Icon for Hire
|Icon for Hire|
Icon for Hire at The Garage in 2011. From left: Shawn Jump, Adam Kronshagen, Ariel, Josh Kincheloe.
|Origin||Decatur, Illinois, United States|
|Genres||Alternative metal, pop punk, electronic rock|
|Labels||Tooth & Nail|
Icon for Hire is an American rock band from Decatur, Illinois. Formed in 2007, the band's current lineup consists of singer Ariel Bloomer, guitarist Shawn Jump, bassist Josh Kincheloe, and drummer Adam Kronshagen. They released two EPs independently before signing to Tooth & Nail Records, through which they released their Billboard-charting debut album Scripted in 2011 and Icon for Hire on October 15, 2013.
The band was formed in Decatur, Illinois by vocalist Ariel Bloomer and guitarist Shawn Jump. When the two met in 2007, Ariel, upon discovering that Jump played guitar, initiated a musical collaboration between the two of them. When the need for a drummer arose, Jump recruited Adam Kronshagen, an old friend he had held jam sessions with as a member of the local party scene (Jump was six months clean at the time). Bassist Joshua Davis joined and the band was officially formed in November of that year, choosing their name as a satirical comment on the state of the music industry.
The band played their first show in a local club before an audience of family and friends, who gave them a positive reception even though, by the band's own admission, they gave a terrible performance. Ariel has been quoted as saying of the performance, "Our passion for music was there; whatever we lacked in sound we made up for with enthusiasm." Over the next two years, the band toured throughout the Midwest and released two EPs, the self-titled Icon for Hire EP in 2008 and The Grey EP in 2009. During that same year, Davis left the band.
Tooth & Nail and Scripted (2009–2011)
In late 2009, the band was contacted by Tooth & Nail Records through Myspace. The label then sent representatives to one of the band's shows, and eventually signed them in July 2010. "We are thrilled to be joining such an established and well-respected group at Tooth & Nail," shared the band upon their signing. "It's a label that has a history of consistently putting out good music and really working side by side with their artists. Because we've been doing this thing on our own for over two years, it feels great to partner with Tooth & Nail. We can't wait to record our debut full-length and see where this road takes us." They spent the last quarter of 2010 in the studio with producers Rob Hawkins and Aaron Sprinkle recording their first full-length album, Scripted, which was released by the label on August 23, 2011. The album made it on the US Billboard charts at No. 7 for Hard Rock Albums, No. 5 for Christian Albums, No. 16 for Alternative Albums, No. 22 for Rock Albums, and No. 95 on the Billboard 200. It also sold more than 4,300 units in the first week of release and broke the record for first week sales on a Tooth & Nail debut album. The band also achieved success with the album's lead single "Make a Move", which peaked at No. 13 on R&R/Billboard's Christian Rock chart and had an accompanying music video exclusively released online by Guitar World magazine's website. Also in 2011, the band acquired current bassist Josh Kincheloe.
Icon for Hire (2011–present)
In December 2011, Ariel stated that, while the band had been focusing on extensive touring rather than writing new music, she had "a feeling that we'll start piecing together some demos shortly." In a later interview with TVU Music channel, she revealed that the band was in the early stages of writing songs for a second album. In an interview with KHRT-FM, the band expressed their desire for the album to be "heavier....more aggressive", with more bubblegum pop production and possible hip hop elements. On August 15, 2013, Icon for Hire premiered their new single "Cynics and Critics" via lyric video and announced their second album, the self-titled Icon for Hire. The album was released on October 15, 2013, whereupon it reached number 66 on the Billboard 200 and received largely positive reviews.
Icon for Hire supported Red on their "Kill the Machine" tour in October 2011. They also participated in that year's Christmas Rock Night festival in Ennepetal, near Düsseldorf, Germany, along with Red and Skillet. The band toured with Jamie's Elsewhere and These Hearts in early 2012, and toured with Emery's "Emery and Friends Tour" with I Am Empire and Sent By Ravens in March 2012. They have announced a May 2012 tour with P.O.D, Red, and Love and Death.
Musical style and influences
The band's sound combines pop punk and alternative metal elements with strings and electronics. Jamie Maxwell of Cross Rhythms describes them as a punk band, but notes that "the electronic influence evident in some of their tracks is a definite nod to the likes of Linkin Park and others in the nu metal mould." In describing the band's sound, lead singer Ariel has said that the band is "first and foremost just a rock band. That’s where our roots are and where our hearts are. But a few years ago we started really getting into synths and programming. We love the combination of brutal, in-your-face riffs, with the fun candy of pop production sprinkled all over it."
Influences cited by the band have included hard rock bands like Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Pantera, Mötley Crüe, and Rage Against the Machine, as well as pop- and hip hop-oriented artists such as Skrillex, The Black Eyed Peas, Dessa, and Lady Gaga.
Comparisons to other female-led rock bands
The band's sound has often been compared to that of other female-fronted rock bands, particularly Paramore. Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesus Freak Hideout went so far as to label the band's debut album Scripted as generic, saying that the band "borrows their elements from other female fronted acts like Flyleaf, Fireflight, and Paramore at an alarming degree.". Ariel has taken issue with these comparisons, citing the band's "unique combination of programming/pop elements, mixed with a commercial rock sound" as a distinguishing element, in addition to the band's live performances: "We've never had someone come see us live and compare us to other bands." She has also noted such comparisons as unfairly discriminatory: "It frustrates me how in so many other industries you are acknowledged for your skill and education, but in music somehow if you're a chick you better be bringing something extraordinarily mind-blowing to the table in order to have a shot. It's a bit sexist I think."
