"We're Gonna Get in Trouble for This", an Interview with Arms Akimbo
Back in November, I got to sit down with Arms Akimbo and ask them a few questions. Since these guys just released a catchy new single today, I decided this is the perfect day to finally release this interview. So, read on and get the exclusive scoop on albums they can’t live without, their favorite podcasts, and their take on working in the music industry
Tell me your story.
Peter - We met in college, we all kind of knew each other from different parts of school. We met at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. The way it came together, I was living with Collin, we were friends, we were playing, he was my drummer, I was writing some songs with him. Separately Chris and Matt were working together, Matt was Chris’s drummer, they were working on their own songs. Chris for his recording project needed someone to record, started recording some of my songs. We put the whole thing together so that’s like the lamest supergroup you’ve ever heard of. But that’s kind of our genesis. Cut to now, we still live in LA, we live on the East Side, all living together doing the whole Beatles Movie thing in bunk beds in the city in the same room.
Hopefully no Yoko Ono yet.
Ideally no, keep an eye on Chris Braun though.
How’d you decide on the name Arms Akimbo?
Peter- I just had it on a list of band names. I lie to a lot of interviewers about it because we answer this question so much. The most frequent lie is that it’s the name of a villain in Freakazoid, which is true, Arms Akimbo means hands on your hips, his hands are stuck to his hips. But, that’s not true as to why it mattered to us. It doesn’t really matter to us. I think a stupid band name is good so it doesn’t mean that much to us.
What were some alternatives?
Mondagreen, Peter Schrupp project.
Chris - Honestly once we landed on that, it was kind of it. It feels like with band names, if it’s not going to make you cringe to your very core like three months later, it’s a great band name.
Tell me about your tour van, specifically the license plate, “Elise”.
Chris - We’ve been touring for the last two years in Collin’s family mini van and Elise is Collin’s mom. Recently, we did a crowdfunding campaign where we got like an overwhelming amount of support to get like a working vehicle that can go over 65 miles per hour and the doors all open and the air conditioner works, it’s been amazing and it’s changed everything for us.
Peter- It’s name’s Clifford.
Of all of your unreleased songs, what’s your favorite?
Chris- We have this one called Dizzy that’s like this midtempo almost like Death Cab for Cutie vibe and one of the most interesting tracks we’ve ever written. Probably my favorite of Matt’s drum parts. And it’s just the smoothest track ever and we’re very very excited about that.
Matt- I second that, I think that’s one of our most mature songs that we have. We’re kind of over the past four years we’ve kind of gone and tried to basically define our sound and we’ve latched onto bands that we listened to early on like “oh we all listen to this band so let’s to write songs that sound like this. And now its like let’s just write” and this is kind of like the epitome of that mentality now. And everyone’s strengths are highlighted and get to shine in that without being obnoxious like “here’s a something solo”. I’m super proud of that track.
Peter - We also have a song called Ellenda (now released!) that I quite like. That is perhaps in the opposite in that it’s like break neck speed and it’s really fun. So both of these songs are the only two that we consider crowd ready right now and we’ve fortunately been pretty fast on this tour getting set up on stage and going through our live check equipment and Melinda is like the perfect song to be like “we’ve got two extra minutes, rip it!” and we just go into it and Chris is singing about philosophical identity in the chorus so it’s nice to throw it in. It’s nice to play these new songs, it like gives everyone a little energy. Like take a little bite of a perfect bar.
What’s your favorite podcast?
*Every one of them gets super excited and we talked about it for way too long.*
Collin - The one we listen to in the van and stuff (their collective favorite) is Congratulations with Chris D’Elia. I’ve been listening to it for a few years and finally turned the other guys slowly onto it. So now we all get really excited when there’s a new episode out we get to listen to it on one of our eight hour drives, it’s nice.
Matt - I used to listen to the Joe Rogan podcast, but I stopped having four hours a day to spend listening to a podcast. (Peter - well you have four hours again) I can’t do it, no more alpha brain commercials, it’s just killing me.
Yes, I made my judgement/disapproval here very obvious.
I do listen to a podcast called Washed Up Emo, it’s interviews with a lot of big players from the emo scene that like early to mid 2000’s. They interview major players in the emo scene from the early 2000’s up until now so you get anything from the guys in Motion City Soundtrack to they’ll interview some of the guys in Bayside. On the flipside, they’ll interview people who are high up at either Hopeless Records or like big entertainment lawyers who have worked for Warped Tour or like Kevin Lineman from Warped Tour. Really interesting people from all sides of the business that like I grew up either listening to or respecting from the business perspective. So like its cool to hear about their journey and for me it’s like where are we in their journey. When they were like four years into being a band we were doing this, well how does that align with what we’re doing. It’s super interesting for me because it’s the thing I care the most about. It’s like I like to geek out about all that stuff. And I still listen to all that kind of music.
Finally, a reason to talk about emo on this blog.
Chris - I like true crime and macabre podcasts. My favorite podcast is called Last Podcast on the Left. It’s all about UFOs and serial killers and conspiracy theories. I like to keep it dark.
Peter- Mine’s Doug Loves Movies. Doug Benson’s show, it’s like mindless movie trivia and he’s got comedians and actors and all sorts of stuff but they tape it right by our house. So like two Tuesdays a month they know I’m printing out a stupid like poster and I’m walking over to the comedy club and I’ve been on it a handful of times. Speaking of Motion City Soundtrack, their drummer was on, he played on my behalf.
And also shoutout to another one that’s on the occult zone, Two Girls, One Ghost, which we do the theme song for. She’s a friend of ours.
NOTE: Peter now has his own podcast, Direct Support with Peter Schrupp, check it out here.
If you could be on any podcast, what would it be?
