Nico Vega may not be a household name yet, but after their arena tour with Imagine Dragons, these rockers are bound to be! The trio (Rich Koehler-guitar, Dan Epand-drums and Aja Volkman-vocals) has always shot from the hip, resulting in a rawness that’s impossible to put in a box and is nearly transcendent in its live form. Enjoy this interview we got to do with Aja Volkman, wife of Imagine Dragon’s lead singer Dan Reynolds, during her hubby’s set at Phillip’s Arena back in February.
AMG: So how are you doing? How’s the tour going so far?
Aja Volkman: It’s going really well. My family is together, my husband is in the band [Imagine Dragons] and my daughter is here. We’re traveling together on a bus and it’s awesome. The shows are ginormous so it’s really great for us to get in front of some new people. It’s really fun.
AMG: Nico Vega has worked so hard over the past years to get to the top. How does it feel to play sold out arena shows?
Aja Volkman: It’s amazing! For us, it’s been a long time. We’ve been together for probably us about 9 years, but I feel really fortunate. I feel like every band should have that opportunity, but they don’t.
AMG: How did you guys prepare for this? You’ve toured and performed a lot, but to play in front of this many people and on this big of a tour, have you had to prepare in a different way?
Aja Volkman: It’s weird. There’s so many people. It’s almost like it’s so big at this point that you don’t really get too connected with the idea of individual people as much. So that’s a bummer only in the sense that the intimate shows are really fun, but in a way it’s really good for not being nervous. There’s just so many that it’s over your head at that point. I really like that.
AMG: How do you connect with such a large crowd compared to your smaller, more intimate shows?
Aja Volkman: I feel more free in these settings in a weird way. You don’t need to say anything, if you don’t want. They’re not here for you necessarily. Some people might be. You don’t feel an obligation to fill everyone’s specific needs. It’s different when it’s your fans because there’s certain songs you have to play or things you need to say.
AMG: How do you balance acting as the lead singer of a band, a mother, and a wife all while on tour?
Aja Volkman: It feels like a lot of jobs, but it’s great too. I’m not willing to give anything up. I’m not willing to be away from Arrow and I’m not willing to quit the band, so it has to be it all. And it’s hard because my husband is in this enormous avalanche of a movement happening. It’s so big and all-encompassing so it’s hard to have something when that’s going on too because he can’t always be around Arrow so I take on most of the parental responsibilities. Trying to fit my own creative expression into that can be intense. And we have a home in Vegas and there’s a lot to keep up with in our personal life as well. It is a lot. But at the same time, I feel blessed. It’s a very rich experience.
I have help, I have a nanny who is awesome. She comes on the road with me, she’s a good friend. So it’s like two moms tackling everything and that makes it a lot more doable for me. I’m so adamant about being with Arrow that it makes it harder. I won’t lie, I know people are misled when I have a career. I spend as much time with my daughter and that’s just a responsibility for me if I have a child, I need to be there all the time. At the same time, I think it’s a privilege that I have that I don’t have to work full time. It’s pretty full time when it’s on, like right now, but when I’m off, I’m just off. And I think there’s a lot of parents in the world that are on full time, both parents, just to keep things moving and to afford a house and childcare. I feel blessed that both of us have time off sometimes.
AMG: Being able to balance your life seemingly so well, being a mother, being a wife and being a lead singer deserves praise. Do you ever think of yourself as a role model to young women?
Aja Volkman: It doesn’t feel like that on the inside. On the inside, I think I’m never doing enough. I’m just like every other woman in the world. I’m so hard on myself. Like I’m never doing enough. I’m never eating healthy enough, I’m never getting enough physical activity, I’m never being diligent enough with learning new things, I’m never a good enough mom. You know, in your mind you’re never enough. But I think sometimes, when my parents talk to me and my mom says “I’m so impressed with you”, it will hit me. And I think, “Wow, I built this and my mom’s impressed or my dad’s impressed”. That really hits me. Those are the people you want to impress, your parents.
AMG: Being on tour involves a lot of traveling. Do you guys have your own bus for your family?
Aja Volkman: This time we do, we have our own bus. We’ve done it multiple ways. We’ve done it where I’m on the Imagine Dragons bus with Arrow. We’ve done it where Nico Vega has our own bus. We did a thing called the bandwagon one time where it was us on a bandwagon. This time we have our own family bus where it’s just Dan, me, our nanny, and Arrow, and then we have friends or family come out or the driver will sleep on the bus with us. But for the most part, I would prefer it this way over everything just because I don’t have to compromise anything right now. My family is together, my band is happening. But it can’t always be this way. Imagine Dragons isn’t always going to be touring or we’ll be touring at different times than them.
AMG: Where do you see yourselves as a band in a year?
Aja Volkman: It’s too hard to tell right now, we’ll have to see what happens with this record. We’ve worked super, super, super hard over the years and I think we’ve experienced enough success to the point where we’ve been able to keep going. With album sales and touring, it’s sustainable for us, but we haven’t ever experienced enough where we can get ahead of it. I would love if, over the next year, our career was more supported so that it wasn’t such a grind all the time. It’s really hard. As a working band, anyone who’s in a band knows that you have to love what you do. You’re not doing it for the money, you have to do it and you have to keep doing it because you love it. But it would be awesome if there was some money at some point to keep the ball rolling.
AMG: What about collaborating? Have you guys collaborated with your husband’s band, Imagine Dragons?
Aja Volkman: Yeah, we just did one song that’s a collaboration. He produced our newest single, “I Believe”. I wrote that and he produced it and it’s all the band playing. Yeah, we do some co-producing or co-writing type things. I generally always write the lyrics and the melodies, but we’ll have guests in to help with the production or the guitar parts and chord structure or we’ll just play around with other people which is really fun.
AMG: What’s the plan after the tour? Are you going to be able to relax or are you going straight into more writing?
Aja Volkman: We’re done with the record, it’s written. We’ll see what tours pop up and see how the single does and just get out there as much as we can. I’m sure we’ll do a headlining tour this summer. We’ll see. It’s a weird place because I have a unique situation having a child, so we go when we can, but you really do have to catch us when we’re out. I can’t tour around the clock. You can’t leave all the time, you don’t want to. You have to make things happen around your family life.
Check out their new single “I Believe” (Get Over Yourself) Out Now!)