When asked what is the most important thing that listeners should know about Action Item, Brian Cag immediately answered “Well it is great to mention that we are really best friends. Some of us have known each other since kindergarten. We have a genuine, mutual friendship and we love music together.”
The New Jersey-based pop band has found a nice level of success as their profile has steadily climbed with each new release. That their success has come together as the best of friends has made it all the sweeter.
On Tuesday, they play Stage AE with MKTO. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are still available.
“I went to elementary school with (bassist) David (Buczkowski) and I knew that he wanted to play — I wanted to play since I was 5 and my parents bought me my first acoustic guitar. It was huge,” he laughed. “Then I met our drummer Dan (Brozek) through his brother. We all discovered this passion for music and played through at David’s grandma’s garage.”
As the band plowed on through adolescence and garage band practice, they picked up another member.
“I met Anthony (Li, vocals and guitar) through mutual friends in high school. We had no singer. We auditioned some people and nothing clicked. I took the lead singer role by default. I took vocal lessons and really worked on being a front man.”
Before you know it things started to break for the young band with the really good feeling.
“We took some local shows around New Jersey, then we got the call to open for Justin Bieber.”
That was five years ago. Mr. Bieber was riding high on the fame of the “My World” release and was on tour with Selena Gomez. “Then everything really took off for us,” he says.
Since then, the band has charted more than 10 singles on the Billboard 200 and has worked with Nick Jonas (of the Jonas Brothers), who co-wrote and produced their 2011 song “Learn to Fly.” They have made lots of inroads in the music industry and without a record deal, which Mr. Cag said has its perks.
“The music industry these days allows for a lot of freedom with regard to writing and producing music.” He said that he and Mr. Li holed up for a few days with writer and musician Dylan Scott in a home studio to work on songs and begin the recording process.
“Because we have the studio there, there is no waiting process. Nowadays it is so instant and so fast. We just record it as we wrote it. We wrote a song and then finished it.”
But what about the tricky business of mixing?
“We all have a hand on the mixes,” said Mr. Cag, adding that it has become part of a very organic process of simplicity that the band has adopted.
The latest result is a feel-good collection of songs from their EP “Great Mission: Life.”
“With this project, we are trying to do something a little more like we enjoyed lately” as the band tried for a more atmospheric, indie pop sound, a lot of which was created with guitars and bass.
Action Item has been to the city many times and is looking forward to their first foray into Stage AE. “We played Diesel and the Altar Bar a few times as well. We love coming to Pittsburgh and we can’t thank the fans enough for their loyalty. Pittsburgh is just such a strong and interesting city.”
Besides looking forward to their current tour, a guy can dream and when asked about his dream collaboration, again, Mr. Cag does not miss a beat.
“Chris Martin of Coldplay. I think that he is a musical genius. Melodically gifted, intuitive and truly lyrical.” He has also has a great love for singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis, formerly of Rilo Kiley with three solo releases to her credit. “She is amazing and has some great solo music out right now.”
Even through they have achieved some level of success, Mr. Cag said that definition is different for everyone “For me, being somewhat free and being able to do what we want to do and survive off of it. We are very lucky to be able to do what we want.”
Rosa Colucci can be reached at 412-263-1634 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Published August 4, 2014 4:00 PM