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X-Ambassadors use stage to take a stand on the issues

X Ambassadors will be at the Knitting Factory on Saturday. (Catie Laffoon / Catie Laffoon)
X Ambassadors will be at the Knitting Factory on Saturday. (Catie Laffoon / Catie Laffoon)

When X Ambassadors play the Knitting Factory on Saturday, Spokane audiences can expect to hear new music.

The soulful alt-rock trio – lead vocalist Sam Harris, keyboardist Casey Harris, and drummer Adam Levin – is finishing a new album. In the meantime, the group has released a few singles and has started adding unreleased songs to their sets.

“On this last run we did, we were incorporating a bunch of the new, unreleased material into the the set just to gauge people’s reaction to it,” Casey Harris said. “It was really encouraging. Some of these new tunes people really vibed with.”

One of these songs, “Happy Home,” is a favorite of Harris’. The song is “a metaphor for a relationship that is really on its last leg,” and its inspiration comes from a friendship that band members had to end, he said.

“A lot of the songs, especially on this new album, are drawn very much from personal experiences,” he said.

The band has remained true to themselves despite their recent shot to fame. X Ambassadors use their status to take a stand for causes they are passionate about.

Harris said he and his brother/bandmate Sam were taught from the time they were small to stand up against unfairness when they see it happening.

“Within these past couple years we’ve been discovering that we actually have a platform; people are listening to our music and also what we say,” Harris said. “That’s a lot of power, and as Spiderman says, with that power comes a lot of responsibility. You’ve got to use your platform to do good in the world.”

The group has used this voice to stand up for civil rights, immigrants rights, women’s rights and the environment, causes each band member holds near and dear.

The band also uses their platform to support people with disabilities.

Harris is blind, and as the band’s footprint is growing, he is becoming a spokesman for others with disabilities.

“The disabled community is one of the least represented communities in America as far as rights,” he said. “It’s something that people always pay lip service to – helping the disabled – and a lot of them proceed to not do a thing.”

Harris hopes to show people living with disabilities that they can achieve their dreams and do whatever they set their mind to. “People are so quick to put limits on what someone can do because of what they think they can do,” he said. This idea ties in to the theme of the music video for the hit X Ambassadors song “Renegades.”

The Harris brothers grew up in a musical household; their mother was a professional singer and their father was a music enthusiast who “played the record player really well.”

They have been musicians since they were very young, and sometimes collaborated as children, but Casey Harris didn’t know it was an option to play music with others until one day in middle school.

“It was actually after a music class one day in the lunch room. There was a piano and a little drum kit and I started playing something on the piano and another kid came on to play the drum kit and another had a guitar,” he said. “That started me down the road to really realizing that being a musician was something I would really love to do.”

Harris said his younger self “would be absolutely floored,” with the success the band has found in recent years. Although they are incredibly happy with their achievements, they are working harder than ever to put out new music that is new and fresh but stays true to their roots.

This September, X Ambassadors will present the second Cayuga Sound Festival, their music festival in the brothers’ hometown of Ithaca, New York. Most of the festival proceeds will be donated to local organizations that supported the Harrises growing up, in addition to several national charities.

The festival lineup features a variety of up-and-coming artists as well as well-known bands such as Young the Giant, Matt and Kim, and, of course, X Ambassadors.

Along with the festival, X Ambassadors also have that new album to finish, slated to come out in the next couple months.

Audiences can expect the more of the soulful sound the band is known for, in addition to some R&B flavor and pop influences.

“We are working so hard on this album and I am honestly so proud of the material we have,” Harris said.