Saturday, June 30, 2007

BAND INTERVIEW: Arizona

Arizona will playing the 10th Annual Team Clermont "Athens Summer Festival" in Athens, GA on July 27 @ The 40 Watt with Castanets, Phosphorescent & A Northern Chorus. Check out "Thimble" from their upcoming EP, "Fameseeker and the Mono" two posts below this one.

It Covers The Hillsides:
So you all live in New York, but "come from many places around the country". Which places exactly? And, do you like New York better than where you came from?

Arizona: Nick is from Cincinatti, James grew up with Andrew in Marietta, Ga., Alex and Ben grew up in Long Island, which is where we get the Billy Joel and Dream Theater sides of our sound. New York is a place that challenges us and informs the band's identity. Some of us love it more than the others.

ICTH: Five guys in the band, huh? What, are you guys sexist or something? And by "something" I mean, do you dress really well?

Arizona: We actually don't dress well at all. Ben has initiated a style known as "Keith Richard-Dreyfuss" which basically looks like Gene Wilder after a schizophrenic meltdown. Nick looks like a 12 year old boy, James looks like the kind of guy who would touch a 12 year old boy. Alex Hornbake and Andrew Dunn are both known as the "hot guys" of the band and that's just because they are tall and don't look quite so strung out. When we record our albums, we wear sexy pajamas that look like this – it's the only way we can access the deep reservoirs of empathy and imagination that characterize our glorious sound. Oh yeah, and our manager Ian is pretty hot. He does dress well, because he's the only guy in the band who comes close to being "a hipster."

ICTH: Is this your first time playing Athens, GA? Because it's a pretty cool town..it sports "The Tree That Owns Itself" and a place that only sells chicken fingers.

Arizona: This is our first time playing in Athens. We can't wait to see, let alone lick that tree. Let's get lunch at that chicken fingers place.

ICTH: On your newest EP, "Fameseeker and the Mono", you have a song called "Life is Great" which has some pretty positive things to say. Why is life great for you guys?

Arizona: That title is actually a little tongue in cheek. Many people don't know that we write, record and mix every song you've ever heard from us in about 36 hours from start to finish. What happened with that tune is, we were listening to Neil Young's "Living with War" as a band, and read an interview where he basically says 'man, I wish a younger band had the balls to make this record.' We all heart the shit he says on that record, and felt we'd take a crack at making a song that could encapsulate that record, and talk about modern issues with a bit more subtlety. We got started the second Neil's record stopped playing. It seems to have worked! The lyrics to the chorus are "This'll get better, this'll get better, let your inner golden heart out for a while, this'll get better." They're some of the simplest lyrics we've done; the golden heart thing is a clever tip o' the hat to Neil. Life is great because even during this time, America's darkest hour, the closest we've come to becoming the Nazis, people give a shit about music, everyone is out there mining for a heart of gold. We'll find it together, and this will get better.

ICTH: Why are you currently not signed to any label? Like, are you mean to people? Is that why? Do you guys have narcolepsy, and fall asleep before you sign the contract? Because your music is really good, so sucking can't be why.

Arizona: We're brutal bastards. We're also completely addicted to heroin, PCP and MDMA. We traffic sex slaves, which lots of people aren't into (but the ones who are pay well).

Really, there are just so many bands out there, and so few labels that have the resources to take a band like ours and bring them to the people in any meaningful, lasting way. Even the small labels are operating with the same calculating mentality as major labels, just with no budgets and even less flexibility. They are looking for a puzzle piece to fit snugly into their plans, not to change their plans to accommodate the creative abilities of an artist. We've found we love to score films and are good at it. We could do a major film score a month if someone would give us the work. We get some, and we love it. I'm not sure there are too many record labels who would be into the idea of us taking a solid chunk of our 'touring/record promoting' time to create scores for great movies, although it would be great money, exposure, and probably help sell a ton of records.

