American Hi-Fi set to debut new material at Hartford show

Michael McKenna

Pop-rockers American Hi-Fi will be making their return to Connecticut this Sunday when they hit the stage at Hartford’s Webster Theater with the band Bowling for Soup. American Hi-Fi guitarist Jamie Arentzen is anticipating the event slightly more than his band mates because for him, it is a homecoming experience.

Arentzen, a native of Guilford, Conn., is excited to be back in the area playing with his band. “We’re playing that show on my little cousin’s birthday,” he said. “My mom’s going to be there, so you know that means it’s going to be cool.”

American Hi-Fi are no strangers to a rigorous touring schedule. Having just returned from a tour in Japan, the band kicked off their U.S tour with Bowling for Soup on March 31 and will remain on the road through early May. Though Arentzen feels international audiences are more responsive to the band’s live performances, he says the band is anticipating the U.S. leg of the tour to be a lot of fun.

He says the band prefers to play in clubs rather than larger stadium style arenas. “We love playing in clubs,” Arentzen said, “We like it when the crowd is right up in front of us getting hot and screaming lyrics over the music.”

This tour is to support the band’s new album, “Hearts On Parade,” which is due out on Tuesday. The new album might have a different sound than fans are expecting. This is largely due to last year’s split between the band and their former label, Island Records.

Arentzen said when the band was out on tour with Matchbox 20, they returned to find the label had cut them from the roster. “Island was making the switch to a different style of bands,” Arentzen said, “They had different expectations than what we had planned on working on, so we were kind of pushed away.”

The band has since signed with Maverick Records and co-produced their upcoming release at their very own recording studio in Los Angeles with Butch Walker. Arentzen said that “Hearts On Parade” has a cleaner sound than their previous two albums and it flirts with different genres of music. “The guitars definitely aren’t crunchy. We kept it pretty rhythmic and even used a little bit of disco. It was a lot of fun making this one,” the performer said, while on a break in New York City from taping an appearance for Last Call with Carson Daly, set to air on NBC.

When discussing musical influences on the new album, Arentzen said the band was inspired by British rock groups, particularly Blur. “We were listening to a ton of Blur,” Arentzen said. “Blur, ELO, Squeeze: we admire what bands like that do, they always reinvent themselves.”

Arentzen said that one of his favorite tunes off of the new album is “Separation Anxiety” because of its edginess. The band recently released “The Geeks Get the Girls” as the album’s first single and it is making its way into mainstream radio rotation locally on the Hartford-based radio station Kiss 95.7 FM.

Arentzen said he is personally excited to be back in the Hartford area, expressing a strong desire to visit local landmark Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven. “We love to go there after shows in Connecticut. We urge fans to hit it up after the show and have a slice with us,” Arentzen said.

American Hi-Fi has had their ups and downs as a band but seem to have caught a second wind with a new label and studio, a new album, and a new tour which Arentzen encourages everyone to attend. “Check it out, maybe there’s something there for you,” he said.

American Hi-Fi and Bowling for Soup make their way to the Webster Theater this Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available by calling the Box Office at (860) 525-5553 or