Cute Is What We Aim For lead singer Shaant Hacikyan talked with me before his Chicago show about music, touring, and getting his life together.
This is the end of the headlining tour, how has it been going? What have the fans been saying?
The support has been unreal. The turn-outs are blowing my mind because I never thought I would have a chance to do it again and to have so many people coming out. This tour has been I can honestly say my favorite ever. I have been sober through it, and have amazing people around me.
Any shows stick out in particular?
Yes of course, there are always going to be that. New Mexico was pretty huge. The Launchpad was oversold, that was gnarly.
What has the set-lists been like? Older stuff, newer stuff or mixture?
Two new songs and the rest is a cross between Rotation, and Blood Rush (The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch).
I know you are touring with Mike Novak, Mike Brady, and Kevin Scoma, have you been in talks of having it a permanent thing?
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it; right?
I know right now you are unsigned, are you looking to get signed?
I’m always keeping the option open. I have been meeting with some people but who knows.
Have you been writing while you are on the road?
Absolutely, every day.
Do you guys write together, or do you do it solo?
Yeah, all of the above. They do it together, I do it alone then we get together and boom.
You ended up being really open about your alcohol abuse, when did you decide to open up about it all to your fans?
It definitely took me a long time. I did not want to tell anybody until I did enough work. Until I addressed enough of my issues and really had five solid months under my belt of pure sobriety, and doing the right thing. Then I felt like I could talk about it but right off the gate, all that pressure was not necessary. That is not what it was for, but hopefully people knowing that I am willing to do it and talk about it, that it is a great thing. People should do it, and should get help, it is not uncool.
How have you had to change your touring life to go along with your sober life?
Everyone on the bus is sober and a lot of them are straight edge. Everyone on the tour knows and it is something to mind. I don’t make it awkward, and they don’t make it awkward which is great. I can be around it now, but if there is a game of drinking with cards I won’t even stand in the circle, I would go in the bus and hang out. That is fine, I have my dog and being sober I am happy so I can be alone. I learned how to be alone when I was home for a year. That allows me to not feel the social necessity and need to be a part of it.
What has helped you coped with being alone and sobriety?
Humility, and the understanding that we all make decisions we have to back up. What is constantly in my mind is, I like to be in control of my decisions. Knowing that a substance has a play or hand in my decision making scares me. I would rather be in complete control.
Who helped you through it all, who was your rock?
My mom is always going to be my rock. I am so thankful to have such amazing families behind me. It is two families because my parents divorced when I was three. Everyone in my family really held it down for me.
Did they ever try and talk sense into you before you went to rehab?
Oh like you wouldn’t believe. I thought they were crazy and I lived on my own so they couldn’t control anything I did.
The first new song you came out with is “Harbor”, why that one?
I like be funky, fun, and it is summer-ish. It was how I was feeling before the tour started, giddy.
When you started re-writing after coming out of your depression, do you remember the first song you wrote?
No, I don’t.
All those songs you wrote as a release, do you keep them, or throw them away?
I have them all. What I like to do is take parts and re-work them. Making a record and making songs is often piecing together a puzzle. If I have more pieces then it makes for a more interesting picture. I keep everything I ever do for a rainy day. (looks up at the rainy sky).
Once this tour is over what are your plans?
Yeah we are going to Canada for a week and a half. Then we are going to do some, fly dates. Then I’ll go work with some writers and producers to see what comes with that, and finish up the record.
What is a song you never get sick of hearing?
“Free Falling” by Tom Petty.
What is something you have always wanted to do, but have not done yet?
Fall free., no (laughs). Sky dive.
Do you think it is something you will do?
Nope, I want to but I won’t.
If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Queen, and what is the name, it is the rocket song. I would like to see Queen live and I don’t give a damn what song it is. Freddy Mercury is amazing.
My dad always taught me that Freddy Mercury has the greatest male singing voice, ever.
Yeah, yeah no one will ever beat him.
Any final comments?
ust want to thank you for doing this.