GIGsoup had the opportunity to sit down with the legendary Arcane Roots for a long exclusive chat at this years Fort Fest – chatting about all things new and exciting in their lives, as well as answering some both fun and technical fan questions submitted to us…
AG: Andrew Groves (frontman/guitarist) // AB: Adam Burton (bassist) // JW: Jack Wrench (drummer)
So firstly – how was your summer! How was Reading and Leeds?
AG: Its finished now… yeah it was good. Big festivals are REALLY big *laughs* and yeah… they were probably the biggest thing on the calendar gig-wise so far, so I’m kind of pleased to be on the other side of it this time around. I tried everything to make sure we had good luck and made sure it went OK – so luckily, the god of electronics smiled upon us that day and it did. Reading was wicked. Its nice to have that big milestone out the way, and it went well.
How did you feel about the crowd? There were a few videos taken onstage showing the reaction to your Reading set in the pit and it looked immense – moshing everywhere.
AG: Yeah! Apparently everyone had been having quite a bad time on that stage the day before… I heard Mastodon and Dillinger had a tough time, so luckily we were okay. Honestly we never know how anything is ever going to turn out – I genuinely don’t know if there’ll be anyone at any gig ever, and its always a nice surprise when people do turn up, and we were lucky that there were more people than there was last time. But yeah – the videos look incredible. We never get to hear the output… we just hear what we hear onstage.
Well it definitely sounded like a massive set – so many people afterwards were saying you were mainstage material for next year.
AG: Wow really!
AB: Make it so!
AG: I definitely feel like whilst we’ve been busy putting our record together, the set was more of a ‘don’t forget us set!’
We couldn’t help but notice that you mentioned in an interview at R&L that you considered changing your band name and just starting over again – what would you have changed Arcane Roots to if you really went through with it?!
AG: Well I think all band names are silly.
AB: Although there was that one that you really liked… the one with pianos…
AG: Pianos Become The Teeth! I think that’s a great name. Although I’m a big fan of shaving your head and changing your name – I like the kind of emergence of everything. I think sometimes its easier just to press control, delete and then just start again… to remove the weight of trying to make a decision or whatever. So obviously, with Jack in the band – it does feel like a different band. A new kind of colour in the palette. I myself know for certain that if I were in a band, I would want to feel ownership of what I’d be making – so I think that’s important for any member of a band, and a familiar feeling for us. I sincerely hope at least 80% of that translates to Jack! We were sitting in a hotel in Ukraine the other day, and just had that moment of realisation – we’re here just because we wrote some songs one day, y’know, and that’s incredible. We’re really keen to have that with Jack. So for this record, we really went all out – and we still are trying to go all out, whilst we piece it together! So for all intents and purposes… if it was down to me, and my ideas of the order of the world, I would have a different band name. But it still very much sounds like us, at the same time.
Are you planning any other UK shows this year?
AG: Well I think everything is kind of floating in the air as far as once we have the record down, and how we want it. We’re trying to forge our own path as to how we want things to be released, and also want to release this as much attention as we give to the record. I think we’re all only really interested in doing something that’s extraordinary, and not the same thing you’d expect – I think life is way too short to be faffing about with the guff of the world, and I just want to do something new and different, and want to release this in a different way, pushing it further… I want to be impressed ourselves. This band has forever been about what would we want to see when we saw a band. I personally laugh my head off when I see an amazing band live – like the first time I saw The Fall of Troy, or the Mars Volta..
AB: Like the first time we saw Monuments… you punched me in the back.
AG: That was amazing though! But yeah, we want that. And more so. Spending our nights on YouTube finding things that we think ‘that’s an amazing idea! that’s so well thought out!’. Anyway, we’re trying to be quite calculating in how we do things. So we’re hoping to do some very, very special shows, come the end of the year – hopefully at some stage – so that just depends on whether this record gets finished, and in what order, and what the powers that be want us to do with that.
Well we’re looking forward to it. Now, we’re going to submit you to questions from your Facebook-based fan group, if that’s OK…
Will you promise not to say 2 weeks when the single is going to be released?
AG: I’ve already said it! I said it at Reading! 2 weeks is always the rule. In our defence, you knew entirely as much as we did. So we were told ‘yep 2 weeks… yep 2 weeks… yep 2 weeks…’, and we just pass on the information. Its like Chinese whispers.
Adam, will you do any more bass playthroughs on YouTube?
AB: Well, I don’t think I’ve even done one…
AG: There you go! Get your butt in gear!
Are you more industry or creatively minded? Obviously you don’t want to confine to a certain style, but do you worry about reinventing your sound with each release at the stage you are in the industry?
