Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Inquisition: 027.Arms Of Tripoli

1. How did you came up with the name of the band?

Mike: The name came out of a brainstorming session with the initial members of Arms Of Tripoli. Each of us brought several suggestions to the table and the front runner at that time was Arms of Saguaros.  However, we just couldn’t all whole heartedly commit to it because we were unsure it fit.  Brian, being a huge Pinback fan, suggested “Tripoli” instead of “Saguaros” simply due to his affinity for the way it rolled off the tongue.  Everyone else agreed and thus Arms Of Tripoli was adopted as our official name. All the other band names we came up with actually became the names of the songs on the first EP.

2. Do you have a standard procedure of creating a song? Do you just jam around or is there a main riff and the track is build up on it?

Mike: We certainly do not have one approach to writing… but more often than not, someone will come in with an idea… a riff… and the band will take that idea and build on it. Each individual person in the band will contribute to the song and it will grow out of that one idea. It isn’t necessarily at the beginning of the song and then we work our way through it adding each section…. It is more like us trying several different things… building it up, breaking it down, rearranging, and finding a common ground where we’re all satisfied with the song. It is never a single member effort, and we would never want it to be. Every member of the band is equally represented in every aspect of Arms of Tripoli. That notion goes far beyond just the way we compose songs… it is fundamental to our nature.  Sure we don’t always agree about everything, but that would be so weird if we didn’t.  Without the ability to compromise when composing, I think we’d never feel we had the freedom to experiment. If we didn’t approach composing that way, I don’t think we’d all be satisfied with the music we produce.

3. What are your influences and what kind of music do you hear when you are at home?

Mike: Musically? Wow… there are so many musical influences I have… and that’s just me personally. I know everyone in the band has numerous and wide ranging musical influences. I guess some common post/math-rock ones amongst us are: Tortoise, The Mercury Program, Fugazi, Shellac, June of 44, Rodan, Shipping News, Do Make Say Think, Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Mogwai, Paul Newman, A Minor Forest, Dianogah, The Dylan Group, Pullman, Lumen, Ratatat, Trans Am, and Ui,. But as mentioned before, we all have wide-ranging influences. For example, Pink Floyd and King Crimson are two of my favorite bands.

4. Which is the one album you can't live without?

Mike: Pink Floyd - Meddle
George: Radar Bros. - And the Surrounding Mountains
Jaime: All of Godspeed's albums
Allen: Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

5. What's the first record you've ever bought?

Mike: I believe it was Michael Jackson – Thriller. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan (like glove and red jacket, Alfonso Ribeiro in that Pepsi commercial type fan) when I was like five. How embarrassing.
George: Mötley Crüe - Theater Of Pain (Bought), Prince - Purple Rain (Stolen)
Jaime: I have no idea. Probably Debbie Gibson
Allen: DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince: He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

6. Name a band that you would like to share the stage or tour with?

Mike: Tortoise
George: Katy Perry
Jaime: Do Make Say Think
Allen: Dinners

7. Did the internet and specially the blogs helped to spread your music around the world? Name a place (country) that you were surprised to know your music has reached to?

Mike: Oh definitely. That is basically the only avenue of promotion we’ve had. We are entirely grateful too! We appreciate the time and effort that all of the bloggers who’ve written about us took!  We are definitely indebted to them for spreading the word about Arms Of Tripoli. I guess it would be Denmark for me.

8. Do you support the idea of bandcamp where fans can decide the price or services like spotify?

Mike: Well, the thing is, I think that name-your-own-price and streaming services like that are extremely beneficial to underground, non-established bands. Arms Of Tripoli certainly fits that description, so I do believe that those services have assisted with exposure for us. We certainly don’t benefit financially directly from them, but they do promote us in a way by making our music accessible to a very wide audience for basically free. I can’t really comment on whether they are good for other bands, or good for the music industry as a whole cause I honestly just don’t know.  It’s too early on in this music business revolution for me to really have an opinion about it.  Arms Of Tripoli is entirely on one end of the spectrum in this… but I feel comfortable in stating that they have been beneficial for us.

9. Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Mike: Still making music… This is our outlet. This is what we do for fun. This is how we express ourselves creatively. I think we all agree that we certainly hope we’re still doing this five years from now!

10. Is the artwork of an album important nowadays in the digital era?

Mike: I think it’s important, but it has definitely lost value. Album artwork certainly doesn’t affect you like it did in the era of records, tapes and CDs, where you had something tangible to hold and look at while you listened to an album. But that I think can be a blessing and a curse. It certainly alleviates the pressure of coming up with memorable, Storm Thorgerson-esk like artwork to embody the music on the album because most people will probably never care to look at it. But it certainly limits the experience in a way.

11. What is you favorite album cover?

Mike: I really like In the Court of the Crimson King.

George: Bastard noise/Geronimo – Inertia

Allen: P.E.E - The Roaring Mechanism

12. It seems that a lot of people are turning on vinyl again. Why do you think that is and which is your preferable media format?

Mike: I think there are various reasons people prefer vinyl. I personally think that the ones that say it sounds better are full of shit.  But I respect those that just admit that they like vinyl, and prefer to have an album on vinyl. I mean, it really doesn’t matter why to me… it just irks me when hipsters go on about it being a superior format.  I don’t think I really have a preferable media format. I can argue that a digital format on an iPod has certainly made managing a large catalog of music more convenient for me, and it certainly makes traveling with that extensive catalog much easier for me.  But it isn’t like if it isn’t in a certain format (i.e. vinyl, lossless digital, or on a goddamn cassette) I won’t listen to it, or be irritated that I’m not getting the full listening experience. However, with that said, I do think it would be cool to hear Dark Side in quadraphonic… but in a novelty type of way.  Not like once you hear quadraphonic, you can never go back to stereo.

13. What's the most vivid story or moment as a band?

Mike: Wow, I was literally just telling this story again to Allen at last practice. So, when I was just out of high school, one of my best friends, his girlfriend and I made a trek up to San Francisco to see A Minor Forest open for Shellac at Bimbos. I’m not sure why we thought it was all ages, but we were genuinely disparaged and disheartened when we got there to find out it was 21 and older. Not knowing what to do, we stood around dismayed while a line of people proceeded to purchase tickets for the show. We happened to notice John from A Minor Forest exit a side door and ran up to him to tell him our story and lament about the age requirement. He was kind and understanding and asked us to give him a little time to come up with a plan, which just completely astonished us. I don’t think we actually thought that he might have a way to get us in. So he went to dinner with his mom and returned to let us know what he had come up with. His plan consisted of us posing as his siblings and having his mother escort us in as her children. Now I have a fairly pale complexion, my friend is of Columbian decent and his girlfriend was half Japanese, not to mention all of us were the same age, so I was unsure how that was going to work… but sure enough, it did. We were certainly scrutinized by the door man, but I think he obviously caught on, and being the good man he was, let it slide under the circumstances. It turned out to be an amazing show and we profusely thanked John’s mother upon departing.  Flash forward to earlier this year… Arms of Tripoli had the opportunity to open for A Minor Forest here in L.A., which easily was the best moment for me in the band. I got to talk to John after their set for a while and told him the story.  He remembered and said that surprisingly enough, that very night was the only other time a family member was attending one of his shows. I was obviously elated to tell him that story, have him remember, and have it all come full circle in getting to open for one of the biggest influences for me musically. It still makes me happy to this day thinking about it!

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