In 2006 Rolling Stone magazine named Cute Is What We Aim For one of it’s 10 Artists to Watch. While lead singer Shaant Hacikyan says receiving the tag was a “pretty surreal” accolade, the band members know they still have much to accomplish.

On sophomore album Rotation, Hacikyan says the Buffalo-based group has the confidence and freedom to write what they really want, something that is highlighted on the track Hollywood.

“Hollywood has a very strong political aspect to it, which I think will resonate with people in the United States and the current administration,” he says. “The way politics is being handled, I think it’s pretty despicable.”

Hacikyan says making the follow-up record was a liberating experience. “It was really cool to feel comfortable. The first time you do a record, you feel a little protective. You have something to say but you need to earn your stripes. I have a little more confidence now in saying what I feel as opposed to upsetting people.”

The band’s current lineup, featuring drummer Tom Falcone, guitarist Jeff Czum, and new bassist Dave Melillo, is finally stable, Hacikyan says.

“For the first time ever we are happy. Even with the awesome things that we were so fortunate to have happen to us, even still we were miserable because we didn’t like each other … This one, it just seems really, really right.”

The band feels at home on power-pop label Fueled By Ramen. Rotation is the result of producer John Feldmann (Goldfinger), who encouraged the band to step out of its comfort zone.

“He really made us work. He was a stickler to make sure it was the best. I loved working with him and I would love to work with him again. He’s a maniac,” Hacikyan says.

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