Brighter Arrows bring a marked post-rock influence to midwest emo, not unlike their heavyweight contemporaries CSTVT and The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. Separating them from these peers is a prominent rhythm section and a tendency towards longer song forms, notably the opening suite of “Departing” / “Ivi” from last year’s Division and What It Is to Abide EP. At just over twenty minutes, Division is one of the more frustratingly brief releases in recent memory — fortunately, the band laid down tracks for a proper full-length last weekend, which guitarist Jake Norris described to me as having “pretty long” song length.
A few days before the sessions, I spoke with guitarist Jake Norris about Skeletal Lightning Fest and the band’s studio process.
Smile Politely: So you guys are going into the studio to record this weekend?
Jake Norris: Yeah, [the record] will hopefully be all finished up in the next couple weeks… I’m not sure about the anticipated domestic release date, but it should be out in Europe by early June, in time for our European tour.
SP: You’re going over for what, three weeks?
Norris: Closer to two, just over two. I think it’s like sixteen days, seventeen days, something like that.
SP: So how many songs are you looking to put down for the LP?
Norris: We’re still deciding, I think there’ll be at least ten, I’m pretty sure. Well, it’s between nine and eleven, we’re still trying to figure out which ones will make the cut. The main bangers we’ve got are pretty long; thus, we’re already sitting at a lot of material. So, we’re not sure how much we’ll have room for.
SP: Are you recording this yourselves or working with a producer?
Jake: We are producing it ourselves, but we have an engineer who’s gonna come in. We’re actually recording it in our other guitar player’s house in Northwest Indiana. He’s kindly letting us do this, stay at his house over the weekend. So we’re bringing in our friend Niko from Lord Snow, he’s gonna be recording it all.
SP: One of the things I notice, especially when listening to the Division EP is the feeling of being a fly on the wall listening to the band recording. Is it fair to say that your studio material is an extension of your live stuff, or do you put together a song first and then interpret it when you play live?
Norris: The live sets are usually more … we try and just have a good time. So that’s something with the EP — we didn’t mess around too much with how we were gonna perform it live. When we first started playing shows we were just doing live what we had recorded, and there weren’t really many modifications. But for this new album we’re talking about how we’ll record some of the songs a certain way and then play them live a certain way, and develop some additional material to help weave the songs together, even though they might not be performed in the same order they’re recorded. We want to mix it up, make it a little more unique.
I took most of the responsibility for writing the EP and I didn’t really take much initiative to try and diversify the live set. But Colin [the band’s other guitarist] is at the helm for this new batch of songs, and he’s been really great at initiating that dialogue, figuring out how we can have fun with the live sets to make them a little different and entertain people a little differently, which I really appreciate. He cites Young Widows as a good example of how they have their songs and then do them differently live and make it a little more experimental, if you will. That’s kind of the direction we’re going for this album.
SP: Last question, who are you excited to see at Skeletal Lightning?
Norris: Oh man, I am really excited. We’ve been talking with Altar of Complaints; they’re from Tennessee, and they’re just really nice guys. I’ve never seen them play live so I’m really excited to see them and hang out. We’re playing a show [with them] the next day in Chesterton, Indiana, so we’re gonna have a few shows with them … really excited to hang out with them and also see them live. Obviously, it’s a slam-dunk of a fest, so I’m really excited to see all these bands. It’s gonna be killer.
Brighter Arrows perform this Saturday, April 6, at Skeletal Lightning Fest. Set time is 3:00 p.m. and tickets are $20 at the door.