Kidsday reporters met the band A R I Z O...

Kidsday reporters met the band A R I Z O N A: Zach Charles, back, center, David Labuguen and Nate Esquite, kneeling up front at Atlantic Records. Kidsday reporters are Emily Wu, left, Charlie Gruber, Shayna Siegel and Ellis Eisenberg from Candlewood Middle School in Dix Hills. Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

When we first traveled nervously into Manhattan to interview the rock and electropop band A R I Z O N A, we were excited and curious about what kind of day we would have. Most of us had never interviewed anyone before, let alone a famous band. While riding the subway to the Atlantic Records building in Midtown Manhattan several of us repeated to each other, “I’m so nervous.” However, after going into the interview room and waiting for the (fashionably) late musicians to get there we planned and reviewed our notes. Once we met A R I Z O N A, Zach Charles (lead vocals), Nate Esquite (guitar), David Labuguen (keyboards)we quickly realized what a gem of a band we had met. A R I Z O N A was surprisingly open and honest as they comfortably chatted with us. The band quickly put us at ease as Zach folded up a tiny paper airplane out of Origami paper we had brought. He comfortably twiddled with it throughout the interview, making us realize that they are a lot like us.

As most kids would, we wondered what the significance of the space between the letters in their band name was. Zach laughed. “In short, no.” he said. David smiled. He explained that when Atlantic first signed them, he wrote an entire essay basically making up the significance of the spaces. The main reason was to set A R I Z O N A apart from other bands. “You won’t find A R I Z O N A like that anywhere else.” It was to make them unique, so virtually nothing else was like their band name.

We also asked the guys if they expected to gain more attention worldwide in the next couple of years. They said that they hoped to, and that they were surprised at how far they’ve come over the past few years, from writing a song out of the sheer love they have for must to having an entire career in music.

Having warmed up to the band, we asked, "Music can ultimately change someone’s life. How do you feel about the fact that the music you make can change people’s lives? Nate replied, “Yeah, we were actually just talking about that.” Zach explained that when he was younger, he was always inspired by other artists’ music, and feeling like he now has the power to inspire others is really a beautiful concept.

We asked if there were any musicians that influenced their music style. Nate and David said that they enjoyed listening to Bruce Springsteen growing up, and that they were influenced by music from the 1980s. Zach said that growing up, his dad would listen to CDs by the band Chicago, which he also enjoyed listening to.

When we asked A R I Z O N A which song were they most proud of, they were a bit stumped. After a few minutes of conversing among themselves, they answered: “Let Me Touch Your Fire.” It was the first song they ever wrote together as a band, and it holds a special spot in their hearts. From listening to it, we know it’s a beautiful song, and it is one of the best pieces they have written.

Finally, the big question: Being that they are all from New Jersey, why did they choose the name of a state way out West? In short: when they were first discussing the possibility of becoming a band, David brought up the fact that they would  need a name. He joked around, saying that no one really cared about what the band name meant as long as it sounded cool. At the time, Nate was wearing an Arizona Iced Tea hat, and David basically said, “Heck, we could call it Arizona!” And so the band name just came from a silly inside joke. But it symbolizes the free, easygoing bond they have. The fact that they just came up with it on the spot shows just how strong their friendship is.

Overall, meeting and interviewing A R I Z O N A was a real treat. They all seem to be genuinely good people, and we learned so much about them and their music. As we left Atlantic Records feeling completely free of any previous nerves and being happy, one of us summed up our experience: “That was the coolest day of my life.”

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