Good musical and friendship synergy is everything to create a perfect album. At Innings Festival on March 19th, Musaholic Magazine had the pleasure to talk to Bronson Arroyo & the ‘04 about their team efforts to create their latest album, Some Might Say, bringing in Bronson’s stories and his bandmates’ musical talent to make these songs come alive.
Music has been all around you since you were a kid thanks to your family. What is the first memory you have of the special moments?
Bronson Arroyo: Oh, you know, just sitting around the house with your father playing the piano and writing songs about the family, or your grandmother playing a violin with three or four people in an orchestra inside of her house in the evening, getting prepared for a little show in a couple of days. Those were my first memories as a kid, just kind of being very curious of what they were doing.
Is there anything that you've learned throughout your baseball career that could relate to your musical journey?
Bronson: Yeah. I think, you know, when you're getting prepared for a baseball game, you start getting nervous. You start getting that adrenaline the whole day leading up to being a starting pitcher in the big leagues. That, like, “you're going to war today (feeling).” Your body is doing funny things that it normally wouldn't do, and musically, it's the same thing. You see the guys start warming up in the locker room, and you see guys getting to a point where you get in those nerves and those butterflies, and you're starting to get prepared, and then you're gonna do this thing, and then it's kind of a release up on the stage. And when you're done, you know that adrenaline comes down, and you've done something kind of extraordinary for the day.
The members of the band have many other musical projects. Do those external influences come to play whenever you guys get together to do music as Bronson Arroyo & The ‘04?
Clint Walsh: I think so. I mean, everything that we're all doing, it's all part of us and we're bringing that into what we're doing here, but it's just kind of us playing off of each other mostly and been friends for such a long time and we have been working on music together for a while, and it's been great.
While recording Some Might Say, the songs from your new album really came alive when the whole ‘04 crew recorded the songs together. How long did it take you to polish those songs, and how did your synergy as friends help you create the album?
Bronson: What it really did for me was people talk about giving your songs away and being kind of, you know, worried about the fact that somebody else is gonna now have control over 'em. When we wrote these demos, a lot of the stories came from me, but I had no problem on giving these up to the guys in the band in a way of bringing 'em to life with your tones and your sounds and your professionalism really. I'm a baseball player by trade and I do the best I can musically, but I lean on these guys a lot to really kind of polish things off, so making the record come alive like this was just all up to them, really. I mean, the three-part harmonies, just everything that came about with it… It made it easy. And being friends for such a long time, knowing how good these guys are and that this is their craft their whole life, it made it right. It made it that much easier for me just to kind of hand the ball over and say “let's go.”
What are some of your favorite key details from the songs in the album that you brainstormed together?
Bronson: Me and Jamie wrote a couple of songs back in 2016 and mostly it's the music parts that we kind of brainstormed together. You know, it's about the changes. It's about these guys showing me if we could check a D minor there and change it to an F and make the song more interesting. The stories that I was telling in these songs mostly were kind of ideas that I was thinking about on my own and kind of mapping that on top of the music they were bringing to the table, so we didn't talk too much about the stories really until after they were down and now they start coming to life and we start talking about those.
Clint: Yeah, we started working on the music. We were like “you gotta make a record.” Like, we had worked on stuff playing covers. We were like “you should make your own record,” so we started coming up with some musical ideas and sent him off with a bunch of different riffs, and he went back and figured out what these stories were gonna be, and finished it. And then he gave us a call one day. He's like “all right guys, I finished a bunch of these tunes,” and they were great, so that's when we started putting the finishing touches on them.
So when you listen to the album in order, there's such a variety of instrumentals and musical styles included in it. How is the tracklist crafted for this project?
Bronson: It was basically a pure democracy in the band here. You know, I lean on these guys' opinions more than my own. And when we talked about the tracklist, I had some ideas of what I thought. I thought “Nights Alive” was gonna start the album, but these guys thought we'd pop people in the mouth right outta the gate and hit 'em with “Full Moon Fever” and right into “Guerilla Warfare,” “Some Might Say,” and “Side FX.” And those first four just kind of really have a lot of energy; and then we go to “Higher Ground,” which feels like a softer song, but kind of builds at the end and kind of feels like maybe it has something. A little hookier radio-friendly in there. And we just kind of built it that way. We could have come up with 20 different versions of it, which every band can, but we felt like in the end it felt good. I just knew “Afterlife” needed to be the last song of the record. It's kind of the oddball out with some strange sounds to it, and it felt like it was a closer.
We love “Higher Ground,” and we would love to know the inspiration behind the positive and encouraging message.
Bronson: Most of the songs on the record I wrote it about outside subjects. I wrote about the Vietnam War. I wrote about Castro taking over Cuba in 2000, when he was 27 years old. But “Higher Ground” is kind of the closest thing to probably who Bronson is. You know, present tense. We will die quickly. You better enjoy the ride. We were writing (that song) together in Viera, Florida in 2016, myself and Jamie, and I was just at the time not really thinking about finishing a story, so that was just kind of the first thing that came to my mind, which is kind of who I am as a person. What I love about “Higher Ground” is you can definitely hear “Nights Alive,” and in “Higher Ground,” but there is a Bronson Arroyo theme through the entire record, even though I wasn't writing about myself a lot, and it's kind of nice to kind of have sprinkled myself in there a little bit.
What song were you most excited to perform earlier today at Innings?
Clint: I'm not sure. I'm just starting to wrap my head around playing the whole set. I love playing them all. So fun, and I can't wait to do more. I wish we did more of these.
Bronson: For me, I think, “Never Let You Go,” is just the prettiest song on the record, and I just love that Jamie wrote that guitar part a long time ago, and something came out of that, that just feels so real. You know, in the chorus, as I'm saying “love is all you need and it's been said before,” which is an homage to not only John Lennon and “All You Need Is Love,” but also a song called “Love Boat Captain” by Pearl Jam, which he says the same thing in there and he basically says, like, “Hey, you know, you've heard it before, but you better grab onto a little bit of love here cause it's what we got to enjoy here in life.” I loved “Never Let You Go” today, but right off the top, “Full Moon Fever” always feels good ‘cuz the band's just starting and you're about to get this thing going.
If you could choose one act from the Innings lineup to collab with, who would you choose and why?
Clint: I don't know. I just saw The Breeders and I've always loved The Breeders. I would love to collaborate with Kim Diehl.
Bronson: For me, you know, Dave Matthews is pretty special, but I've listened to The Revivalists lately and they have a funny way of bringing the kind of church atmosphere to songs where you got kind of the call and response and just this beautiful vibe. It's like we're all here together and we're putting our phones down, and that is really special in music and you don't see that in every band, and I'm really interested to see them a little bit tonight, so I’d say those guys!