Interview: Arrows In Action

Arrows in Action

This past week I was able to hop on a Zoom call with indie pop-rock band, Arrows In Action, to discuss their great new album called Built To Last. Arrows In Action is singer/guitarist Victor Viramontes-Pattison, guitarist Matt Fowler, and drummer Jesse Frimmel, and their unique circumstances that led to them playing music together only made them stronger as a unit. In this interview, I asked the band about what went into writing/recording Built To Last, the collaborative tracks found on the record, plus how they measure success in their musical career. Built To Last arrives this Friday, and pre-orders can be found here.

Thank you so much for your time today! Let’s first chat about your level of excitement now that your new, debut LP, Built To Last, will be released on May 26. So what are your ranges of emotions for each of you?

Victor: Oh man, almost entirely good. We’ve been working on this record since technically the minute we were putting out Be More. That was when we wrote “Put You Through Me.” So, it’s been a long process. And it took a little while for us to kind of find exactly what we wanted the record to be. But when we did it, it was really validating to say, “Okay, we found the direction for it.” We wrote the title track, and we kind of knew where we wanted the rest of the record to go. And so it’s been really cool to finally be able to get ready to deliver a full length to our fans, who have been waiting for one for so long. And we’ve been able to do EPs and singles, but now they get to live in the world that is this Built To Last record.

Matt: There’s an aspect of this too that there’s some relief, and all good emotions, but there’s a little bit of relief in the sense that it has been a long time coming. And it wasn’t that long ago that we had told ourselves that we’re not going to do a full length until we’re signed to a record label. But we sort of realized that we could do this ourselves and that was a very exciting thing and a very daunting task to take on. To really promote it well, and get it to everybody and use the songs to their full potential. And yeah, as we’re approaching this next week, there’s some relief involved. We’re like, Oh, my God, we did it! But mostly excitement.

Jesse: Glad that we got to do it now. Like Matt said, it didn’t seem even maybe just a little over a year ago, that we were going to have an album out soon. So to get to make that decision and go, “Hey, wait, we can do this on our own.” We should do it! So yeah, a lot of excitement, just really glad to get to give it to the fans. And you know, we’re so proud. We got to put a lot of time into it. It wasn’t rushed. We got to like really be intentional with the whole thing. So just really excited to let everybody hear it. 

That’s great, and the album features collaborative songs on “The Credits,” that features Loveless and Magnolia Park, plus “Wide Eyes” features The Home Team. So what made you seek these artists to round out the songs on Built To Last?

Victor: I mean, with “Wide Eyes,” we were literally writing it and we knew that we wanted Brian on it. We came into the studio to work with Kyle Black on that song. And all we really had was like a pre-chorus melody and then we built off of that the rest of the song with our buddy, Graham. And it felt just very home to me. It’s just really like a high soaring chorus with really high vocals and we’re like, “Well, someone who can sing higher than me is Brian!” (Laughter)

Matt: The highest. (Laughter)  Like with The Home Team, we met them in 2019, on one of their first full US headliners. And we opened all their Florida shows and met them way back then. And we kind of just became fast friends with them. So staying in touch with them and just always listening to whatever they’re putting out was a big part of that. 

Jesse: We’ve had almost yearly meetups with them. We saw them in California, about two years ago in March.

Victor: We were on tour with Bearings. We managed to play in Sacramento the day before, so we rushed to their show. 

Jesse: We made a long, long drive fast. 

Matt: And we knew we were gonna collaborate with them at some point. The conversation about collaborating happened before the song, and then when we were recording that song with Kyle and Graham, we all looked at each other and said this is very Home Teamy.

Jesse: So for “The Credits,” we’ve sort of been internet buddies with Loveless and Magnolia Park for a little while. And all three bands kind of had a bit of a moment in the last two years. So we’ve all been aware of each other, and when we recorded “The Credits,” we knew this one would be sick for a feature, and we thought Julian would fit on it super well. So we sent it to him, and he was stoked. And then, I was tweeting about it way too early, probably like six months before, or a year ago, and Magnolia Park got word of it. And they texted us and they were like, “Yo, can we hop on that song and just make it a huge three-way of up and coming bands?” And it just really felt like it came together. 

Awesome. Glad everyone was really on board too! So I understand Arrows in Action formed in Florida. What was your musical upbringing like for each of you? And what direct influences do you put back into this band?

