ARMS AKIMBO: Back row: Matt Sutton (drums) Front row (from l-r): Colin Boppell (bass), Chris Kalil (guitar/vocals), Peter Schrupp (vocals/guitar)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Having formed as part of a college project three years ago, Los Angeles four-piece Arms Akimbo have, in that time, established themselves as a real musical force.
The band have achieved this through a run of successful singles and an EP, which has seen them perfect a powerful style of indie rock, containing infectious riffs, anthemic choruses, soaring harmonies and sophisticated songwriting.
This, as well as their raucous live performances, has resulted in the quartet getting almost two million plays on Spotify, and support slots for such illustrious outfits as The Animals.
Now, with sophomore EP, ‘The Wrong Kind Of Dance Party’ having just been released, Arms Akimbo’s frontman, Peter Schrupp, chatted with me about it, as well as his, and the band’s, experiences so far.
How did the band form?
The band actually stems from Chris’s recording arts senior thesis project. For the assignment, Chris worked with me to track some of my solo project material/work on writing full band assignments, since that was part of the project criteria. They brought both Colin and Matt to work on the sessions, and the rest is history.
How did the name Arms Akimbo come about?
I just had a few names I was considering for solo stuff. It means “hands on your hips,” and it sounded silly, so we were into it. I think I saw it in a book of “least commonly known English phrases,” and put it in my notes.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Something we’ve gotten more keen to when writing new songs is thinking, “Do I have anything to say?”
If there’s a driving force to the lyrics, it usually influences a mood in the musicality. Chris and I both write, and we’ve had a couple eerie moments where we bring songs to the band and they sort of feel like kindred spirits or “sister songs“. We’ve been writing a lot about Los Angeles, social influence, and the classic – heartbreak.
What influences the band lyrically?
Nostalgia. There’s a feeling of both longing and happiness in missing someone or something. I hope we can invoke that sentiment in our songs. I also think we’re influenced a lot by comedy. Not that our songs are inherently funny, but we enjoy turns of phrase and think they deserve a place in music.
In 2015, you released your debut EP, ‘Vignettes’, and the following year, you brought out a single, ‘Michigan’, which, to date, has had close to a million plays on Spotify. Would you say you were blown away from the huge responses they got?
Yeah. We’ve been amazed to see the response to our music since day one. It’s insane, because what we saw locally was the gradual turning of heads – people going, “Woah, you guys are kinda good!” Meanwhile we had people in Argentina or the UK telling us they listen to our little EP every day. I guess that’s the beauty of the internet.
I remember writing a timeline for our first year of being a band, and we achieved those goals in four months. It’s safe to say we had to restructure our goals and realise that this band had become something much bigger than us from the jump.
Last year, the band opened for rhythm and blues legends The Animals at Santa Monica Pier. How did that come about?
We won a battle of the bands, one of those ‘School of Rock’ type victories where they all fight for that ONE BIG SHOW. We figured we should just go for it and honestly, we had no idea we would even make it through.
On the day itself, we got to meet Eric Burdon and some of the band members, and we have nothing but love for the whole experience.
And how was that as an experience for you all?
We got to hang out at the secret Snapchat party backstage and play ping-pong next to Eric. On the real, it was a complete whirlwind. At the end of the day, we just love performing, and the more people we can interact with the happier we are.
We had the pier completely filled with people, and thousands more down at the beach also watching. Surreal.
The band have just unveiled their second EP, ‘The Wrong Kind Of Dance Party’. How was the recording process?
The process was fantastic. We teamed up with Stephen Gomez again, who had produced our previous three singles.
What’s great about working with Stephen is that he’s really good at working on his feet. Some of the songs on this EP were fully fleshed out before going to him, and some required a lot of creative input in the studio. We’ve worked together with Stephen enough now that we know he understands our end goal and our vision.
For anybody who hasn’t managed to listen to the EP yet, what can they expect of it?
On this new EP, we took a chance and really stretched our sound. While the production style remains similar to our previous singles, the actual content itself varies quite a bit within the album.
Also, we wanted ‘The Wrong Kind Of Dance Party’ to feel like one coherent work rather than six singular tracks. We spent a long time trying to find the best way to tie the whole album together, and we’re super excited about what we ended up with.
What are your plans now that the EP has come out?
First, we’re going to celebrate with a show at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.
After that, we’re literally getting right back in the studio to record some more songs that we’ve written. We’re also hitting the road and planning on a ton of shows. Clubs, festivals, houses, etc. We just figure it’s a cycle, and we have a lot more to share with everyone right now.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
We live together and create all of our work out of our living room. We just want to bring our living room to everyone around us.
‘THE WRONG KIND OF DANCE PARTY’, THE SECOND EP FROM ARMS AKIMBO, IS NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD OR PURCHASE FROM SPOTIFY, iTunes, APPLE MUSIC, DEEZER & BANDCAMP.
YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO ONE OF THE TRACKS FROM THE NEW RELEASE, ‘SEVEN MIRRORS’, ON SOUNDCLOUD: soundcloud.com/arms_akimbo/seven-mirrors
FURTHER INFO CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.armsakimbomusic.com