Our friends Icon For Hire have been busy. In case you haven't heard from them this year, it looks like now we know why.
In a dramatic and fascinating video, Icon For Hire singer Ariel talks in very general terms about the band's financial battles under their recording deal. (“We still can't pay our rent,” she says in a combination of sadness and disgust.) The band has extricated itself from its recording contract, and is now working for their fans, she says.
It's a gutty approach. All indications are a crowd-funding campaign. Sometimes, those are wildly successful. I've invested in Jill Sobule and Steve Hunter, among others, who are using the IndieGogo/Kickstarter/Gofundme route to pay for their work. If there's a group designed to make something like this work, it's Icon For Hire. Their fans may not compare in number to the chart-toppers', but the devotion of those fans is unparalleled.
The first product of their newfound freedom is a song available on a pay-what-you-want basis at the Noisetrade website.
I'm often hesitant to talk about the band's music in a broad and public sense, because I figure I'm not doing anyone any favors. I am not their target audience, and even if I embrace it, I could do more damage than help. What teenager wants to buy a song liked by someone his or her grandfather's age?
That said: I find the track to be evolution while not revolution. The band still sounds like Icon For Hire. What Ariel is singing this time around, however, is tough, has as much bite as the most biting songs the band has written, and may open a few eyes.
If this is the kind of lyric Ariel is talking about when she describes how some of her lyrics were deemed unacceptable by the old label, then it's a good thing the band left the label. Much of the song is autobiographical, but its overarching message pleading for an even playing field is something every listener needs to hear.
They're on the Vans Warped tour again this summer. They're playing every date of the tour. On top of that, Ariel is conducting workshops during the tour. The workshop is titled, “Turn Your Pain Into Art,” and I can't imagine anyone better than Ariel to conduct a workshop by that name.
I'm glad Icon For Hire didn't give up, which was an option. I don't know where their art fits in today's pop culture, but I know I'm always surprised and interested in every move they make.