A Moment with X-Ambassadors

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A Moment with X-Ambassadors

Hailing from upstate New York, X Ambassadors, the pop rock band started by brothers Sam and Casey Harris and Adam Levin, have gone back to their literal roots to create their latest album, Townie. In the midst of an international tour to support their new release, including the lead single “No Strings”, X Ambassadors took some time to talk to Hidden Beats about the process of making the new album, the whirlwind of activities keeping them busy in the music industry, and some interesting life stories!

Coming Home

Like many people from a small town, Sam had dreams of leaving upstate New York as a child. Growing up in a beautiful but somewhat transient area, with the allure of heading off to one of the two major schools nearby (Cornell and Ithaca College), it was common to see “someone there leaving for school. Somebody in their car, getting ready to go off into the big, bad world.

We’d watch this happen all the time, and we weren’t able to leave yet.” Deciding to take a different approach from their previous release, 2021’s The Beautiful Liar, a high-concept character driven album recorded during the COVID pandemic, Sam wanted to “swing the pendulum the other way and make something very grounded.” Importantly, as Casey pointed out, this was also when Sam started listening to country music. “I needed something to take my mind off of my regular kind of work” Sam stated, recognizing that he was always listening to the same ‘type’ of music, and needed something foreign to listen to.

Having been together as a band for nearly seventeen years, the existential questions of growing up start to pop up. “My friends are getting married and having kids. Casey’s got two kids” Sam reflected. “I haven’t gotten there yet, and maybe that’s why I felt a bit out to sea.” For Townie, Sam took an intentional approach to make the entire album personal. Interestingly, he stated that the more specific and personal he made his songs, the more universal appeal they have.

Back To Their Roots

One with a keen eye will spot some interesting landmarks on the front and back covers of Townie. On the front, the Sunoco the boys would meet at in their youths, and the inspiration to the track “Sunoco”. On the back, Sam and Casey sitting on the steps of the home they grew up in -which they also bought, “The ultimate flex move” Sam stated. For this album, Sam took a different approach to his songwriting. Instead of his usual approach of just writing ‘songs’ and putting them together, Townie as a project was a lot more put together as a whole. Half of the songs were started by Sam and finished with the band. The rest of the album was the result of working together in a studio in upstate New York.

Having started the work in Los Angeles, Sam quickly realized he was writing about childhood New York, so he knew the band had to record it there. Hunkered in a cabin in the Catskills, they brought it “back to the early days, when we were just four guys in a room making noise together. It was very fun.”

Getting Personal

Making an album specifically designed to personal and introspective, you know there is going to be some very emotionally charged songs. “Follow the Sound of My Voice”, one of Sam’s favourite tracks from Townie, tells the story of his relationship with his brother. Writing it was “Very hard. And very easy.” While the lyrics are quite incredibly specific to lives of Sam and Casey, Casey wisely points out “It’s a surprisingly universal message that means a lot to a lot of people. While it’s specific to our relationship as brothers, it’s really about people needing each other, depending on each other, and loving each other. That’s what humanity comes down to.” The ups and downs of relationships can be hard and awkward. And as Sam points out, “That’s where the best stuff is. Always.”

That feeling embodies the sound of Townie. Beautiful and raw, X Ambassadors have created an amazing album. Check out Townie on all major streaming platforms, and be sure to check out the singles “No Strings”, “Your Town”, “Half-Life”, and “Follow the Sound of My Voice”. As well, X Ambassadors are in the midst of an international world tour, so be sure to check out xambassadors.com/tour for dates near you.

A Moment with X-Ambassadors brought us some wonderful insight to this amazing group. Big thanks to 1824 for setting this up!

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