What should be a collision of sounds and styles—ritualistic rhythm and four-four thump, synth sequences and strummed guitars, garage-y grind and airy atmosphere—is, in this quintet’s capable hands, a fluidly seething whole. Call it Psychotropical pop, something both busy and breezy Call it Paul Simon in space (others have). Call it what you will. This is White Arrows.
The White Arrows story begins with a blind boy. Singer Mickey Church was born seeing the world as an impressionistic smear. His vision was righted at age 11, but his imagination ran wild for the intervening years. Since he couldn’t make out those around him, he assumed they couldn’t see him either. He rode made-up horses and sung songs that didn’t exist. His memory of growing up in L.A. is confined to smells, sounds and swaths of fuzzy color. Mickey’s father, a student of African percussion, encouraged him and his little brother Henry to pick up instruments as kids, so they played what was around. With family back east, Mickey eventually left for NYU, and unexpectedly wound up with a degree in shamanistic ritual.
Mickey’s studies led him to examine the thin line that separates genius from insanity in art, and inspired him to create music that blurred familiar borders. In a Bowery basement, he made what would become the White Arrows EP—demos that took on new life once he returned home. Soon, Henry picked up the sticks. Their old friend J.P. Caballero joined on guitar, with Andrew Naeve on keys and beats, and Steven Vernet on bass. The five bonded over a shared love for sensory overload both aural and visual—essential to the White Arrows live show. And with only a 7-inch to sell, they toured with Cults, Those Darlins, and the Naked and Famous, played Sasquatch, opened for Weezer, and held residencies at home and in London.
Late last year, however, the guys decided it was time to slow down. They’ve since been holed up in L.A.’s canyon country recording the songs that will make up their debut LP. Inspired by RAC’s propulsive dance mix of their angular banger, “Coming Or Going,” they challenged the Portland remix geniuses to produce the entire White Arrows album due out this summer. RAC agreed, and the first fruits of their labors come via an April digital EP led by “Get Gone,” the kaleidoscopic single that pits Mickey’s transcendent croon against a bursting blend of elements both organic and electronic. When all’s said and done, you’ll be as likely to find White Arrows playing Coachella as Electric Daisy Carnival. In either case, expect to sweat.