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A Conversation with Mickey Church of White Arrows

White Arrows
White ArrowsTierney Gearon

It brings me great joy to share this interview with Mickey Church, the frontman of White Arrows, with an audience. To say that White Arrows is a band that is going places is to understate their current success. They will surely become a long-standing presence in the music scene in Los Angeles, as well as beyond their home city. Whether playing shows in a local venue or in front of thousands at one of the country's biggest music festivals, White Arrows is not a group to sleep on.

Origins tell a lot about a band's trajectory. What did you listen to when you were younger? What were your favorite albums when you were sixteen?

I listened to a lot, actually. As the internet generation, we had everything accessible. I listened to Van Morrison, Nick Drake, Radiohead, Nirvana, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc.

How have your music tastes changed in the past few years? Who are your favorites now?

I still like as wide of a range of artists now as I did then. I've been listening to Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and Thin Lizzy a lot lately.

If you could chalk up the success of White Arrows to three influences, musical or otherwise, what would you pick?

It’s too hard to pinpoint. I think so much of what is made is subconscious, so to note three examples that have shaped us would be almost impossible. The fields of art, life experience, and mood is what influences me most.

I've read that your band name is a reference to a Shel Silverstein poem. Have any other poets influenced your work as directly?

It’s not a direct reference to that, but it has been said that we may have referenced that poem. I love Shel Silverstein, but I like hearing what people think the name means as opposed to giving it a specific meaning. Bukowski poems and short stories are great. Lean and muscular writing.

How did you all meet and end up making music together?

We’ve all been friends for a long time. Andrew and I do most of the writing at home, kind of like producers. We write in the studio and then when the songs are more realized, we bring them to the band and we play 'em live.

You all have been very busy the past few years, touring incessantly and playing to huge crowds at events like Coachella. Who has been your favorite artist (or artists) to share the stage with?

Coachella was very big for us being Los Angeles natives. We played the same stage as some of our friends like Local Natives, and some bands we don’t know personally but love, like Tame Impala.

If you could pick one artist or band to tour with (living, dead, together, or disbanded), who would you pick?

Led Zeppelin tours look like they would get pretty rowdy.

Describe the best show you have played to date. What set it apart from the others?

Sasquatch Festival is a memorable one just because we hadn’t really been a band for very long, and it was the first major festival we played. The location is beautiful and unlike anywhere else we’ve played before.

What are the most necessary snacks you require while on tour?

Fruit, Almond/Peanut Butter, Crackers, Jerky.

WA is slated to play at The Troubadour on July 31st. Have you all played there before?

We have played there before. It’s one of my favorite venues to see shows actually because it’s big enough, but not too big to where it doesn’t feel intimate. I saw Arcade Fire’s first L.A. show there when I was in 9th grade, which was mind-blowing.

If you had to pick, which LA music venue is your favorite from a performing standpoint?

It might actually be The Troubadour, or the Henry Fonda Theater. We are actually also about to play The Greek, which I’m looking forward to.

Besides touring, I know you all have finished your sophomore album, In Bardo, which is coming out September 16th. So, tell me about it. What did you hope to get out of putting this record together? Did it align with your personal expectations?

In Bardo feels like a true album to us. After touring endlessly and piecing together the first album between breaks. This album is a time capsule written and recorded in one place and in one time. We got to make it in a real studio, instead of my room, and with the help of a real producer, Jimmy Messer. There were no real expectations, but any expectations I would’ve had this album definitely surpassed. We want the world to hear it.

What made you all choose In Bardo as the album title? The word "bardo" is Tibetan in origin and, as a concept, influenced many early Buddhists. Does anyone in the band have a personal connection to Buddhism or Tibet?

Andrew chose the name because a lot of the album lyrics have to do with death, but not in a bleak way. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead there are six stages of Bardo you go through to achieve afterlife. It literally translates to “in transition” or “transitional period,” so the transition was us finding who we were and figuring it out as we went along.

What inspired you to write "Nobody Cares"?

That was the first song I wrote for the album. Too much time spent being worried about what people think, but in reality everyone’s too self involved to notice, so nobody really cares what you do. It’s liberating. Do whatever you want.

Tell me about "God Alert pt. 1" and "pt. 2." It sounds like a couplet of sorts upon listening, but has it always been two songs, or was it carved from one original track?

It was originally one song, but they had two distinct sections, and they both kind of became extended versions of themselves so they split into two.

Do you have any advice for young musicians striving for the kind of success you have achieved?

Roll the dice.

Interested listeners can find White Arrows on Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud. White Arrows's next show in Los Angeles is July 31st at The Troubador. Tickets can be purchased on Ticketfly.