This fall is pretty big for Arms Aloft. They're releasing their second full-length LP, What A Time to Be Barely Alive on September 2nd.
They’re about to embark on a tour with punk supergroup The Falcon and comedian Kyle Kinane throughout the US and Canada. They’re playing a boat cruise in New York City and playing The Fest in Florida.
These couple of months will keep Arms Aloft very busy as we approach the holiday season. I’m biased since they’re my friends, but I am confident that Arms Aloft will knock it out of the park with these opportunities ahead of them. I’m more than just a friend of the band, I’m a fan. It’s exciting for me as a fan to see their hard work pay off and get the chances and recognition that they deserve.
I spoke with Seth Gile and Alex Bammel about the recording process for What A Time and their upcoming tour.
Nate: What are you looking forward to the most on this upcoming tour?
Seth: We’ve only done one big-kid support tour like this before, and if I remember right, the best thing about it is how little you have to do. Ha. When we book our own stuff, every little stress just gets piled right back on us. On this one, we’ll let the real bands sort it out. This one in the fall kind of feels like it’s something special though, for real. Kinane doing standup every night is going to rule. I’ve personally not really been to a show like that, other than the party we played with him in Eau Claire a while back. I think it’s a rad idea. Something different. Well, and the venues, for us or a band like us, are fucking huge. We don’t play to a couple hundred people a night. We play to a couple dozen. Doesn’t hurt that one of those venues is a fucking cruise boat thing in New York, either.
N: How do we convince Kyle Kinane to come back to Eau Claire?
S: I think step one would be have him not go live in a car or two with us for a month? Cultural ambassadors that we are, I’m not sure many people have later visited Eau Claire based on our outreach efforts. Ha. Hopefully he will come back and do that kind of show here again. That was way cool, right? The comedy kids are way better at DIY in Eau Claire anyway, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they already have more stuff like that planned.
N: I’m pretty certain you’ve never played on a boat before. That’s got to be one of the more unique opportunities being in this band has brought you, right?
S: I’m also only pretty certain... But that does seem like a new one. From what I’m hearing, and maybe it’s just getting overhyped, but it sounds like you cruise out under the damn Statue Of Liberty in all the lights and shit. While drinking and watching Mikey Erg play. Okay, player. But yeah, that’s one of the coolest, strangest parts of a tour that is already cool and strange. Someone’s gonna drown. Calling it here and now. I hope it’s me.
N: Briefly describe The Fest for those who may not be in the know.
S: Oh man. It’s punk neverland. So, like I was saying we play to a couple dozen people on tour, most nights, right? Lots of punk bands do. Anyway, Fest is when you take the 4 people who REALLY give a shit on those scattered nights, from every town IN THE WORLD, and then you get them in a drunken tropical paradise for a weekend. It’s so righteous. Every band has their most fun show of the year, so everybody’s so fun to see. They always get all these big reunion shows and shit, but I end up watching my friends play all weekend. Cause it’s also just a huge family reunion for all the kids involved in their scenes in whatever way. Since most of us know each other from being on the road in some capacity, it’s cool as hell that Fest gives us all a reason to set the same coordinates once a year.
N: Where did you record What a Time and was it any different than recording your previous records?
S: We did "What A Time" at the Hideaway in Minneapolis. Even though it was a totally different environment, we did it with a friend of ours, Dan Jensen. Having somebody around who you can feel not guarded about shit with was excellent. Since in the past, we’d always either done stuff ourselves or had punk dudes in small studios record us, I think it would’ve been quite a shock to deal with some classic rock fucker just for the sake of good mics or a good room. Dan’s a rad dude who somehow has access to all the things you need to make a bangin’ record. So, same dumb, drunk process, just into fancier boxes. Well, and I guess we were slightly more organized. Sawdust City was done over like 6 months. We did What A Time in 5 straight days. Then did mixing for like a day in the studio and then mostly via sending tweaks back and forth. So it’s maybe more cohesive cause it was done at one time. For better or worse.
N: What is in store for Arms Aloft in 2017?
S: Well, after we have a funeral or two for whoever doesn’t survive the tour, uhh… I’m not sure. We’re tossing around some Europe tour plans for April or May or something. But that’s a world away. Right now just worried about getting the record out. We’ve been sitting on it since April and all the promo shit has been eating up about all our band time. So we’ll just play some gigs, hopefully to some new people in some new places. The reception to the couple of songs we’ve put out so far has really blown us all away, so I’m really stoked to just get it out there and collect our validation. Ha. Take that, dickhead teachers or ex-girlfriends or whoever I’m supposed to be spiting.
