interview

BN Interview: Jocelyn & Chris Arndt

jocelyn and chris arndt

How do both of you manage to juggle both school and music considering college requires so much time?

Not gonna lie, it does get pretty crazy sometimes. But we love them both, so we manage to make time for what we need to do, whether it’s homework or a show. During the school year we’re playing shows pretty much every Friday-Saturday-Sunday block. Sometimes we end up having to duck out of class a little early to fly somewhere for something. And then when we’re on the road, we make sure that anytime we’re not rehearsing or playing, we’re taking some time to study before we head back to class. So it’s a giant balancing act. But like I said, we love both. Music is definitely the priority right now, but as long as we can handle doing both, we will.  Plus, I think Harvard makes us appreciate our music even more… I’d take a show over a final exam any day of the week.

What inspired you guys to form a band and what drew you to play the music you play today? Any major influences?

Chris and I started taking music lessons when we were in fourth and third grade, respectively (I’m the older one; Chris is a year younger than me). I picked piano, and Chris got the guitar. Without realizing it at the time, we were both really influenced by the music our parents listen to; they had this enormous CD collection, and we’d wander over to it and pick one at random, pop it in the player, and let it play in the background as we were doing whatever else we were doing. Music was always playing in the Arndt household, and I think that really worked its way into our psyches when we were little. So when we started playing our own music, we found ourselves drawn to blues, rock, soul, and jazz – the kind of tunes we grew up on. Those kinds of sounds are what inspired us to begin performing on our own, and eventually, they were also what drove us to start songwriting together. We wanted to try our hand at creating something that powerful. As for major influences, Chris listens to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and Dire Straights all the time. And I love powerful vocalists like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Pat Benatar. 

If you could describe your sound as a duo what would you describe it as?

We’re going with “blues rock”. It can be a little tricky to nail it down with a label, but that’s the general gist of it. All of our music has a very retro undercurrent to it, owing to Chris’s guitar style and our songwriting. There are hints of classic jazz, R&B, and soul in there, all mixed up together. And we definitely put our own modern spin on things, too – it’s authentic rock with a millennial twist.

How was the recording process for your LP “Edges”?

It was amazing! “Edges” was a bit of a challenge to record, but that made it that much more rewarding to work on. We really wanted this album to sound like a fully cohesive record, like all the songs fit together as part of a larger whole. We also wanted to make sure it sounded as organic as possible – just like we’d all gotten together in a room and played the music as a band. To accomplish those goals, we tried to make the recording process as organic and relaxed as we could. Part of that involved recording the majority of the vocals at a camp on a lake in the Adirondacks. Recording at a studio can be a little stifling sometimes, but this way, we could work at our own pace with this serene backdrop. No deadlines, no hassle, just music. That way, we could get the most emotional vocal performance possible. And then when we were a little bit farther in the recording process and songs were beginning to come together, we decided to add some amazing musicianship to the album, which really boosted that organic feel we were going for in the first place. We had the awesome opportunity of working with G Love, who lent some of his signature blues-harmonica handiwork to one of the songs on “Edges”. We also got Danny Louis from Gov’t Mule to drop in and play Hammond organ for a majority of the album. Hammond is a great sound to begin with, and with Danny behind the helm, it’s pure magic. Both of those guys added a ton to our music, and really solidified that authenticity we had in mind. 

What message do you guys hope to convey through your music?

Chris and I have talked about this, and we both agree that if someone in the audience comes away from listening to us having felt something, we consider that a success. We write music because it makes us feel things, and we want to translate those emotions to others. So if you’re listening to our tunes and they make you feel a little something, we’re doing or job. We’re not going for any specific message for any particular song, because we both really like to leave that open to interpretation. You take from it what you want to, and that’s perfectly fine with us. We don’t ever want to force anything on anyone.  

2016 should be a big year for you guys. What do you think 2016 holds?

Lots of music! I guess that’s pretty much a given, but we’re going to keep challenging ourselves. We’ll be out on tour for most of August, driving coast-to-coast to play everywhere from New York to LA and back again. We started pushing “Edges” to radio a few months ago, and we’re happy to say that the reception to our music has been pretty awesome. The album debuted at #17 on the Relix Jamband top 30, and it’s also cracked the AMA and AAA top 200s. Coming off of that, we’re not slowing down anytime soon. Chris and I are also doing a lot of songwriting; now that “Edges” is finished, we can start to look ahead to what the next record is going to look like. We’re going to squeeze in as much recording as we can between touring and radio station visits. So long story short, it’s going to be busy. But we like it that way.

 If you guys could tour with anyone, who would it be?

Oh man. That’s a tough one. We get asked this question a fair amount, and I feel like we always say someone different, because we admire so many musicians past and present that it’s hard to pick just one. If I’m assuming that “anyone” means any band in history, I’m going to say Queen. Freddie Mercury is one of my absolute idols, and I know it’s not possible, but if I’d ever had the chance to perform with him, that’d be amazing. If we’re going with currently touring artists, though, I’d love to play with Grace Potter. I’ve loved her since she was still with The Nocturnals, and she’s another one of my biggest inspirations, both as a vocalist and a performer. 

How have your recent live shows and events been going?

Great! We’ve had the pleasure of playing our music in some really cool places lately, and it’s been awesome. We were just at Summerfest in Milwaukee a couple of weekends ago, and that was insane. It’s absolutely huge – don’t quote me, but I want to say they bring in over 800 bands over the course of a couple of weeks – so that experience was awesome. Plus, the Emergine Artists stage we were on was having a contest where fans could text in to vote for their favorite acts, and we won! Which was too cool for words. So thank you to all the peeps who texted in to vote for us. We’re looking forward to playing tons more shows before the summer touring season is over, so if you’re interested in a live show yourself, make sure you check out our website or Facebook page to see where we’ll be next! We’re always pushing ourselves to create the best show possible for our audience – they’re the reason we can chase our dreams like this, so we owe it to them to rock as hard as we can.

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