For my money Red Arms have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal:
• They play the catchy, noisy brand of punk and roll that I love
• They cover the great Replacements track – Takin’ A Ride on their new EP – Welcome To The New Cold War
• They could be mistaken for a reincarnation of all the bands I loved in the late 80s early 90s
• They hail from right here in good old London, Ontario.
Maybe their sound speaks to me so clearly because I am of the same vintage as this self described “Old Dude Rock Band”. These guys are not neophytes – they’ve all been around and all have careers beyond music, so their influences come from living through the prime years of late 80s early 90s shoe-gaze, post-punk, and power pop, and it can be heard throughout their music.
The new EP was released in a very, very limited (only 25 copies) cassette version by small batch label – Curt Murder Fan Club, but you can listen below. The five tracks are saturated with immense guitars, behemothic bass, and enormous drums, but the hooks and pop craftsmanship are there in spades. Not too far off a fusion of Swervedriver, Hot Snakes, and the great Montreal pop punks – The Nils.
Red Arms are a perfect combination of punk, power pop and shoe-gaze. It will be criminal if they don’t get some radio airplay.
Guitarist/vocalist Roberto LoRusso took some time between work and play to answer our questionnaire.
People say we sound like…
A mixture of 80s and 90s punk and post-punk influenced rock and roll with a little shoe-gaze thrown in for good measure.
We are originally from…
London, Ontario, Canada. Not to be confused with London, England. Think of us as London Lite – all the same place names but without the inconvenience of an enriching cosmopolitan experience. We are however, the SECOND largest London in the world…
What music has had an influence on your sound?
’70s through early 2000s American underground as well as the ’77 British punk scene, and ‘80s and ‘90s British shoe-gaze scenes. Truthfully, our influences span the entirety of our collective record collections but I guess these eras would be the best way to describe our sound.
Tell us about what it’s like touring…
Non existent. Geofrrey and Zach have a little more flexibility with work, but Eric and I are pretty heavily invested in our careers so touring would be complicated. We’re trying to hash it out to figure how much we can do without jeopardizing our careers and our ability to – you know – pay bills and eat and stuff.
Tell us about your live show…
Energetic, aggressive, and loud. Zach has a monstrous and gritty bass tone and the chops to match, Geofrrey hits the drums like they owe him money, Eric has a pedal board that’s large enough to qualify for its own postal code and mine is a close second. Eric and I both run two amps each, so it’s a sonic Tsunami. It’s our favourite part of being in the band… playing live that is… not causing irreparable hearing damage to the audience members brave enough to not wear earplugs. Note, you should all wear ear plugs at shows. We do.
How does a city’s musical history, or landscape influence your sound?
I can only speak for myself on this one as I’m the only native Londoner. London in fact informs how I have written over the years quite a bit. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my home. Growing up here I can safely say that during my youth, London was not exactly a diverse city. Arguably it was downright provincial. It had the population of a major city but a mindset of a conservative backwater. Furthermore, London’s geographical location made it a bit of a media black-hole. When I was a kid your access to music was either the radio or magazines. Well, you could read about these bands easily enough, but words on a page just don’t cut it. Radio was where it was at. The problem with London was it was too far away from Detroit, Cleveland, and Toronto to pick up their underground radio stations without an extraordinary rooftop antenna system.
As a nerdy child, I tried my best to make my own antennas for that purpose but with limited success. So I was forced to hunt the dial waiting for these distance signals to fade in from the static-filled ether. The spring and summer months were best for this because atmospheric conditions were favourable, thanks to a phenomenon known as tropospheric ducting, which allow distance signals to travel further than normal ( it is here where you can see the factors that influenced my career choice as a high school physics teacher as well). When this happened, it was awesome. I would pick up WRIF out of Detroit, M105 out of Cleveland, CHUM, Q107 and CFNY out of Toronto (when the stations were actually awesome), and sometimes campus radio stations CIUT out of Toronto, and WCSB and WRUW out of Cleveland. I would strain to hear snippets of these aggressive rock and punk songs but entirely mired in static and noise because of the weakness of the signals. As a result of these endless hours of listening to these scratchy signals, noise became part of the musical aesthetic that I grew to love. When the Jesus and Mary Chain came on the scene I knew what I wanted to do.
Living in London made you pretty humble. There was no big music scene here – a strong independent local scene but nothing nationally recognized. You had to look outward, observe and listen. I did that a lot. I dreamed of moving to a bigger city where things were happening, however as I got older I discovered that big cities were not the creative utopias I imagined them to be. In fact bigger scenes were fraught with distractions, intense competition, and limited access. There were cliques that controlled scenes and if you weren’t privileged to be part of their inner circles, you went nowhere. Also, big cities meant big expenses. Rehearsal space rentals in big cities like Toronto are prohibitively expensive. London is a bargain by comparison. Another advantage to being an artist in a smaller city is that our scene is far more cohesive and cooperative. Competition is replaced with cooperation because it’s necessary for the survival of the scene.
Lastly, thanks to the internet, living in a city like London is no longer the media black-hole it once was. Your geographical location is no longer a total barrier to accessing an audience. This, in my opinion, is the greatest thing to happen to independent music since the invention of the 4track.
What influences the band lyrically?
Again speaking for myself, I tend to write from my experiences. Usually about relationships, politics, and / or existential issues (as pretentious as that sounds… I cringed a little even writing that but it’s accurate). I will also sometimes write from the 3rd person perspective, drawing inspiration from the lives of the people around me; the lyrical equivalent to candid photography, I suppose.
Your most memorable gig ever was….
We’ve only played a few shows so far, so they’re all pretty memorable at the moment. However, back in the 90s my band at the time played the locals / up-and-coming stage at Warped Tour when it came to London… we played just before Sugar Ray… LOL!
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be?
1965 – 1979, London ( the real one), NYC and Detroit (for MC5 and The Stooges), then back to London for the mid to late 70s punk scene. I would also try to avoid getting into confrontations with any speed-crazed punks, because if the confrontations escalated, Lord knows what damage could be done to the timeline upon my return to the 21st century… the Temporal Prime Directive must be respected.
Growing up, at home we listened to…
As a kid, Italian folk music, opera, and soccer games on the shortwave radio (Dad was obsessed). Later it was rock (now known as classic rock) then I discovered punk, underground / alternative / indie and it escalates from there.
What tunes are on heavy rotation for you?
I’m really obsessed with OFF!, Death Grips, Parquet Courts, and War Against Drugs at the moment. There is so much good stuff that it’s hard to narrow it down. This is what is pretty much on this weeks playlist.
If you could open for any band/artist right now who would that be and why?
The Jesus and Mary Chain because they’re the main reason why I learned how to play guitar.
If you could only bring ONE record (only one) in the tour van what would it be?
That is a wretchedly cruel question. You might as well have ask “If you had to save only one of your children…” But if there is a gun to my head and I had to choose I guess either Tame Impala’s “Lonerism” or Dungen’s “Ta Det Lugnt”…Psychedelic records are great for long road trips!
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you?
If it’s anytime other than winter, riding ungodly distances on my road bike in some random place far from here, or on a date with Netflix… just me and Netflix…
The one thing we want you to remember while you’re listening to our music….
One of the dudes in this band is old enough to be your dad but WAY fucking cooler.
What’s up for 2015?
Releasing a 5 song limited-run cassette release on the Curt Murder Fan Club label (It drops Feb 21st during the release show at Call The Office, in London, ON… of course). That, and hopefully putting out a full length near the end of the year. Other than that we’re hoping for more shows outside the London area.