Matt: Yeah, we’re all from Central Florida. I’m from the Orlando area. So music was a big part of my life early on, because my brother was in a concert band playing wind instruments and stuff. So I got really into music and really into being in a band and started playing guitar when I was eight. And a lot of my early influences are metal bands and classic rock and stuff. But then by the time I got into high school, I was listening to a lot of old school punk rock. So, I think the influences that I throw back in tend to be those. But yeah, I met Arrows in Action in college when I was actually still playing in a different band. We opened for Arrows in Action a couple of times in Gainesville, where we all went to college together. And then when it came time to graduate, I had been playing with them as a fill in for a while and I said, like, I want to go full time with this, let’s move into a house together and try to make the band our life.

Victor: For me, I started learning to play guitar when I was like 10, I started taking lessons where I just learned the standard “cowboy chords,” and not even all of them, just kind of like G’s, and E, minors and C’s. And then I just once I learned those, I just stopped taking lessons and I sort of just started playing Green Day songs and Blink-182 songs until I needed to learn something different. I had a band in high school called Foul Play, which Jesse knew about before I was in Arrows in Action. So when I was in high school, I was playing a show in Gainesville, and Jesse came to the show and said, “Oh, this is pretty sick. We should do a show together sometime!” We ended up playing a show together with the earliest iteration of Arrows actually, that I was not in and my high school band broke up, I went to college, then I joined Jesse’s band. And we just loved working with each other so much, and we knew that we all wanted to do this. A lot of my influences I’d say would come from the first Fall Out Boy records, they are a big one for me. I really love bands like Bad Suns, Microwave, and even The Story So Far. I like to think that our music ends up being a good mix of indie dance with pop-punk influences, and then fun vocals. We always like to try to push it with vocals.

Jesse: Yeah, and I got started playing music from the game Rock Band. I played piano when I was like six. I took lessons for a really long time. But then I got the game Rock Band, and I started playing the drums and I got really good at those on the game, and thought I could translate this to real life. I just started playing in a church band. I think for musical influences, I had a friend in like eighth grade give me an unlabeled CD. I didn’t know who the bands were at the time, but Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Mayday Parade, and Panic! at the Disco were on it. I didn’t know the names of the bands until I asked him about it a month later. And I said, “Oh, hey, by the way, I really like those bands! Who are they?” (Laughter) Honestly, I kind of thought they were all one band! And then that turned into kind of liking the rest of the pop bands later on, like the Jonas Brothers and 5 Seconds of Summer. Even some One Direction. 

Yeah, I saw you guys recently wrapped up some Spring tour dates with Magnolia Park. What was the crowd reaction like to the new material?

Victor: It was phenomenal. We were really happy with how we were able to schedule the release of “The Credits” with the tour with Magnolia Park right after. So anyone who knew about either band doing it was going to get to see it on tour immediately. And then we also got to premiere a new song called “Checking In.” No one really knew it. So we just got to give that little Easter egg of like, this is coming, learn it now. And you’re going to be really stoked when it comes out. 

That’s cool. How would you guys describe your live performances in general? And what do you most look forward to when you get on your headlining tour?

Matt:  I feel like our live performances are really, really high energy and funny. On the songs that maybe aren’t as guitar-forward or aren’t as huge-sounding on the record, they’re more like Indie Rock, we do tend to sort of rock things up live, extend sections, jump around, and really interact with the crowd. On our first headlining tour, one thing that we did was a Q & A section where we stopped playing and literally improvised based on things the crowd wanted to talk about. So we try to be super interactive, super silly, and loud and fun. Yeah, I mean, we’re really excited for this next tour, because we’re doing more of all of that. I feel like a lot of the transitions we’re building into our set are inspired by Foo Fighters stuff. Like some stadium rock stuff, which is super exciting. And as far as crowd interactivity goes, we have way more fan-service put into this set than ever before.

Victor: It is fun because like most people a lot of people have found us on Tik Tok live, so we sort of get to be the people on the phone in real life. So to Matt’s point we’re doing a lot of really cool transitions and we still just get to be the silly little guys that people remember from Tik Tok.

Probably makes for good stage banter too in between songs and stuff like that…

Arrows in Action: Oh yeah, for sure. 

When I listened to your debut LP, called Built To Last, several songs stood out to me on first spin. “High” features a great stomping beat to it. And the synth groove of “The Credits” sounds like a very marketable single. So that’s good for you guys! What are each of your favorites on Built To Last?

Victor: We ask ourselves this question probably every other day. For me, it’s between “Head in the Clouds” and the title track. I’m really glad we got to pick “Head in the Clouds” as a single when we wrote that with our buddy Graham and Alex Pearson. We knew we were onto something big. It felt so huge. And we were just literally sitting there with an acoustic guitar in their little apartment. And “Built To Last” is just a very personal song that kind of helped pick the direction of the record.

