Interview: A R I Z O N A, back in the studio, ready to get weird


A R I Z O N A, courtesy Christian Lanza

It’s been two years since A R I Z O N A released its second album, Asylum, and it’s going to be a little while longer until its third is ready to go. Despite that, this will have been the band’s quickest turnaround.

Outside Lands
Lizzo, The Strokes, Tame Impala, more

12 p.m., Oct. 29 to 31
Golden Gate Park
Tickets: Sold out.

“It took us two years to make our second album; the time we’re actively working,” lead singer Zachary Charles said. “This time, we started in spring or summer. This is probably the quickest we’ve done an album. It’s been maybe six months and we’re rounding the corner to finish.”

When COVID-19 hit and the world shut down, the band was forced to take what was probably its first real break since 2015. The members had been recording, promoting and touring to support their first two albums more or less continuously, and lockdown gave them time to breathe.

“Given the circumstances of our careers as it had been happening, it’s almost like we needed this time,” guitarist Nathan Esquite said. “I don’t want to take so long to make a record. But in this particular instance, it definitely served to help us; to get that perspective.”

That rest and fresh perspective have helped the quality of the album as well, the band members said.

“This is the most fun I’ve had making a record since we started,” Esquite said. “That’s a really good feeling. It makes you feel really good for what you’re about to put out.”

The other result of the extra time is that the band now has distance from the songs. The band’s mood when it wrote songs in 2020 is different than the mood when recording them in 2021.

“We wrote these songs in a time when we were in such a dark place, as there was an impending pandemic,” keyboardist David Labuguen said. “They started in such a dark, somber place. But now that we’ve had the rest, we’re reinventing the songs to have a different life. A lot of them are turning out to be really dance-y.

Added Labuguen: “I haven’t told Zach this yet so it’s hella spicy, but I’m leaning toward making this a really dance-y record. Just throwing that out there.”

In the meantime, A R I Z O N A is taking its first tentative steps to getting back out on the road. The band played Governors Ball in New York, and it’s going to play Outside Lands in San Francisco this weekend. Charles said it’s the festival he’s been most excited playing this summer, and it will be the band’s first time in Golden Gate Park for a performance.

“San Francisco on its own is easily always top two, top three craziest shows we play on tour,” Esquite said. “That alone; knowing we’re gonna be playing in San Francisco, is already giving us these expectations that we’re gonna do some crazy shit. We just ordered Halloween costumes. We’re ready.”

Festivals aside, the band’s tour schedule isn’t as crowded as some other bands. Part of that is logistics—the members were hesitant to schedule too far out without knowing when it would be safe for their crew and their fans. But part is their vision for how they want to promote their upcoming album.

“A R I Z O N A; it’s bigger than us. It’s really about community. It’s about having a place to belong. We want to foster that community with the way we roll things out,” Charles said. “Nothing is concrete, but ideally I’d love to do a lot of things that engage with our fans in unique ways—pop-ups, meetups, hangs. Things that are more experiential. Creating A R I Z O N A has given us a place to belong and we want to do the same for our fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re the cool kid or not. You’re welcome into this A R I Z O N A community.”

But until then, they’re just happy to get back out there, play music and see their fans.

“I’m really excited to see everyone and I hope everyone rages super hard at Outside Lands,” says Esquite. “I’m ready to get weird.”

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at

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