By Kay West
American Authors Spent Years Getting To The “Best Day Of My Life”
Asked about the brilliant marketing campaign and promotion plan that catapulted the song “Best Day Of My Life” to world domination and global fame for the Brooklyn-based band who wrote and recorded it, American Authors lead singer Zac Barnett guilelessly explains it thus: “We had no plans for the song; we were just writing and writing and in the studio in Westchester County (N.Y.) with our producers Shep [Goodman] and Aaron [Accetta]. We had a song called “Believer” that got to Sirius XM through a friend of a friend and they loved it and wanted to play it. ‘Believer’ wasn’t even finished, we hadn’t released it. We thought it was really cool, our first song as American Authors.
“The only other song we had at that point that was finished was ‘Best Day’ and because ‘Believer’ was going to radio so fast, we made them an A/B side single on iTunes. So ‘Best Day’ was out there and, again, a friend of a friend heard it and thought of pitching it for some commercials and it got synced [for a U.S. Lowes’s television ad). So once those two things happened, everything started rolling and we ended up signing with Island Records and we continued to write and ended up recording an entire album of music which became Oh, What a Life and was released in March.”
It all sounds so simple and fast and overnight success-ish, but rewind to Boston 2007. Four young men—Barnett, James Adam Shelley, Matt Sanchez and Dave Rublin, from Minnesota, Florida, Texas and New Jersey, respectively – were enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
They initially recorded and booked their own tours under the name Blue Pages, the moniker that stuck through the collective decisions to devote 100 percent to music and leave Berklee and relocate to a tiny apartment in the Bushwick neighborhood of the musician-dense, thriving creative metropolis of Brooklyn. As they continued to write and record, the name change to American Authors happened much like everything else—smoothly and organically. “The name change was like a cherry on the sundae,” Barnett says. “It doesn’t matter what we’re called. We’ve always been open-minded as musicians and songwriters and never put a label on our music. We come from all over and we write our story, like authors.”
In fact, it was one of America’s most successful authors and illustrators – the late Maurice Sendak – and his most well-known children’s book, “Where The Wild Things Are,” that inspired “Best Day.” “The idea that no matter what is going on in the world or your world, or what craziness is out there, you can find an escape, you can take moments and make them into your own best day of your life,” Barnett says, crediting both Sendak’s book and the subsequent movie for inspiration.
Following various U.S. and overseas small tours and festivals this summer, a Fall headlining tour is in the works. Meanwhile, they’ll keep doing what brought them together in the first place, playing music and writing songs. “The best advice we received was to keep writing. We’ve been doing that together for seven years. We come up with new styles, we take in different influences. We sit in the same room and never shut down an idea. Our goal is to be open to everything.”