N: Remember when we used to send each other J-Pop videos via e-mail? Good times.
S: That’s ancient history man. Now we tweet K-Pop songs to each other. The times they are a changin’. Dude, not unrelated, but that new fucking HyunA EP is so dope. I can’t get over that “U & Me” song. I’ve listened to it like a dozen times in the last two days. I have a problem.
Nate: What are you looking forward to the most on this upcoming tour?
Alex: Well we haven’t been on the road since last fall for our Fest tour, so it will just be nice to get out and play for a month. We’re going to be playing larger venues than we have ever before in the states. We’re also hitting Ohio, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. for the first time on this tour. It’ll be the first time in 4 years that we’ve been to Canada, so that’s also pretty tight. Obviously playing with Falcon and Kyle Kinane is insane. The show on a cruise ship in New York City is going to be strange and cool. This is all possible because of our association with Red Scare, so it’s become apparent what type of doors Toby can open up for us. It will also, and maybe more than everything else, be exciting to play new songs. It’s always a rush to play a new set and have a little less muscle memory and a little more danger.
N: What is your songwriting for Arms Aloft like? Does Seth send you a riff and you work off of that? Anything different for this recording process?
A: Basically the process for writing was Seth would send us a rough demo of either an idea, or a shell of a song. We would all say “hell yeah, sounds cool” and he would keep sending us updated versions. There was definitely some group input and things evolved quite a bit as we actually got in the same room and rehearsed them. The evolution came more in the form of making sure they were playable and making sure the feel lined up with how we all play.
One of the true collaborations I had, aside from the songs from a previous 7” that are rerecorded for this record, was “I Want To Be Leaves”. The ending of that song is something Seth and I just sort of did in our practice space when I was back for a weekend. There was another instance where he sent me an intro and verse and said “it needs a lead” and I sent him back a file with the lead.
The other big difference is having Jack play on the record. I think it really sounds like us because it actually is us. For the past 5 years we’ve been playing with Jack and all the songs we play have been off releases that he hasn’t played on.
N: Were you listening to anything while writing that influenced your guitar parts for What a Time?
A: I was obsessing over Polvo and Archers of Loaf during the few months before we recorded. There’s a behind the bridge string noise “lead" in “Untitled" that is definitely channeling some Thurston Moore shit. Then there are the few noise freak outs on the record.
N: I think it’s awesome that you made your first official music video on your iPad. DIY AF. What was that process like?
A: Honestly, it was a blast. iMovie is kind of primitive, so it was super easy to figure it out. It only took about a week to pull most of it together. I had a lot of footage from tours we’ve been on over the past 5 years and it was nice to finally do something with it. Conor Mackie filmed a lot of the live stuff from a tour we were on last fall, and he was nice enough to upload all of it so I could use it. It was mostly just cool to make a video that looks like it could have been a Polvo video, or something.
N: What’s your favorite part of Fest and who are you looking forward to seeing the most this year?
A: My favorite part of Fest is seeing friends from all over, in the same place, at the same time. It’s incredible. There is nothing like it. We always end up playing killer shows. There’s great food. Lots of bad beer. And there’s a nature preserve about 15 minutes out of town. So when the constant bustle of Fest gets to be too much, we drive out there and look at alligators and giant, terrifying birds.
Last year Bob Nanna played a Jets To Brazil cover set. I’m not sure anything could top that. I am looking forward to (or at least attempting to see) Braid, The Fake Boys, Cheap Girls, Knapsack, Lemuria, Negative Approach, and the Guided By Voices tribute band.
N: When’s the Bowser Vega reunion show?
A: I’m going to record a tribute to the Metallica album “Load” and release it under the name Bowser Vega. Look out for that in the next few years.
What A Time To Be Barely Alive drops digitally on September 2nd and physically on September 9th.
For every bit of info about the release and tour dates, please visit Arms Aloft on Facebook, right here.
You can buy the new album, based on your region at these links:
US CD: http://redscare.storenvy.com/…/17459312-arms-aloft-what-a-t…
US LP: https://erodingwinds.com/…/arms-aloft-what-a-time-to-be-bar…
US LP: http://www.ambientmerch.com/collections/armsaloft
Europa LP: https://tictail.com/…/arms-aloft-what-a-time-to-be-barlely-…
Europe LP: http://www.guerilla-asso.com
UK LP: http://www.allinvinyl.com/…/575326-arms-aloft-br-what-a-tim…
by Nate Dimit (@ndimit)