AR BAND: "We play the music that moves us, and try and make it move you"
AR BAND, a sensational group of talented musicians who have taken the music scene by storm. Formed through a serendipitous encounter, the band comprises singer-guitarist Ashley Reandeau, drummer Walter Steagall, guitarist Kent Lake, bassist Matson Ovstedal, and the multi-talented Max Brody on saxophone, percussion, and keys. AR BAND burst onto the scene with their debut album, "Thoroughbreds," released in 2021. The record showcased their remarkable chemistry and undeniable musical prowess. Now, the band has returned with their sophomore album, "Danger is My Business," solidifying their position as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. Indie Boulevard have a special opportunity to sit down with the remarkable members of AR BAND. Indie Boulevard has seized a special opportunity to sit down with the remarkable members of AR BAND. In this exclusive interview, we will dive deep into their highly anticipated new album "Danger is My Business," uncover the wellspring of their inspiration, and explore the exciting plans they have in store for the future.
IB: Hi AR Band! It's an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss your music, delve into your musical journey, and explore the depths of your brand new album "Danger is My Business" - a truly impressive work. Before we dive into the album, I'd love to learn more about how the chance meeting between each of you unfolded and ultimately led to the formation of AR Band. Could you share some insights about that initial encounter and how it set the stage for your musical journey together?
AR BAND: There's a little Church in Granite Falls Washington I stumbled into one day 6-7 years ago. I was looking for something and wasn't really sure what it looked like. Not being a religious person I probably would have left pretty quick but there was a band setting up on the stage. Gator was on the drums, a few other players I don't remember and a young girl playing guitar. When she sang it hit me like a freight train. I hung around for a few weeks listening to them play and felt really compelled to introduce myself. One thing led to another, and I started playing with them. Soon after we started writing gospel blues, and rock songs and playing them in church. The response was good, and we were excited, so we formed a band and quit church. We have gone through quite a few bass players since 2019. We met Matson through word of mouth, a friend of a friend kind of thing, I guess it was just after we recorded Thoroughbreds, and the guy we had at the time just wasn't working out. Matson came on just before a cluster of shows and just killed it. Hes made a real significant contribution to the sound that we just love, so hes our guy. Max Brody was introduced to us at Witchape Studio by TAD Doyle. He showed up near the end of the Danger is my Business sessions and just blew us away. He never asked a question, we didn't even tell him what key we were in for Christ sakes. He just walked in and blew our minds. We found out about his multi instrumental abilities later. I think it was Tad that originally suggested we ask him to join or that he would be interested in playing with us. Max has been in a million bands over the years. He's devoted his life to making music and it shows.
IB: Your debut album "Thoroughbreds" showcased a unique blend of rock, blues, jazz, and funk. What inspired the band to merge these diverse genres, and how do you maintain this smooth balance between them?
AR BAND: I think we write the kind of songs, and make the kind of music that reflects the bands we have listened to most of our lives. The Allman Brothers band blended genres, as well as Led Zeppelin, Little Feat. I guess it was just natural for us to play songs that aren't bound by limitations. I think the band is really good at taking a song like Devils Blues which starts out straight up blues and turns it into a laid back cruiser, loose but together at the same time. THe endings of a lot of the tracks on that album are not set in stone. We just cut loose and play. The jam section of Pizza is a good example of us in full flight. Nothing really discussed beforehand, we just let it go.
IB: Your second full-length album, "Danger is My Business," has captivated me with its bold and smoky blues sound that I haven't experienced in quite some time. I'm incredibly curious about the recording process behind this masterpiece. Could you guys provide some insights into the journey of bringing this album to life?
AR BAND: We'll as far as the sound goes thats pretty much how we sound. I think there were a few guitar tones I wanted to do a better job on than Thoroughbreds. Mostly my guitar. Tad is a consummate professional and he understands how I think and play so it wasn't hard. It really boiled down to a room sound vs. an isolated amp. The room sound fits better and is a more accurate depiction of how we sound. We went into the studio pretty ready to go, so there wasn't a lot of messing about. Witchape is a magical place for AR BAND. I will never forget that week. I've joked with Tad not to be alarmed if he sees me just sitting in the driveway. I'm just trying to tap into the magic of that place and write a song or two.
IB: Ashley, your vocals are incredibly powerful and soulful. How do you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to deliver such captivating performances on stage?
