Indie rock band Arms Akimbo have been not so quietly taking over the music scene with explosive EP releases, opening for names such as The Animals, WALK THE MOON, and The Muffs, and going viral on Spotify. Check out their video for “Parachute” below, and then read our interview with the group!
To start off, can you introduce yourselves, and share a bit about you?
Ultimately we’re just 4 friends who love music and were lucky enough to find each other. It’s all casual. We went to school together, live together and hang out, but as of the past couple years all of that was centered around our opportunity to write and play songs together.
I read that you guys met and started Arms Akimbo in college for Chris’ thesis project, were you guys close before or was the project process where you really started to bond?
I think the only 2 guys who met for the first time when creating the project were Chris and Colin, just because they have the biggest age gap. Colin and I (Peter) lived together and already made music. I’d known Chris and Matt since freshman year (Matt and I were show buddies since we didn’t know other people at our school who liked the same musicians as us). Chris and I didn’t get along at first cause people always told us to make music together and it was just kind of annoying haha. Essentially Matt was Chris’s drummer, Colin was mine, and we just joined forces.
Let’s talk music. Did you expect so much success with your debut EP? How did being given the opportunity to open for bands such as WALK THE MOON and The Muffs make an impact on you and your dedication to the band?
Absolutely not! We had all been in countless projects before this one and nothing ever grew out of mild success or a battle of the bands win here or there. When we saw the overwhelming response from that EP, we realized we had something we had to follow up on. It’s funny when you start out and say you’re in a band. It’s all, “yeah sure, everyone’s in a band.” And then you surprise them and they always say “Wait…you guys are actually good, what the heck?” That may still be my favorite response, even 3 years later cause it was just so common.
As for opening those big shows, it definitely helped with a couple things. One is to check your ego at the door because playing before killer professionals sets the stage for how serious the career should be taken. Also, it was amazing getting to sit and talk with them and hear kind words about our set, because for both or those shows we were just starting out. And honestly, it’s just fun to love the bands you’re on a bill with. That’s why we try to stick with our friends for the shows we play, even today.
Your new EP The Wrong Kind of Dance Party, came out just recently and features some pretty upbeat and catchy songs. If you had to choose, what would you say is your favorite song on the EP? Why does is hold that position?
I’m sure it varies for all the guys. My personal point of pride is “Rearrange”. Recording that song was a beautiful experience because it was almost entirely arranged in the studio. It came out really nice and unlike the rest of the songs, but we weren’t even going to keep it on the EP! It was a last minute move of Chris essentially bullying me into putting it in. And we ended up just taking a big chunk of time to keep adding layers – Matt did a simple drum outtro, Chris would do slide guitar, then, acoustic guitar, then keys, then we would all do gang vocals, and it just kept rolling…Oooh they just texted me back. Chris’s favorite is “Seven Mirrors” and Matt’s is “None of My Business”. We’re guessing Colin’s is “Cedar Point” – he rips some nice vocals at the end of that track.
So,one of the things that I noticed while listening to the EP is that all of the songs complement each other, and build a scene in your head of going to a party. The intro to “Parachute” sets the scene of everyone getting there, “Cedar Point” is the middle and “Rearrange” closes it all off with everyone leaving. Since the EP was named after a playlist you guys used in college to wrap up your parties, did you pick the name first and write songs that fit, or did you write the songs before and saw that The Wrong Kind of Dance Party was a fitting title?
Wow…you really listened! So we wrote all of the songs first and even did the sound design pieces before naming the EP. The great thing about the medium of music is how much the meaning can shift depending on the song’s environment. We wrote those songs but really didn’t conceptualize the EP until we heard them all coalesce together. We realized how much the songs dealt with parties, relationships, lonerism, Los Angeles, college, and nostalgia. When we put that all together Chris had the idea to record the next party we threw at our house and we spent some time all designing the sound to lace the EP with. When it came naming time that just made the most sense with the playlist Colin and I used and we kind of tie it all up in a nice bow with the end.
You recently made a music video for one of the songs on the EP, “Parachute.” What was the vision you wanted to display with the video? Can we expect any of the other songs on the EP to have a music video?
So the video was Chris’s direction and writing based on his view of my lyrics and just what he knows of my experiences that led to the song. The vision was to have an intense, night-time, presupposition of a party and we couldn’t be more proud of the product. The video was a blast, and like a bad dance party we put the thing together with all of our creative friends. From acting, co-directing, cinematography, production design and assisting, every one involved with the project was a close friend of the band, As for videos, you sure can!. There’s actually a part 2 to the “Parachute” video coming out very soon. Perhaps I’ve said too much.
What would you say sets this EP apart musically from Vignettes?
Maturity. That’s about it. we’ve grown as songwriters, performers and musicians. This EP is the product of a working band as opposed to a couple guys who know each other. And we’re proud of Vignettes but this EP feels truly like us and I just hope that helps to connect with listeners. So far it has and we couldn’t be happier about it. In a more literal sense, we have absorbed folk influence into our songs more and stopped rejecting our pop and emo influences. We used to shy away from those but now we embrace them and we can be a lot more honest with our work that way.
Do you have any upcoming shows, or maybe even a tour in the future? If not, where is a place you guys would love to perform at if given the opportunity?
Looking to set up a lot of shows in the near future. We want to get to as many people as possible, even if that means acoustic or house shows. Keep your eyes peeled and let us know if you want us to play your city!
What goals do you have for Arms Akimbo as a band?
I think the ultimate goal is our own line of clothing. Oh, and I guess the opportunity to play for anyone who likes our music. We just want to keep this thing rolling, keep writing and recording songs that get under your skin, play with other musicians we love and eventually drop a hip hop mixtape.
Is there anything I missed you would like to discuss?
You got it all!
Interview questions by Alondra Valencia.