An Interview With The Brooklyn-Based Rock Quartet THE ENERGY!
Posted On 12 Apr 2016
Tag: 3 Doors Down, Adam Wolfsdorf, All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Augustana, Bon Jovi, Bono, Brooklyn, Butch Walker, Cain, ColdPlay, ESPN, Eve 6, Furious George, Godspell, Ian VanderMeulen, James Clifford, Knitting Factory, MTV, Neil Patrick Harris, Netflix, New York, New York City Marathon, Orange Bear, REM, Rent, Stephen Schwartz, The Energy, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Tribeca, Two Boots Pizza, U2, Vertical Horizon, Webster Hall Studio, When We Were Young, Zachary Thomas
Brooklyn-based rock quartet The Energy have been crafting their signature sound for over a decade, and they’ve only gained momentum along the way. With a genuine fire and driving guitar riffs like no other, The Energy are channeling the true spirit of rock n’ roll to electrify modern music.
The band consists of Adam Wolfsdorf (vocals), Ian VanderMeulen (guitar), James Clifford (bass), and Zachary Thomas (drums). They use the diversity of its members to create tracks that are undeniably captivating. Each song gets the heart racing from the propulsive chords to the dynamic melodies, lending themselves to features on MTV, ESPN, Netflix, and beyond.
Having been direct support for big names like 3 Doors Down, Vertical Horizon, and Eve 6 on top of headlining the 2011 New York City Marathon only sparked the group’s evolution.
The Energy has four albums under their belt and they’re gearing up to blow the minds of fans and newcomers alike with 2016’s “When We Were Young.” The band’s 5th studio album combines poignant lyrics and edgy tunes to combat what they call an industry ‘over-saturated with garbage.’ The Energy believes it’s their responsibility to maintain a high standard of creativity, sonic integrity, and performance, and “When We Were Young” does that and more.
Learn more about The Energy in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, how’s 2016 been treating you and the band so far? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you all?
Hey! So far so good! We’re really excited about our new album, When We Were Young. This project has been almost two years in the making, so we’re stoked to finally get it into the hearts and ears of our fans. We’re super excited about the music, and believe this is the best album we’ve ever created.
How did you all first meet? Can you remember the moment when you decided to start this group? How did you come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
Believe it or not, I was playing Cain in Stephen Schwartz’ musical Godspell. I grew up doing music-theater, and actually did the national tour of RENT with Neil Patrick Harris back in 1998. So I was performing in Godspell, and our original guitar player and drummer were playing in the pit orchestra for the show. We actually didn’t really talk that much through the rehearsal process, but when the show was up and running we started hanging out more. Somehow it came up that we were all interested in playing rock n’ roll- a far cry from what we were currently playing. So we got together and started jamming. Then our bass player, James, met up with us and things just sort of clicked.
We began as a cover band, covering U2, REM, Vertical Horizon, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Bon Jovi– lots of bands from our childhood. We did that for awhile, playing anywhere from Two Boots Pizza to the Orange Bear in Tribeca. Suddenly, we started to realize that as fun as it was to play other people’s music, that we wanted to start to create our own tunes and find our own sound. So we started writing. One by one, songs started happening. Every group member wrote, and every person brought songs to the table that we work-shopped. At some point we had enough tunes for a full length album, so we went into the studio with a producer and started to record.
We had called ourselves Furious George (as a cover band). But around that time this guy named George contacted us and threatened to sue us if we didn’t change our name; he said he had the name for 20 years. Rather than going through a stupid lawsuit, we gave up the name and went nameless for a bit. Our producer had seen us play and always said how much energy we had on stage. “Why don’t you call yourselves The Energy?” he said to us one night after we played a set at the old Knitting Factory. We thought about it and it stuck. So that’s how we came together and got our name.
You’ve been together for nearly a decade. So how do you continue to keep your sound fresh?
I think we’ve gotten to know each other extremely well over the years. You can’t really fake experience. You can’t fake 7 hour drives, flights to Iowa in the middle of winter, shows in front of thousands of fans, tours with big national acts, appearances on MTV. All of these things can really bond a band and create indelible memories. So I believe that the progression and improvements in our sound have resulted from our deepening relationships and friendships. As we’ve gotten closer as people, we’ve developed an ability to better predict song ideas, and how they will play within the fabric of our sound.
How do you think The Energy’s sound has changed on the band’s 5th studio album, “When We Were Young”? How have you stayed the same?
I think artists start out just writing whatever they “feel” like writing. In the name of “art”, songs are put together and fulfill an emotional need within the artist (that was us for the first few years together). But if you want to make a dent in the industry, you start to realize that you’re going to need to craft tunes that are radio friendly and industry polished. You start making sure that you have choruses that hit at 45 seconds, that songs are about 3 minutes in length, and that you write memorable lyrics that “catch” the listener (this was us years 4-8). But then you get sick of appeasing the industry or writing for “their” sake, and you return to your original intention- except that now you know how to write commercial, radio friendly songs. You just don’t think about that anymore. You write from the heart with a sense of the industry (that’s where we are now). In many ways with this 5th release I believe we have done our best job so far of integrating who we are as artists into the demands of the industry. It’s not one or the other- it’s both.
How do you think being from Brooklyn has influenced your sound?
Brooklyn is gritty. It’s diverse and multicultural. It’s fast paced yet thoughtful. It’s highbrow but lowbrow. It’s aggressive but considerate. I think each of these things has penetrated who we are and therefore influenced our sound. To me, Brooklyn feels like a real place with an appreciation for art, culture, and “energy”. So I guess that’s how.
Do you have upcoming tour dates line up for this year?
Tons of stuff around the release of the new album. Most noteworthy, we are headlining Webster Hall Studio on Saturday, April 23rd.
Who are some of your favorite bands? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Bono and U2 has always been my go-to. I think they do the best job of any artist today of creating incredibly memorable songs that also have a message and say something meaningful about the world. Coldplay, Butch Walker, Augustana. So many great ones…. This is an unfair question! 🙂
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I think there’s a lot of poetry in our music and in our lyrics. I think with many of our songs you need to listen 4, 5, 6, a dozen times. Each time the meaning will become more pronounced. It’s not bubblegum pop. It’s fairly melodious, thick rock that tells stories: what it’s like to be young, what it means to grow up, how we know when it’s love, how we know when it’s not. There’s a lot in these tunes. Not a shallow listen. I hope some of these readers will take a good listen and have answers to this question, because I’d love to hear what THEY have to say!