INTERVIEW: The Aces on their upcoming record and creative process!
Utah’s The Aces are on the cusp of becoming one of your most listened to bands. With their debut full length, When My Heart Felt Volcanic, dropping less than two months from now, on April 6th, the band is primed to become a sensation this year. These girls aren’t new to music though, they’ve been a band since they were just ten years old. The length of time the band has been together is so clear once they hit the stage. Just twenty minutes after I had finished interviewing the girls, they kicked off their set with the song ‘Physical’ with the crowd singing all the words back to them. Their energy live is untouchable and their harmonies are gorgeous. The band rocked their way through their thirty minute set and left the crowd devestated when they said they were about to play the last song of their set. The crowd ultimately seemed to be their’s, but anyone there that wasn’t aware of them before their set clearly became a fan.
With their debut album so close and festival dates booked throughout 2018, as well as touring the UK and Europe for their own headlining shows and an upcoming support slot with X Ambassadors back home in the states, it is clear it is only up from here for The Aces! We’re grateful for the opportunity to catch this band early and can’t wait to see where this year takes them.
Do yourself a favor too and check out their banger of a music video they released for ‘Volcanic Love’ this morning just in time for Valentine’s Day. It features the girls’ interpretations of classic romance movies like Across the Universe and 500 Days of Summer and absolutely kills it.
New England Sounds: The Aces have been a band for so long, over ten years I understand?
Cristal Ramirez: Since I literally was ten years old.
NES: So obviously this record is long anticipated. Maybe how long has the record been finished, when did you start making it?
CR: Well, I guess they say you work on your debut for your whole life. We put out a couple EP’s independently before but we’ve never done a full length album. That was a pretty conscious decision because we didn’t want to spend too much time spending money on studio time before we had help to number one, fund it and number two, I think we’re in a time where people consume music in smaller amounts. I think EP’s especially for up and coming bands, are the way to go. Because I think that people can digest you quicker. So yeah we put out some EP’s independently, really just for our home town. Then for this album, the process really started two years ago with a couple songs from before that ended up making the record. We’re from Utah, we started going to L.A. a ton when we met our manager about three years ago. And just writing with a bunch of different people, a bunch of different producers. Ended up going to Brooklyn because we had a couple of friends that produced and really hit it off with them. We wrote ‘Stuck’, ‘Touch’, and ‘Physical’. The entire EP basically and their names are Simon Oscroft and Dan Gibson. They have produced about half the record now that’s coming out and then the other half of the songs are by a couple different producers just in L.A. mostly.
NES: Now you’ve talked about it before, you’ve been in this band for ten years of your life. You mentioned that some of the songs from the past are going to be on this record. I’m sure you’ve written so many songs, how did you go about picking those ones? Were they just ones that were fan favorites before you started going to L.A. to start writing?
CR: The songs on this album are all from when we started sessions in L.A. So about three years ago. One of the songs on their called ‘Last One’, we’re playing live a lot and fans are really loving it, we wrote when I was seventeen and I’m twenty two now. So yeah that was like four, five years ago. No, you were seventeen, Alisa? I was nineteen.
Alisa Ramirez: I was fifteen.
CR: I’m mixing up my times! Clearly we started writing this record a little before that.
AR: Maybe I was sixteen.
CR: Yeah, around there! So that one is the oldest one that’s on the record that made it. But I think the songs before that that we were writing, before we really started delving into going to L.A., we tried a couple out in the studio. We were like should we bring this back, should we put this on the album but they just kind of felt a little bit dated for us. The reason why that one, the one we wrote when we were seventeen ended up making the record, is that it’s just a really good song. And I think that doesn’t change. When you write a really good song and when you write a song that you hope will be a timeless song, I don’t think that that changes. So that was the only one that made the cut! The rest were pretty recent.
Katie Henderson: We tried to revamp that song like four or five times too until it matched the album.
CR: She knows what I’m talking about, I guess that’s a roundabout way of answering your question.
NES: Obviously when you start a band at ten it’s not the easiest thing to go on tour. When did you realize this is something that was really going to last? Obviously when you’re ten years old, you’re in a different mind frame then you are now. When did you realize that you were really going to pursue The Aces?
CR: Well, the thing that is so funny is that our band didn’t ever break up our entire teen years. It was always a constant. We always were playing shows. We weren’t touring and again, that was another conscious decision. We knew, we were like we don’t have the money, we’re kind of young kids, and we’re in school. We did a couple of weekend things where we’d go and play a show four hours away or whatever but yeah, we didn’t tour and we were just like, we’re going to wait. We’re not ready, we don’t have the foundation to support us on tour.
I think that we really kind of, it was this moment when we saw Lorde win like three Grammy’s on her debut record. We were just graduating high school, Alisa is a couple years younger than us the drummer. The rest of the girls, we’re all the same age. We just graduated high school and we were all so what is the consensus here? Are we going to keep going with our band or are we going to break off? I was always going to pursue music personally, Katie was going to go into college sports, McKenna might have gone into graphic design and Alisa was really into the medical field. We had all these options weighing on our shoulders. It was like we can really try and do the band or we’re going to be like, that was an amazing thing we did in our childhood. And it was such a fun thing for us but we let it go. I think that we just realized in that moment, upon graduation and kind of the night when she won all those Grammys. She can do it, we can do it and we also need to put our full hearts and souls into it if we want it to happen for us. So we were like we have something too special, all four of us. We’ve been a band for almost ten years and we’re only nineteen years old and seventeen.