ASHLEY: Thank you! I typically just try to get myself in a mindset that helps me focus on the band. I try to stay out of my head. I also play rhythm guitar so I have to be sure I don't have extra brain clutter or distractions so I can focus on joining in on the groove. I also just try to fully send it at every show no matter where we play. I try my best to sing from deep down, and tap into my emotions and join in on the band's energy. When we play there is a connection, almost like an electrical current that goes through each of us. When I am doing a full send on the vocals that just increases the band's energy, and vice versa. I think our best performances happen when each of us opens ourselves up to that connection and allows some of our emotions and vulnerability to come through our instruments.
IB: Kent, with such a diverse range of genres in AR Band's music, how do you approach adapting your guitar playing to fit different styles, from rock to blues, jazz, and funk?
KENT: I think a lot of what comes out is a reaction to the rhythm guitar parts. I really just try and react to Ash. I think there are times when kinda doubling the riff is powerful, and other times its just noisy. I try to keep that in mind if anything. I like to play on different beats than her if possible. The rest I just let go and go for it, I really don't set out to play a jazz style, or a blues style, I just play what comes natural in a particular song. Really for me its the energy in the room, and my deep love of playing music with my friends that drives how I play. I've also really enjoyed the songs Ash plays lead in. It gives me a chance to play rhythm with our rhythm section and I enjoy some of that. It's the same with Max. Hes a great soloist. I've always thought a lot of the hooks I write are really horn riffs anyway, like in Telepart, so that goes together really nicely.
IB: Walter, the drums play a vital role in setting the mood and energy of a song. How do you collaborate with other band members to find the perfect balance between different musical elements and ensure a cohesive sound?
WALTER: For me it’s all about the groove Laying down something simple yet you have to hit their hearts. Moving people’s souls to me is what it’s all about , once you do that you have the hook. When I can feel the crowd that’s what moves me , giving than receiving I call that full circle . If you don’t you’re just playing with yourself, and that gets old. I live for live, and now recording has helped me hear more of all the little things. Call Me Gator. The swingingest Gator in the swamp AR BAND to me is putting years of playing to our own music and owning it. Playing music with my friends it’s not work its a passion. Later from the Gator, and stay thirsty my friends!
"WE LIVE FOR IT. ALL OF IT. "
IB: Matson, as a bassist, how do you collaborate with the drummer to establish a tight and cohesive rhythm section, and what techniques do you use to ensure that the band's music has a strong and solid foundation?
MATSON: Playing with a drummer as talented as Gator makes it feel easy. It's really a conversation, when we're first jamming a new song that Ash and Kent bring I fall in with him. We push each other in different directions until we find the pocket, when we get there everyone can feel it. Then it's just back and forth on the finer points, fills and such. It's really helped me to just spend a lot of time jamming and becoming musically acquainted with him and the rest of the band.
IB: Max, your remarkable contributions on saxophone, percussion, and keys truly elevate AR Band's sound, adding a distinct and captivating dimension. With such versatility across multiple instruments, I'm curious, do you have a personal favorite among them?
MAX: That's a tough one. That question is kinda like asking what kind of food do you like best--it depends on your mood. I reckon I'd have to say Sax, since it has been a life-long pursuit in a somewhat academic way. That said, most of my career has been as a self-taught drummer which is what I wanted to play early on as a little kid, although clarinet was what I actually learned first. Its been nice to focus on other instruments now and get my woodwind chops sharp again. I love them all! They each have their own language, use and pleasure in playing.
IB: Live performances often provide a unique opportunity for artists to connect with their audience on a deeper level. As a band, what do you enjoy most about playing live, and how do you engage with the crowd to create an unforgettable experience? And could you share the details of your next concerts?
AR BAND: Well we really just play our asses off. We play the music that moves us, and try and make it move you. I think our improvisational approach makes it really exciting to watch. We spend a lot of time thinking about our set lists, the bands we are playing with, and the venue we are playing in to make it the best show possible. We are a band that really locks in and digs deep when that happens its pure magic for us. If you are there you'll feel it too I guarantee it. Our next Show is on May 30th at the Highdive in Seattle. We're playing with Smedley Racket, an instrumental band lead by Max Brody, and a band called Atrocity Girl. They are both really good bands, and we just love playing with them. After that on June 3rd We are playing at Tony V's in Everett Wa with our good friends Deep Contact. Great bunch of guy's and a really fun band, followed by an appearance at the Brush Stomp Hootenanny on June 17th.
IB: And the final question. What is your favorite way to unwind and recharge after a demanding tour or recording session?
AR BAND: We are a really hard working bunch of people, we all have careers and other projects, we keep our noses to the grindstone most of the time. The buzz we get from a good performance just gets put to use by way of more music. We live for it. All of it.