AUDIC EMPIRE releases fourth full-length album “START TO THE END”, which charted at #1 on Apple Music.
AUDIC EMPIRE is a southern Reggae Rock band rooted in Austin Texas. Their sound blends reggae rock, southern rock, ska, funk, hip-hop, and traditional rock and roll.
The band released their fourth full length album “START TO THE END”, created over the past year during periods of the Covid lockdown. They brought the record across the finish line on Friday October the 28th. The album started charting on Apple Music at #10, then went to #3, and by the end of day Friday the day of release, it had climbed to #1. It remained in the top three over the Halloween weekend and leading into Monday, October 31st. At the time of this article being published, “Start To The End” remains in the top 6 of Apple iTunes Reggae charts.
Our interview with the band took place a week after the release of the album. We caught up with the band in their studio in Austin, Texas to talk about the band’s history, the making of the album, and what is on their horizon.
AUDIC EMPIRE INTERVIEW
THE PIER: Firstly, huge congrats on the success of the album. Can you briefly talk about the formation of the band, how you all met, and the road leading up to the launch of this album? For an independent artist in the California Reggae scene to launch a record and have it remain in the top 10 is unheard of.
AUDIC EMPIRE: The band formed in 2014 in Austin Texas as a four piece and remains together with a brief change of members in the very beginning. James and I started a band called HEAD CHANGE which ultimately became Audic Empire. We consider Audic’s original members to be: Myself, (Ronnie Bowen) on guitar and vocals, James Tobias on bass guitar and vocals, Carver Ripley on keys, Travis Brown on lead guitar, and Jess Lynard is behind the drums. There was a period where we had others sitting in for our live shows; however, the band you see today live is the group that founded Audic Empire. Our sound really started to develop when we added Travis Brown on lead guitar in 2014.
We then added veteran saxophone player Bobby Salazar in 2021. Shortly following the formation of the band, we got together and started working on our first full length album which released in 2015. While our music is labeled Reggae in the digital distribution world, we definitely have southern rock and other genres integrated into our sounds.
THE PIER: It’s a huge win for an independent artist to have a full-length album chart in the top 10 on Apple Music among the ranks of Bob Marley, Stick Figure, and Koffee. What inspired this album? Who was involved in the production?
AUDIC EMPIRE: Thanks for the kind words on the success of the release. Overall, we are flattered that our fan base all over the world thought enough to give it a listen, putting us on the map with legends such as Stick Figure and Bob Marley.
The album, our fourth full length, took about a year and a half to finish. It was inspired by many moods and events that transpired during the Covid shutdown due to our tour schedule being greatly minimized. We have the benefit of having our own studio here in Austin Texas. We started with the production of a few songs that were released as singles, while continuing to work on finishing up the full length that ultimately became “Start To The End”.
Howie Spangler from Ballyhoo is a long-time friend and has produced a good amount of our material in the past. He was the production lead on this album. He slept in our studio for two weeks and seldom took breaks for the entire time he was refining the songs. After he returned home, we leveraged technology and the Internet to send songs back and forth to him; further refining things along the way. Some of the stuff he was like, “Naa, I think it would be better in this direction”. The band has zero amount of ego; and places large amounts of trust in Howie. Each time he provided feedback, we’d go back to the drawing board and revise tracks as necessary.
After realizing that many of our listeners may not be able to manage in the current economic times, we decided to take this opportunity to voice our concerns. Therefore, we made the full album available on iTunes for download at $5.99. This is nearly 50% less than other full-length records.
THE PIER: There are collaborations on this album. How did you decide on who you wanted to collaborate with?
AUDIC EMPIRE: Our band has always been huge on collaborations; and this album was no different. Since our first album in 2015, we’ve collaborated with many artists in and out of the reggae rock scene.
This includes Vana Liya, Dread Kenney, Brandon Hardesty, and Austin Hip Hop artist Collin Gee. We are also collaborating during live performances with all sorts of artists including Peter Dante, Reggae Lou Kyle Rising, among many others.
Two of the tracks on the album include collabs with Brandon Hardesty from Bumpin’ Uglies and James Begin of Tropidelic. Brandon’s contribution is a great story. During Bumpin Uglies tour run through Texas last summer, the band stayed at our studio as many bands do when they come through town. The idea proposed was to cut a track during his stay. The end result was the title track on the album.
To us, our most recent collaborations are going to blow people away. Nonetheless, with James being the supreme rhymer in the group, there has always been an element of hip-hop in our sounds. The Texas music scene has tons of many successful hip-hop acts.
This year, we had the opportunity to get studio time with Afroman, Pall Wall, Bun-B, and Baby Bash. We also performed as the live band backing a recent single by Latin superstar Frankie J.
THE PIER: Are there any tour plans you can share with us?
AUDIC EMPIRE: As a matter of fact, we’re in the process of planning a tour in support of the album. Initial plans are to get on the road with Afroman and Mickey Avalon as soon as we can iron out the details. Following that, we are also playing a show in Austin at the Lucky Rabbit for our guitarist Travis Brown’s birthday. You can DM us on Instagram for details of Travis’s birthday show and join in on the fun.
THE PIER: Is there anything else you would like to say?
AUDIC EMPIRE: Yeah. Firstly, shout out to band members Jess, Travis, Carver, and Bobby who are not here at the moment. Shout out to our manager Jenn Armstrong, shoutout to The Pier, and shout out to you Joe. Yewww. The success of this album would not have happened without the band’s collective contributions. We are forever thankful for all the listeners that have given the album a spin. We look forward to future releases which we have already started working on, that will include more collaborations spanning many genres.
THE PIER: Thanks for your time fellas. I look forward to seeing you all on stage in the very near future in H-Town, San Antonio, Dallas, or Austin.
Those interested in checking out AUDIC EMPIRE’S new album may do so on all digital streaming platforms; and purchase on ITunes for only $5.99:
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Enjoy this clip of AUDIC EMPIRE live at THE SCOUT BAR in Houston Texas:
Watch the full video interview below:
Story by Joe Gamez, Interactive Editor