Interview: Zach Webb – Its Alive

It’s Alive have just released their debut album ‘Human Resources’ on Wind-Up Records which you listen to here and you can also read my review of the album here.

I had the chance to submit some questions by email to the band at the end of April which lead singer Zach Webb was kind enough to take some time to answer and sent back yesterday evening. During the time from my submission of the questions to the reply I have learned a little more about the band through the bio released by the band which you can read over at the album stream page here to gain a better perspective of the band.

With the band preparing to release their debut album, many people, including our readers here in the UK will have not came across It’s Alive, could you give us a brief story of how the band came together?

Eddie and I have been playing since we were about 13. We started It’s Alive the beginning of 08 with Juice, and in 09 brought Clay in. That completed the line-up and what we thought we need to really mold this into the rock band we wanted to be a part of.  We stopped playing shows locally and just really honed in on the band we wanted to be. We focused on songwriting and the vision of the group. We wanted to make a debut album that sounded like a bands 3rd album in. Each song was really thought out and carefully crafted. We did nothing by chance.

What was the decision to form the band and go for it yourself as you were all songwriters before you made this leap is that correct?

Exactly, I had never fronted a band as a rock vocalist before. I had always been a guitar player. We wrote these songs and they actually formed us into who we are. We created these things that kind of inhabited us and made us into the musicians we are today. We pushed ourselves. They took on a life of their own. We created a monster. Each song had its own identity, which kind of explains the album art. Each song has its own symbol instead of number. They have their own personality and we act accordingly. This record changed us.

The name, It’s Alive, came to you in a dream but what does it mean to the members of the band?

I think it’s safe to say it means the same to us all across the board. To us it resembled a dark connotation because of that classic moment in Frankenstein but it was such a beautiful and positive thing about being vital, being here, and being now. His creation had come to life. What a beautiful thing to create something and it taking on a life of its own. He created a monster. It’s alive. We love it.

The current line-up of the band has been together for over two years now and already you have been signed to Wind-Up records who have bands like Creed, Seether, Evanescence, 12 Stones and Finger Eleven on their roster so how did it feel, being young guys in your early 20s, to be recognized by a well-known label so early into your career? Did you send demos out to labels with the hope of being signed or were you discovered?

You know, it was such a crazy success story of your typical small town rockers. There were a select few people in the industry that found out about us early on and help spread the word. It just caught like wildfire. Word just got out from our demos that were online at the time and we literally got a call from the owner of the label saying they really liked our music. I’ll never forget that day. We got very lucky. We worked our asses off daily of improving ourselves as song writers, and that day was the beginning of our payoff. It just goes to show, if you take it slow, things happen fast.

What was it like to step inside the studio, knowing that what you created here was going to mark your step into the industry? Where did you record and who did you work with on the album?

We were ready. We’re always ready. That’s the thing about the 4 of us. There’s not a thing you could toss our way we wouldn’t be able to tackle. With that being said, we packed our bags from our small town in Florida and moved upstate to New York, and New Jersey. We worked a month with David Bendeth (Breaking Benjamin, Paramore). He really built us into a well-oiled machine. That man taught us so much about not only music, but ourselves. His whole establishment over there at the House Of Loud and everyone there really showed us how to be a rock band. From there we traveled back to NYC to record the rest of the record at QUAD Studios in Times Square. It was so inspiring every day to be in the city. The album turned out way more aggressive than we had thought because the city made us hard, quick. We loved it. There we worked with some great people at our label like Gregg Wattenberg, and Ross Peterson, and all of It’s Alive to produce the rest of the record. We are really proud we got the chance to co-produce more than half our debut album.

I have been listening to the album and it’s an impressive debut, from the music to the lyrics, it is powerful. Every song appears to have a clear direction to how you work the lyrics with the music from what seems to be a dark, angry, emotional period in your lives. What does the name ‘Human Resources’ mean in relation to the music?

Thank you very much. That is awesome of you to say. Very emotional times. It’s the coming into being a man realizing a lot of things about yourself and the people around you. Every song was based off a real experience. We had used everyone around us as inspiration, even the negativity. We fed off of it. We got off on insane situations we somehow ended up in. It’s what built us as human beings. We used all of these dark situations as resources, and they became the driving factors in our lives to do well, and go above and beyond expectations. We wanted to show the power of overcoming and calming reassurance that everything does work out. These people were our Human Resources. They are what made this record. We figured it’d only make sense to name it after what had inspired us most, and that was everyone around us. The record is power. It has conviction. It’s real. That’s something we are all very proud of. There’s not a moment on this Human Resources we didn’t perform with every drop of our souls. Listening to music is great, but feeling music is better.

The lyrics go deep into what seems to be a troubled past in love, anger, hope and fighting back against those who said you couldn’t do it. For young guys there is a lot that has happened to really make this album personal. Who wrote the lyrics to the album?

I wrote the lyrics. Lyrically I went into this record fearless. I wanted to say what I wanted to say, and I didn’t want to try to bore people with trying to be clever, or pretending I was a poet. I’m a rocker that had some shit to get off my chest, and that’s exactly what I did. It’s something we were very careful about. We didn’t want anything to crazy that’d go over peoples head and everyone has to dig to find a meaning. We wanted to be in a rock band that was relatable. We’ve all been in love, we’ve all been so pissed we can’t see straight, and we’ve all been talked down to and told we “couldn’t” when we knew we could. These songs show the ins and outs of that. The overall theme to it all is hope. There is a resolution in every song, and no matter how bad something seems at the time….it always heals. Your scars are what give you character, and what help you grow. All 4 of us are living proof of that.

What are some of the most personal tracks on the album?

I know each one of us have our own that mean the most to us. Some of the themes are left open ended to where they could mean a number of things. Ultimately, each song really strikes a certain chord with us all.

