Arms and Sleepers – interview with Max

We have today some very special guests from U.S. Please welcome Arms and Sleepers! The guys have finished an US tour and they are getting ready for the European Tour that will start on May 5th in Vienna. You can find out below more info about the bands music, creative process, concerts, the condition of music in the 3rd millennium and many moore!

Hi guys and thanks for accepting the interview!
It’s our pleasure.  Thanks for asking us to do it.
You have just finished a 5 week tour. How did it go?
Yes, we just finished a 5-week tour with our good friends in Caspian.  It went really well! We got to revisit some of our favorite parts in North America and venture into some new territory as well.
From May 5th you will start the European tour (May and June). What are your expectations regarding the shows that you will play in the European countries? arms and sleepers band
We try not to have any expectations, to be honest.  We always have a great time in Europe and are always treated so kindly and warmly.  That being said, if the shows are anything like they’ve been in the past, then we can expect a really good time playing music we love playing.
Are there any differences between your audience from U.S and the one from Europe?
Sometimes.  I think Europeans get a bit more engaged in the music and tend to show more excitement.  However, this may in part be due to the fact that we’ve come from another country.
Arms and Sleepers is a 2 people band; your music is rather complex. How do you reproduce it live and is there room for improvisation on stage?
Although we’re a 2-piece band in the studio, we tend to have either 3 or 4 people live.  For this upcoming European tour, we’ll have a live drummer and a live vocalist.  So, I guess we’re able to replicate more complex songs live by just having more people playing multiple parts at the same time.  There is certainly room for improvisation—whenever humans are in control, there’s bound to be some sort of improvisation.  That being said, our music is synced with the visual projections and so we can’t stray too much from the original songs.
Over the last 4 years you’ve released several EPs and albums. How diverse is your setlist? Do you prefer to promote the latest materials or introduce people to a little bit of every stage of your music? arms and sleepers
We try to play a pretty diverse set whenever possible.  It’s important to us to promote the newest release, because that’s often what we ourselves are most excited about.  We do understand that different people favor different releases, and so we try to accommodate everyone as best as we can.  For instance, we’ve recently asked people to tell us which songs they want to hear live in Europe, which has helped us understand what people want to hear.  Luckily, most of the songs that people listed are the songs we’re planning to play live anyway.
You can clearly hear an evolution from the rather electronic debut EP to the more post rock, melodic oriented new album. Was that a natural shift or a need for a new direction?
I would say that it was a natural shift in a new direction.  Music is all about evolution with us and we never try to do the same thing twice.  However, at the end of the day, we focus on what is most natural to us and often that is different from what we previously did.  There is so much potential in music, and we just love exploring as many possibilities as we can.
Your artworks are very minimalistic (and beautiful). Have you worked with the same artist over the years? Do you come up with the ideas or let the artist be inspired by the music on the material?
The same artist designed the covers of both of our full-length albums.  As far as the design process is concerned, normally we have some ideas about what we want and we tell whomever we’re working with those ideas.  At the same time, we’re open to ideas that the artist might have in mind after hearing the music.  Ultimately, it becomes a combination of both what we see based on the music and what the artists sees, and thus, becomes a collaborative effort.
Who are the vocalists on your songs and how did you end up collaborating?
Tom Brosseau (Fat Cat Records), who sings on “Simone,” we heard a while back and absolutely loved his voice.  Lucky for us, his manager is also our US booking agent, and so we contacted her.  Tom heard our music and agreed to sing on a song. Shelley Short (Hush Records), who also sings on “Simone,” was actually Tom’s idea.  When he went into the studio to record the vocals, he asked Shelley to join and we couldn’t be happier with the result. We wrote Ben Shepard and Catherine Worsham an email asking if they’d be interested in singing on some songs, because we love their band Uzi & Ari. During the writing of “Matador” we were listening to a lot of Uzi & Ari and it seemed only natural to ask them to sing.  Thankfully, they agreed and sang on “The Architekt” and “Twentynine Palms.”  Adam Arrigo (formerly of The Main Drag), who sings on “Matador” and “Helvetica,” has been a longtime collaborator and has produced and sung on previous releases.  Whenever we start writing songs, there are a few that we immediately send to him to sing on.
Everybody complains people stopped buying music. In addition to the CDs and mp3s, you released Black Paris 86 and Matador on LP. Do people still buy vinyls?
Yes.  Believe it or not, there are many people who prefer vinyl to CD or mp3s.  To be quite honest, I think that “Black Paris 86” sounds better on vinyl; it’s just a more suitable medium for that record.  I think people are also more excited by the prospect of spending money on vinyl because it is a collectible item usually and the artwork naturally looks nicer since it’s a bigger product physically.
Are you happy with the feedback received for “Matador”? matador
I’d say so.  Most of the feedback we’ve received has been quite positive and that’s always nice to hear.  We work really hard to make the best album we can and when people show enthusiasm it makes the process all the more rewarding.
You are a self-managed band. Why did you choose to do this yourselves?
Being self-managed allows us to have better control over our music and that is very important to us.  However, if the right person came along, we wouldn’t be opposed to working with them.
What’s your opinion regarding music as a creative process and music as an industry?
I think that these are mutually exclusive enterprises and, as many people know, their combination often has disastrous results.  However, inventions like music recording software, the internet, and websites such as myspace and facebook have made it much easier for smaller artists to remain independent and still be able to record their music and reach a wider audience.
How do you write the new materials? Aren’t the tours sometimes to busy and exhausting in order to allow writing of music besides playing the shows?
There’s no one way that we write new music.  Sometimes we’ll be together and consciously working on new music; sometimes we’ll meet with ideas we’ve come up with on our own; and other times, ideas will come to us in a hotel room.   It is true that tours can be exhausting, but sometimes inspiration hits and you’re just compelled to work on something.  However, most of our music is written between tours, during less hectic times.
What bands/music do you listen at home (or during the tour)? Is music your main inspiration source or you have also other things that help you composing the songs?
The music we listen to at home and on tour is always changing and this might help explain why there is a good deal of diversity in styles from release to release.  Currently, we’re listening to Anita Baker, Arvo Pärt, Nolens Volens, Alberto Iglesias, Crookram, Caspian, Sage Francis, Uzi and Ari, and Beach House.the light
I would say that film—and sometimes other visual art—is our main inspiration for music.  The films of Pedro Almodóvar, Julio Médem, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Gus Van Sant, Luc Besson, and many others have provided a lot of inspiration over the years.
We wish you a great tour and great inspiration for your future releases. If you have something else to add for the people that are reading this interview, please do so.
Thank you so much for asking us to participate in this interview! I guess the only other thing I’d like to add is: if you live in any of the countries we’ll be visiting in May and early June, please come out and say hello, we’d love to meet you! Take care.

Max -Arms and Sleepers / Maria ( ,, John Harper

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3 Responses to “Arms and Sleepers – interview with Max”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Harper. John Harper said: Arms and Sleepers – interview with Max: Hi guys and thanks for accepting the interview! It’s our plea… #rock #metal [...]

  2. sonja says:

    you guys, are amazing! great concert, hope to see you soon!

  3. pursestock says:

    I dont think you have to miss it.

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