A R I Z O N A frontman discusses coming together, naming the band and mental health

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Joshua Guerra

Fresh off the Honda stage at Austin City Limits weekend two, A R I Z O N A frontman Zachary Charles was still on a performance high. Between touring, posting daily vlogs on the band’s YouTube channel and gearing up to drop their second album in 2019, Charles said this year has been a whirlwind. The Daily Texan  sat down with Charles to discuss the history of the band, their skyrocketing success and ‘collective struggles with mental health.’

The Daily Texan: You guys have a very unusual band name, how was it chosen?

Zachary Charles: Dave asked me what I wanted to call (the band) and I told him it didn’t matter cause no one’s ever gonna fucking hear it. Dave was like you’re right, we can call it whatever we want, what’s a hipster name like Chvrches with only vowels or no vowels, all caps? Basically, Nate was wearing a hat and Dave pointed at the hat over FaceTime and he was like ‘call it f****** Arizona’ because it was an Arizona iced tea hat. We laughed, but realized it really doesn’t matter and we shouldn’t take it too seriously. That’s kind of what A R I Z O N A is about — if it feels good, if it’s funny and we can mess around as friends, then we’ll use it.

DT: You performed two new songs at Austin City Limits this year, “Summer Days” and “Freaking Out,” can you tell me about the inspiration behind these singles?

ZC: “Freaking Out” and “Summer Days” were part of a little string of singles that we released recently. We were really strung out from being on the road again. “Summer Days” was kind of an A R I Z O N A take on “Show Me Love” meets “Uptown Girl.” So we put that out, but then the stress of the album started to really get to us. “Freaking Out” was kind of the same idea of an ode to the 80s. For us, we have all these separate issues, I struggle with a shit ton of anxiety and occasional depression and I know Nate does and Dave as well. We all share that, but it’s a terrible thing to share because it removes you from your circle of friends and kind of removes you from yourself as well. That’s just the way it is, and it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s a crazy and wonderful life. But you’re not ready to live this crazy and wonderful life in one day, and I think that’s where “Freaking Out” came from. It was us being honest about some of the not great things that we go through and feel, and how deep that hole can go.

DT: You have performed at many music festivals, but this year was your first ACL. How did it compare to experiences at festivals like Lollapalooza?

ZC: I can only speak from the performance end, because I’m not much of a festival-goer. We’ll all get off stage and the guys will go catch shows and I can’t stand being in a crowd with loud music. I know. It’s weird, and to this day I’ll still be like ‘I’m gonna go home and play some fucking Rocket League.’ These are my best friends, so from their experience, ACL was amazing.