X Ambassadors have been on fire since March 2015 when they released the single “Renegades” off of their first full-length album VHS, which was released on Interscope Records in June 2015. The song, which has been featured in a Jeep Renegade commercial, is certified platinum, reached 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reached 1 on the Billboard Adult Top 40, Hot Rock Songs and Rock Airplay charts.
The band, which consists of four guys, three of whom are from Ithaca, NY, last played in the Washington, D.C. region in July 2015, opening for Milky Chance at Echostage. And they’re coming back to Echostage for a show on Thursday, May 12. But this time they are headlining.
“It feels awesome. It feels like just yesterday that we were at Echostage opening for Milky Chance….It’s been such a busy year,” said Adam Levin, the group’s drummer who is from Los Angeles. “And when you’re so busy it really tends to fly by.
“But it’s been an amazing year and we just feel so lucky to do what we do. It’s almost hard to believe that we’re coming back just a year later to headline. It’s really wild.”
Levin said that despite the group’s busy schedule – they’ve been on tour non-stop since last year – they have been able to cherish the moment that they are in.
“I mean it’s hard to totally appreciate and cherish it while you’re in it,” Levin said. “But we do. You really do look back and it’s amazing. It’s a lot of pressure and work when you’re doing it everyday but even when you have a couple days off it’s like wow. You kind of look back and think about all the experiences you’ve had and sharing them with the people you love. It’s a really special thing.”
X Ambassador is made up of frontman, guitarist and saxophonist Sam Harris, his brother Casey Harris (keyboards), Noah Feldshuh (guitar) and Levin. Sam and Casey Harris have known Felshuh since they were children in Ithaca and Sam met Levin while attending the New School in New York City in 2006. The group, which has been together since 2009, was discovered by Imagine Dragons after a member of the group heard an X Ambassadors song on the radio in Norfolk.
It’s fitting that they were discovered by Imagine Dragons because they are related to the group musically in the sense that there is a discernable hip-hop influence in the band’s sound. Incubus and Red Hot Chili Peppers, two other groups with that same musical heritage, have been cited as influences for X Ambassadors. But Levin claimed the hip-hop influence outright for the band.
“A lot of hip-hop is a big thing for us. We are all really big hip-hop fans and we grew up listening to Biggie and Tupac and Jay Z and contemporary rappers as well,” Levin said. “We all have different influences. Casey is big into Jazz. He doesn’t listen to a lot of contemporary music, he listens to a lot of Jazz and prog rock, and he listens hip-hop, but the rest of us listen to a lot of hip-hop and rock.”
So when Jay Z hopped on a remix for X Ambassadors’ “Jungle,” the first single from VHS, the band was elated. “It was insane. It was the coolest thing ever, to tell you the truth,” Levin said. “That was one of those pinch me moments for us. It was just absolutely insane.”
Levin said that the group has been writing material for their next album and will get into the studio with their producer, the Grammy Award-winning Alex Da Kid, after their tour to record. He said there is no set timeline for when that music will be ready for the masses.
• For more information about X Ambassadors, visit xambassadors.com.