‘If people don’t get stoked when you mention the Replacements, Husker Du, Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub, then I guess they wouldn’t like our band. 🙂’, says Ryan Allen.
And he has a whole lot more to say.
And, man, did he write another killer tune
How did the new record come together?
Pretty organically, honestly. After I released my last album, “Basement Punk” (which I played all the instruments on) I put a band together to help me play the songs live. Once we had a few shows under our belts, I brought a new song to the table that I didn’t demo or really “finish” completely – which is different for me, as I normally demo everything out to completion.
Long story short, we learned the song, thought it kicked ass and decided to keep writing as a four-piece, instead of just me doing it all on my own. As we kept working on material, we began to function as a full-fledged band and not just one dude’s solo project. I began writing songs to suit the tastes/style of Michael, Ryan, and Sean (the members of Extra Arms, respectively) and out of that process we produced the 10 super rocking jams, and the one sensitive acoustic number that makes up “Headacher.”
What can we expect?
I’d say this is the most high-energy, “aggressive” Extra Arms album yet. But at the same time, the songs are super catchy, the lyrics are meaningful, and the playing is very much on point. If you’re familiar with my other records, this isn’t some crazy departure, but it’s also a new beginning of sorts. I feel like we all really came together and made something great as a collective. I’m super proud of it.
And what do you expect?
I think when it was decided that we were going to make a record as a four-piece band, I expected to create something that exemplified the tastes and playing style of everybody in the band. Michael is a killer guitar player, Sean is a bombastic drummer and Ryan is a super-fluid bassist. And I think their playing on this record totally nails what they are all really great at. Furthermore, I knew that this record would probably lean heavily on the more “rocking” songs I was working on. I actually ended up writing about 25 songs since “Basement Punk” came out, and they were all over the map.
It was helpful to have a pool of songs to pull from, but knowing that we all collectively gravitate to louder, crunchier music, I knew that we would end up picking the songs that fit that description. And honestly, I’m glad we did. I wanted to try and bottle that political and personal rage I was feeling at the time, and the high-energy, aggressive songs seemed to get that point across the best.
You produced some high high quality records the last couple of years and received praise for them. Any pressure when you start a new record?
Thanks! I’d say yes and no to this. It’s not like we have millions of fans who are waiting with baited breath for a new Extra Arms record to come out. That said, there are people who are nice enough to give a shit about our music, and I never want to let them down. I, and we, also put personal pressure on ourselves to create a quality record. Luckily, I think we really nailed it this time. It helps when you work with awesome people, too. Geoff Michael did a great job engineering the album and Paul Miner absolutely killed it in the mixing/mastering department. We did what we do, but those guys pulled out the best in us for sure.
I mean, that’s what it sounds like to me…wouldn’t you agree? If people don’t get stoked when you mention the Replacements, Husker Du, Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub, then I guess they wouldn’t like our band. 🙂
What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
Listening to my brother, who played keys on the album, make weird-ass sounds on his synthesizer. We kept most of it in there for the pure comedy of it.
At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you know you were on to something special?
I think when we wrote, “Done to Death.” It was one of the earlier songs in the writing process, and we all kind of rallied around that one. It was maybe the second or third song we wrote together, and when it clicked, it REALLY clicked. Everybody was smiling and was just generally stoked on the song. So, I’d say it was at that moment that we knew we were on to something awesome.
Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?
I feel really lucky that the music I’ve made as Extra Arms has been embraced by fans of this little sub-genre of rock known as power pop. I don’t particularly identify with the overt 60s, jingle-jangle throwback vibe that some of the bands put out there, but I definitely appreciate being included in the same conversation of great bands and artists like Chris Richards and the Subtractions, Nick Piunti, Caddy, Ruler, and more. I am super stoked that there are people out there, such as yourself, that truly love the music and want to help bring it to more people via blogs, podcasts, and radio shows.
I get really excited when a new review is posted, especially when the person writing it really gets it. Some of the more popular mainstream indie blogs will likely ignore what we do – mostly because the music world is just so saturated with content – but I’m always confident that the power pop peeps will have our back. It’s a nice feeling, for sure.
Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?
Man, this is a really tough one. I can think of a ton: “True Believer” by Superdrag, “Glad Girls” by Guided by Voices, “Father’s Name is Dad” by Fire, “Dig a Pony” by the Beatles, “Nearly Lost You” by Screaming Trees, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” by the Smiths, “Waiting for Somebody” by Paul Westerberg… I’ll stop now as the entire article could be just this list. The thing that ties them all together is that they have great hooks, great chords, and great lyrics. That’s what I strive for when I’m working on my own tunes.
If you could tour the world with 2 other bands, who would you ask to join?
“In the Valley of Dying Stars”-era Superdrag and “Here’s Where the Strings Come In”-era Superchunk. We’d have to add “Super” to our name to complete the trifecta.
So what about putting your ultimate band together? No restrictions. No limitations. If you want David Bowie on backing vocals and Prince on guitar, go ahead. What would the band look like? And what is the song you will start jamming on? To find out it if this really works?
I’m super happy with the band members I’m playing with now, but if forced I’d say Johnny Marr on guitar, Bruce Thomas on bass and Dave Grohl on drums. It’d be weird for sure. We’d have to jam on a Beatles song or something…that’s the only way you would know if it worked or not.
What’s up for the rest of the year?
We’re playing some regional shows in Canada, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. Trying to get out there as much as we can and play these songs for as many people as will listen. Wish us luck!