Jesse: I would say my favorite song is “Checking In.” Just the process of writing the song felt very special for us. I just love it. Just the really sentimental lyrics with a cute little dance groove. Just kind of somehow is a great mix of that realistic sadness, but also light-hearted hopefulness. 

Matt: Man, “Checking In” is really up there because of the process of writing it too. We wrote it with two really close friends and it was just a really nice day. But for the sake of picking a different one, I’ll say “Wide Eyes.” “Wide Eyes” was really fun to write. And I feel like I became a better player after tracking those parts, because we got pretty detailed on a lot of stuff. And so just listening back to it, I feel very proud. I’m a big, big fan of our buddies in The Home Team, so to just have Brian’s voice on the track, and to hear the detail that he went into, as well as other parts, is just exciting. Every time I hear it, it’s so nice. 

Yeah, it’s a pretty balanced record. I’ve been spinning it a couple times, here and there, and it really sounds great to my ears. So congrats to you guys!

Victor: I appreciate you using the term “balanced.” That’s something that we don’t always use for the record whatsoever. Like it’s all over the place. It’s crazy. Balanced is a really nice way to put that.

So here’s another question for you guys. How do you measure your success in your career as musicians?

Victor: I was talking about this the other day. And I mean this in the most humble way possible…I feel like we’ve made it. Obviously, we always want to go further, but if I told 12-year old me where we were at, he’d be like, “What are you talking about? You’ve already made it!” So to be able to make music with each other, and to do this full time is a great measure of success. But I don’t think that’s the answer to the question. 

Matt: I think we’re still defining that. And we are just now hitting that point where we start talking about it together. So I think it used to be if we could just do this and survive and do it together. Now that we’re doing that, and the turbulence has kind of subsided…we gotta define it, somehow. We have to find a new way. And I don’t know yet. I know that we all like making people happy, and we like making people laugh. And so when we go to play a show, and everyone’s singing all the words, and people are laughing at all the jokes and have smiles on their faces all the time…That’s a pretty good measure of success, too. But that’s only applicable to tours. So it’s hard.

Jesse: I think I agree with Victor’s sentiment in a way. This is crazy. Every day, you’re just like, wow, wait, this is what I get to do? Have you guys ever thought about how this isn’t just what we do now, but for forever? And that’s difficult to grasp. Because it’s new in relative terms. For us, we’ve only been full time for less than a year and a half. But it’s very exciting. Everything feels like a success right now. 

Victor: I will say one more thing that helps, and it’s not really a great measure of it, but it’s exciting to see. All of the fan artwork, when fans take our lyrics or any aspects of our music or artwork or anything. Or when we’re like “these are the three colors of the record,” and they start theming their hair color with the three colors, that’s a really special moment for us. I have a painting that is of “Put You Through Me” in a gorgeous heart in our living room from a fan of ours. Knowing that people want to make art because of our art or incorporated is super special.

I’m glad that people are finding inspiration through your guy’s music. That’s a huge measure of success, and also sustainability too. So the last question I have for you guys is, what do you hope fans will take away most from listening to your band, Arrows in Action?

Victor: I mean, specifically with this record, I feel like we’ve talked, we’ve mapped out exactly what each song kind of does for the record and the overall theme. And I think there’s something we had written up the other day that really captured it. It was that it’s okay to not know where you’re going, as long as you maintain those important people in your life, you’ll figure it out and it’s all going to be fine.

Matt: Yeah, the general message of this record, and I guess we can apply it to listening to us in general, is to be checking in with your people. And there’s also a really great line in “Built to Last”: “If all we are is who we have, I guess I’m making amends built to last.” And that’s one of my favorite things we’ve ever written. “All we are is who we have.” So just the idea of you can not know where you’re going. But if you surround yourself with good people, and you’re good to those people, that’s the most important thing to do. 

Any last words for your fans or why they should check out the record next Friday?

Jesse: It’s super good. It’s better than whatever you’re listening to.

Matt: Even if you’re already listening to Arrows in Action…this is better! (Laughter) We’re also really excited to be back on the road. This is our first full US headlining tour and the longest set yet, and lots of fun stuff that we’ve put together for it. 

Jesse: So if you’ve seen us before, still come to this one. 

Victor: Additionally, we have a Patreon where you can get a ton of cool stuff early, or giveaways that we’re doing so be sure to check out the Patreon

Thank you guys so much for your time! This was great, and I wish you guys nothing but the best. Good luck on tour!

Arrows in Action: Thanks, Adam!