Air Dubai signs with Hopeless Records
Aaron Thackeray Julian Thomas at the 1STBANK Center during KTCL's Not So Silent Night last year.
For the past few weeks or so, Air Dubai has been teasing a big announcement. We had a pretty good idea what it was (for as big as it is, Denver's still a pretty small town when it comes to some things, especially juicy gossip), and last night at KTCL's Not So Silent Night at 1STBANK Center finally shared the news. A little over a year to the date that the band graced the exact same stage as winners of the station's annual Hometown for the Holidays promo in 2010, Air Dubai revealed that it had secured a recording contract with Hopeless Records, who will issue the band's new album Be Calm this coming spring. In advance of Air Dubai's first headlining show tomorrow night at the Ogden, we spoke with Jon "Rhias" Shockness about the deal, why they chose Hopeless, home to incongruous acts like Avenged Sevenfold and the Used, and how the imprint signed the act without having ever seen it live.
- Tip sheet: Meet (the new and improved) Air Dubai, 12/10/09
- Review: KTCL Not So Silent Night 2011, 12/6/11
- Wunderkinds: Air Dubai is set to release its debut, Wonder Age
- Photos: A day in the life of Air Dubai
Samantha Baker Air Dubai before headlining the Gothic in 2010. See full slide show: Shadowing Air Dubai.
Westword: Fist of all, congratulations. Tell me how it went down.
Jon "Rhias" Shockness: They actually haven't even seen us live. We were in L.A. It was like our first show there, and someone was in the audience who was one of the friends from Hopeless. They were like, "Hey, you guys gotta check this band out." I guess they had heard of us before a little bit, but after that, it was just like, "Let's look 'em up," and they liked what they heard. So, I can't wait until they see us live.
That's crazy. So they just liked the record? They went straight off the record?
Yeah. We gave them our album, which was supposed to come out November 13, but we had to push it back, because they were like, "Let's just release it to your fanbase." So we pushed it back and gave it to them, and that's pretty much it.
So they're going to release it as is?
Yeah, yeah, as is.
Where did you guys record at?
We recorded in Austin, Texas, at Matchbox Studios.
Who engineered and produced it?
How did you end up going with him?
I think it was through our management. They were just like, "Hey, we've heard of this producer, and we think you guys would be great with him." So...
How many songs are on the new record?
It's a ten-song album, but [there's another version that's] eleven songs as a bonus track on iTunes.
So what made you end up going with Hopeless?
I don't know, I think they just had our goals and ideas in mind. We have a really traditional...um, what's the word I'm looking for... I don't know, a different sound. So I think it's different for their label and different for us because we're not like anyone else on their label. So I think it's like a perfect fit. It's a challenge for them and us to kind of stand out and make our own name in the rest of their label.
So did you guys sit down as a band and talk about why this would be a good label for you?
Yeah, definitely. It's a big step for our band, and we want to make sure that we're going to the right place. You know, it was all like, "Let's really think about this. What are our options?" And this just looked like it would be a good move for us.
What, specifically, are your goals that you feel are aligned with theirs?
I think they just really respect our vision. Like, one of the things is that they didn't want to change our album or change our artwork. They knew who we were; they looked us up, and they liked it. And I think that's what's important to us. We've kind of set up our own thing, and that's kind of how our band has been, very, "Let's do it ourselves." And they respected that, and now it's like, "We'll let you do it yourself and we'll push you guys to that next step."
Now from the early days when you and Julian [Thomas] were first getting your feet, did you ever imagine that this is how far it would go?
Not at all. I mean, we're playing the Ogden on Saturday. It's like we started this at his [Julian's] house, playing beats off his old Mac computer. I don't know, it's gone way further than we could ever imagine at that time.
I totally remember when you were opening for the Pirate Signal at the Marquis years ago.
We had no idea how they heard of us or what we were doing on stage. It was very new for us.
I remember when you did "I Know How." You had won some studio time at Coupe, and you had done that song that reminded me of the Roots' "Coming to Break You Off." That represented this whole foundational shift for your band. When did you think you really started gaining momentum?
Honestly, I feel like it was right away. From our first write up in, actually, Westword was the first write up we actually got, and I think that was the thing. It was like non-stop from there. We were just like, "Let's just keep going and see what we can do for the band."