Christian Rock-Band ILIA released their new album “Reborn” with their new lead singer Suzy Martinez (Previously of Our Divine Romance) in July and have since been touring the country with their pals in Seventh Day Slumber on the Small Town America Tour.
Reborn is packed with nothing but surprises; the most noticeable of which is Suzy Martinez’ transition from ODR being a solid soft rock band to ILIA being a heavier band featuring a wide range of vocals and screams. This album hits you and it hits hard; it’s full of beautifully crafted rhythms, well-written lyrics and right on-point composition. It does everything that a musician hopes it would do to a listener, it makes them feel. One song in particular that does this especially well is Young Diaries. It starts heavy, and ILIA does a great job of providing necessary dynamics throughout the song. The whole track leads up to one incredibly powerful build-up bridge highlighted by overlaying vocals and spoken word.
Following the release of Reborn, ILIA is now halfway through the Small Town America Tour with Seventh Day Slumber where they are no doubt changing lives with their good hearts and good music.
I got the chance to talk with Suzy about old and new projects, a little bit about the tour, about the album, and about what it’s like to be a hard working musician in the industry.
AMN: “How’s the crowds response been to Reborn?”
Suzy Martinez: “It’s been great! Right now, we’re on 17 stations, [(a number that has increased significantly since the interview)] up in Dallas we’re on Power FM. We were told that someone requested our song so many times that they just gave them a link to our facebook so they could find more information. So I think it’s been really good. A lot of people were stoked to hear our new sound with the new line up, so I’m really happy about that”
AMN: “So tell me a little bit about the Small Town Tour!”
Suzy Martinez: “ILIA had toured with Seventh Day before I think so they made the connection through previous shows and through promoters. I think we ended up on this tour because it’s going through small towns; with the new line up we didn’t want to start with too much. I think it’s really good, it’s from August to November with shows all over the country. It’s really exciting!”
AMN: “Going from Our Divine Romance to ILIA, how are you finding the financial support to go through the tour?”
Suzy Martinez: “Well, I had gotten some scholarships in college and my summer internship was actually paid, so that helped a lot! On tour, a lot of things come from the bands fund so that will also be something I’m not having to worry about which is a blessing. My parents have been really supportive as well and they’re always willing to help me if I’m really struggling to make it work.”
AMN: “Who does the screaming in ILIA?”
Suzy Martinez: “I do the screaming.”
AMN: “Wow! That is not something I remember from your time in ODR”
Suzy Martinez: “I didn’t scream in Our Divine Romance. I was in a band in high school, when I moved to college I started ODR and it was never meant to be full band so there was never any screaming. It started as more of a soft acoustic thing and when I went to get it produced they urged me to get more instrumentation. I really wanted to get back in to rock. I never knew I was going to get the chance to get back into a full band at the time. The songs ended up turning out really good; my plan was to be a solo rock musician before ILIA. I’m not really sure how I planned on making that work haha. So, I do scream and it’s actually one of my favorite things to do.”
AMN: “What would you say to someone who went through what you went through. You made your own path to be a solo rock musician and when opportunity presented itself, you were ready. So what would you say to someone who doesn’t have a band but longs for that community and longs for that sound”
Suzy Martinez: “I would definitely say this, “Work as if everything depends on yourself but believe as if everything depends on God” I believe that God is real and I have a relationship with Him in my heart. I know He has a plan for me but I didn’t know what it was. I knew from the core of my being that I had to make music and that my purpose was to make music and love songs to God. So when there was no opportunity, I had to make a way for myself and that took a lot of work and a lot of faith. I just told myself that if it never happened I could at least say I tried. What I would say to that someone is NEVER GIVE UP. You have to know yourself deep down, if God is for you. I’ve lived with God my whole life, He’s always been a part of it. If it’s God’s will, He will provide you the right tools to move forward. Even if it means putting your desires on the shelf for a little while. Everything I went through to get to this point, was so useful for me in this moment. I basically had to give up three years of music for college and it was heartbreaking. In the end, being at bible college actually helped me so much. I learned so much about teenagers through ministry and about business. It ended up being so perfect for me in getting me ready to be in this industry.”
ILIA is truly a band that is right on the brink of being the biggest thing to happen to Christian hard rock for a long time. This is the moment where you prepare for your future self to say “I knew that band when they released Reborn, they’ve come such a long way in such a short amount of time and I’m so proud of them.” These guys have the music, they have the hearts and it’s clear they have the work ethic to make whatever they want to happen, happen in this industry. Pick up their album REBORN, like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and get out to one of the many shows they have coming up now!
[UPDATE: According to Suzy, fans can expect a brand new music video some time in 2015]