White Arrows is Mickey Church (vox/gtr), Andrew Naeve (keys/gtr), J.P. Caballero (gtr), Steven Vernet (bass) and Henry Church (drums) - an LA-based indie rock band with psychedelic pop influences and infectiously catchy songs. They have created a unique sound that has earned them spots on tour with bands like Cults and White Denim, and are fresh off the national El Tour Blanco with The Neighbourhood and Danny Brown. Not only are they pushing boundaries musically, but the way their music is artistically presented via their live shows, album artwork, video content or thematic concepts, demonstrate how the worlds of music and art exist together.
A lot of the band's artistic and visual tendencies stem from Mickey's childhood blindness. His eyesight was corrected at the age of 11, but up until then, all he knew were shapes and colors. Growing up, it allowed him to have a more vivid and active imagination, qualities that are evident in the band's music and creative process today.
We were able to chat with Mickey about the band's upcoming album release, their songwriting process, and tour life. The three latest songs they have put out are a little more progressive and edgy than the White Arrows we know, and they sounded incredible at their headlining show at the Troubadour last month.
Check out their latest single "We Can't Ever Die" off their sophomore record, In Bardo: scheduled for release on September 16 via Votiv.
Where did the band name stem from?
I came up with it when I was living in New York. I like to keep it open to interpretation. Some people think it's a reference to Shel Silverstein ["We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow, and watch where the chalk-white arrows go..."], and others believe it's a nod to native American culture.
How did your childhood blindness affect the way you write and listen to music? Is there a correlation between this and the thematic concepts in your music?
It helped me to be more imaginative because I spent most of my time oblivious to the outside world. Every life experience weighs into what I write about--consciously or not.
Where and how do you find artists you want to work with for your album artwork?
They are either friends of mine, or I find some stuff online and find out who they are and contact them.
Although thematically different, your videos consistently use color and editing in a visually interesting way. How much input do you have in your video making process, and where do those ideas stem from?
We've definitely tried to always have input, but sometimes it doesn't go over that well. Now we are being more careful with who we work with and make sure their vision (hopefully) lines up with ours.
What is the band’s creative and songwriting process like?
Andrew and I usually have an idea, and bring it to each other, or flesh it out similarly to how producers work in the studio. It's usually just us in a room, and we build on that.
The new songs we’ve heard from the upcoming record sound matured and different, both thematically and musically… how did the creative process differ on this album vs. the last?
This album we actually got to write at one point in time, as opposed to in between tours, like the first one. This record, I believe, is darker and heavier than the last one, and is a time capsule of how I feel at this point in my life. It was also the first time we worked with a producer and in a real studio.
What was it like working with producer Jimmy Messer on this record? How did you guys get linked with him?
It was a great experience. It really helped us have perspective, and to have someone pushing us in directions we wouldn't necessarily go. We tried a song with a few different people, but Jimmy fit what we were going for the best.
Can you explain the reasoning behind the title of your upcoming album, In Bardo? Is this an overarching theme we can expect for the record?
After we finished recording the album, and I was writing out all the lyrics for a booklet, we noticed that most of the songs on the album dealt with the same themes. They all spoke of sex, religion, and death, but not necessarily in a bleak way. In Bardo comes from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and is something you go through to achieve the afterlife as a reward.
Any current projects regarding the album release you can share with us?
We've released three tracks from the album. First was "Leave It Alone," then "I Want a Taste," and our new single is called "We Can't Ever Die." We are going to start filming a music video for "We Can't Ever Die" soon.
How has this tour with The Neighbourhood differed from past tours? How has the audience reaction been to the new songs?
This tour was great. It was cool to have such a different clash of genres on the bill with us, The Neighbourhood, Danny Brown and Travis Scott. It was cool to see people reacting to the new songs since these were the first times we've ever played them out, and they were being released while we were playing a lot of them for the first time. It's also the only tour we've been on where we could've kept going and didn't want it to end... so that was a new experience for us.
Favorite places to travel to?
Australia was an amazing place to tour, so was Northern Europe.
Favorite LA venues?
I like the Henry Fonda Music Box a lot, and actually the Troubadour. I've seen a lot of my favorite shows at these places.
What do you read, watch or where do you go to, for daily creative inspiration?
I got into television when we started touring just because I could watch full seasons at a time. I like Game of Thrones, Sopranos, Mad Men, Sherlock... I also read a lot of non-fiction, and the most recent fiction book I read was The Magician King by Lev Grossman.
What did you guys grow up listening to and what are you listening to currently?
Same as always. The Velvet Underground, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Animal Collective, The Clash, Daft Punk, Van Morrison.
Favorite brunch spots in LA?
Mimosas or bloody marys?
Not bloody marys...
Guilty pleasure music?
Top 40 rap