Some records feel equally at home hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as they do resounding across the windswept polo fields of Coachella. A R I Z O N A transform guitars, keys, and vocals into brushstrokes of alternative, indie, and electronic dance pop on their 2017 full-length debut album, GALLERY [Atlantic Records/Artist Partner Group]. The New Jersey-based trio of songwriters and producers—Zach [vocals], Nate [guitar], and David [keys]—treat their music with the deliberation and diligence of a master painter.
“We used to jam inside of a basement studio at a place called ‘The Galleria’ back in our hometown of Glen Rock, NJ,” recalls Zach. “That’s how we got the name. The songs capture a crazy time in our lives over the past year. Beyond the cool historic significance, the title represents the record’s meaning, which is to put emotions and moments on display as if they were in a GALLERY.”
In 2016, the longtime friends began to make waves throughout the music industry. Augmenting a bond that dates back to their college days in Boston and continued through stints living and recording in Los Angeles and London, the musicians hunkered down in Jersey, uniting under the moniker A R I Z O N A.
“We had all been through the ringer with music,” he sighs. “We got home and decided to do something with absolutely no bounds, requirements, goals, or marks. We just wanted to create for the sake of creating.”
You could say their (non)plan worked. Signed to Atlantic Records and Artist Partner Group last summer, the band quietly released a string of singles that would enchant countless listeners worldwide. They impressively average over 9 million unique listeners per month as the 142nd most-streamed artist in the world. In less than a year, “I Was Wrong” clocked over 78 million cumulative Spotify streams, “Oceans Away” surpassed 68 million Spotify streams, and “Cross My Mind” exceeded 18 million Spotify Streams, occupying coveted playlists such as “Today’s Top Hits” and “New Music Friday” on a regular basis. Heavy hitters such as Robin Schulz and Sam Feldt lent their remix talents to the tracks, while early acclaim came from Billboard, Nylon, Baeble Music, Galore, Dancing Astronaut, and more. Before the release of an album, sales and consumption crossed the 500,000-mark. In between making their television debut on CBS’s The Chef’s Classic, they set a robust festival run including stops at Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, Firefly, Hangout Festival, and more.
“We love to just be in the moment,” admits Zach. “It’s unbelievable. We would be writing music no matter what. By doing what we love, we’ve taken control of our path and achieved something positive we never could’ve imagined.”
Co-written with powerhouse songwriter Julia Michaels [Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Ed Sheeran], the 2017 single “Electric Touch” struts through warm piano keys before wriggling into the dance floor-ready refrain, “Give me your electric touch.” Synths writhe and wrap around a soulful croon, entwining in iridescent neon-illuminated bliss. The video fittingly follows a real-life couple who were inspired by the band and drove cross-country to catch a show. After their starring role in the clip, the two lovers bravely came out.
“That’s the biggest validation of all,” says Zach. “It’s so beautiful, because the song really is about the connection between two people in one moment, regardless if the circumstances allowed it to sustain or not.”
GALLERY kicks off with the shuffling and swaggering “Annie.” Echoes of tribal percussion coast in tandem with Zach’s impassioned and intoxicating delivery channeling Michael Jackson and Sting all in the same breath.
“Sometimes, you get in an argument with your girl, and you know you’re being kind of an asshole,” he smiles. “It’s an admission like, ‘I know I’m a bit of a dick sometimes, but everything is going to be alright. Hang around. I’m the man, and I’ve got this shit covered.’ It’s lighthearted and fun.”
Among the other anthems, “Running” charges forward on a glitch-y stomp with an empowering chant, while “Feed The Beast” gets unabashedly funky before snapping into a show-stopping falsetto.
“Our style is alternative pop music where a lot of the melodies and songwriting aren’t overthought,” says Zach. “We don’t try to be left-of-center. Writing pop music comes naturally to us, because it’s a way to be honest and raw without having to dig too deep for the meaning. Sonically, we have so much fun in the studio. People can take the lyrics literally or apply their own experiences.”
The name A R I Z O N A places the focus directly on the music. Inspired by a joke Dave made about Nate’s “Arizona” hat in the studio, it made perfect sense.
“This band was never going to be about what it’s called,” he remarks. “It was always going to be about the music. Everything else is just superficial. It’s placing emphasis on the substance behind the name.”
GALLERY stands out as A R I Z O N A’s very first masterpiece, and it’s primed to resonate in the hearts of listeners everywhere.
“When people listen to our music, we just want to make sure they feel good,” Zach concludes. “Being touched by art fuels real change. We’ve seen it. If they walk away from the art even slightly changed, maybe they can change things for the better in the world around them as well.”