Coming from the lyrics, when creating the music do certain members focus on the structure and creating of music or is it a collective task from the start?

Eddie and I had bunkered down and wrote something along the lines of 35 songs. We chose our favorites and gave the ideas to juice and clay to put their finishing touches and their stamp on them. Each one of us have such a unique style of playing if we all wrote together it’d be a mess so we do it individually and it gives the vision more clarity. It’s much like building a cake. Eddie and I make the batter, mix it up, bake it, I frost it with sound design and melodies, then pass it to juice and clay to decorate give that extra “umph” with heavy bass bottom and clay just blows my mind with the creative ideas from pedal sounds. Then the production and tones are the cherry on top. We’re rock n roll cooks, hahah.

‘Selfless’ introduces string players as the tempo is brought down. Was that something that you wanted for that song to portray the feeling of the song? Of course different from how you would usually perform so what was it like to work in the studio and introduce that to your music?

The crazy part about that actually is, the majority of our songs all start like that; very organic. Piano, acoustic, strings. So it wasn’t a stretch. We just decided to leave that one the way it was originally written. The stretch believe it or not was making some of these melodic songs into heavy, heavy active rock songs. We cut this track at QUAD Studios on the 12th floor right in Times Square. I remember the sun going down and it making the whole city like a pale pink. And SO many candles were lit in the live room haha. Once the string players started performing on it we all collectively looked at each other and just smiled. It was one of those “holy shit guys, we did it” moments that I know will always hold a super special place in our hearts.

With ‘Can’t Love Me’ you brought in a female singer to duet on the song. Who did you work with on it?

Her name is Carolyne Neuman and she’s AMAZING. Everyone should really check her out. She’s an amazing vocalist and a really great person.

Naturally when it comes to writing the music for some bands, their sound is always working from a group of influences that each member has. Who are the bands and artists that influence It’s Alive?

I think it’s safe to say, more than any band we are influenced by we are influenced by sounds. If clay hears a guitar tone he loves, he researches it, digs deep to make a sound similar or one to call his out. Same goes with drum sounds, bass and sound design. This record is heavily saturated with sound design, and crazy landscapes of texture. It’s really what brands It’s Alive’s sound. We dug deep creating those sounds and taking our album to a 3rd dimension. Vocally if I hear a quality I love in some ones voice, I channel that and just let it come through me to see how it turns out. We are huge fans of creating our vision with sounds we fall in love with.

Now that the album is complete and you can listen to it, what song(s) stand out as the key to the album?

The songs you would pin-point. I think songs like Liar, Back Into The Rain, Pieces, Selfless, and Can’t Love Me are def key songs. We’ve got the aggressive active rock band we are, the up-tempo feel we love, the driven in-your-face anthem, the organic softer side, and the lush soundscape ballad. All of these are key traits to It’s Alive. It’s very important to the band we are.

Of course, is there anything now that you wish could have been changed or done slightly differently?

Oh man, haha. We are perfectionist to the MAX. The record still isn’t done to us. We still listen to it wanting to change things or hear things differently. I think any artist would agree in saying something they create is never done, it has to be abandoned or it’ll drive them nuts. We are happy with it. We are very proud of Human Resources.

‘Pieces’, ‘The Bottom’ and ‘Liar’ are all streaming on your MySpace account, ‘Pieces’ being the first single, so do these three songs indicate anything at this stage, what could be felt as the stronger material for fans to listen to that will make them want to buy the album?

We’ve always been a fan of putting our best foot forward. These are defiantly our heavier songs. We’re a rock band and wanted to make that apparent from the start but if they dig deeper they’ll discover there’s a lot to It’s Alive. We’re a very diverse group.

The next step for the band is to tour in support of the album so have you already got some plans to join a tour or working your own headlining tour. Any details you can reveal about your touring plans or who you will be hitting the road with?

We start July 5th with Sick Puppies and we will be running 2 months with them this summer, then more in the fall will be announced soon. We love Sick Puppies, we’re super excited to be sharing the stage with those guys (and girl) soon.

On Twitter you mentioned your performance with Papa Roach and Nonpoint. What was it like sharing the stage with two such well known acts?

It’s Alive have been huge fans of both those bands since we were kids. It was an honor. We had worked with a lot of the same people they had so they had heard of us before, and knew a bit about us before we even introduced ourselves. We were shitting ourselves a bit. We had all shared some words backstage that probably inspired us more than they knew. All of them are such great guys. It was a pleasure. I have a feeling that won’t be the last time our bands share the same stage.

It’s too early to obviously dive into what the future holds but from the bands perspective what is a future based on the release of this album. The beginning would naturally be the US right now to make your mark but do you want to take it outside US and hit other countries like the UK and push your debut to the maximum or wait until you’re a proven name and a force before venturing out?

Oh, absolutely. That’s one of our goals for sure, taking this band overseas. “Rocking Abroad” if you will. hahah. We are ready. I’d go as far as saying, count on it. We will work our asses off until we get over there.

I have to ask, after reading that you have no issues based on the matter of downloading music, which of course will never likely be stopped no matter how hard people try, do you feel now as the album release comes closer, that there could be many more downloads than purchases which will affect your career? The obvious benefit is that your music will be heard worldwide but for the US and your contract, does it become a worry at this stage?

I mean, it really is the inevitable like you had said, so anything to get this record out there, and get it heard. We’re a band that’s all about sharing that feeling with the world. We want to connect. If we can do that, we’ve done everything we wanted too. I’m still shocked this is our career, but we honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Have you considered maybe doing an Ozzy Osbourne threat to make people buy your album like he did with Slash’s. Tell them to either buy the album or kill their favourite pet?

Hahaha. I hadn’t considered it but……you just gave me a great idea……… (fade to black) AND SCENE!


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Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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