Arlie is an indie-rock band hailing from Nashville, where the members met at Vanderbilt University. Here, we had the chance to talk to Nate, Adam, and Tyler about the band’s image, their music, and their future. Arlie is playing Schubas Tavern in Chicago this Saturday, March 10, where they will be performing their unreleased material. Their singles “Didya Think,” “Big Fat Mouth,” and “blackboard.edu” are currently streaming on Spotify, SoundCloud, and Apple Music.
This transcript has been modified from its original version.
Responses are taken from all 3 band members.
Q: How about we start with how you picked the name “Arlie”?
A: Sam Boyette. He’s a cinematographer, and really good at what he does. He made a short film long, long ago, in Arlieville. It was called “Arlie” and it was terrible, completely awful, it just sucked; so we thought we wanted to make a band that was as bad as that short film, and music that makes you feel for the future of humanity.
Adam and I [Nate] met because we were working on the soundtrack for this short film. When we were trying to think of a band name, we thought of all these names, but they were taken or they had all these other things associated with them…we also wanted to name it something childish, like boyish, and then we realized that that’s how we met, making this movie–why don’t we just call it Arlie? It was just an immediate unanimous agreement.
Q: You currently only have 3 singles out, can you give us a hint as to how the concert tomorrow will play out?
A: There’s gonna be a lot of songs that people haven’t heard. There will be the three that are out on the interwebs, and then we’ll play all the others. It’s just bangers all the way through.
Q: How would you describe your sound for those who aren’t familiar with your band?
A: Fantastic, raw, almond rock. It’s kind of like pistachio. The music is nostalgic for an older time in rock ‘n’ roll when the entire band would sing together, and you would have these fun vocal arrangements that involved everybody in the group. That, I would say, is one of the follies that a lot of people will notice the most when they see us perform–everybody is contributing. The majority of the band sings.
At the same time, there’s a lot more modern elements of various styles of pop and rock. You might catch a little bit of nostalgia sometimes, but you might hear things that are more new and experimental. So it’s a hodgepodge, a quilt of music. We all bring our various influences and backgrounds into the mix.
Q: How has your sound shifted since y’all were at Vanderbilt and transitioned from the local to national scene?
A: I [Nate] feel like I’ve always written music more in response to the national scene than in response to a local scene. I think the national scene has certainly influenced my writing to an extent, just because you meet a lot of people that are really weirdly focused, and I think I’ve definitely picked up from that. I wouldn’t have become such a weird, focused writer if I hadn’t looked at national where that’s what everybody’s really all about. But as far as sonically, I’ve always made a conscious effort to not sound like a national project.
Q: So your Facebook bio. Can you describe the meaning of it and its significance?
A: It is kind of a bio about other band bios…you see a million band bios, and they’re all really annoying and braggy and self important. We did not want to write one of those bios and everyone was telling us we needed to.
In a way, it did feel more truthful, at least as far as the core of what Arlie is about, than trying to put our life events into a constructed narrative that would be, by nature, manipulated and artificial. This way it would stick to the core of what Arlie is about, and hopefully be entertaining.
Q: How does humor play into your music or your brand?
A: I’ve [Nate] spent a lot of time around song writers that were really serious and write serious music, and for a while I was like, “Oh man, I have to do that. My music isn’t serious enough.” I would try really hard to write a lot of serious songs (not that I don’t write serious songs), but when I thought about the music I grew up liking, there was always a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, and this balance of humor versus seriousness.
I think humor keeps you honest, sometimes, as a creative person. You also need to step back and realize that you don’t need to take yourself too seriously all the time, because that gets old. Being able to do music that’s funny and powerful emotionally, that’s the ultimate goal, to be able to do both.
Q: Why do you guys brand yourselves as the #1 doctor-recommended band?
A: It’s one of those things that’s both serious and joking at the same time. The idea that music can be a cure for depression. I feel better when I’m playing music.
That’s one of those gratifying things, when you’re playing music and you get to see that it’s making somebody feel good or feel better about themselves, or they’ve had a shitty day and you get to make all that dust shake off. Music heals, music can do what doctors can do.
Q: What is the plan for the future of the band?
A: World domination. If we are making the best music we can make, we would hope that people would like it enough to come to our shows and allow us to continue to do it. If we got famous, we would want to use any influence that we had to enact good in the world, make the world a better place in some way. We’re gonna tour a lot and we’re gonna play our butts off and we’re gonna just keep making more music. I don’t see myself getting tired of that.