Saturday, December 8, 2018

Going 'Straight to the Hunter' with Arctic Flowers / Interview

Alex Carroccio unleashes her emotions with Arctic Flowers. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy

It was one of those magical "fuck yeah" experiences.

Two-fold, in fact.

Arctic Flowers was slashing through its formidable docket of thought-provoking, emotion-clawing post-punk tunes at a packed Seattle bar. People were caught up in the moment, swaying and stomping along with the band, which was giving it back -- full force. And then the Portland group digs into a song I didn't expect to hear. Is that what's really blazing its way into our ears? I believe it is. "Dreamer" from Toxic Reasons from their unsung "Within These Walls" record, one that I thought nobody celebrated but me.

And now that song has taken on new life as part of the Arctic Flowers canon on its just-released album "Straight to the Hunter," and it bristles nicely alongside infectious numbers like "Glass on Ice," "Whip Hand," "Cabinet of Masks" and seven others. The album's got fervor and melody stamped all over it and the band has taken its genre-traversing sound to new heights on this one.

Here's an email interview with guitarist Stan Wright, bassist Lee Lawrence and singer Alex Carroccio regarding "Straight to the Hunter." Cliff Martin supplies the drums for the quartet.

** What does the new album mean to you?

Stan: "Straight To The Hunter" is our third full length LP over the 10-year existence of the band. It means perseverance through years of practicing, writing, playing shows together all coming together into this representation of our ideas, struggles and love. I feel like it's our best music and some of Alex's most moving lyrics.

Lee: It feels really good to see our process come to fruition. It means a lot to me that as a group we can create a piece of art together through a collaborate process.

Alex:  "STTH" is a culmination of our personal, and more than ever before, shared experiences in and out of the band space.


Arctic Flowers in action. (Cat Rose photo)

** What was the experience like from the songwriting process to the finish product?

Stan: It was a longer process this time. We experimented and took more time with songwriting and arrangement. Some songs came together right away while others were revisited over a year or more until they felt right.

Lee: We usually start from a basic verse and chorus framework and build around that. Usually, we develop bridges, intros and endings together by just trying different things and refining it over time. Once the song parts are flushed out, Cliff and I focus on making the drums and bass as synched up as possible. I also try to throw some weirdness in there for good measure. Other times, songwriting is pretty straight forward and comes together without a lot of extra nuance. When we recorded, though, we were still refining parts of "Husk," while other songs like "Glass on Ice" we'd been playing for more than three years.

It took a while to finish the record after we recorded in May and we decided to put out the record ourselves as we are able to distribute record fairly independently with good networks and knowledge of our musical genre. Stan and Alex both are involved in putting out other records and distributing them through their own labels and distros.

Alex: I think the hard times that set on for me during this album made the whole process warp into some sort of dreamy haze. It probably manifested lyrically into more personal lyrics.


** What makes being in the band special? What drives you to write and then perform your songs?

Stan: Being in a band in general is such an awesome thing to me. I love being in Arctic Flowers with three other creative, fun people so much.

I love the writing process and practice is something I look forward to every week. I've written and performed music in different capacities over the past 25 years. I can't imagine not making music. I think we're simply trying to convey and share emotions and ideas with others and have some fun. Performing live is the best feeling in the world, totally unlike anything else I've experienced. I love sharing the music we've made with others and interacting with the crowd.

Lee: For me it's rewarding to hone your craft and create with others. We've all become good friends and it feels great to create something that belongs to all of us. Performing is just fun and always a challenge to make it better each time, so I'm always motivated by trying to do better. I also like to create a feeling and an energy that can be shared with the audience. Seeing live music that's meaningful to be has been core to my existence and ability to survive in society and I love being able to catalyze that for others too.

Alex: Being in the band is special because I’m with my friends working on something that belongs to us. I feel the need to be creative for many reasons but the emotional health benefits have maybe been the most surprising.


** What have you learned on a personal level from being in the band?

Lee: I've learned (and am still learning) to be open and flexible in a collaborative process. I think it's important to be reflective on how you impact others and working on a project in a band is where collaboration is really tested. Things don't always turn out like you think they will in the songwriting process and that's not a bad thing. It usually turns out better through the collaborative process. It just takes time to see it through.

Alex: Since I’d never sang (sung? Lol.) in a band before…I have learned that I can get that personal in a public forum. It’s taught me that the scariest stuff is usually the stuff that ends up being the most satisfying or sticks with you the longest.

fox in coop, capsule in wine
all of the sudden I feel as though I have no spine
snake in grass, glass on ice
once great beast taken by the heist

I am but skin on bones
frightened to be alone
hot coal ash and stone
into the wind I'm blown
into dark water thrown

pretty birds sing a devious song
shadow play carries on
a simple wish to become strong
but in the snare I'm already strung
in the snare I'm already hung
in the snare I've already run straight to the hunter

what can you trust when instinct has you flee
straight to the hunter

one step to the left and it all goes away

oh how I've felt it in my bones
you must have known, no way to hide my insides my face it always shows
this curse, curtains, the lows this blow that blight
the ones who struggle everyday just to feel alive

next time wont be the last time
one step to the left and it all goes away
a pace to the right and I embrace another day

toeing the line, sun hit my face
constantly walk with one foot in my grave

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