Utah alt-pop quartet The Aces are on a roll.  Their growing popularity being matched by the every increasing media approval – “Artist To Watch” plaudits were thrown their way in 2017; nods of approval have been frequent from media outlets; and after releasing the debut EP I Don’t Like Being Honest last year, the band are back with their debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic in just a few weeks.  They’ve promised an album of songs that exhibit confidence and polish that belie their young years and just in time for its release The Aces hit the UK for a date in London on a brief European run at the end of March.

We were fortunate to catch up with Alisa Ramirez, drummer for the band to hear about their progress, the album and touring.

Singer and guitarist Cristal Ramirez (Alisa’s sister), guitarist Katie Henderson, bass player McKenna Petty and drummer Alisa have already been together for more than a decade having formed whilst at school, and the bond which growing up together as a band has brought to them seems absolutely central to them, creatively, on stage and off stage.  “Its helped us develop in so many ways” Alisa explains. “We grew up teaching each other to play our instruments and learning side by side. There’s a strong synergy between us because we’ve known each other for most of our lives and that really helps on stage and in everything we do.”

“we HAVE to take this as far as possible”

But what started out as four friends playing in a band has gone on to be so much more and when they reached the age of 17, they realised that The Aces really was their future.  At age when so many young bands split, going their separate ways to college, university, or entering the working world, The Aces decided to really seize the opportunities which were presenting themselves and really push ahead.  “We always tell this story actually of when we saw Lorde win 3 Grammys at age 17” elaborates Alisa.  “It was right when we were graduating high school and feeling confused about if we would continue together or go to college, etc. After watching her (Lorde) on stage, we all came together and we’re kinda like “Hey, we HAVE to take this as far as possible, it’d be a shame not to.” We just felt like we had something really special, growing up together and being a band for most of our lives. It feels like part of our identities and we are all so passionate about music and our band.”

The Aces in interview about When My Heart Felt Volcanic - image courtesy Kobe Wagstaff

The Aces release debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic in April 2018 – image courtesy Kobe Wagstaff

It wasn’t long before The Aces released I Don’t Like Being Honest, their debut EP which garnered a lot of praise.  And their debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic is following quickly on, with release set for 6 April 2018.  It’s an album which the band fondly refer to as “the bigger better version of the EP. Kinda like the older sister to the EP”.  In terms of influences they cite a few – The 1975, Tame Impala, Tears for Fears, The Cure amongst them – and they are even compiling a playlist of all the music which inspired them during the album making process.

“I guess you could say we’ve been working on this album for our whole lives”

When My Heart Felt Volcanic was written by The Aces with a two-pronged approach, Alisa explains, “Cristal and I spent a lot of time in between Brooklyn and LA writing this record. The process was usually that we would go in write the bones (melodies/lyrics) then Katie and Ken would fly in from Utah and finish it with their face melting guitars and instrumentals. And suddenly we have a record!”  The album certainly seems to have been written and recorded in double quick time, with their debut EP only landing in 2017.  “Well I guess you could say we’ve been working on this album for our whole lives, trying out different sounds and producers to see what felt the most right and the most like us” she acknowledges.  “It’s been a journey to get here, but we feel really confident in the album and the overall vision of our band at this point in time. We are so excited to let these songs out in the world and see the growth and change in our next albums as well!

The Aces worked with six producers on the records, but Dan Gibson and Simon Oscroft were particularly influential, being involved in half of the material.  So did the writing or style of the album change much when compared to the EP?  “It didn’t necessarily change as much as it just expanded” Alisa says. “We got to work with people we had dreamed of working with for most of our lives and really experiment and shape our sound into what it is now. We predominantly wrote the EP in Brooklyn but for the album we split our time between NY and LA.”

An early indicator of the album was recent single Fake Nice.  The song “is a bit tongue in cheek and sarcastic” Alisa explains, elaborating on the motives behind the song, “we have never really written a song with a theme like it before; but the inspiration for the lyrics came from the experience of some small town gals moving to big, exciting Los Angeles for the first time, and getting to know new people and their quirks.” And dealing with people, their attitudes and quirks is something which The Aces have had to become used to, as the band had to field their fair share of underestimation when developing together, through their early years, with fellow bands not necessarily affording them the respect they deserved at battles of the bands.  Dealing with this attitude seems to have inspired The Aces, “We always took the underestimation as fuel to get onstage and change people’s mind. We take what some people see as a weakness and turn it into our biggest strength.”

With The Aces about to play in London, and the release of When My Heart Felt Volcanic imminent for the band, they promise fans in London can expect to hear new music, but also signal that they’ll be back before too long to play more UK dates.

When My Heart Felt Volcanic is released on 6 April 2018.