AG: Well, considering we’ve written an album which is going to alienate everyone… I mean, one informs the other, and you’re stupid to ignore either. Its about understanding where things exist, and what playground you have to play around within – and seeing whether you can push the little boundary either way. We have to be aware that if we want to make any kind of living out of this band, as much as I’d like to make a purely electronica experimental album, that won’t happen overnight. At the same time, that’s also a good thing as I enjoy taking things that already exist and trying to impress people through that medium. My biggest analogy is Bohemian Rhapsody – when that was chosen as a radio single, it changed the world at the time as there wasn’t anything being chosen like that as a radio single. The idea that they managed to float that through the system – in its entirety, without being cut – that’s the idea of playing within those boundaries. We are always passionate about what we do – if we don’t care about it, then nobody else will. Its as simple as that, and we believe in what we’re doing. So you have to have a bit of both (creative/industry). 80/20 is a good balance.
Whats your favourite guitar pedal?
AG: For me, Green Carrot Pedals – ‘Pumpkin Pie’. Andy from Green Carrot Pedals got in touch with me when I asked Twitter for some recommendations, and he just sent me one. Its probably my go-to pedal for anything fun, like riffs… solos… all the good things. It just sounds incredible and I always reach for it.
One for each of you… if you were sent to a desert island, what would be the one book, album and movie you’d bring with you?
JW: That’s heavy. That’s very hard… movie, that’s easy: Jaws. Probably not the best if you’re on an island, but learn your enemy and all that – its educational. Book, it would either be ‘13’, written by this Brighton author which is just a whirlwind of confusion – but it’s a great book.
AG: Whats that boxing one that you had?
JW: I was gonna say! Or Bulldog Boxer. Which isn’t the book name, but it might as well be. Album – come back to me on that.
AB: Movies… Aliens. Book – The Wasp Factory is really good. Its the only book I’ve read like 3 times. Album, I’d say ‘Racecar is Racecar Backwards’. Its all bangers. When was the last time you got an album with 16 songs that are all ragers? There you go.
AG: Movie – I would bring… such a difficult question… Inception is one of my favourites. Album I’d bring BT – This Binary Universe, or Camille – La Fil. They’re just albums I never listen to on purpose, so I don’t know them. They’re great. Every time I listen to them I just enjoy them like it’s the first time again. For a book – maybe I should read something that I could learn stuff from. Like Stephen Hawkins. Because then I could be like ‘it’s something to do’, like a colouring book. So maybe I’ll do that. Brief History of Time. Or either a short book by Philip Ball which uses psychiatry and sociology to inform the world of how they plan escape routes. Then I’d re-emerge into the world slightly more knowledgeable.
Well, it keeps you thinking!
You had a lot of questions regarding the USA. Any plans to eventually go over there and play?
AG: We’ve literally had plans for the US for about 3 years. They always fall onto our calendar – but I think it really just has to be the right time, right place, with the right band. With the amount of money that it takes to get over there, and the difficulty of finding venues – we’d be nothing over there. It needs to be done on the right tour, with a band that could help us get a foot in the door. Soon, hopefully! We’d love to get out there, certainly with the next record.
Andrew, have you ever written a pop song in 4/4 and will we ever hear it?
AG: Yeah, its called ‘Heaven and Earth’, the EP. *laughs* They’re all in 4/4 anyway – actually, almost all our songs are in 4/4. A pop song… maybe When Did The Taste/Vows and Ceremony, they were rather poppy. That whole record was meant to be a shiny, polished pop-rock record. I feel like I’ve done that now. So yeah, would we ever write something…? Maybe. Curtains for example was very poppy, but then it gets heavy. It actually used to be verrrrry poppy – the original version.
What guilty pleasures are you currently musically enjoying?
AG: I’m proud. I’ve got mine. Mine is Rihanna – ‘Bitch Where’s My Money’. I absolutely… I’m obsessed with it. I’ve forgotten the name of the guy who did the production for it, but I saw an interview with him and he wrote that song with Rihanna in mind – but still managed to hide so many intelligent and clever ideas in it, and made it fairly cleanly out the other side, which I’m always a big fan of. The kick placement is killer. And the chords… that’s just my jam at the moment. I run violently to it.
AB: I don’t think I’ve got a guilty thing…
JW: I don’t feel guilt. I was going to say Daniel Bedingfield. Its just an ongoing thing. Is it ‘You’re not the one’? I’ve forgotten. Oh god. I love it. I only know the singles from his album though, which makes it a guilty pleasure.
