WORDS: TOM COLE
FROM: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA | FOR FANS OF: ALEXISONFIRE, THURSDAY
After months of isolation and quarantine, Sacremento prepares to bear down for the colder months. Its resident musicians, however, emerge with the fruits of their labour ready to present to the world.
DIY post Emo outfit Anxious Arms have used the downtime to push ahead with new music; their new EP Head Towards Heaven is tender and destructive in equal measure, forging their new sound with a slew of new, darker influences.
“So with Head Towards Heaven we looked to push our sound in a more raw and heavy direction than on our earlier work,” muses Kyle Bolla (vocals, guitars). “We got the opportunity to work with Joshua Unitt (ex-Wolf and Bear) guitarist, and he gives us a lot of freedom in the studio. For example, we wanted the EP to have a live feel, but still retain a modern punch. To accomplish this, Zach and Jack recorded live in a room together […] by tracking in an “old school” way, we feel that the dynamics and little imperfections are allowed to shine through — this gives the recordings a unique quality that we like a lot.”
AA are full-throated and gloomy, presenting a vision of emo that leans closer to it’s goth forebears. Taking elements from post hardcore and alt metal, the band take a broad approach to their basement emo aesthetic. There’s more than a few surprises in store for listeners, including a sudden stab of noise that caps off intro track Shatter.
“We’ve each had leadership roles in other projects, so there is no lack of passion when it comes to creating and experimenting with new sounds.”
“We all love metal at our core, but listen to different genres as well,” explains Tuan Purser (guitar). “Because of our shared background in heavy music, it is easy to mesh ideas and bring our own flavours to the mix. We’ve each had leadership roles in other projects, so there is no lack of passion when it comes to creating and experimenting with new sounds.”
Through their links to their local scene and their love of local bands such as Deftones, AA’s fondness for their native Sacramento is abundantly clear. It’s not uncommon for heavy bands to have a rich, deep relationship with their hometown. Aside from their With bands from areas like New York represented very heavily, does Sacramento make a mark on their sound?
“It does,” enthuses Bolla. “I grew up roughly 20 miles from Sacramento in a farming community of 200 people. As a teenager, I always looked up to Sacramento bands like Deftones and Far because they were from a big city that was so close. Now that I have lived in Sacramento for most of my adult life, my rural upbringing has still had a heavy impact on who I am as a person and musician. […] I think that energy still makes up a foundational part of who I am, and that’s why I identify with 90s grunge too. Most of those bands grew up in small rural communities like I did and that hunger to pave your own path sticks with you.”
With such a clear and obvious link to their geography, it follows that they’d be involved with the politics that shapes not just their location and scene, but that stretches through their whole community.
“As a medium and a genre, heavy music has always been about conveying a thought in the most powerful way possible. The political tension in the US has been steadily increasing for years, and through these struggles we’ve had numerous monumental heavy bands emerge with a message.”
“if you are living in our country and are aware of all the corruption, it’s hard not to be angry at it all so it bleeds into the songwriting process.“
So says drummer, Jack Detamore. He continues: “if you are living in our country and are aware of all the corruption, it’s hard not to be angry at it all so it bleeds into the songwriting process. The writing process and live show aspect then becomes a vehicle for us to collectively empty those frustrations out in a “healthy” manner. That’s not to say our songs are political, but as people who live under and are affected by our establishment, the music always comes from a genuine place of emotion.”
Just as this has affected their outlook, AA have navigated the emerging landscape – with fewer shows they’ve released videos on Facebook and taken advantage of the Bandcamp Friday promotions. But the real change, Detamore stresses, comes from being able to break the touring cycle.
“As much as being shut down has been really tough, in a lot of ways it has been nice to have a little bit of a mental reset,” he explains. “Sometimes when you get into “show mode” and start playing all the time you don’t really get a chance to be in a room together and just hang out or to write a song from scratch. I personally have been playing guitar and writing everyday which I don’t think I would have had the time if everything was ‘normal.'”
The wintry winds are closing in – not such a big deal for a band who have such close ties to their gloomy roots. What better way than to celebrate than a late-October release?
“We are releasing a 7-inch and music video on October 30th! The video is for our new song “The Time Will Come” which was directed by Jake Kilgore of Chrome Ghost. We are super proud of how it came out and we can’t wait for people to see it!”