1940 9th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Think of Arlie as a classic car with modern parts: it has the timeless charm of what your grandparents used to drive, but instead of being an antiquated death trap, it’s got great gas mileage, heated seats, Bluetooth, and face recognition. Arlie believes you can create art that’s both vintage and futuristic, beautiful and practical, elegant and accessible. If that all sounds too good to be true, take a listen to the band’s brilliant debut, ‘Wait,’ and see for yourself.
“I’ve always been drawn to the harmonic structure of music from the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s,” says Arlie frontman Nathaniel Banks, “but I’m also fascinated by modern production technology. I love the vibe of old analog recordings, but at the same time, I’m really interested in the creative process of Soundcloud rappers and kids who are just uploading lo-fi music straight from their bedrooms. With Arlie, I wanted to make something that paired vintage aesthetics with a progressive mentality.”
In its earliest form, Arlie consisted solely of Banks writing and recording on a laptop in his dorm room at Vanderbilt University. He was at once an artist, engineer, and producer, learning to digitally emulate old tape machines and analog mixing boards as he captured songs firmly rooted in his 21st century life. The resulting demos were uptempo and infectious, with dreamy, washed out guitars, groovy drums, and effervescent keyboards all swirling beneath intimate, understated vocals. Banks played everything by himself on the recordings, though, and without a band, he could do little more than daydream about performing the songs live.
“I'd fallen into this thought pattern of telling myself that I would graduate college, grind it out for a few years, and eventually people would pay attention to my music” says Banks. “It was this vague idea that at some point in the future, I would be confident enough to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing. But then with only 2 semesters left before being thrown out into the real world, I asked myself, ‘Why do I need to wait?’”
So, in his spare time outside of class, Banks teamed up with guitarist Carson Lystad (a classmate at Vanderbilt), drummer Adam Lochemes (a student at nearby Belmont), and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Waters (who was studying at UNT) to fill out Arlie’s live lineup. They started off small at first, building up a local buzz playing house parties and DIY art gatherings around Nashville, but things quickly kicked into overdrive when the group’s debut single, an absolute earworm called “big fat mouth,” started climbing the Hype Machine chart and landed on several prominent Spotify playlists. A couple million streams later, Arlie was signed to Atlantic Records, headlining their own tours, and sharing bills with the likes of Rostam and Cold War Kids.
“We reached this fork in the road where we had to decide what kind of band we wanted to be,” says Banks. “Ultimately, instead of trying to act like we’re too cool to care or have ambition, we decided to put all our energy into making the best music we can make and reaching our own potential.”
When it came time to transform his bedroom recordings into a full-fledged EP, Banks teamed up with co-producer Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Local Natives) and mixer Jason Kingsland (Youth Lagoon, Belle and Sebastian) to bring the songs across the finish line. Whenever possible, they utilized the raw tracks from Banks’ initial demos in order to preserve the magic and the spontaneity of those original performances, fleshing them out and filling in any gaps with subtle effects and creative studio touches.
“I’d done all my recording on my own up to that point,” says Banks, “but working with those guys really opened me up to the idea of collaboration. They understood exactly what I was trying to do with the songs, and they have such incredible skills and such great taste that we were able to turn those demos into release-ready tracks without compromising any of the integrity of the original intention. It took a crazy amount of time and effort to execute, but I wouldn’t have been happy with anything less than pouring my entire soul into every aspect of this project.”
“big fat mouth” kicks off the EP with a hook you’ll be whistling for days, a slippery, saccharine riff that’s equal parts 1960 girl group and 2018 indie pop. “Last night I got a little bad / I said some things I shouldn’t have / I wanna make it up to you,” Banks sings, his crystalline voice calling to mind Ezra Koenig in its affable insistence. It’s a fitting start for a collection that often grapples with nostalgia and regret, donning rose-colored glasses to dream about an idealized past that might never have even existed. On the Lenon-esque “too long,” the narrator yearns to hear the voice of a lover he’s pushed away one too many times, while the pulsating “barcelona boots” finds Banks leaning into an ecstatic falsetto as he faces down a reality he just can’t accept.
By the EP’s second half, though, a shift has occurred, and Banks seems to have discovered a newfound freedom in untethering himself from the past, a liberation in living in the present and speaking his mind without second guessing every word. The breezy “water damage” spins a broken phone into a metaphor for escaping addiction, while the playful “didya think” chastises its narrator for sitting around feeling sorry for himself (“Didya think it’d be easy? / I tell you if it was easy then everybody’d do it too”). On the EP's closer -- the tropical, hazy “tossing and turning” -- Arlie turns a self-deprecating eye on a superficial generation so fixated on projecting a lifestyle that they miss out on living the actual life. And like so much of the group's music, the track lands with tongue planted firmly in cheek, a seriously great song that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s one that comes naturally to Arlie, a classic band with modern parts.
Briston Maroney calls Nashville home, but he's only arrived there after hopping all around the United States. His nomadic tendencies shine through on his big, robust rock and roll sound, drawing together an eclectic mix of Florida, Los Angeles, Nashville and beyond under one roof. The end result is one of the most compelling rock sounds of 2018. For proof, look no further than Maroney's latest single, 'Under My Skin.'