Like many Tooth & Nail artists, Icon for Hire have had complicated relations with the Christian music market. Ariel has stated that they do not play music for Christians but to "save the world" and that they try to distance themselves from identifying as part of the Christian music industry to avoid pushing non-Christians away from hearing that message. Despite this, several writers have identified Icon for Hire as part of the Christian music scene, and some critics have noted references to the members' Christian faith in their lyrics. David Jeffries pointed out that "Christian ideals are the driving force" in the lyrics on Scripted, though he acknowledged that "you could look at this as a secular rebellion against the mopey 'scene' bands and still thrill at Icon for Hire’s fresh attitude and sense of purpose." Schexnayder, while admitting that "the group doesn’t wear their faith on their sleeve in their messages", noted a general encouraging message on the album and singled out the song "The Grey" as containing "spiritual references". Kim Jones of About.com said that the categorization was inaccurate "if you're looking to use the term to put them into a nice and safe box, limited to only a Christian audience."
- Ariel Bloomer – lead vocals (2007–present)
- Shawn Jump – electric guitar (2007–present)
- Adam Kronshagen – drums (2007–present)
- Josh Kincheloe – bass guitar (2011–present)
- Former members
- Joshua Davis – bass guitar, unclean vocals (2007–2009)
- Icon for Hire EP (2008)
- The Grey EP (2009)
- Studio albums
|US||US Rock||US Christ||US Alt||US Hard Rock||US Indie|
|2011||Scripted||Tooth & Nail Records||95||22||5||16||7||–|
|2013||Icon for Hire||66||20||4||16||8||11|
|2011||"Make a Move"||13||Scripted|
|2012||"Off With Her Head"||8|
|"Cynics & Critics"||12||Icon for Hire|
|"Sugar & Spice"||—|
|2014||"Counting on Hearts"||19|
|"Reborn" (featuring Michael Barnes of Red)||—||Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Soundtrack|
- Music videos
|2011||"Make a Move"||Van Alan Blumreich|
|2012||"Off with Her Head"||Daniel Quinones|
|2014||"Cynics & Critics"|
- Compilation contributions
|2011||Tooth & Nail Records Summer Sampler 2011||Tooth & Nail Records||"Make a Move"|
|Now Hear This! 7.0||Sparrow Records|
|A Very Tooth & Nail Christmas Sampler||Tooth & Nail Records|
- Non-album songs
- "Conversation with a Rockstar"
- Brooks, Jessica (August 26, 2011). "Interview: Icon For Hire's Ariel On New Album, Her Conversion Story, and More". BREATHEcast. The Christian Post. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- "Icon For Hire". Interlínc. interview with Fasig, Jacob. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
- Cummings, Tony (Jan 2012). "Icon For Hire: The rockers bemused by the Paramore and Evanescence comparisons". Cross Rhythms. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Kim Jones (Sep 2011). "Icon for Hire Touring With RED and Brian "Head" Welch". About.com. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- Shatterproof Celebrity: Ariel of Icon For Hire. Interview with Taneica Phillips. December 28, 2011. Shatterproof Glass Dolls. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
- Icon for Hire (February 3, 2012). Icon for Hire on TVU's Most Wanted (Pt. 2). Video interview with Jared. TVU Music channel. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Icon for Hire (December 14, 2011). Icon For Hire: The ATO Interview Pt. 2. (Interview). The Alternative Takeover. KHRT-FM. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Bird, Michele (Aug 16, 2013). "Icon For Hire release new song, "Cynics & Critics"". Alternative Press. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Red – Kill The Machine Tour October 7–26, 2011". Fusemix.com. October 26, 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- "CRN 2011" (news report). Cross Rhythms. Nov 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- Alex DiVincenzo (January 4, 2012). "These Hearts Video Teaser & Tour Dates" (news). Absolute Punk. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- Jason Tate (February 14, 2012). "Emery and Friends Tour announced!" (news). Absolute Punk. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- "Icon For Hire Out With POD, Red & Love And Death Ft. Brian Head Welch!" (news). March 20, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- "pizzamachine" (Contributor). "Scripted". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
- Jamie Maxwell (Nov 2011). "Scripted". Cross Rhythms. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Jeffries, David. "Scripted". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- Jones, Kim. "Scripted". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- Schexnayder, Nathaniel (August 2011). "Scripted". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- Rueff, Ashley; Sullivan, Hugh (videographer) (July 2009). "Icon for Hire". Herald & Review (video interview). Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- Matthews, Kent (September 1, 2011). "Music: Icon For Hire strives to be worth looking up to". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved August 17, 2012. "Christian contemporary band Icon for Hire has a new CD out, Scripted. (photo caption)"
- Jones, Kim. "Icon For Hire". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- "Scripted". Billboard.com. September 10, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- "Make a Move – Icon for Hire". Billboard. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
- "Exclusive Interview: Ariel from Icon For Hire!" (interview). The Indie Christian Music Scene. October 17, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2012.