Cautiously Optimistic | Dance Your Troubles away with Arms Akimbo

by Tori Adams

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Arms Akimbo has to be one of the most enchanting bands I’ve ever stumbled across. I usually ignore most of the press releases that fill my inbox, but something stood out about their sound that made me want to tune in. Sure their music bears similarities to other popular indie groups like Hippo Campus, but there is a quirky and undeniably one-of-a-kind energy embedded into even their slowest of songs.

When I sit down with the guys at Davey Wayne’s to get to know them a bit better, they immediately get a whiff of my plan: “She wants to boy band us,” Peter warns the band to which Chris quickly, and cunningly, retorts, “Zayn.”

I have to admit that at first I couldn’t help but typecast them into your typical roles. They reminded me so much of The Beatles at first. I mean, for god’s sake you have a band with four people who can each sing lead. That doesn’t happen every day. You also have two songwriters, Peter and Chris, who write “sister songs” with the guidance of their go-to producer, Stephen Gomez, who acts as a mediator and a magical musical surrogate for their songs, much like George Martin did for John and Paul back in the ‘60s. The group started when Peter and Chris, also guitarists, met at LMU, and brought in their “first round draft picks” in the form of Colin, a drummer who recently switched to bass, and their drummer Matt, who had been playing in other bands at the time. Beyond all these eerie similarities, the group proves to be remarkably different.

From left to right: Matt, Peter, Chris, Colin

From left to right: Matt, Peter, Chris, Colin

For one, the members are pretty freaking unique. You definitely can’t box them into any cliché role. More importantly, the band is in its early stages. They are past the incubation point, but not quite at the level of Beatles stardom just yet. Since graduating, they have released their first official EP, The Wrong Kind of Dance Party. While the EP has earned them major digital traction and a sold out show at The Troubadour, they aren’t quite “raking it in yet.” They may joke that they’re ready for the world tour and the mansions, but in reality they are focused on doing the never-ending stack of dishes and paying rent. They all agree though that music is the priority right now. “Right out of school you have these panics because you wanna be able to self-sustain and perhaps pursue a career but I think we all [agree that] we have something special here. It’s time to focus on this and let [everything else] be second.”

Due to their lack of funding and traditional studio support, the band has learned to take matters into their own hands and approach music with a DIY attitude. From creative direction to touring to recording to social media-they do it all. Peter shares, “That’s kind of been our motto: ‘Fuck it, we’ll do it ourselves.’” Peter uses his charm and people-person skills to handle booking, Matt takes the reins on social media, and Chris applies his film-school education to the creation of their album covers and music videos, which are the definition of beauty on a budget. As for Colin? He’s in charge of everything else, including, getting from point A to point B. “Head of transportation is what I like to call myself,” he proudly divulges. This transportation came in handy when the boys took to Texas for their very own SXSW tour. The boys put together their own rag-tag tour complete with a performance at the skating rink and a University of Texas Co-Op. Most bands would wait around, waiting to get booked and get their big break. These guys carve their own path and don’t give a fuck if they 'make it' or not.

Their unapologetic attitude translates into their sound. Their music may be packaged with top-tier pop production, but beyond the surface lies deep cuts of punk and indie-rock. They scream their lungs out one second and harmonize in perfect unison the next. It’s unpredictable, but also incessantly infectious. This upbeat sound disguises the fact that most of their songs are a little melancholic. It’s the perfect paradox.

While they have mastered this technique, they aren’t afraid to mix it up in the future. Matt affirms, “We’re definitely going to have natural progression in our sound and that’s just from musical and life maturity." The Wrong Kind Of Dance Party may have blossomed during their post-grad phase, but it’s essence is centered around college life. The EP name even came from a rambunctious and seemingly random playlist they created for the parties they hosted.

What’s next for the band is up in the air though. They’re hoping to get some playful Twitter beef started with Kevin James, Mark Zuckerberg or any local LA indie band. Other than that, the possibilities are endless. Adulthood is looming, and their sound is bound to change. But you won’t catch them using synths anytime soon. They pay no mind to the Zeitgeist.

Of all the intriguing bits of information I discovered over the course of the interview, one of the most fascinating things I learned about is their name itself: Arms Akimbo. The name comes from a character in the ‘90s cartoon, Freakazoid. Arms Akimbo is a racketeering extortionist and “total mob boss” whose hands are eternally stuck on his hips in a permanent pose of defiance and determination. The band takes a similar stance: they are assertive rebels ready to take Spotify by storm. They'll make you want to keep their songs on repeat, or open up that one press release in your inbox that you might otherwise overlook. 

Written By: Tori Adams 

Photos By: Chris Braun