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X Ambassadors Talk New Album in Recent Press Conference

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

American pop rock band the X Ambassadors continue to prove that great talent has no bounds. With a track record that includes over a billion listens on their song “Renegades”, this band’s reputation precedes them. Townie, their fourth studio album, was released on April 5, after a three year hiatus. An endearing dedication to their hometown and childhoods, the album reflects a deep sense of nostalgia. I had the pleasure of attending a press conference to congratulate the band on their new release and learn more about their visions regarding their music going forward. 

Next Week Magazine: How would you compare the ventures you went through regarding your lyric progression in comparison to your previous work?

X Ambassadors: This is our fourth record and with the last three, the writing process always felt a little scattered. I was constantly writing stuff, whether that be for other artists or potentially for us so it was a little disparate the way that those last three records were working. For this record, however, it was very concentrated. I’d say half of the songs were started off just me and my studio at my house in LA and then bringing them to the guys and we’d flesh them out together from there. 

The other half was done in a studio in upstate New York where we all quarantined for two weeks at this cabin in the middle of the woods. It dawned on me that this was a record about upstate New York and about growing up there, and I just felt like I needed the salt of the city to make it happen. Everything was done live and that kind of took us back to the early days when we were just four guys in the room making noise together. 

Crucial Rhythm: How did you feel lifting the veil on an album with such hyper specific lyrics detailing all of your own experiences and hometown? 

X Ambassadors: It felt really good. I guess it was hard in some ways to get to the point where I think lyrically I felt comfortable going there. Once that barrier was broken, it became really easy and it just made sense for the record to feel so personal. I have always struggled a bit with getting hyper personal with my own life in the context of the band because there’s four of us and I generally am the type to be as democratic as possible. I want something to feel like everyone can connect to but I realized that the more hyper specific I get, the more universal the message can become.

Crucial Rhythm: You’re always reinventing your sound with every release. What made you write one of the most profound stripped back releases today? 

X Ambassadors: I think I’ve been feeling like it was probably in reaction to the last thing that we did. It was in part a reaction to the last record which was so not personal; it was very much like a character that I think I created for myself and we created for the band. I think for the next one, it felt natural to swing the pendulum the other way, which is very personal. 

I’ve always been a big fan of artists like Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Patty Griffin, Chris Stapleton, etc., but around that same time I started listening to a lot of pop country stuff. I needed something to take my mind off of my regular work, which is focused more in the indie space. I needed something that was so foreign to do, and then I fell in love with a lot of the songwriters that I met and that I encountered in listening to what is currently happening in the pop country space. It’s changing and evolving in a really interesting way.

Music Mukbang: You have written and produced for many artists and a variety of genres as well. What are some things that you learned from those projects that you are able to then take back into the music you guys create as X Ambassadors, and specifically the new album, Townie?

X Ambassadors: I learn so much every time I go into a session. I kind of go in with a beginner’s mindset and I think that’s really helped me just as a writer. It can kind of be a bit of a trap sometimes where I end up thinking too much and the practice of writing for other people is so nice because then you’re in service of something other than yourself. 

When we started working on this record, I had started to work with a lot of writers down in Nashville and a lot of them are so fast and so good. It’s effortless, the way they write songs. There’s really a storytelling element to a lot of the songwriting that I encountered at the time and I’m just constantly in awe of these people. I still have such bad imposter syndrome and I’ve been in the industry for a long time. I tell myself I’m going to try and learn something from you and I’ll see how I can help you however I can. That’s the mentality that’s really helped me in life. 

X Ambassadors are the definition of modesty. From releasing their first album in 2015, the band continues to put out heartfelt music, exploding in new success every year. You can listen to their new album Townie here and support them on all platforms @xambassadors! 

Isabella is a third-year Communications major, Disability Studies and Music Industry double minor at UCLA, from Thousand Oaks, California. She loves working on creative projects whether that be creating marketing content for brands or covering concerts and events. You can also catch her traveling across the world, finding cool farmers markets and flea markets in her free time.