Sounds x Words: Before They’re Famous//Arcadia

My name is Andy Reed, and the idea is a simple one: what happens when you combine the drive for higher education with a never-ending Rolodex of band press kits and social media pages? With a cup of coffee and a great deal of patience, I look and listen for the next young somethings out there to give them a moment in color. Shine on you crazy diamonds, and let it be known that this is the moment in time before you were famous.


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With the rise of streaming platforms and the lackluster attitudes directed toward radio stations, the environment for independent bands is on the decline. The grunge-funk band Arcadia, composed of three undergrads at the University of New Haven, rings new light to the alt-indie sound with their lyrically-driven progressive style, bridging the gap between the Rolling Stones and Nirvana. Based in West Haven, Connecticut, this power trio produces a sound that resonates with anyone who likes a solid progressive breakdown like that of the White Stripes, or who can groove to a verse pattern similar to that of the Pixies.

The newest demo off their latest self-titled EP, “Do You Love Me,” has the colors of indie rock but waves the freak flag of classic punk music. Punctuated with rhythms that predate their time, Arcadia “doesn’t give a shit about your politics,” and clearly does so with their music.

After a few weeks of coordinating interviews, I was able to catch up with Arcadia to dish about the status of the DIY indie-punk space and what the Northeast music scene really looks like. Punk is still alive and well, it seems.

You’re a self-proclaimed grunge-funk trio from New Haven, CT. To those who don’t know, what is the music scene like over there? Any recent successes?

Arcadia: The New Haven music scene is awesome.  There are tons of DIY venues and basement shows, the community is very supportive and always makes the shows a great time.  As for successes out of Connecticut, I think it all depends on how you measure success. For us, even though were just starting out, we feel like we already have had more than we could imagine. We have people listening to our music regularly, coming out to our shows for us, and it feels awesome.

You sound something like Nirvana mixed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a dash of classic rock like the Rolling Stones, Kansas or REO Speedwagon. Do you agree/disagree? What are your influences?

Arcadia (from left to right): Michaela Sullivan (Bass), Chris Theurer (Vocals/Guitar), Tom Barvick (Drums)

Tom: Yeah I think that sums us up pretty well! The cool thing of this band is we all come from different areas.  I am from Boston, Chris is from New York, and Michaela is from New Jersey, so environmentally we all have different influences.  Musically, we also are quite diverse in what we listen to, while having a lot of common ground between us. I draw influences from a wide variety of artists, which I think helps a ton on writing drum parts for our songs, or helping out with the songwriting.  Some of my main influences are Filter, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Townes Van Zandt among many others.

Chris:
I really respect Kurt Cobain as a lyricist and songwriter, so his influence on me is pretty huge.  The Foo Fighters are also a big influence on me with how rocking they are, and the Chili peppers definitely influence me with their funkiness.

Michaela:
I draw inspiration from the RHCP bassist Flea and the Black Keys. The fact that the [Black Keys] are only two guys and they are able to create such a big rocking sound inspires me, and since we are only a three piece I take that as an inspiration that we can sound huge as well.

You’re working on releasing a full-length album this year. What does your writing/recording process look like? Any stories from the studio?

Tom: We are super excited to get our full length out there. The writing process typically looks like Chris coming into the room with an idea that he wrote acoustically, and then we jam it out as a band until we reach a sound that we like.  For the recording process, we are always determined to get the best product and work efficiently. We were lucky to be able to work with our friend Joey Stanca at Checkmate Creative* for this full length.
Having someone you are good friends with who also is really good at what they do is a great time. It makes for a fun setting because we were able to goof off and have fun, while ultimately all being focused on reaching the same goal. These late night sessions were fueled by many McDonald’s and 7/11 runs, and many shenanigans.  Some good stories from the studio would be: On the day we were supposed to start drum tracking, I was playing recreational flag football the night for fun, and some dude decided to take it too seriously and make it a full contact sport. He destroyed the cartilage in my index finger and I was in the ER the whole night, and we had to delay the tracking by a week.

In your opinion, is the university environment conducive for musicians? Why or why not?

Arcadia: Our university (University of New Haven) is definitely great for meeting like-minded people and meeting musicians, due to it being partially a music school.  So, yes certainly the right university will definitely be beneficial for networking and meeting people with different backgrounds but similar interests.
If it was up to us we would be writing and rehearsing and touring as much as we could, but obviously we also are here for an education, so we have to devote a lot of our time to classes and work.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge?

Tom: The biggest challenge for us, or any band in this current time, is getting our music heard.  We live in a great time where its easy to distribute music to streaming platforms, and more music is being put out than ever before.  However, that leads to challenges getting music heard because its easy to get lost in a sea of other things being released at the same time.  Its all awesome for sure, but definitely adds a challenge.

What happens now that the album is finished? What’s next for you?

Arcadia: We are just focusing hard on getting this album out and promoting it. We have worked really hard on it and want everyone to hear it and hopefully connect to it get something out of it.  We also are looking to play way more shows, and especially get out to other parts of the country, and hopefully the world.

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If you’d like to catch Arcadia on the road, their tour dates are as follows:

Tour Dates:
March 16 – Ted House, Allston MA
March 22, Boontunes, Boonton, NJ
April 13, Thee Sun, West Haven, CT
May 11, Cherry Street Station, Wallingford, CT
May 14, Tazraks, Naugatuck, CT

Words x Interview: The Nude Party

It’s Good and I Like It: 5 Minutes with The Nude Party’s Patton Magee

Words by Luci Turner

You formed in 2012 at Appalachian State University, and — six years later — are touring with The Arctic Monkeys and Jack White, two of the biggest rock acts of our time. How do you even begin to describe that?

We are super fortunate to have a full team of badass women working behind the scenes with us, namely our booking agent Kiely Mosiman and our management duo Cara Merendino and Amanda Soltis. They are the ones that have gotten our videos and our record in front of people like Jack White, and in front of the Arctic Monkeys.

The Arctic Monkeys and Jack both liked us enough to bring us on to play some shows with them. We’re really lucky and grateful to them for having us. We all put a lot of work and sacrifice into the band, and it’s really validating to get to play before legends like them, and then to see them play. Sometimes I get to thinking we are pretty cool — pretty good — then I see Jack White just absolutely dominate the attention of 5,000 people, and the way he seamlessly runs the show without a set list. He and his band are amazing. There’s usually a pretty good reason that thousands of people will turn out to see a band like Jack’s or the Arctic Monkeys. It’s ‘cause they’re fucking good. Seeing people perform like that reminds me we’ve got a lot of work to do. It stokes the fire under my ass.

You’re part of a new wave of psychedelic, vintage-inspired rock that’s growing beyond the mainstream media, a new type of “outlaw music.” How have you taken that sound and made it your own, and how does it feel to know that you’re successfully making music outside the fringes of what’s commercially popular?

I think the idea of mainstream music has kind of frayed out in the last decade. It seems to me there isn’t really one main genre surrounded by tiny subcultures anymore. There’s a lot of genres now, all with their own fanbases and cultures surrounding them. There are bands you’ve never heard of that sell out tours in big rooms, then, on the flip-side, there are major artists that everyone’s heard of, but neither you or your friends ever listen to. So I don’t think that we’re making music outside of the fringes. I think we inhabit one of many overlapping “bubbles,” but, like any artist, I hope we eventually transcend that.

The Nude Party listens like a mixed drink of Southern music from the 60s and rock groups from Laurel Canyon and England; who would you say has had the greatest influence on you, when it comes to writing and performing? Who would you say is the most surprising influence?

It’s probably no surprise that we love the Velvet Underground, Bowie, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Animals, all that really good 60s and 70s stuff. The amount of classic country we listen to might be surprising, and maybe that will bubble to the surface and start to influence us more in the next album. We also have this really great “bad country” playlist that we play in the van a lot, really shit songs that are fun to listen to: country-rap about dipping, disingenuous patriotic shit like Blake Shelton. Hopefully the bad country doesn’t show up as an influence!

What’s the creative process like? How did it change from Hot Tub to The Nude Party?

We’ve gotten better at playing our instruments, for one. We acquired instruments at the same time that we started the band, so, skill-wise, we really started at the bottom. But I think our style and skills are just enhancing and becoming more interesting over time. At first, we were excited just to be able to play a riff together. Over the past five years, we naturally raised the bar for ourselves with every record and show. Our influences have diversified.

We live in a time where rock music rarely tops the charts, but that doesn’t keep fans from packing into rock clubs, buying vinyl, and being just as devoted to their favorite bands as fans were in the 60s and 70s. Why do you think rock is so important, and how are you carrying on the legacy? On the other hand, how are you blazing your own path?

Other genres die out, but rock ’n roll just adapts and keep pushing. I don’t know where it gets its magic permanence from, I just know it’s good and I like it.

What’s your ultimate bucket list concert? Any band, any era.

I’d love to see Neil Young in any capacity, with any of his backing bands, or solo with an acoustic guitar and piano. He’s my favorite songwriter of all time.

Photo by Mike Belleme