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Tidal Arms - 03.10.11

Interviewed by: Adam Pfleider (03/10/11)
There are a lot of musicians that come from a lot of different realms of music. Some are casual listeners. Some are classically trained. Some are engineers. The list definitely goes on. For Tidal Arms, it's a little of everything. A little over a year young, the band just got off an opening slot for Glassjaw's spring tour. While out supporting The Sun Exploding, the band's debut LP, the guys sat down to talk about their background and what went into the band's formation and sound.


First off, a little background. How did everything come together for you guys? This band hasn't been around too long.

Tom Tierney: Well, Fran's old band Warship was booked to do a tour and the previous guitar player, Rob Lauritsen, couldn't do it. I went along to play guitar on that tour. When we came back later that summer, we decided to work on a Warship 7". We started writing for it with no real plan. Patrick came in and started jamming. We played for a little while. It kind of got to the point where we had been playing for a few months and hadn't decided on if it was Warship [music] or what it was. We were jamming and just having fun. I think it was around when Fran was like, "I'm not singing anymore!" [Laughs] Then we decided it was something else and needed to come up with a band name and start over.

Francis Mark: "By the way, you have a great voice Tom, and I'm really having fun just playing drums..."

Tierney: [Laughs]

Was it as easy as that? Or was it the material?

Mark: It was the material too. I think the only reason that we were writing what we thought was going to be a Warship 7" is because that's just what we had done together. That was kind of a silly thought as soon as we started playing. It was pretty loose in the beginning. We had a bout six songs written before deciding on the band. It was great. I was living in Philadelphia at the time. I thought it pretty impractical to start a band with dudes living in New York. The fortunate coincidence is that my dad was in a horrible motorcycle accident, so I had to keep coming back up to New York, helping my mom out with stuff, visiting. All the times I was coming up, I would sneak off and try to get some jams in there. It was something positive that came out of these trips back to New York. For me, that was a big part of it...

Something to take your mind off that incident...

Mark: Yeah. Then we just wrote. It wasn't labored. We just sort of wrote together. That's how good bands happen I guess. Nothing forced. They make music for fun. Once you get enough music, you give it a name and try to go play it for people.

When did it come to that point?


Mark: We did it for a few months, and it didn't have a name. Then we decided we should name it. By that point, Patrick had been playing with us for a while. We had a decent body of tunes. We couldn't come up with a name for a while. A friend of ours from Philly put us on opening for Coliseum. He called asking if we wanted to play the show. I said, "Yeah, I want to play it!" He asked me the name to put on the flyer. "I don't know. I'll let you know in a week or so." Then he kept texting for the band name. [Laughs]

Tom, I'm very interested in your background in being mainly an engineer and coming into this, opposite to Fran who's been in a bunch of bands and coming into this. Then Patrick, I'm not sure of your background...

Patrick Southern
: I'm somewhere in the middle. Tom and I, along with a third guy, Alex Mead-Fox, who worked on the record with us in the studio, a lot of what we do day to day is work with other bands and practice in the studio and live near by. That's sort of our hub. I do work there. I've also been in a few other bands, but I haven't been touring as extensively as Fran has. Actually, Tom and I were in a band when we were in college a few years ago. It was a completely different style of music, but it was Tom playing guitar and singing and I was playing bass and we had a drummer. That informed what we were doing with this product to a certain extent.

From the two sides, it just seems like two ends of a spectrum. What do you think of the engineering side versus just playing in a bunch of bands?


Tierney: Well, I don't really know. As far as my history goes. Patrick and I met outside Sara Lawrence College right outside New York. I was studying basically composition and production. Basically just started kind of recording a bunch of bands that didn't have any means of recording. I played in a ton of bands while in school. Nothing anyone outside of the Northeast will ever hear about. I had been talking to Alex about building a studio. When we all graduated, we moved to New York and started a studio out of our loft for a year before Patrick moved in. Since then, we've enjoyed recording a bunch of bands and having fun. How that has influenced our music, I'm not really sure. It's kind of funny. I feel like Spaceman records way more of other styles of music than heavy stuff, even though I love that stuff. Maybe it's the day in, day out of recording. I don't know, maybe listening to a frequency spectrum all day and picking out little nuances helps the sounds that I'm interested in getting. Maybe that influences my sound and vocal style since I have a vocal amp set up. That was definitely born out of studio tinkering.

Mark: When I first heard Tom's guitar parts and his playing and some of the music Tom and Patrick had made before we came together, the compositions and some of the chords were nothing like any band I had ever been in. When I heard it, I liked it, but the one thing that was missing for me was some loud rock drums. While they have played with some talented drummers before, they were all a bit timid with what they had done opposed to what I have done. I think that makes for an interesting fusion. I've never played with anyone like that. It's less trained and more uncommon arrangements that we come up with. That's cool. I definitely come from a musically less educated world and depend on instincts to take over...

