Q&A with IRONTOM

California rock band IRONTOM released their debut album Partners this year, and is about to rock out hard at a city near you. Harry Hayes, frontman of IRONTOM, takes some time to chat with Juliette Paige of WRBB in anticipation for their show at The Sinclair on November 16, 2017.


IRONTOM released a new album, Partners, on May 5, 2017 and I think it’s safe to say it’s been a long journey for you all. You’ve been releasing EP’s since 2012 and now the big album is out. So first off, congratulations on such an exciting milestone in your careers.

Thank you!

The album was produced by AWOLNATION’s frontman, Aaron Bruno. This collaboration with AWOLNATION isn’t surprising, since Zach Irons (guitar) and Daniel Saslow (keyboard) are in both bands. How did Bruno influence you during the writing and recording process of Partners?

Aaron Bruno was a very hands-on producer with us, and he had a vision of how he wanted the band to sound like, which taught us a lot in the process. In the past when we recorded with Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam), they let us construct the songs the ways we wanted to. They didn’t interject in terms of how the songs were written. Aaron, on the other hand, would just tell us a part wasn’t good and made suggestions to rewrite parts of songs. It was a good challenge for us.

So I’m not going to lie, Partners has become my go-to album when I need to get pumped at the gym, but it’s also my go-to album on a rainy night. While IRONTOM combines so many influences and feelings within your music, what are the defining elements of IRONTOM to you?

I think it’s the combination of the guys coming together and bringing their little parts to it. We really take pride in that we’re all equal in everything we do in the group. Songs will come in different ways. Sometimes Dan will bring a song that’s pretty complete or I’ll bring in an idea that’s 70% together. But the main way we like to write is when there’s nothing, someone will start playing, and then something germinates! Zach and Dan would start a riff and we build from that. I like to think IRONTOM’s defining elements comes from coming together as a band.

Super curious about your album art! Who’s the artist and what was in the inspiration?

Zach’s sister, Malia Irons, did all the artwork for our merch and album. I think something was mentioned about moons and the night, so she came up with that for us. The woman on the bottom is an old actress, Jean Harlow.

Since you’ve been releasing music, you’ve supported acts such as Finish Ticket, Red Hot Chili Peppers, MISSIO, Run River North, and now Arkells. How do you gauge what is going to resonate with your audience?

It’s trial and error. Every time we go out, we learn more about it. When we started the band and before we were touring, we’d play at clubs in LA and start to have people see us and react with us. When we started touring, we really got to see how performing live worked. It fuels our instincts and the way we go about writing our songs.

We like to write all types of songs–slower songs and high-energy songs. But we’re still an opening band these days. We pretty much have to stick with high-energy stuff because we want to leave an impact on people in the little time we have.

Any future headlining tour soon?

We’re hoping so! We’ve done a headlining show here and there. But right now, we’ve got so many cool opening opportunities that bring us back to these amazing cities again and again. I figure after a few times, it’ll lead us to doing our own show.

Having toured with so many bands, I can imagine that your band has grown and learned so much.

Yeah I mean the first band we really toured with was AWOLNATION, and they really helped us get with the program of touring. Every band we go out with is pretty awesome – we try to learn from everything. Their music is a huge part of so many people’s lives. It’s incredible to go to a town and see a 20,000-person venue completely full. Every person is wearing the band’s t-shirt and everyone’s singing the songs. That love for music is why we’re in this. It’s a beautiful thing.

Does it sink in that your music has that same effect on people?

It’s really a crazy concept. It reminds me that everyone interprets how they’re feeling in their own way, especially through songs. Even when you mean something when you’re writing a song, someone might take it an entirely different way. They might get the same emotional feeling you want them to, or they might get even more! They might get a ton out of something that you weren’t thinking that much about.

I was fortunate to see you perform live when you supported MISSIO this past summer, and I was completely blown away by your performance and contagious energy. I have to ask though: when you’re away from the mic dancing and jamming out, you seem to continue singing or yelling. What are you saying?

Honestly I don’t even know what it is; it’s just an expressive thing. I will sometimes say stuff to myself, but it’s hard to say. It’s such a fun thing performing because it’s a time where you can emote whatever you’re feeling or dealing with – good and bad things. So sometimes I’ll say things, but I don’t really know.

You and Zach Irons met in high school in LA far before IRONTOM formed, if you could give your high school self some advice or a warning of some sort, what would it be?

I’d probably say, “don’t be afraid and just do what you want.” When Zach and I met, we’d never written any songs. We took some time to grow and learn how to write together and individually. During that time, I didn’t want to go out and perform until we had something I wanted people to hear. I wanted it to be worth their time and to affect them in some way. During those times I might have been a little too hard on myself, but I’m glad we pushed ourselves to grow and develop.

Are you working on anything right now?

We’re always messing with ideas. We’re excited for next year with more touring and more things I can’t really say right now.

One last question: are you happy?

Yes I am, and that’s something you have to work on everyday and realize within yourself. I can honestly say that as a band, we’re happy but we’re hungry. And with hunger, there comes a little madness.

That’s perfect. Thank you so much for your time and for letting me peck at your brain. I wish you the best of luck on your tour and in your future accomplishments!

See IRONTOM support Arkells at The Sinclair on November 16, 2017! Tickets here.

 

Listen to Partners here:

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