American Authors’ Zac Barnett Talks Travel, Touring, and Cars


© Andrew Zaeh | ZAEH, LLC
American Authors Press Photo by Andrew Zaeh | Thanks Mike Polans of 7S Management

The Brooklyn-based American Authors are famous for their hit songs, “Best Day of My Life”, “Believer” and “Go Big or Go Home.” Their inspiring success story began in Boston as frontman Zac Barnett, guitarist/banjoist James Adam Shelley, bassist Dave Rubin, and drummer Matt Sanchez — met at Berklee College of Music in 2006.

The quartet played for years under the name of The Blue Pages, changing it to American Authors in 2012. Though it wasn’t an instant success, they couldn’t be more proud and happy of what they have accomplished. “It is kind of all about timing. Right now is obviously our time. [But] We still feel like the same group of guys coming up together in a tiny Brooklyn apartment,” Barnett remarked.

“Our success right now really is a dream come true and we could not be happier! We do feel blessed that we are able to share our music with more and more people and we are very thankful for our amazing team from our label, Island, to our management and everyone else. It’s been so much fun traveling around, having new adventures every day and we are just overall excited that our music has allowed us to do it all.”

VroomVroomVroom content writer Jayson Paor caught up with lead singer Zac Barnett to discuss the band’s new album and current single, his travel must-haves, favorite car to drive, and more.

Hi, Zac! When are we going to hear the new album? We can’t wait!
The new album is almost done and will be coming out very, very soon! The first single, “Go Big or Go Home” is out now and we plan to release a couple more songs before the entire album is released. We put a lot of hard work and heart into this album so I’m excited about every track.

Tell us more about the song “Go Big or Go Home”?
“Go Big or Go Home” is a song about going all in, 100% with everything you do in life. We love that the song is so bare in a lot of the sections. We wanted to showcase the big group harmonies early in the song and give it a real sing-along sensibility. The chorus is simple and supplies such a big hook, so we wanted the rest of the song to take listeners on twists and turns, ideally doing things you may not expect on the first listen. Check out American Authors’ “Go Big or Go Home” video below:

What kind of music did you hear the most when growing up? How does it differ from what you listen to now?
I grew up on grunge and modern rock that was being released, while my parents taught me the ins and outs of classic rock. I also got really into gangster rap when I was in elementary school.

Do you listen to your own music when you travel?
You know I really only listen to my own music when I’m learning the lyrics to new songs or going over mix issues or song changes. I hear my music so much as it is at shows and what not so I put different playlists on while hanging out.

How easy or difficult it is to live and work on the road?
It can be tiresome. It can also put a strain on relationships back home. When you are away from family, friends and loved ones for so long, it’s easy to begin to feel distant. Skype is definitely a life saver when dealing with those feelings. On the other hand though being on the road is probably the most exhilarating thing in the world. I get to travel the world with my best friends meeting amazing, new people playing music I love. [Smiles.]

Can you share your favorite road-trip album and why?
Plans by Death Cab for Cutie. So much fun to sing that album with your friends and admire how good the lyrics are.

Do you have any favorite road trip snacks?
Chips and nuts. And iced tea!

Do you enjoy reading when traveling? If yes, what book would you recommend?
I don’t read often but when I do I like music biographies a lot. I also like reading magazines when in transit.

You and your band travel a lot. Can you share us your memorable travel (city/country) destinations?
Cape Town, South Africa was amazing. Mexico City is also always amazing to play.

Zachary Barnett in Cape Town South Africa

How does traveling change you?
It opens you up to new cultures and new ways of living. Everyone is different and learning how others live their lives helps us discover more about ourselves.

Beaches or mountains?
I love to snowboard but definitely beach.

Where do you want to travel on your next vacation (or show) and why?
I still haven’t been to Asia and would love to get over to that part of the world. Also, South America is a destination I’ve always wanted to explore.

Of course, sometimes travel begins to feel repetitive. How do you keep each destination exciting?
We love exploring and finding new adventures such as bungee jumping, surfing, sky diving and scuba diving. Really anything! Finding new restaurants and bars to go out to.

What’s your ultimate travel must-have? What about other items you can’t live without when traveling?
Deodorant, phone charger, some type of hoodie, singer’s throat spray, inflatable neck pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, and skateboard.

Is there any best time to travel?
Any time is a good time to travel but I guess if I had to choose, I’d say September is pretty good. The tourists have gone home and the weather is still great. I guess it is different though depending on where in the world you are traveling to.

Zac Barnett in front of the Elliott Smith’s "Figure 8" album cover wall in LA.Have you tried traveling alone? How was it?
I have travelled alone and it’s great! I’m very outgoing and social so it’s never been difficult for me to meet new people. The experiences you create with new people who are from the place you are visiting often turn out to be the most incredible and most memorable.

What has been the most recent “touristy” thing you ever done?
I took a picture in front of the Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 album cover wall in LA! I was very excited about that.

Describe to us your perfect getaway?
Small quaint beach town, surfing all day and going out with locals at night.

What’s the best lesson you have learned from traveling?
Be humble and be open to new cultures and new experiences. I try as hard as I can to be a ‘Yes Man.’ Even if something scares me, I will try to say yes because you never know if you are going to find your new passion. [Smiles.]

I’m sure you love taking photographs while traveling. What’s the most fascinating and stunning image ever captured on your camera?
I like pictures with people in them. I can google image any place in the world and find a better picture than the one I’m gonna take. When my friends and I are in photos we can look back and laugh and remember the emotions we had then.

Zac Barnett with  James Adam Shelley in Cape Town, South Africa

What car are you driving?
I don’t own a car! I live in New York City so the subway is my main source of transportation. I did just get a motorcycle though which I’m stoked to start riding!

If you could have your dream car, would it be a classic, sport, muscle, cruise, SUV – or all of the above?
Ooooooo, I’d have to go with some sort of an older vintage European sports car. My dad restored a 1969 Karmann Ghia when I was first learning how to drive and it was rad driving that through the canyons in LA as a teenager. [Smiles.]

What is your favorite car to drive around the city and during long travel?
I like driving smaller cars when in new cities. Easier to maneuver and park especially when you don’t know the city well.

Choose between money, power, love or fame – which one would you go for and why?
I guess the obvious choice would have to be power, right? If you have power then hopefully you’d be able to obtain the rest… except maybe love… you might just get stuck with fake love, which is a drag.

Finally, got any special message to your legion of fans around the world?
You are all amazing! Thank you so, so much for all your support and we are so excited for you to hear our new album! It’s really awesome, I promise! Ha. Also… take more time to travel! [Smiles.]

You can connect with Zac Barnett of American Authors via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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