Icarus The Owl are releasing their fourth album, Pilot Waves in just a few hours. Their singer/guitar player Joey Rubenstein was nice enough to sit down with me the other day and answer some questions. Get familiar with Icarus The Owl:
N: Where are you from and how did you get into music?
JR: “I am from Portland, OR and I got into music at a very young age hearing bands like Rush, Queen, and Oingo Boingo being played in the house. I wanted to start playing music because of punk rock bands.”
N: How did Icarus The Owl form originally?
JR: “In 2009, my old band had just dissolved and I was not ready to stop making music or touring. I decided to write and record an album without all of the band members solidified yet. “The Spotless Mind”, our first album, was made without Icarus The Owl ever playing a show. I just locked myself away and lived in a practice space writing that album. I had a drummer friend who was great at drums, found a bass player, and we recorded the album. They didn’t last long in the band and I eventually found Rob, Zach, and Tim.”
N: What was the first record you remember buying?
J: “Well, I definitely had the Ghostbusters soundtrack on tape. I don’t have it anymore and it bums me out. I also don’t have a tape deck. I am going to go with Blink 182’s “Cheshire Cat”. It was fast, raw, and everything my pre-teen self needed.
N: What’s been your favorite tour to be a part of so far?
JR: “The Blue Swan Records tour last year. It really allowed us to get to know the bands that are now our friends. It was just insanely fun watching Hail The Sun and Stolas play every night. If it wasn’t for that tour, I don’t think we would be on Blue Swan Records. It really sold the label for us. We wanted to be among talented and good people; that tour proved that Blue Swan bands are that.”
N: Who would you say are your biggest influences?
JR: “Thrice, Death Cab For Cutie, and Copeland. Thrice because every release they put out evolves and is still cohesive, beautiful, and good as their last. Death Cab because their songs tell amazing stories atop of hauntingly great melodies. Copeland because every melody they make puts me in a euphoric mood and their harmonies are always incredible.”
N: If you could set up a dream tour what 5 acts are on it?
JR: “Thrice (duh), Blink 182 (with Tom Delonge back in the band and they’d play Dude Ranch- S/T in full. This is a 6 hour long show), Icarus The Owl ( Always gotta play in the middle), Death Cab (also duh), & Meshuggah (to scare Death Cab fans and also awesome.)”
N: What’s cued up on your iPod right now?
JR: “So much Bon Iver. It’s fall time and Bon Iver is the perfect soundtrack to that scenery. Obviously Michelle Branch, too. As Tall As Lions is being played quite often as well. I listen to all the Blue Swan albums frequently, too!”
N: How long was the writing/recording process for Pilot Waves?
JR: “Some of these songs I had written for a long time, skeletons of them at least. We wrote a lot of the album while touring. We toured a lot last year and every chance I had, I was writing melodies and songs. When we released the S/T album, I really hadn’t stopped writing. The recording process was split up into two sessions. We did 6 songs in March and 6 songs in June. We cut 2 songs from the final album. It was beneficial splitting up the sessions because we were able to give so much attention to each one of those songs.”
N: Where did the title Pilot Waves come from?
JR: “The Pilot Wave Theory is where the variables of a wave are impossible to determine and are actually disturbed when the wave is being observed. We loved the idea of never really knowing the true properties of something when it is alone and unseen. As people, we act differently when we know someone is watching us. We aren’t our true unencumbered selves until we feel that we are alone. We wrote this album for ourselves and obviously we want people to like it, but we tried not to succumb to observation.”
N: Can you explain the concept behind this album?
JR: “There are a few common threads and themes in this album. The first theme is waves. The oscillation of a wave is both a testament to the differences in sound from song to song and also life as I was writing the lyrics. The songs are both heavy and light, while life was both chaotic and serene. It’s a balance that I think made this album special and cohesive. Nobody has a life of one straight flat line unless you are dead. Life is more like a wave that peaks and valleys and when being observed, changes. Perspective is another concept that I wrote about. There can be one event that happens, but it is seen so many different ways. I wrote a lot about the disappearing of someone and how that would effect both her captors, her, her family, her lover, strangers, etc. I tried to write from all of their perspectives.”