Interview with VoltageHawk



Talk about how music has influenced you each individually in your daily living.

JARRAD JAMES
I feel like once music chooses you, and you heed the call, that’s a lifetime deal...even just as a fan, even more as a player. Like, you can try to get away and do something else, but you will always feel empty if you aren’t doing it. It sounds very cultish, or almost like a religion, but, honestly, it kind of is. It will take over your life. In the best way, though. Music is so therapeutic. Making it, listening to it. It definitely has those powers for me. It feels like the universal language. Music touches people at the cellular level. I’m super into astrophysics, so I look at it as energy. Music is the intentional compression of air to create a wave that our physical space and time interact with. That is a crazy, crazy concept when you go down that rabbit hole. 

DAN FENTON
It’s always there. Not much else has ever made sense. This world is full of bullshit we make important because we need things to fill our existence. Music is true energy, true cosmic connection; better than money, sex, or the finest China White you can smell. When I was a kid, music was a vehicle of spiritual exaltation, now it is exalted. Music is and will forever be beyond our fullest comprehension 

CHASE AROCHA
Music is really everything, it’s my job playing on Broadway downtown (in Nashville) and with Voltagehawk. It’s how my daughter and I connect, jamming on songs with her, learning ukulele and turning that music into ways to teach her about all other parts of life.

Where do you each find yourselves listening to music most often?

JARRAD JAMES
When I lived in Manhattan, I definitely listened to music ALL THE TIME walking around the city, and definitely riding the train. You could kind of tell music nerds by the quality of their headphones. Now that I’m based in Nashville, no more train. So I default to my vinyl collection. I still have a nice, now vintage, hi fi system, and you just can't beat listening to records like that. 

DAN FENTON
In my head. But physical places, my living room, my porch. In my car I only listen to 91 classical which is a local listener supported classical radio station in Nashville and I fucking love it. If you have not tried this, do so. Listen to film scores or just really good classical music while you drive. It makes you feel like you're in a movie and the music is the score to the film that is you.

CHASE AROCHA
I have a little home studio set up in our house and I love sitting with my headphones on and playing along with my favorite songs. Or learning something new to add to your playing vocabulary, either way just being lost in sound, full immersion. Can’t beat it!


What are your favorite brands to use when it comes to the instruments, mics, amps, pedals and so on? Why do you favor them?

JARRAD JAMES
Drummer's answers to this are boring, especially since I play custom kits I built myself. I play 6 ply maple shells, with varying paint jobs. My road kit, Winnie, is glow in the dark white with fluorescent pink hardware. My studio kit, Topanga, is fluorescent pink. All Rustoleum rattle can jobs. I rock a concert tom set up, mostly due to Phil Collins influence. My workhorse snare right now is the Taylor Hawkins signature Gretsch. The thing slaps so hard, and is consistent every time. I have a bunch of vintage snares in the arsenal, and even a hot pink custom vistalite snare care of Andy over at Drum Supply House. Also, Paiste 2002s forever. 

DAN FENTON
I don't discriminate. If an instrument sounds good and feels good in my hands and I can write on it, that's all I need. That said, I have always loved Fender and Gibson. I know that’s cliche as fuck, but they’re amazing tools, hence so many players using them. I have a Frankintele that has Gibson 57 Classics in it, and I love that guitar. I have used a 15 watt, Egnater Tweaker for the last 10 years and it has done me right all the way. It’s versatile, punchy and cant get really nasty too. I also love stomp boxes. I am a huge proponent of Reverb in all forms, fuzz, delay, whammy, octave. It’s a long list, but I look at them as players in a symphony I get to conduct. I also love the Mellotron and the MicroKorg as far as keys go.

CHASE AROCHA
I’ll always be a Tele player at heart, but I really have no preference, haha. I love my Les Paul and use it more in Voltagehawk than anything, but something about a Telecaster really means a lot to me. To be a part of that history of the first solid body production model that really got it right the first time. Technology that is still used 70 years later, it’s amazing. I play a black star HT club 40 and really like using just a clean amp as a platform for my pedals, lately though I have been using a Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170 solid state power amp through different cabs and using a Strymon Iridium at the end of my pedal chain. That thing does an incredible job of capturing a great fender clean or Vox AC30 or Marshall Plexi. I combine that with my different dirt pedals, delays and reverbs and I’m in love!

Talk about your current project. Its conception. How it evolved. The storyline behind its development or any anecdotes that may have occurred during the writing/recording process? 

DAN FENTON

A few years back, Jarrad and I would get together and jam in his basement in East Nashville every Tuesday night, smoke a bit, have a few drinks, laugh a lot. One night I think I was still “feeling” the night before, and we we’re jammin’ in this really cool pocket, and I sang with some half cocked smirk; “I can’t get clean when I’m dirty, I can’t get dirty when I’m clean…” poking fun at a problem that I would  have to face a few years down the road, but that’s another story. We got into this Motorhead juxtaposition with the groovy pocket verse, and were on the right track. Then we were thinking about all the things we use to get us up, bring us down… I looked at it like a muscle car with some sort of weird modern gasoline; Something tough, but that ran on all the wrong stuff. The song was a tip of the hat to a party life style of yesteryear, while finding self awareness about one’s own need for change. From a sonic stand point, there are a few psychological easter eggs: The line “I take a bump from my key” is followed shortly after a four on the floor like disco beat, referencing that studio 54 party era, before diving into a full blown punk beat, showing the equal juxtaposition of substance in sequential periods of time, on different sides of New York. Then a breakdown drop to represent that after party dip feeling. After Chase and Tyler joined up, months later, we ran the song through the 4 of us and it really came into focus, but it wasn’t until we tracked it with Geoff Piller over at Electric Thunder Studios that it took on its space like quality and avant-garde trash compactor ending. It’s a really special song to us, because it was the genesis of proving to ourselves that we could let all of our influences creep into to one song, and it was the first exercise in really getting that to work for us. It definitely opened our eyes to how we could bend and play with genres. And going in to record it really helped us find our sound in the studio, it’s definitely a cool single to introduce yourself to the world with, lot’s of energy, and a rippin’ solo! Super fun to play live. 

