White Arrows may never divulge the source of their strange magic, but it's hard not to picture a mystic dance floor hidden in the midst of a tropical rainforest. The Los Angeles band stands at these balmy crossroads like a vision from an alternate reality: classic without leaning on nostalgia, visionary but not unfamiliar. 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. RAC agreed, and the first fruits of their labors come via a March 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.
White Arrows’ story is stranger than fiction, and lends itself to the skewed brand of electro-pop found on their self-titled EP, available now in the States, and in the UK starting May 30, via 3 Syllables Records. The seven-song collection is a reflection of the Schiffs’ amazing journey and lead singer Mickey Schiff’s sensory epiphany: a joyous burst of kaleidoscopic beats, genre-hopping and psychedelic textures.
Mickey Schiff was born legally blind, and spent his childhood sharpening his auditory senses and teaching himself music. Suddenly, at age 11, Mickey Schiff amazingly gained sight, and his world came alive in a burst of Technicolor light. After studying ritualistic shamanism at NYU, Mickey returned to L.A. to start White Arrows with brother Henry Schiff and childhood friend J.P. Caballero. Unbeknownst to the brothers, J.P. was literally family, courtesy of a sperm donation by his dad to help some friends conceive.
Combining Ziggy Stardust –era guitar bombast with a drum machine and DIY ethos, the White Arrows’ EP combines original material with several remixes by RAC (Remix Artist Collective) and Kevin Seaton (Mad Decent). “White Arrows specializes in a sometimes blues-informed brand of out-there pop, but this sextet is its own beast, swirling bits of electronic dance and clean Strokesy garage rock into the mix,” wrote LA Weekly.
Having already developed a cult-like following in L.A., the band is stepping out of their locale for a West Coast run, sharing select dates with Airborne Toxic Event, Cults and Those Darlins. They had a coveted spot at the Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington, and are currently on the road opening for Naked And Famous.