NES: Not many can say that!
CR: Exactly and it was just too special. We’ll look back on this and wonder what if we would have really tried. So then we were like we just can’t let that happen. We have to do it.
KH: Our parents were telling us that too.
CR: Yeah our parents were like are you joking?
KH: They were like you have to try it.
CR: People have horror stories of their parents being like go to college but our parents are so great. And they were just like if you love it and it really has always been our passion then you’ve got to do it. You’ll regret it for forever if you don’t. We just have dope parents. I even remember, all of our parents, helping us financially to travel before we were signed to a label. Just pouring their souls into it just as much as we did because they love us so much and really wanted to see us succeed. We’re just so lucky that we have that.
NES: Thinking of that, you guys have been a band for so long. You know how you work together and you know what works when it comes to the writing. Do you feel it still changes or is there one core song writer, do you all bring your own ideas? How do you approach the song writing for The Aces?
CR: Yeah, our song writing has kind of shifted over the years. In the very beginning, for most of our teen years, I would solely write the music. Then I would just bring it to the girls. They’ve always written their parts on their instruments always and production wise and stuff but in the beginning, it was just me. Like I would just write all the music, the melodies and lyrics. Then over the past three or four years, Alisa has really stepped in with me and we write lyrics, melodies and we’ll go in with producers and write. And then Katie and McKenna are more production so they come in and work with the producers on creating the track and stuff like that. That’s kind of the way we do it now. That’s the system.
NES: This is so rare. Like I keep saying, you’ve been a band for over ten years, you’re only 22. This is incredible.
CR: Well, thank you that’s very sweet.
NES: To stick at it so long and you’re getting to this touring level, you’re about to release the first full length. Maybe advice to kids just getting started? I’ve only seen one other band that started really young and have stuck together, formerly Emily’s Army, now SWMRS, starting when they were twelve or thirteen.
CR: I have so much to say. I want to write a whole book about it and make a course on this because I feel like I do know a lot but at the same time, I’m going to look back in five years and be like I knew nothing. I think as a little kid at least when I can look back on us, I think what’s so important is just to be consistent and to make goals. We’ve been writing our goals out forever. We literally have a picture of it that we’re going to put like in our album packaging. Of like a band plan that we made when we were fifteen and we were always doing that. We still do that all the time. We wrote goals for ourselves. Like this year, we want to do this. We want to do this, we want to do this. When we decided to really do it as a band together and we wanted to do it on a professional level as we were graduating high school, it was like okay it’s back to a list of things that needed to be done that year. I think my biggest piece of advice would be do the best you can do with what you have. Always. Just do the best you can do, put music out, and put videos out, because it will always get better. But if you do nothing, there’s not the itch and you can’t get better if you’re just doing nothing. If you are too nervous that it’s not perfect. Because nothing is ever perfect. You just got to do it. You got to put your music out, play a bunch of shows, and it will grow.
And the album is only two months away, April 6th. And this is your second or third tour?
CR: So this is our first full North American tour whereas last year we did like a two week run and it was East Coast and the South. So it’s exciting.
NES: So maybe then, speaking of that, you’ve been a band for so long we keep mentioning it, this is your first full North American tour, the album comes out in two months. Obviously things are going really well for The Aces. What is the focus or the plan once this album drops, once this tour finishes? Maybe some goals for this year or kind of the hopes for The Aces?
CR: Yeah, we have so many cool stuff. The sky is the limit honestly. There’s nothing we don’t want to do, there’s no place we don’t want to go. I think that obviously when the record comes out, there are a lot of plans to continue to tour. We’re going out with X Ambassadors end of April for two weeks and there’s more talk. We’re doing a ton of festivals, we’re doing like Firefly and Bottlerock and a bunch of these big festivals that are such a dream for us. Then I think a big goal was obviously late night television, to do some of those. Our team is really cool with Red Bull and we also have a ton of room to pivot and see what we should do and where we should go. That’s the basis so far. Just tons of shows, tons of content. We’re putting out a music video tomorrow, it’s going to drop tomorrow morning for Valentine’s Day for a song called ‘Volcanic Love’. This is exclusive, it won’t be printed by the time it’s up I’m sure but an exclusive! So yeah it’s just a ton of content. Obviously the album is going to come out, lots of music videos and just tons of shows, I think, and we’ll see what happens!
NES: And you’re on a great label for that, they’re large but they’re not like a super major so it’s probably not as much pressure as like an Interscope or a Universal.
CR: Exactly. I think, a bigger reason more than anything, why we signed to Red Bull first and foremost is that it just felt right. It was a gut thing for us. It was like these are our people. Two, they’re so experienced. All of them come from major label backgrounds and they’ve worked at major labels. Jamie (Garabedian, the band’s publicist) worked with the 1975 really from the beginning and a lot of other bands we really looked up to. A lot of them come from working huge bands and helping break them. So it was that, a gut thing, and just the fact that they’re not a major but they have the power and know how to act like a major. But they can concentrate on us and we’re only one of I think right now six acts on the label. So there’s so much love and care there and you really get their attention and they really only sign acts that they feel they can help. It was just a match made in heaven for us so we’re very satisfied with them and so happy to be a part of the family and team.
The Aces are Cristal Ramirez (vocals, guitar), Alisa Ramirez (drums), Katie Henderson (lead guitar, vocals), and McKenna Petty (bass). Their full length deubt album, When My Heart Felt Volcanic, comes out April 6th and is currently available for pre-order.
The Aces online: