Nico Vega isn’t just a band — it is a way of life. In 2013, the Los Angeles based band — consisting of singer/lyricist Aja Volkman, guitarist Rich Koehler and drummer Dan Epand – releases their sophomore album, We Are The Art. This album draws from intensely personal experiences and the band’s passion for art and politics to deliver some of the most poignant tunes in recent memory.
We Are The Art was recorded in studios around Los Angeles as well as at Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas. It showcases the band’s trademark blues-laden guitar rock, with soaring synths thrown in for good measure. Aja’s fearless and passionate vocals round out the tracks, and her lyrics simultaneously inspire and incite action.
“This record has a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” says Aja. “It’s the most honest and personal thing we’ve done. Almost every song is about our journey as human beings… It’s also about standing up for yourself and your art”.
The band originally formed in 2005 when Rich and Mike Peña, Nico Vega’s original drummer who left the band in 2007 and whose mother inspired the band’s name, saw Aja perform at LA’s Universal Bar & Grill. “We talked her into coming down and playing music with us,” Rich recalls. “Before we finished a measure, we were like, ‘This is it.’”
The band self-released a handful of EPs shortly afterwards, organically growing their fan base and attracting the attention of Myspace Music, which releasedNico Vega’s self-titled debut full-length album in 2009. A slew of tours followed with the likes of Blondie, Metric, Manic Street Preachers and Shiny Toy Guns as well as headlining gigs across the country.
Channeling Janis Joplin and Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Aja’s incredible stage presence is undeniable. She finds catharsis and relief on stage, and it’s one of her favorite aspects of being in the band. “Getting on stage is like stepping into a hot tub…ahhhh,” she laughs.
Nico Vega plan to tour extensively to support the new album with touring bassist Jamila Weaver and their newest member – Aja’s infant daughter, Arrow Eve (with her husband Dan Reynolds from indie rock band Imagine Dragons) in tow. It’s a new adventure for the first-time mom, and one that she relishes.
While the band and its members have evolved and matured as people and musicians, Aja says that there’s one thing that will never change. “Nico Vega’s running theme will always be standing up for who you are in the world and having the confidence to shine,” she says. And shine they do.