiness, to our music. We are in love with the rawness of punk rock or garage rock, and we are trying to bring that back into our music.
What excites you about playing in Colorado?
We love Colorado. It’s great because our management is based out there, so we do spend a lot of time out there. It's always fun being near the mountains and getting to go skiing. We have also filmed two of our music videos out there, for “Five” and “Pride." We are so excited to get to hang out with Nerf and the KTCL crew; they are such great supporters of us.
Have you ever played a festival like Keggs & Eggs before?
We have done a few of those early radio shows before [laughs]. I don’t like being up that early in the morning. I don’t even like being up before noon! But it’s worth it, and it’s fun, and everyone can just get day-drunk.
What are your hopes or expectations for the show?
We are excited to get back to Denver and hang out with good people and have a good time. We want to make a connection with people, a real human connection.
Besides other music, is there anything else that inspires your sound?
I think that we all can’t help but to be inspired by the people around us, and also traveling, going out and seeing new places and meeting new people. That’s always a big thing for us along with where we see ourselves going in the future, where we come from, where we are today.
What do you hope people get out of your music?
I always think it is so surprisingly cool that people can relate in their own ways to our music. I thinks that’s what’s so special, is that people can take whatever they want out of it, whether it’s completely relating to exactly what we’re saying or can put their own meanings into it and take a whole different message out of our music. I am so stoked that we can be part of giving people that feeling.
What is your favorite part of the music-making process?
The music-making process is great! It’s always fun, even if it’s stressful or you’re tired, or you don’t want to be there. I think that it is important to remember that you’re just playing music, and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken that seriously. It should be something that you love to do. If you don’t want to be there, don’t be there and do something else, because you should want to be creating and enjoying it every time you’re in that room.
Can you attribute your success to anything in particular?
Tons and tons of hard work. I never like to say, “Oh, we got lucky on that one,” even though there is a little luck that comes into it. I think for us it was about staying hungry and staying persistent. It was about working hard and never giving up. From booking tours to going out, making connections in the industry, meeting new bands, songwriting contests — we would submit ourselves to all these things, and it was a huge part of our career and where we are today. I feel like if you work hard at something, there really is a possibility to obtain those dreams.
Your songs have been heard all over every entertainment source, from video games and commercials to movies. How do you feel about it?
I love it! It is such a cool way to reach new audiences for people that may not think they want to listen to a certain style of music. It is awesome to be able to open their minds to hear something new and to become fans. There is no real one way to listen to music anymore; people discover new artists so many different random ways.
Do you feel that it takes away from your concert presence?
No, I don’t think so. Not for us. The industry has changed so much, and the attention span of people has gotten so much smaller with all of these sources of entertainment in your pocket. I think that we try to make sure that the show is really a true experience, all in and all out from the minute someone comes in to the close of the venue, it should be a full-on experience. What we did on one of our last tours was turn the set into a campsite, with a fire, rugs and a teepee, and we brought in fans and hung out, playing acoustically. We try to make those types of experiences special for fans.
Your song “Born to Run” has become very popular lately. What was the inspiration for that song?
That’s like our favorite song on our new album, and we appreciate all the love we've gotten from it. It's really about going into every day and living life to the fullest. It’s about trying to push as hard as you can to be the kind of person that you want to be and to do what you want to do in life. It’s about keeping planning for the far future and holding off until you can really make the most out of all that you have.
What are your career goals?
We want to keep creating great music that is special to us and that can be special to other people as well. We want to make amazing music that touches and reaches the world, that allows us to play at bigger and better venues so that we can put on the show of a lifetime.
American Authors play with Bishop Briggs and Bryce Fox at Keggs & Eggs, a free festival, which begins at 7 a.m. Friday, March 17, at the Blake Street Tavern. For more information, go to Channel 93.3's website.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.