Friday, May 30, 2008

Band of the Week

Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo


I have heard it said that everyone has a song to sing, but I tend to translate that in a looser sense. Everyone has something that they were meant to share. Something that sets them apart, something that moves them toward greatness. It could be in song or art, it could be in writing or storytelling, it could be in any talent that you possess. The process of using your talent, recording your album, painting your pictures, that is life at it’s fullest.

Todd Goldstein is in a successful band called The Harlem Shakes, and for most that would be enough. Not for Todd, he has a separate song to sing and personal story to tell. Over the last few years Todd has been recording and revising the collection of songs that will appear on his full-length debut, Kids Aflame, when it is released via Melodic Records on June 30th. His songs range from a melodic croon over ukulele to rock filled youth anthems. He sings of youth and the moment when boredom meet reality, and life is rumored to begin. After working on the album for so long and recording much of it himself, he is relieved to have it out there and excited to share it with the world.

Recently, Todd was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Arms is a tough name to google, where did that come from?
Todd Goldstein (TG): Oh man, I didn't even think of that when I came up with it! Well, you know what they say about band names -- it doesn't need to be something you like, just something you're willing to live with. I went through a couple of cheesy potential names for my solo project ('box factory' was one and I’m not even kidding. it's a Simpson’s reference.) back when it was naming-time. and then in my internet travels I came upon a British rapper called 'ears.' I thought 'hmmm, plural body part, that's kind of cool. legs? hands? arms? sure, why not.' it's got a slightly emo double entendre in it that I’m not so hot on, but as long as it only relates to the body part itself, I can live with 'arms'.

OA: Your debut full-length, Kids Aflame, seems like it was a labor of love. Is it freeing to finally have it released? What are your thoughts on the process in general?
TG: It's amazing to have it released - I feel like I can finally move on to other things. I spent three years on this album in some form or another -- recording, re-recording, mixing, mixing again, mixing a third time -- basically learning how to work the recording software as I went. I used one mic, and had friends play any instruments that I didn't know how to play myself. Looking back on it, I did it exactly how it needed to be done -- the album is a snapshot of a few very important years in my life, and now that it's done I can finally start making a different kind of music. The new material I’ve been working on is very different, as is my life now. Makes sense, in a way.

OA: You have been interviewed for a couple of different blogs now, what are your thoughts on the effectiveness of new media as it relates to promoting musicians?
TG: is it even 'new' media any more? I feel like blogs are just an accepted part of the machine at this point. Either way, blogs are how I initially got heard a few years back -- Connor at 'I guess I’m floating' was instrumental in this -- and they've been the primary instrument in arms' achingly slow ascent into kind-of-sort-of-quasi-notoriety. so I’d guess my thoughts on them would be "fuck yeah, blogs."

OA: With lyrics about turning into stairs and kids bursting into flames they could be considered literary. You are also a copy editor and have had thoughts of being a teacher. Are there literary aspirations in your future?
TG: I’m actually incredibly uncomfortable writing fiction. My songs are the only way I’m comfortable doing 'creative' writing. I’ve been a music writer/critic for a long time as well, though -- less these days. Basically, I’m only comfortable writing terrifying fictional scenarios about fucked up shit encased in pop songs, and totally useless, jargon-filled music criticism. I’m an incredibly nice and well adjusted in person, I promise.

OA: How is the new Harlem Shake album coming along?
TG: The Shakes record is shaping up better than any of us ever thought it would, actually. We're almost done with the tracking, planning on doing the mixing in August. It's going to be something really special, i hope -- the sort of album that "no one saw coming"... ideally.

OA: Is there anything upcoming for Sea & The Gull?
TG: The Sea & the Gulls was a moment when Leah Beeferman (who did the art for the Arms record, actually) and I both had too much time on our hands, were both pretty confused/angsty, and escaped into weekly meet-ups in which we'd write and record songs about 'things that fly' in about an hour. The resulting album seems almost magical, too me -- I barely feel like I had a hand in it, it just sort of happened. Leah's at grad school in VA now, and I miss her a ton. We still get emails about the music we made though, which is really special.

OA: What's next for Arms?
TG: A couple of shows in New York. A real band, hopefully. Some kind of European tour in the fall. More blog interviews?

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
TG: 3 cups a day, 4 if I’m feeling insane. Gorilla coffee in Brooklyn is the best coffee I’ve ever had in the entire universe.

OA: What was the last great book you read?
TG: I just finished Don Delillo's 900-page monstrosity 'underworld', which was so engrossing, well-crafted and moving that, when I got halfway through at page 450, I already started getting sad that it would be over soon. (For me, 'soon' = like two months)

Listen to: Whirring (mp3)

For more information on Arms visit his website or check out his myspace page.

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