Today saw Halo Circus drop their second studio album, titled “Robots And Wranglers“. This collection of tracks showcases their launch into electronic-pop over their previous rock-pop. They are now going as a duo, consisting of Allison Iraheta and Matthew Hager. We have reviewed the album today and were lucky enough to grab an interview with the female vocalist.
“Robots and Wranglers” is an eight-track album which produced an official single a month ago, titled “Narcissist“. The track certainly stands out amongst the songs on the LP, so it wasn’t a surprise it got released as the first single. A music video was also dropped to accompany the track.
The duo have already established themselves in the music industry already, with Allison Iraheta coming fourth in the eighth season of American Idol, and Matthew Hager has produced music for some of the top artists in the world. Originally a four-piece band, Halo Circus have stripped away their rock-pop sound from their first album “Bunny”, and have now gone down this electronic-pop sound for “Robots And Wranglers“.
Allison Iraheta found some time to answer our questions for an exclusive interview. We were honoured to catch up with her and chat with her about the new album, the “Narcissist” single, and the accompanying music video.
Hi Allison, we hope you are well today. What have you been up to?
Well, I feel like I haven’t sat down since 2016, but that’s probably not true. Very excited about the new album and tour. It’s keeping me up at night.
You are gearing up to release your brand-new album “Robots and Wranglers”. Can you tell us more about the LP?
I think this is the best thing I’ve ever done. I know that’s a risky statement, but I’ve been through a few of these. This one came quick and came loudly. I’m dying to get it out there.
Where did the name come from?
Actually, we had a working title on the album called “Cowboys and Aliens”. It was always based around those two characters. When we finished the album we realized that there was a movie called “Cowboys And Aliens” and we decided that the album deserved something a little more unique. Matthew gave me the afternoon to come up with a new title and surprisingly, “Robots and Wranglers” popped into my head. I like it better than “Cowboys and Aliens”.
How excited are you to release this album?
It’s funny, we recorded this album while we were writing and we mixed the album while we were recording. Before it was mastered, we were starting to prepare for release, plan a tour and take all kinds of meetings. In some ways, it feels like I haven’t had time to process it all yet.
Do you have a specific favourite track and why is that one your favourite?
I have a few favourites. At the moment, I keep playing “Pledge Of Allegiance” over and over again in the car.
Which lyrics out of the whole album are your favourite?
In some ways, the lyrics on this album could be considered one complete thought. I’m very proud of it. The ground we covered and the subjects we tackled. “Commander” is a pretty special story. I don’t think people realize that Matthew’s a poet. This album was a meeting of both of our minds.
What inspired you when it came to each of the songs?
The last tour inspired this album. Something about me and Matthew doing it, just the two of us, meeting all these amazing people, listening to their stories, hearing what their concerns were and what challenges they are facing… Those are the things that informed this record. In some ways, it’s all true.
What makes this eight-track collection different from the music you have released previously?
I’d invite anyone to listen to anything I’ve done in the past and listen to this record and accuse me of repeating myself. This album reflects 2018. Sonically, lyrically, etc… I don’t think this album could have been made a year before or after. I doubt I could recreate it if I tried
How has your music changed over the years?
It’s only changed as much as I’ve changed. It’s more thoughtful, more mature and a lot more aware of its surroundings. I try to take what I experience in real life and bring it to my music. It’s never been about fame for me.
Comparing this album to your debut, “Bunny”, what makes “Robots and Wranglers” better?
That’s an amazing question. I don’t think anything could beat writing “Band-Aid” with Paul Williams and learning how to play those songs in clubs all over the US. That album (I hope) represents that era with the respect that I wish for this album to do the same. Sonically, I think we are in a whole different universe on “Robots And Wranglers”. Matthew and Craig Bauer took it up a notch for sure.
The first single from the album was “Narcissist”, why was that song chosen as the first track to be released?
Actually, it was supposed to be the second single, but the reaction was so strong that we decided to drop it first. I think we may have been scared of it initially but now I’m glad it was the first single. It’s a fun song.. and seems to be a real conversation starter.
How does this song present the rest of the album?
Truthfully there’s not another song like it on the album. Felt like an old-school single to me. Fun, direct and loud. If you like Narcissist, you’ll love the album.
A music video for the song was released in February, what was it like to film?
It was amazing. It was about 40 degrees out and we were driving on an LA freeway at 1 am without seatbelts in a 1962 Land Rover. One of Matthew’s oldest friends was driving and we just went all over town and filmed whatever happened. Turns out a lot happens in LA at night.
And what was it like working with the director Christopher Rucinski?
The minute we played him “Narcissist” he lit up like a little kid and smiled and started spitting out the best ideas I’d heard in a long time. Turns out he’s a fan of all things subversive so he kind of took it to the next level.
What do you hope to achieve with the release of “Robots and Wranglers”?
In all humility, I hope to achieve complete world domination.
What has the reaction been like to your new music? And what do you make of their thoughts?
To my surprise, it’s ruffled some feathers. We genuinely thought we were making a socially relevant pop album but people seem to get outraged by the craziest things these days. I’m glad to see the attention the album is getting and it’s great to be reaching a bigger audience. I think when everyone hears the album they’ll calm down. Or they’ll just keep shooting each other.
How does the music of Halo Circus differ from the songs you sang on American Idol?
Everything I sang on American Idol was a cover song. Halo Circus is an original project from the ground up. Also, with Idol, you needed to stay in one lane. I was the 16-year-old rocker then. I’m 25 now, a lot has changed.
The new series has just premiered, do you have any special words or advice to the contestants of Season 16?
Be yourself, be grateful and don’t take any shit from anyone.
What is the highlight of your career so far? And what is the highlight of Halo Circus?
You are speaking to a very lucky gal here. I’ve had many highlights. Some have occurred in clubs with 20 people and some have occurred on TV in front of millions. I’m always trying to top myself. People like me don’t look back very often.
What do you hope the future will bring? And what can fans expect from this duo this year?
Most of my hopes are for the people I love and my community. Of course, I want sold-out back to back shows, but I’d settle for a 6-week residency at Madison Square Garden.
And, finally, do you have a message for your fans, the ones who have stuck by you from the start, and the new ones you have gained?
When you are an artist, nothing can prepare you for the ups and the downs. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in creativity and art with me. You’ve given me an amazing journey.
Thank you so much, Allison Iraheta, for this amazing interview. We currently love “Robots And Wranglers” and certainly can’t wait to see where Halo Circus goes next.
Halo Circus’ new album, “Robots And Wranglers“, is available to download and stream right now. If you want to find out more about each of the tracks, we highly suggest you check out our track-by-track album review.