In preparation for the release show for the new EP Clearer, we sat down to chat with Zachary Threlkeld of the Aliza Carter Band to find out about their inspiration, the new album, and just to let you get to know two of the nicest folks in the Nashville music scene. Read on below for the interview, and to listen to Clearer in it’s entirety. And, make sure that you mark your calendar for Wednesday April 30th at The Stone Fox for the release show along with performances from Warrin and HOSTS!
No Country: Hey guys, we’re really excited to be on board with you to celebrate the release of your new EP Clearer. Tell us a little about yourselves. You guys are brother and sister, right?
Aliza Carter:: Yeah, we are number four and five in a family of six siblings. Which has always been fun & chaotic in the best kind of way.
NC: Wow, big family. So, I have to ask, your name is Zachary, your sister’s name is Alicia, and your last name is not Carter; so, where did the name ‘Aliza Carter Band’ come from?
AC: We were trying to decide what to call ourselves, which is easily the worst and hardest part about starting a band, and bounced around a few ideas that neither of us really liked. Our oldest brother has always called Alicia “Aliza”, and it just kind of stuck as a nickname, and then my middle name is Carter. So one day we were driving around, and just thought “what about Aliza Carter?” We liked the idea of it being both of us, but also neither of us. And it sounds much better than ” Alicia and Zachary’s music”.
NC: Coming from such a big family, did you have family ties that got you into music?
AC: Big time. Our dad is one of the largest musical influence on us for sure, and our entire family is involved in music to some degree. So growing, it up wasn’t really a question of whether we would sing or play, but more like what are we going to sing and play.
Then our brother (Josh) has been our biggest influence as far as writing. He is a phenomenal songwriter and musician and constantly helps us in that vein.
NC: So your family is supportive of what you guys are doing now?
AC: Definitely. We can’t think of anything they would rather see us doing. Mainly because they know how much we love it and are passionate about it, but also largely because they all really love music too.
NC: So, I have a sister, and, while we both care dearly about each other, we squabbled a lot as kids. Did you guys do that?
AC Eh, not really. We never really fought growing up, and we’re typically pretty good about staying on the same page with things even now.
NC: How does the brother-sister dynamic work when you are songwriting?
AC: It works well for us actually. We write both on our own and together, which has been a good way to keep from being too specific and try to keep things narrow enough for a vivid story, but still seen from different perspectives. There’s definitely something about having similar influences and childhood experiences that helps both of us know where the other is coming from. Things don’t always have to be black and white with a story- but creating a feeling is what’s most important to both of us. Having this same focus has been key for us.
NC: How did you both end up in Nashville?
AC: I moved from Memphis for school in 2011, and picked up the bass and started writing songs and then transitioned to guitar a year later. Then Alicia (Aliza) made the move in late 2012. It came down to the reality that we were either going to be a band or not. Living in two cities is the worst for writing, progressing, etc. so she came up and it’s been good toned times here in Nashville.
NC: What do you think about the music community here? Has it been good for you?
AC: It has been overwhelmingly good. We started off just playing house shows and had an EP that we recorded in Aliza’s room with one guitar and our brothers borrowed mics. Bare bones. But people were such gracious listeners and it opened up some important doors and helped us make some incredible relationship with people. There are some crazy talented/supportive people in this city, and it’s a good thing.
NC: Tell us a little about Clearer. How was that process of creating that record different for you than with Spring?
AC: It started off as a continuation of Spring. When we were writing the songs, we had no intentions of it being much different. But luckily, through these relationships we formed in Nashville, we were connected with David Dreas. He was perfect in terms of instantly being on the same page with the sound we hoped for. So with a whole lot of David, and our friends Joseph Barrios (guitar), Nick Byrd (bass), Kevin Rooney (drums), and Kenneth Coca (cello), we were able to produce the layers that we had been hoping for. It definitely made it more meaningful having our friends put their fingerprints on our songs. It has been an incredible experience working with each of them and we hope to do it again.
NC: You’ve been out touring around with Liza Anne some, how’s that experience been for you guys?
AC: It was very relaxed and laid-back, which was the vibe of the whole tour. The songs, the people who came out, the hosts who put us up, everything was very honest and just good. Strangers become friends very quickly with that type of intimate show. We are always surprised at how great of listeners people are to these stories. It’s the best.
NC: What’s next for Aliza Carter Band?
AC: Lots and lots and lots of tattoos.