EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: White Arrows
After living the first 11 years of his life blind, finding out his childhood buddy was actually his half-brother, and earning a degree in Ritualistic Shamanism White Arrows frontman Mickey Schiff has plenty of material for the band to work with. After watching them kill their set at El Rey Theatre, opening for Airborne Toxic Event, we caught up with them backstage, in all their sweaty glory to discuss how White Arrows came to be and how this sextet keeps the behind-the-scenes stuff fun.
The Owl Mag: What’s your name and what instrument do you play?
White Arrows: My name is Steven, I play guitar. My name is Andrew and I play sampler and keyboards. My name’s Henry, I bang on the drums.
The Owl Mag: I heard you’re 17, is that true?
Henry: Yeah, it is.
The Owl Mag: Are you the youngest?
Henry: Yeah, 18 in 3 days.
Rob: What!?! Birthday party! My name’s Rob, I play guitar.
The Owl Mag: JP, you play bass?
Mickey: Mickey, I play guitar and sing.
The Owl Mag: Now from what I understand this project came from you, is that right?
The Owl Mag: How did that begin? Were you sitting in a room somewhere with a good idea and the rest is history?
Mickey: It was a room, it was a basement apartment in New York, while I was at school at NYU.
The Owl Mag: What were you studying?
Mickey: Shamanistic Ritual, music, and philosophy.
The Owl Mag: Did the music come before the Shamanism or did the Shamanism come before the music?
Mickey: Shamanism came way before music with the Native Americans (laughs) and with me too. I started studying Shamanistic Ritual just because of my advisor at NYU, that’s what he taught and so he suggested that I take his course and it ended up being something that I was really interested in.
The Owl Mag: Did the music come because of the Shamanism?
Mickey: Maybe, maybe I had a tripped out experience in Pennsylvania in some cabin, came back with an altered perspective on things.
The Owl Mag: How did the rest of the band get involved?
Mickey: The project in New York was never a live thing, it was just recordings, so then I moved back to L.A., and then started to assemble the band and it’s been like a 6 months to a year process of getting the final lineup so JP was the first domino to fall.
JP: That’s a little too fatalistic; it’s like the first domino to rise.
The Owl Mag: So you came back to LA and told them, “Hey I had this great idea in NY?”
Mickey: Yeah, I moved back here, and then the pieces just came together just based on the recordings.
The Owl Mag: How do rehearsals go? Is it friendly? Do you bicker much?
Mickey: Never! It’s a lot of love in a very small room. A lot of love and a lot of working things out. JP is a, is aâ€¦ I don’t know how to say this nicely but a hoarder of musical instruments. I wouldn’t say animal hoarding, but definitely a hoarder of instruments. He goes on Craigslist and picks up a new piece of equipment for every practice that we try out. It makes every practice like Christmas.
The Owl Mag: That leads me to my next question, do you guys like to stick to a specific instrument, will you play anything or do you have a brand loyalty?
Steven: I’m more of a Fender guy; I’m trying to get these guys into Fenders.
The Owl Mag: How do you determine your setlist?
Mickey: We took Monopoly cards and wrote the names of the songs on them. Every show we roll the dice and whatever we land on is kind of how we decide the setlist.
JP: I wanted to do the big bingo ball, but it was too much.
The Owl Mag: Do you have anything you want everyone to know about you right now?
Mickey: If you’re local in LA we’re gonna be at Bootleg Theater every Monday for free, which is one of our favorite venues, and we’re playing with a lot of our favorite bands. We’re releasing our first single officially in the UK from the demos that were recorded in NY, and at about the same time we’re about to release our first official single in the states from new material that was recorded here in LA, and we’re really excited about that.
The Owl Mag: When will that be happening?
Mickey: That should be sometime this summer.
White Arrows will be playing a residency at Bootleg Theatre every Monday in May.