CHASE
It was a great process of learning more about myself as a player while getting to know these other guys on a very deep level. I had been in the band a while, but I was the last one to join the band, and in some ways still felt like I was getting to know them as well as them meeting Geoff our producer who put me in areas of tone I had never been before and couldn’t be prepared for what it would become. It’s in those seemingly scary moments that you can really learn a lot about how you can adapt and change in the moment for the sake of finding the song. Changing techniques for the right sound or playing something seeming impossible but you know it’s needed, it feels right to be there.

Where there any conflicts during the recording process? If so, how did you as a band overcome them, if not what do you think is Another Days Armor formula to gel so well?

JARRAD JAMES
The major ethos of this band is centered around not saying “No” during the creative process, to try any idea, no matter how crazy, and decide as a group if it works. The other major piece of that, is the philosophy on how the band was built. It was set up as a brotherhood. We are all equal in everything, total democracy. We are expats of former projects, some burned to the ground harder than others, most of those projects had a lot of the typical band drama. We were all pretty tired of that old way, so we really set out to be mindful about how we create and how we all contribute. We are very open and vocal throughout the whole process. We realize how rare our chemistry is working together, and we definitely don’t take it for granted. We may get made fun of for it, but we say “I love you” to one another a lot, haha. We really try to build off of the positive momentum. And even if we get to a place where we are trashing a part, or a whole song, we know that it was for good reason, and that we did the due diligence. We also do preshow yoga together, which has been an amazing way to focus and connect as a group, albeit in a dirty greenroom. 


Is there a particular part you enjoy more than another in the process of a project?


JARRAD JAMES
We are all 100% studio rats. We would never leave if we didn’t have too, luckily playing live totally rules, so that gets us out. We plan to be an album a year band forever. 

DAN FENTON
Creating. I love to write. I love to sit with an instrument or a thought and just work it for hours. I love words, so I love writing lyrics. I love doing all the weird noise and figuring out how to make it palatable for the masses.

CHASE AROCHA
Probably the recording itself. I love the moments of pressure but also finally expressing what you’ve built and created together to its fullest potential. It’s frustrating and fun and crushing and life-changing. Like scoring a 99-yard punt return 20 times a game but every other play you are stuck under a dogpile with no hope in sight. I enjoy the humbling moments of it all.

How do you know when a song is done and ready to be taken to the recording studio and produced?

JARRAD JAMES
We have a whiteboard in the nest, and all songs go thru these stages: Writing, Working, Ready, Recorded. By the time they hit the Working section, we massage the parts until it feels right. Even though we are doing some proggy vibed things, and making certain songs have 3 or 4 different motifs, or different genres, I tend to be the one who visualizes the structure. That usually manifests as me just rooting to get to the bridge or chorus sooner, or doing something asymmetrical with the structure. Or teasing apart. We generally get there in one session with a song. Then we rehearse the hell out of it in the Ready phase, fine-tuning until the next Studio Session. Ready songs usually hit a set list pretty quickly, and you can tell what needs work hearing it live with people in the room. It’s usually nuances. The crazy part is taking a song after it goes thru the Recording process, and all kinds of crazy parts or tones are added, then getting to figure out how to pull that off live. So, the songs are constantly evolving, but eventually, end as close to the record as possible. But, honestly, doing things differently live is what keeps people coming back. 

DAN FENTON
Songs are never done, and they will continue to evolve in a writer's creative consciousness for the rest of their living days and perhaps beyond... For us it's after the bones of the idea are run through what we call the Hawk Filter. Which is when all of our creative input runs together to form a connection with the river of inspiration inside the cosmic womb.

CHASE AROCHA
I gotta agree with Dan on this one, songs are never done. They can constantly grow and change with the different people you're around or the context in which it’s shown.

Looking towards the short and long term of where you might be currently- where do you see yourself (yourselves) as an artist/band in 2019 and beyond?

JARRAD JAMES
We are all very, very ready to release our first full-length album. We are headed to mastering with a new 13 song epic titled “Electric Thunder” We are very much looking forward to playing these songs for people live on tour in the Spring. 

We already have another EP on deck, a group of songs that just work together, potentially called Hard Work. That one may feel best as a live recording, more raw power. And we have two singles that are going to be released together, probably as a 45. We are excited to track those because we are going to let those live in a more synthy new wave world. We are also about 7 songs into writing Record 3...which has some bangers already, but we are still getting to know her...we’ll keep you posted. Come see us live. We have no patience and will probably slip those songs into the set too.  

DAN FENTON
Creating more music, that’s all that matters to me. Create and share. Talk about shit that matters: political unrest, religious abuse, immigration, addiction, mental health, toxic masculinity. Just be out there screaming my truth.

CHASE AROCHA
Touring this album and then back home to create more. Then, rinse and repeat till I die!

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