Chris - I would love to be on Last Podcast on the Left. Same answer as before.
Peter - Doug Loves Movies, Two Girls, One Ghost. For real, I would love to be on You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. He’s like my favorite comedian. He’s more like shaman than comedy at this point. Like spiritual shit.
Matt - Even though I don’t listen to it anymore, I would LOVE to sit down with Joe Rogan for four hours and smoke weed and talk about nonsense.
If you could only listen to three more albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
*Long pause as everyone thinks of how much they hate me for asking this*
Matt - Swimming by Mac Miller, Gorilla Manor by Local Natives, and … no I just changed my third one… we’re gonna go with Downtown Battlemound by Dance Gavin Dance.* I’m sure I’m going to regret this later when I read this later.
* Later changed, despite everyone’s protest, to Mothership by Led Zeppelin
Peter - My favorite album is Because of the Times by Kings of Leon. So definitely gonna go with Because of the Times, perhaps Whitney’s first album Light Upon the Lake would be a good one because it’s just nice. I think I’m gonna wanna keep it light if I’m gonna lose my mind listening to these albums so Sam Cooke’s Best Of album I think it also helps to have a lot of tracks. Gonna be listening to for a long time and it’s like a double album.
Chris - I would go with i,i by Bon Iver, Blonde by Frank Ocean, and the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance.
Peter - Approval from the peanut gallery (as I got excited about MCR being back)
Collin - I’ll probably go Toxicity by System of a Down, that’s my favorite album, Fleet Foxes’ self titled album, and I’ll go In Rainbows by Radiohead.
What reality show would you make it the furthest on?
Peter - Baby chefs, whatever the chefs one is for the little ones. Chopped Junior, Master Chef Junior.
Collin - Where it’s like make mashed potatoes, you have one hour and they’re like *panicked* “Oh my god!”
Matt - Oh I would win Big Brother. Easy.
Chris - I would lose every single one, I can’t even think of one I would apply for.
Peter - Even like the musician ones I would get my ass kicked.
Chris - Yeah
Collin - I don’t think I’d get far but I’ve always wanted to go on Wipeout.
Chris - The Bachelor, is that the one where it’s just me?
Yeah, but you have to go on the other one first.
Chris - Oh, really? They can’t just nominate me?
Matt - No you have to win, no come in second right?
Like between like two and four.
Chris - then not the Bachelor. Oh Flavor of Love.
Peter - The Kardashians, is there a competition there?
Chris - I think it’s just, can you survive being with this family.
Who would last the longest on Survivor?
Chris - We would all lose Survivor. We would all get smoked the first episode.
Peter - Unless he’s kinda confident, he was confident about Big Brother.
Matt - What if it was just us four on Survivor?
Chris - Do they have beer on the island?
Chris - I’m out
Peter - I’m swimming to shore. The kind of skill that could really get you far on Survivor.
Tell me more about your most recent EP, Seven Dollar Paycheck.
Peter - So the title track is literally from I literally earned seven dollars from my job that I work. So that was the start of that song. Anyway, that song is a lot about just balancing doing this and pursuing this and trying to not have to move home. Uprooting our lives.
I think it was that and Cruel Lovers and Pitchfork were the first two that came out of that record. Those were the first two that we latched onto. Kinda scrapped a lot of songs that we thought were gonna be on this record. But once those two came out, those should be the linchpins of it.
Chris - Yeah it’s that transition in our lives from people who are in a band together to like being a full time band and how that is not necessarily the easiest thing. But I think hopefully that what people got out of it was something positive. Like we didn’t want it to be something where we were bitch moan and complaining about how hard it is to be in a band because we love it so much. So we hope that also through.
Peter - I think we’ve had a lot of people come up to us and be like I couldn’t relate more to some of the content that you’re talking about too. And I think there’s always fun tension in how something is put together musically versus what you’re singing about. If something sounds happy but the lyrics are sad and depressing that’s something that’s always more interesting than when they match. And conversely, if we’re talking about down on things and the music is pretty optimistic.
How has the music industry impacted your journey?
Collin - I haven’t met any of them yet. We’re looking in the department store window of the music industry right now.
Peter - And like pull a price tag over like “Oh that’s too high”
Collin - A $200 pair of jeans???!
Chris - And ideally, we’d just be making our own clothes. And we would buy those.
Peter - I’ve got a sewing machine at home, this is ridiculous.
Chris - As a band that’s fairly new to touring, we’re getting exposed to it. We have a team now.
Collin - He did air quotes. He did air quotes.
Chris - Don’t! We’re gonna get in trouble for that!
Chris - We have a team now. In certain ways, it’s like not as dark as you would expect it to be. In some ways, it is exactly how you would expect it. But for the most part, there’s so many great people we’ve been able to meet with and work with and that comes down to almost every night.
Especially their interviewer.
Chris - Yeah exactly. For the most part, we just feel lucky to be even slightly accepted to any sort of semblance of the music industry.
Peter - I think one of the things that young musicians or local musicians wherever we’re going will be like, ‘How did you kinda get on the path that you’re doing?’ and I think any point where you find yourself being competitive or comparing yourself to like the other people that are around you is just the wrong move. Because as soon as we started finding other musicians that we love and supported and trying to help each other and work together, everything kinda starts clicking and halfway started to open up.
Alright, here is where we had an unfortunate and slightly embarrassing, rookie mistake occurred. After some interruptions from passerby, I had paused the recording, and when we went to resume it, the last four minutes got lost. So, I’ll leave you with this, my evening with Arms Akimbo was nothing short of a blast, even with the migraine I got halfway through the show. Stream their latest single, support musicians if you can, and never take live music for granted again when we get it back.