Many labels seem to want bands to walk this very tried and true path during a time when dramatic change is needed in order to prove that band-made-music is still a vital art. We are willing to walk, march, or run down the tried and true path carrying the banner of a terrific label, but we need to find one that is going to support us in being the change that our generation so deeply needs in order to keep rock music from getting as predictable and common as 12 bar blues.

We don't want to sign to just anyone, because really, who needs another band shoved through the system and down your throat? Our music will reach people and people will find out that what we're doing is different from what everyone else is doing. We've had the good fortune of making great human connections through our music and through the people that come to our shows.

With a lot of indie bands who are "doing well right now" you will find that they are empowered with much more exposure than we get, and that is usually because they have sold their balls into slavery so that they can be shoved down as many throats as possible. There are lots of brand new bands getting signed to prestigious booking companies, getting massive exposure on Pitchfork which can make (or break) a band overnight, introduced to all the right people, etc. With us, we've got much less exposure, but that exposure happens through good fortune and totally organic routes. The great bands we've toured with, like Band of Horses or the Slip, are artists who have stepped up themselves and taken us under their wing because they know we are chasing our muse. Being unsigned, being total outsiders is fun, because it means that every opportunity that we get comes to us because we earn it, and at the end of the day, we feel that much better about ourselves and can put that into our new music. The exposure would be nice, but we're in this for the long haul and have faith in ourselves that we'll get where we want to go and earn a meaningful place in the musical world.

ICTH: If you had to describe your music to a deaf person, what would you write down on a sheet of paper for them to read?

"Dear Deaf-person,
Hello there. We are Arizona, the rock band. We understand that you are a human being of the first order, someone who was truly picked by the Universe to be smart, special, substantial, and well meaning. You are just the kind of person we want to touch with our music, but you are deaf. If you'll indulge us, we'd like to describe our music to you and see if we can still find some sort of cosmic convergence between our two paths of life.
We strive to sound like falling in love for the first time, meeting with your favorite living author, watching the sun come up and paint Manhattan with the most heartbreakingly fleeting hues, walking hand-in-hand with God who assures you that 'masturbation is okay, and natural', coming to terms with death in your final moments, smelling freshly cut grass, saving a child's life, waking up one day and being able to dominate at any sport, mercilessly beating down someone who clearly deserves it, being able to time travel using only your mind, and being able to eat endless quantities of the favorite dish your mother (or whomever) used to make you without getting morbidly sick.
We hope that you don't take offense at our trying to reach out to you through these words. We'd really love to be friends. Perhaps we can share some lyrics, as we put as much thought into those as we do into our sound. Do you write poetry, or paint? If so, please share.

Yours truly,
Arizona the band"

ICTH: Which band(s) are you most looking forward to hearing/playing with at this year's Athens Summerfest/Blue Ribbbon Ball? Besides yourselves.

Arizona: Ben's personally really looking forward to Starlight Mints. We are all excited to check out how Castanets and Phosphorescent will merge to rock as one giant, Voltron: Defender of the Universe-style entity. It seems as though all of the bands playing are going to be real worth checking out and we hope to catch 'em all, Pokemon-style.

ICTH: So can we expect to see you all sporting sexy pajama outfits for this show? If not, is there something I could offer you (besides sex, 'cuz my wife already told me to stop doing that) to wear sexy pajama outfits for the show?

Arizona: We understand that there is a James Bond theme to this prom party, being that it's '007 and all. We were planning to have Nick come out as a Bond Girl, Alex come out as Jaws, Andrew as 'Q', Ben as an evil millionaire Bond villain with some horrible disfigurement, and James dressed to the nines as Bond himself.

If you'd rather see us prance around in silky pajamas, however, it can be arranged. Just let us know. We aim to please. Maybe you can start a poll on here.

ICTH: Finally, I'm pretty psyched to see you guys play live. Are you psyched to see me, see you play live?

Arizona: We're psyched. Foaming at the unmentionables.

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