Do you think that's what meshed real well?


Tierney: I do.

Mark: I do too. Yeah.

Tierney: It was fresh to come from that. I grew up playing metal and punk and stuff like that. I went to college and forgot about stuff like that and was thinking more "music" and things like that. [Laughs] There was a part of me that was absent. [Fran and I] had one band practice before that Warship tour. [Laughs] Due to a complicated series of events, there was only one band practice. After that practice I was like, "Oh shit! I have to figure out how to play with this dude for as long as possible." [Laughs] Yeah, it was like opposites attract.

The mix of the record is done really well. Not only the mastering, but the way the sound moves around. There isn't a stale moment. Things constantly change-up. Was that important to keep things going, or was it more natural?


Mark: We didn't set out to craft an album. We just wrote songs. We didn't get to do the thing where bands write fifteen songs and pick ten of them. We kind of set out to write ten songs and hoped they were ten good songs. [Laughs] Then once they were written, we set out to figure out how to arrange them and make little segue on the record. The one thing is, when you write songs with no specific goal in mind, it can be all over the map, especially with a bunch of guys who listen to a lot of different things.

It does seem to be a central theme both lyrically and thematically to the record. The way it rises and sort of washes out towards the end. Where were you going with this one?

Tierney: Lyrically, most of the lyrics are abstract and are images that will hopefully piece together a feeling of some sort of emotion in the listener that doesn't necessarily point to something specific. A lot of it is about seeing the beauty in natural events. Trying to see the bigger picture. There's a lot of destructive imagery and a lot of destructive imagery. That contrast is kind of cool to see to me.

Mark: I like that it is abstract. There could be destructive imagery in which there's cosmic collisions in outer space. When a listener is listening to the record, they could relate that to a battle they're having. It is enough that you make it vague enough at times that you can have your own meaning.

Tierney: That was really the point for me. It could be the type of thing that if you can personalize the meaning, it could reach out to a listener more. It's kind of funny, because a lot of the lyrics are geeky astronomy or physics lessons. [Laughs] But you know, that's what inspires me! That's definitely going on throughout the album. Space is something I love thinking about and kind of puts my mind at ease. All the everyday problems don't really seem worth worrying about too much. It's a nice thing to zoom out. A lot of the lyrics, "Several Circles" especially, are about thinking how little we are in the universe. As for song structures, there's certain types of chord structures and rhythmic structures that come back again and again. It's sort of about how, and I don't know if you guys agree with this, but it's about release and stability and being able to groove on something that makes sense and can wrap your head around versus a lot of sporadic shit: time changes, shifts in tonality and emotions that don't exist in any key. We'll switch time signatures in a phrase just to get a release out of the listener. Obviously, that's not unique to us. Certain types of releases and tensions come back again and again on the album. Certain types of chords, a lot of major sevens, helps make things more colorful.

Southern: I agree with what you said. [Laughs]
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10.
12:31 PM on 03/10/11
#2
Neil Rubenstein
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This is the best album of 2011. Without a doubt.
12:44 PM on 03/10/11
#3
Sic Transit Zeb
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"When I head it" just a typo.

Also, great interview and I love this record. Put on a great show and that got me hooked.
01:12 PM on 03/10/11
#4
canvasofwinter
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These guys are awesome.
01:12 PM on 03/10/11
#5
that_dude
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This is a great interview! These guys are awesome; be sure to see them live while they're touring with Glassjaw again. I saw them on New Year's Day and they were amazing.
02:01 PM on 03/10/11
#6
Peerless
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Fata.
03:30 PM on 03/10/11
#7
that_dude
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How I miss them. However, as long as Francis Mark is still doing music, I'm happy. I miss Biology just as much, too.
06:13 PM on 03/10/11
#8
Mattylikesfilms
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This is a great interview! These guys are awesome; be sure to see them live while they're touring with Glassjaw again. I saw them on New Year's Day and they were amazing.

Was the crowd pretty responsive or were they just bitching for GJ to come on?
06:39 PM on 03/10/11
#9
that_dude
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Was the crowd pretty responsive or were they just bitching for GJ to come on?
There was one guy in front of me who was jamming and really into it, but he was the only one who I noticed actually moving. Everyone else was just bitching for GJ, as far as I could recall, and as I'm sure you assumed. I thoroughly enjoyed both Tidal Arms and These People.
08:55 PM on 03/10/11
Mattylikesfilms
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There was one guy in front of me who was jamming and really into it, but he was the only one who I noticed actually moving. Everyone else was just bitching for GJ, as far as I could recall, and as I'm sure you assumed. I thoroughly enjoyed both Tidal Arms and These People.

Bummer, fucking glassjaw fans man haha. Tidal arms are sweet though.
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