Electropop group Arizona prepares for M3F festival in the state of the same name
As the pandemic turns rampant and spring travel beckons, it’s not uncommon to find people traveling to other states these days. Much less common is when a state visits your home. Or, in this case, when a band named ARIZONA goes on tour. This first weekend of March 2022, ARIZONA will land in Phoenix to play the M3F festival. They play on stage Monday at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 4and, just before the headliner of this scene closes the evening. ARIZONA playing in Arizona is always hilarious for them and amazing because the audience is in the gag.
This annual M3F festival in Phoenix is different from most because of its mission to donate the money earned in support of local charities. It creates a different feeling in the crowd, where most festivals bind a crowd together during the event, this one seems like the crowd is already coming together.
ARIZONA is a three-piece American rock and electro-pop band from New Jersey, currently signed to Atlantic Records. They released two albums: Gallery in 2017 and Asylum in 2019. ARIZONA is currently working on their third album tentatively slated for fall of this year. Currently, it is planned to have more emphasis on dance house music than the previous two albums. Musically, ARIZONA makes records that are influenced by their life experiences, and live performances impact their current songwriting. They have explored different sounds over the past few years due to their background in music, live performance, and work in media and promotion.
The band members are Zachary Charles on vocals, Nathan Esquite on guitars and David Labuguen on keyboards. There’s an obvious love and camaraderie between these guys, probably forged by endless days in the studio and on tour. I saw a common thread between them, including their love for performing, their interest in the community they’re building among their fans, and their obvious obsession with all things food.
Labuguen is talkative, thoughtful and observant. His role in the group includes building tools and technology platforms. Esquite seems to be quieter, one who lies down until there’s a perfect moment to land a joke and who orchestrates crowd effects like throwing Pop Tarts into the audience and other similar frivolities. Charles is the leader with a wry and observant personality, alternately encouraging others or adding his own perspective into the mix.
They worked on their song Hold the Linene which was an Avicii twist on one of their songs but unfinished when he died. The band worked to finalize the song using what Avicii had finished.
Normally, ARIZONA travels in groups of around ten people and usually plays 4-5 shows a week. The work on the road is tough, it’s 12+ hours days with local promo, set up, sound check, then the show. However, for most of the past two years, the band has been at home in New Jersey, waiting for shows to resume.
When the group turns, there are 10 people on the road. Due to their origins in New Jersey, they tease and influence each other. But the tie in these relationships may well be food. This group knows the difference between Taylor Ham and pork roll and is known for their love of poutine which is Canada’s version of Disco Fries. Collectively, the band members seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of where to find road food ranging from burgers to ice cream. In some ways, during the band’s interview, it seemed like they had added a fourth member to the band, they should consider bringing in Guy Fieri.
ARIZONA has evolved its fan base over the years of the pandemic. They like to share all their experience, so they reached out to fans to start a fund to help their team during the shutdown. They shared the good and the bad with their fans, updated them on their occasional local shows and the progress of their third album. They used Twitch to broadcast a view on the process of creating this album. It all turned into a lesson for the band on how to maintain continuity with their fans.
Below are links to the video and audio podcasts of my conversation with ARIZON A. This is an interview worth watching or hearing. The companions of the group are playful and endearing. Their personality shines through and makes you want to see them perform live.
Life on the road is tough, and perhaps the only thing tougher is life at home without a clear vision of reopening the road. ARIZONA is preparing to resume its traveling band life. During the time I spent with them, I saw a group that didn’t take themselves too seriously, that had an intact relationship between them based on their love of work, the road and the adventures that lay ahead. . The camaraderie was evident, as was their love for the job, their fans, and each other. It was refreshing to observe and encouraging to watch. As live music returns across the country, keep an eye out for ARIZON A. It may not be a state, but it’s certainly a state of mind worthy of a party of your time.