Icarus The Owl – comprised now of Joey Rubenstein, Rob Bernknopf, and Tim Brown – has been around since 2009, creating stunner music that oftentimes flies blissfully under the radar, for those of us who are paying attention anyway. (We like being music snobs who know about good tunes that others don’t. It’s a lifestyle.) A band that loves to get out on the road and interact with their fans – they embarked on over twenty tours between 2009 and 2015, when they signed their record deal with Blue Swan Records -, they’re no strangers to the studio, either. Their drive is palpable in their compositions – instrumentally and lyrically – and the quality of work they produce is never less than stellar.
So now we embark upon another chapter for Icarus The Owl, as they casually introduced the world to their latest release, a Vanessa Carlton cover. And they killed it. So we decided to ask them some questions, to catch up and learn a little more about their process. Check out the interview below!
Why music? What’s in it for you?
It’s a compulsion at this point. Music is cathartic – it gives my feelings a vehicle to be expressed. The power that a beautiful melody gives me is immeasurable. Translating your emotions into melodies, to me, is the best feeling in the entire world.
Where do you feel the most comfortable as an artist? On stage, in the studio, on the road, or somewhere else?
That is a tough one! Performing is a give and take relationship with the audience. I will always try my best, but if the crowd gives me super positive energy, then it’s a much better time. Recording in the studio is all about indulging my every musical idea and is more one-sided. However, I could not be nailing a part and it can get very frustrating. I feel a different kind of comfort in each situation. I am probably the most comfortable by myself in a room with a loop pedal and a guitar writing riffs and vocal melodies.
You guys started in 2009, now with countless tours under your belts. What sort of cohesion or togetherness have you formed since you started playing together?
The line-up has changed quite a bit since 2009. Rob (drums) and I have been playing together since 2011 and we are symbiotic at this point. Now that it’s 2017, I think we have found our ideal line-up and we are tighter than we have ever been. With the amount of touring we do, we have to analyze what is working, what is not, and be honest with each other about it.
What has life been like for you, touring around with Sianvar & Frameworks?
That tour was a lot of fun. It was a tease because it was only 10 or 11 dates. I wish it was a full US tour. They are a really great group of people and musicians. The stakes were never very high on that tour because we knew we’d be coming home very shortly after it started. The shows were awesome!
“A Thousand Miles” pops up in online jokes all the time- what made you want to piece together a cover of it?
The percussiveness of the piano lead line isn’t too dissimilar to how we would write/play a tap guitar line. I at one point learned the riff, joked about doing the cover, waited two years, and then decided to just make it happen for real. After all the joking dust settles, it’s truly a great song by a great artist, and we hope we did it justice.
How do you stay inspired to continually create new music?
I honestly have no idea but I hope it never stops because I love it. I am always writing. We will finish writing an album, be in the mixing process of that album, and I will have already started writing the skeletons of the next album. I just genuinely love creating and playing music. If it never feels like a bother, I will always gravitate towards it.
What bands have you had the chance to meet along the way that you think deserve a little more recognition?
The whole Blue Swan Records family deserves all the recognition in the world! Hardworking and genuinely talented bands on that roster.
What was the last album you listened to?
The latest MAE album I believe. Good stuff! I used to listen to MAE a lot back in the day and I am pleased that they decided to make another album.
What else does 2017 have in store for you? What can we expect?
We are going on the Stolas tour in the Spring. I would love to put out some new Icarus music. We just want to stay as busy as possible. Bordering on stressful busy. Tour, new music, tour, tour, smash brothers. Probably in that order.
Keep up with the band here.