Brooklyn, New York’s Extra Arms are a relatively new indie-rock band who are currently working on a debut full length record (due out this October). They have just recently released their single Race To Sleep (with the b-side Best Disguise Is No Disguise), both of which are currently available to stream on Soundcloud. The band are gearing up to perform at The Boat on June 16th during this years NXNE festival, and we were lucky enough to be able to ask Dave Yang (Vocals, Guitar) a handful of questions. Check them — and their song Race To Sleep — below!
First off, how about a quick history of the band and how you guys have come to exist in your current form?
Dave Yang: We all came to New York City for school and to play music and find people we liked playing with. For me, I was making my own recordings for years, kind of as a basis before finding bandmates. I wanted to be in a band, (and not a singer-songwriter with backing band), and that took a lot of trust and friendship to develop. I remember we went out one night to play foosball and it hit me that this was a thing of its own now.
There’s a lot of ’90s revivalism going around lately, and while your sound certainly fits into that in some ways, you bring a modern sound to it that is all your own. Do you think the ’90s revival is a fad or is it something with staying power that has been there all along?
DY: While we don’t think about any time period of music at all when we’re playing, but it can also be disingenuous to ignore what you grew up on too. I think we’re mindful of what was an influence back then, and then feel it out. But with respect to staying power, after a bit of time, the motivations of people making music get revealed. One of my first shows as a kid was Yo La Tengo, and seeing them again last year was a trip and a great feeling when you know they’ve evolved too. Bands like that, you trust they’re in it for the right reasons, and that comes across no matter the era.
On that topic, what would you say are the main influences on your sound and style?
DY: I’m really into electronic music, mainly because it’s very beat heavy. We usually come up with tons of beats/sounds and if it can get my head moving, then we’re on; I stop thinking, and I can hear a song in my head. That shared vibe between the 4 of us keeps us going, and we all have ideas that are on the table. For me, I learned guitar just going thru full albums, and I guess the attempt to smoosh guitars with my penchant for electronic music is a big influence.
You posted your new single and b-side up on Soundcloud for free streaming, do you think in today’s musical climate it’s important to offer free songs/streams? And if so, why?
DY: I definitely feel like free songs/streams are great – where we’re at as a band, we wanted to see what people thought of these songs, and having songs available lets that conversation happen. No matter what, the music is still and will always be the most important thing, not the method it gets around.
You guys got to work with Bryce Goggin on the aforementioned single — he worked with Pavement in the past — what was working with him like?
DY: It was actually pretty nerve wracking, but a really great experience as a band to work with him. Here’s a guy you really respect and who knows so much about making records – we learned so much for him and that process that it really pushed us to step up our game as we finish the rest of the album. We’ve definitely raised our standards of how we record because of working with him.
Being a band from Brooklyn must be tough — with the constant stream of new bands and music all the time — how do you try to stand out in an already crowded scene?
DY: I think it’s probably just as hard anywhere, but that’s hard to say, since we’re here and have nothing to compare to. The things you have to do when you think about standing out from the crowd too much will derail you from who you are, and who you want to be. So we don’t really think about standing out too much, we just keep our heads down and do what is right for us. But the crowded scene can be a good thing, too! The shows and artists doing great stuff that you have access to in New York is not something to be taken lightly, and then maybe sometimes loops back to influence what we’re doing.
You’re currently working on a full-length record; will it continue the sound we’ve heard on your single and b-side or explore new territories?
DY: The album as a whole goes beyond where the single tracks do, with some experimentation with time signatures, dynamics and samples, so the album will definitely have more to explore in that sense. The range of songs is a little more playful with boundaries than “Race to Sleep” or “Best Disguise is No Disguise” are. It breathes a little more and has a certain movement to the whole thing, so the single tracks are an appetizer to a multicourse meal.
What band would you tour with right now if you could pick any one, and why?
DY: Holy Fuck. I’ve seen them a few times now and it’s not nearly enough. The sounds that they can get without using computers are a lot of fun every time. My dream is to turn the guitar into a turntable- fully capable of scratching and everything, so I think maybe I could figure it out watching them night after night. Matt Schulz is a really exciting drummer to watch.
What can Canadian crowds expect to see when they check out your NXNE showcase?
DY: NXNE is going to be our first international gig ever, so we’re excited for it and I think that’ll come across to the Canadian crowds. It’ll be like a first date with good beats, energy and some sounds that should surprise some folks. Also, I think there’s a good chance that we will be fully clothed.
And finally, any other bands you’re looking forward to checking out at NXNE?
DY: I’m really hoping we can see Land of Talk. I’ve not been able to see them almost EVERY time they’ve been in New York and its kind of ridiculous. Daniel [drummer] gave it strong reviews and has been impressed when he’s seen them, and I trust his taste. I want to also check out Twin Shadow, Cults and No Joy and it’d be great to see Deerhoof again.