Artist of the day: Ironwood
The composers Satie and Chopin aren’t names that usually arise when a band discusses its influences.
Ironwood is not your everyday band. Frontwoman/pianist/songwriter Jaclyn Hicks is a classically trained musician whose ideology could be described as something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
Hicks’ musical life began at a young age. “I had a very old piano from 1909 with ivory keys that was a family heirloom,” she said. I started playing when I was 11, and started writing songs immediately. I always had songs in my head and I wanted to get them out. I began my classical training at 12 and continued up until college. When I was 18, I formed my first band and loved being onstage and writing music and lyrics. I still play classical piano, but my heart is in alternative music.”
In 2008 Hicks began constructing a project that eventually evolved into what would be Ironwood. She hunkered down and concentrated on her songwriting, recording tracks at Nashville’s Dark Horse Recording and locally with Timothy McTague of Underoath. Once her ducks were lined up, she sought out musicians to actualize her ideas. Enter Adrian Martinez on guitar, Mat Jara on drums and Jay Vilardi on bass.
“Once I got everybody together, we started to write,” she said. “Our sessions went on for five months. I wanted make sure we were doing something different; not the route of singer-songwriter. I felt there was a gap between what most people think of when they think of pianist/songwriters who are women: Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan; and men: Chris Martin of Coldplay, or Isaac Slade of The Fray. (The men) are more aggressive.
“I didn’t want it to be about me; I wanted this to be a full band as opposed to a backing band. That’s why when we got together I wanted to write with these guys. And we do, we write well together; we have a good writing relationship.”
The relationship has proved fruitful: the group has been recording since October and has been frequently posting new material on the Internet. They anticipate releasing an album later this year.
When asked to explain the band’s moniker , Hicks elaborated: “I really like the meaning behind the name; to me it symbolizes strength. I had gone through a lot of stuff in my life. It symbolized to me staying strong, getting through tough times, and moving forward. There’s definitely a sense of darkness, and highs and lows that match the ups and downs of life. Expressing the dark side of emotions you feel when you’re struggling and questioning what’s around you and who you are.
“The important thing is to reach people on an emotional level. When you listen to music, especially live music, there’s something spiritual that happens between the music emanating in the room and what you receive — that connection with the people.”
Ironwood performs with Palantine, Brahm Bones, Alien House, Liquid Jesus, 10th Concession and MC Mini Horse at the fifth annual Hot Dog Show, 8 p.m. Saturday at Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $8. (813) 241-8600.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*