Alex Arrowsmith is one of the 'Stand's oldest friends, having first recorded with us way back in April 2008. In all, Alex has played three sets at the 'Stand – two as a solo artist and one as the bassist for Tiger House. Alex has also done rad mixing work for us, mixing both his first set, and our live release from Tiger House. The 'Stand's June 26th show will be our first with Alex and his Pugs (Mayhaw Hoons and Ky Fifer), and also features Soft Paws. Alex answered interview questions via email for this post. Thanks Alex!
How long has the band been together in its current form? How did it come together?
My Pugs have been with me since around Christmas of last year. It came together really quickly, even though I'd been wanting a live band for quite a while. I was basically just waiting to find the perfect guys for the job, so I played for years totally by myself until I found a combo that worked. As it happened, Ky and Mayhaw made it known that they were both willing and pug-like. By the New Year, we were practicing a full set.
How would you describe your sound? What are your key influences?
I try to go for pop music with a heap of ridiculous. I'm a big fan of the ridiculous, hence the band name. But the pop element usually comes before any quirkiness that ends up in the mix. My biggest influences are probably They Might Be Giants, The Clash, Ween, XTC, REM, The Cure, Mega Man music. Mega Man 3 seriously has some of the best melodies I've ever heard. Especially the Magnet Man stage.
Tell us your thoughts about recording live. What made you want to record a live show at The Banana Stand?
Well, I love house shows, and the Banana Stand is one of the best house venues going right now! Everyone who runs the operation knows their shit and the basement is downright killer. Getting a clean live recording in a real show setting isn't something that most bands get to do, and the fact that the Banana Stand focuses on that aspect of it is awesome! Almost every project I've been involved with tends to put on a show slightly different than the recordings, and to be given a chance to capture that other side of a band cleanly is indispensable for any band, I think.
What's your favorite memory of a live show? Least favorite?
Live shows were generally better when I was younger, just because the experience was new to me. My first two shows were The Cure and They Might Be Giants in 1996 when I was 14, and they both were mind-blowing experiences. Back then, seeing a show was an event, especially since I lived an hour away in Hood River. But now it's more of a common occurrence. I actually wrote a post on my site about this kind of thing recently. As far as least favorite shows, I can't say I've really gone out of my was to see a show I've hated, but I've certainly played terrible shows myself! Especially when I'd play 2-3 hour acoustic sets (which aren't my forte anyway) to nobody, but I took them because a gig's a gig!
What are your favorite live albums?
Paris by The Cure, Live at the El Mocambo by Elvis Costello, Brazil by Men At Work, and Nirvana's MTV Unplugged are the big ones that come to mind. But one of the coolest live albums I've heard is the Live in Japan album by The Microphones. None of the songs were on any previous album, so it's basically a brand new album that just happened to be recorded live, and the songs were great to boot. If I remember right, Naked Dutch Painter by The Negro Problem is basically the same deal as well, and that has some great stuff on it too. I like the idea of a live album not just being a kind of a greatest hits album.
What other projects are you all involved with?
All three of us love playing music with our friends and supporting their projects, so there's definitely a lot of overlap! Mayhaw's of course the bass dude in The Shaky Hands, and I also joined them recently myself on keys and guitars. Myself, Mayhaw and The Shaky Hands' Nick Delffs also started a band called Haunted KOA which is basically Mayhaw's pet project. Ky is playing drums in Johannin, as well as writing his own songs, and just released a studio project with his sister Tiger called Redtop Medusa, which is an amazingly dense and well-produced pop-feast. It really showcases Ky's voice in a way that would make Meat Loaf weep.
What are you working on lately?
The Shaky Hands have been recording a new album, a good chunk of which was recorded in my little apartment studio, if it can even be called a studio. Just last week, I started recording a new Tiger House EP, which I can tell already is going to be their best stuff yet. Also, my friend Nate Birkholz has a studio project called Redcoat Turncoat that I play with sometimes, including July 2 at the Tiger Bar, along with my Pugs and Tiger House. All of that on top of learning new songs and recording demos for a new album with my Pugs, which I hope to have done by the fall, and I've been busy as crap! Lots of great stuff happening, though!
Thanks again to Alex Arrowsmith for participating in our interview. For more music, news, and other great content about Alex Arrowsmith, check out his website.