AB: Actually… recently… I’ve been enjoying the ‘Greatest Hits of Duran Duran’.
AG: That’s in the car! *laughing*
JW: Bangers though!
AB: I once had Stevie Wonder – Songs To The Key of Life stuck in my car, and it was great. Every day, picked me up. I didn’t even want it.
Amazing. What were each of your significant first musical encounters?
AB: I think mine was the first proper album I ever bought. Rage Against The Machine – Self Titled. That was my first proper like, ‘siiiiick, my mum hates this, siiiiick’
AG: Did you play it to your mum in the car?
AB: I did. She did not like it.
JW: Well I got into music because my sister was in a band – shes not anymore, unfortunately, but she used to play folk verging on Americana. But her band were so good, so that’s probably why I started… because they used to record all the time, and I went with them and sat in the corner. That’s probably why I started recording music.
AG: Hmmm… I was a big Red Hot Chilli Peppers fan when I was younger, and I heard John was playing at some random festival nearby. I got my friend and I tickets, but then he didn’t want to go – so I was like, fine, I’ll go by myself then! I didn’t even know what the event was, didn’t know anything. I got there, my dad dropped me off at the Royal Festival Hall as I was about 14/15, and I went in and sat there and basically saw every artist I’m into now. Didn’t know at the time, but it was like a Jimmy Hendrix night. I saw people like Jeff Beck, Robin Hitchcock, Squarepusher, Johnny Marr, Patty Smith, Yoko Ono… so many people. I even found something from it the other day and was just like ‘oh my god!’, can’t quite believe I discovered all of those people without knowing who they were. It was such a strange experience because I was just this kid, sitting there, among all these adults who knew the songs.
What do you think when you listen back to your own previous albums? Do you feel nostalgic, or do you see things that you’d wish you’d done differently?
AB: I think we did a pretty good job y’know. I think they’re pretty strong. I think we can be proud of them. I don’t think we could’ve done any better.
AG: I listened to Heaven and Earth recently and just remember thinking ‘this sounds amazing!’. But, I don’t know what they sound like anymore – if that makes sense – but yeah, I’m definitely pleased with them. If there’s anything we’ve delivered on, we’ve delivered on some good records. I was so excited at the time. It sounds so silly, but I don’t know them…
AB: The main gripe was the riff in Triptych.
AG: Yeah, we might play it again one day… but we’ll get rid of the riff and put something better there. But yeah, I haven’t heard it in a long long time. We heard Sacred Shapes once in Milan and we had no idea who it was. Genuinely. We were like ‘who is this?!’.
AB: It was such a surprise.
AG: I honestly don’t know how they sound. I haven’t listened to them in years and years and years. I wouldn’t even know. I’ve just left them there. Sound great live though.
Last two are very musical related. How do you (Andrew) use your Boss GP10 Guitar Pedal in a live setting? Do you use something to assign all the patches onto, etc?
AG: I purely use it for octave manipulation. The tracking on the GP10 is amazing… so I actually quite underuse it. I just use it for octave, and anything that requires any modulation – so I literally have the minus 12, minus an octave setting, and then I put an EQ after it, and then EQ out the real muddy bottom end and boost some of the highs. I then blend it with my guitar signal, and that’s it mostly. I really underuse it, but what I use it for – its perfect. I don’t know any other pedal that does it as good as that. I purely use it for that heavy octave sound, like in Energy and Slow Dance.
Finally, how did your partnership with Fender come about? Does the custom model they made for you mean that there’s a possibility of an Andrew Groves signature on the horizon?
AG: It depends how successful our next record is I imagine! Fender are incredible. I always made a law to anyone we’ve worked with – I’ll tell everyone in the world that it is great if its truly great, and will say so if I don’t think its great. We were playing with Twin Atlantic in the early days – they have a strong relationship with Fender – and Fender were in the audience and heard us supporting them. Years later, I went with my wife to go and watch them at Koko and bumped into him again there in the audience, and he gave me his card. I didn’t realise he was Fender. So yeah, we just started from there… I only had my old tele custom guitar back then, and he just told me to come down and check some guitars out. Since then, they’ve just been incredible.
As far as the custom goes, its my favourite thing in the whole world. Well, second thing. *looks across at wife* it sounds incredible and it just works. It does everything I need it to do and more. So maybe one day… I would be absolutely honoured. Its still one of the biggest things I’m pleased with – I don’t feel anything near the calibre of the other players that are on Fender. They’ve helped us with everything, and are incredible.
This Arcane Roots article was written by Caitlin Damsell, a GIGsoup contributor. Lead photo by http://www.sophiagroves.co.uk