Monday, March 21, 2011

Monsoon Cobra Gets Intimate with The Armed

I'm still new to this whole interviewing thing.  It's fun to correspond with bands, but the avenue that I've been pushing (i.e. the email interview) seems to take a while to get accomplished.  Since I've got no idea what a "professional" would do and I'm not going to do any research on the subject, I'm just going to have to deal with it.  About a month ago I emailed The Armed in the frozen tundra of Detroit and forgot that I had done so.  Yesterday, to my eternal delight, a response email appeared in my inbox, which means that all the not-preparing I did this weekend while I thundered around downtown Austin for SXSW is finally paying off.  Which is good, because SXSW is really just an overblown reason to watch about 30 bands every day, pay too much for beer and see drunk girls whose tube tops just roll right off their tits, and it's hard to get any writing or preparing to write done when you've got hooters to scope out.


So, without further ado, let's don our smoking jackets and sit down in the talking parlor for a quick chat with The Armed.

For the uninitiated, who are you and where are you from?

My name is Tony and I play drums in a punk band from Detroit called The Armed.

Your music is great stuff.  I famously compared you to Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge; did you or did you not spring from the glans penises of these two bands?  What kind of bands would you compare yourselves to?

I feel like that's a very flattering comparison.  Honestly, a lot of our direct inspiration comes from music we dislike...being frustrated with other stuff that's going on.  So I would compare us hopefully to the exact opposite of 90% of a modern Warped Tour bill.

Describe in excruciating detail how you guys write a song; is it a collective process, or is there one member who rules all with an iron fist?

It's not always the same, but I'd say 70-80% of the songs are started by me and Kenny (bass).  We'll jam together and exchange midi demos and kinda map out the whole song structure.  Then Aaron (guitar) who lives super close to me, will drive over and put some guitar stuff over it and we'll have a pretty decent working demo.  Most of our material comes from that kind of process.  There is a good number of exceptions to this rule though too.  Like the end of 'Death Panel' was written by our light guy Dan for a different song but it just sounded super heavy and great so we stole it for that one.  We've actually been shooting a ton of video of the writing/recording process for our new EP so hopefully that stuff will get out there in some way or another soon...

You guys put out These Are Lights in 2009 and released the EP Common Enemies earlier last year.  What have you got planned release-wise for 2011?

We are working on a new EP right now that'll probably be ready by Fall.  Last time, with 'Common Enemies,' we kinda made up a bunch of rules and made a pretty tight deadline for ourselves. I think the result was great and it worked out perfectly, but this time, we're keeping it a bit more open like 'These Are Lights' was.  So it's not completely written in stone yet, but it's shaping up to probably be a five song release.  Potentially more, or maybe some songs will be released in different formats later in the year as well.  No less than five though for sure.  Tons of guests.  Recording one locally this week and then going out to Jersey next week to record out there.  Super stoked for that.  There's going to be some absolutely insane stuff on this record.  Really angry, really fast thrashers.  And some stuff that you'll be able to catch a groove to too, so it'll be pretty aggressive but well balanced.  It'll be released for free online just like everything else, and potentially on vinyl in a limited run like 'Common Enemies.'  It may also have a limited run DVD companion as well. 

Offering music for free download is an increasingly popular thing to do, since everyone knows that people like me would just steal that shit anyway using Internet power.  What led to your decision to make your debut and the subsequent EP free for everyone to download?

Wanting people to actually hear or care about our music made us choose this route.  We hadn't even played a single show together when we released 'These Are Lights' but we all believed in the material and wanted to get it out to as many people as possible.  Selling overpriced CDs to kids at shows is a bad way to get the word out.  Giving it away allowed us to reach thousands of kids we'd never make an impact on otherwise and do so quickly.  

Then, the people who really really like us bought our record and tshirts and DVDs and whatnot when we released 'Common Enemies.'  That's good enough for us.  We are not delusional people.  We will never make livable money off of playing the music we play....especially in the fashion we play our shows live.  This is not supposed to be some kind of crazy, super profitable venture.  We just wanna kill it.  So give it all away and let as many people as possible enjoy it.

I'm impressed with how slick your website is.  Who made the website?

Thank you.  I design, our friend Billy Kurilko codes.

What would be the ideal bill for The Armed to jump on?

Something in a big house with a ton of kids there.  Preferably something diverse so it's not like 8 of those total bummer deathcore bands and then us or something.

What plans do you guys have for touring?  When will The Armed come to Austin, TX to hang out with me specifically?  How about other places where I probably won't be?

Touring is difficult because of the myriad of other projects everyone else has going.  One of the biggest things is that Aaron is a high school teacher which makes school year gigging very hard.  Chris lives in Canada.  Dan legally can't be in some states...Be on the look out though for some short tactical strikes this summer.  I'd love to make it to Austin at some point for sure.

I was first exposed to you guys through, when you were written up by some dude who had a pseudonym containing the word "Hitler."  Do you actually know that dude, or is he just more in tune with great underground music than I am?

That dude frequents a message board where I had put up links to our band's stuff.  It was super killer of him to put that up there.

Did that writeup lead to any additional fans?  How about interest from labels?

Both, definitely.  That's how I found out about the article.  There was a pretty substantial spike in download activity and our hosting service actually called Chris because it pushed us over our monthly bandwidth.  It was probably one of the biggest increases since either album was released.  As for the label interest thing, we received quite a few emails but I doubt you'll be seeing us on any label anytime soon.  The funny thing is, most of the correspondence we have is people at labels just telling us they really love what we are doing and how we are going about it.  I think most realize that we are not profitable though.  We also have very little interest in being involved in any kind of traditional record deal.  I wouldn't rule any and all label involvement out completely or anything, but being completely on our own has worked out pretty good for us so far...

Being tr00 and kvlt is really popular right now.  When are The Armed going to finally go Black Metal?

This new EP is total dark mode, dude.
So there you have it; The Armed are finally going black metal.  And it's about damn time, if you ask me.  Thanks to Tony and the rest of the band for taking the time to answer my stupid questions.  I'm just glad I got to post something, because I had literally nothing else planned (except my old fallback, which is excerpts from my dream journal).  Visit The Armed at their website and download their shit, buy a shirt, or do what I did and marvel at their fancy website, accomplishing nothing.

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