Cautiously Optimistic | Dance Your Troubles away with Arms Akimbo
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 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, its not every day that each member of a band can each sing lead. 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 musical surrogate for their songs, much like George Martin did for John and Paul back in the ‘60s. Beyond all these eerie similarities, the group proves to be remarkably different.
For one, the band is in its early stages. They are past the incubation point, but not quite at the level of Beatles stardom just yet. The group started when Peter and Chris, also guitarists for the band, met at LMU, and brought in their “first round draft picks” in the form of Colin, a bassist, and Matt, a drummer. Since graduating, they have released their first official EP, The Wrong Kind of Dance Party. While the EP has earned them 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 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. 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. While other bands wait to get their big break, Arms Akimbo is busy craving their own path forward.
Their unapologetic attitude translates into their sound. Their music is packaged with a pop sensibility and production style, 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." 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. Adulthood is looming, but the possibilities are endless.
Written By: Tori Adams
Photos By: Chris Braun