I don’t believe anyone gets into music reviewing – not seriously, at least – without first being a music fan (despite having read a number of writers who’ve made me wonder). Even if, like me, a reviewer makes a point of tying to write objectively, sometimes, there’ll be a band that they’ll just go nuts for. Such was the case the first time I heard Arrows of Love’s single ‘Honey’. It just so happened they had a live date booked nearby, so I got myself down and wasn’t disappointed. The dictionary definitions of ‘explosive’ and ‘cathartic’ should feature pictures of this London-based fivesome. It was interesting – and amusing – to note that the audience seemed divided. Not that the band seemed to care, if they even notice. Another single – ‘The Knife’ – and another tour, and this time secured an interview. The following exchange took place with vocalist / guitarist Nima Teranchi on the band’s return from their first jaunt to the European mainland.
W&H: Your look is pretty classic in a tatty rock ‘n’ roll don’t give a fuck style. Is that something you’ve worked at, or a genuine case of not giving a fuck?
NT: Man, I can only speak for myself here, but I have very few clothes. I lose most of them in a trail wherever I go, and pick up whatever my friends happen to lend me or leave at my house. I go shopping maybe once a year and I cut my own hair ‘cos it takes 5 minutes and always looks the same anyway. If anything I hate the idea that I or we have a 'look'. It makes me feel a bit sick.
W&H: What kind of audiences to you attract? I mean, I’m ‘older’ (ok, 37, but still cool, right?) and part of your appeal is that you’ve got an authentic ‘grunge’ sensibility. Do ‘the kids’ dig what you do?
NT: Ha ha, well actually I kind of love that we seem to displease people from every demographic, no matter the age, gender and sex. We're very PC that way. And the people that like us aren't really defined by age or anything else. I think what separates people that like us from people that don't is just a wavelength thing. That doesn't change so much between young or old I reckon. You either get something or you don't.
W&H: What bands would you describe as an influence on you – not just in terms of sound, but attitude?
NT: Personally I've always liked the attitude of songwriters like Frank Black from the Pixies. He threw out the rulebook, but everything made sense in his own kind of way and was underpinned with something that felt real to me.
Influences is always a hard question because we all get influenced by stuff the whole time, one week to the next it changes, and sometimes I get influenced on what NOT to be by some terrible music.
I've been influenced by some more obvious stuff, like the Nirvanas and Stooges of this world, to lesser known things like Sparklehorse, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Seachange, but really this doesn't tell the story of why this music is the way it is. I've probably taken more influence from friends and schoolteachers than anything else, and working with people like Luis in Turbogeist, and Wim in Second Head - true artists - it's has way more impact on just listening to some records ‘cos you're all pushing each other, inspiring each other and teaching each other even when you don't notice it's happening.
I guess I've been lucky, since before Arrows of Love I had a lot of friends who were true talents and we all inspired and brought things out of each other, grew together and apart.
W&H: What about your peers? Are there any bands you feel an affinity with or connection so, stylistically or attitudinally, or do you feel as though you’re something apart from the current wave of acts that are doing the rounds?
NT: Oh I think I just answered some of this question in the last one. Yeah you can check out the bands above, but also right now I think most of us in the band would agree that there's a couple of awesome folks in the way of GodDamn and Bad For Lazarus that are very worth going to watch. Two of our collectively favourite bands around.
I won't even think about the second part of that question - it's not a healthy notion for any band person to even have on their radar.
W&H: Tell me about the ‘Pussy Riot’ thing that you did: are you political, individually or collectively?
NT: Personally I've been politically-minded since I can remember, and lucky to have had lots of active friends who don't just sit at home talking but get up and do things, sometimes at great personal risk. This is one thing I was really happy to see in Lyndsey when I got to know her too - some people live their causes.
I could sit here and tell you about some of the things that I've done, things that were pretty awesome and effective, but to be honest I'm much more impressed by some astounding things my friends have done, and I don't feel like I'm doing enough at the moment.
The Pussy Riot thing was just something that needed doing. It was heartening to see that many people feeling the same thing. Me and Lyndsey were just at the Russian embassy that day with a handful of other people, so when we did our show that night it was naturally the order of the day.
W&H: Your shows seem pretty chaotic – in an ‘anything can happen’ sort of a way, which makes it all exciting and means there’s not a predictable or dull moment. Have there bee any particularly memorable incidents – good or bad – while playing live or on the road?
NT: Yes sir there have. But I wouldn't know where to start. We've given audience members our instruments, got naked, been caught kissing mid-song, fallen off very high stages, cracked ribs, been carried in the air while playing guitars, smashed our heads open and carried on through pools of blood, and lassoed people in suits with our cables and dragged them around like slaves.
It's not all pretty, but it's usually pretty good-natured.
Sometimes I need to go off and calm down after a show.
W&H: I’ve been one of the recipients of instruments myself, and given the way the band play, it’s amazing there aren’t more breakages, be it bones, instruments or venue installations. You recently headed over to mainland Europe for some live dates. Am I right in thinking this was your first time outside the UK? How did the shows go?
NT: They were amazing. Wild. Something is different out there. The people go completely fucking nuts compared to here. Which I love. In Poland it was especially epic. It felt like how gigs should be. Although one of the shows got a little too crazy when we saw someone bodyslam another audience member onto a concrete floor in the audience, and when we were encored it was with a mild threat of violence if we didn't, ha. But man, it felt like a real adventure - I can't wait to get back out there.
W&H: New single ‘The Knife’ is fairly gentle and melodic for the most part – until it explodes at the end – but the subject matter’s pretty dark. Would you consider yourself to be angsty, angry as people, or is the music just an outlet?
NT: I'm pretty angry a lot of the time at the moment, but it's usually with due reason. And we do end up in some blazing arguments about once a day in our band, but that's more to do with our personal chemistry - the same thing that makes us good on a stage together, and sometimes makes us too close is also what makes us hate each other at other times. What people see on stage - that 'anything can happen' thing you mentioned - is pretty true of us offstage too.
W&H: Bob Weston mastered your recordings. How did that happen?
NT: My friend Scott from Kasms was round my house one day, and I was playing him the practice recordings for the album.
He turned round after first listen and literally made me listen to a band called Shellac. It was a true inspiration on his behalf cos that was EXACTLY the band I needed to hear that day. Anyway, after immediately falling in love with this band, and listening and ranting about them for 2 days, another friend of mine pops Bob's email address over to me. And I was like "what the hell do you think I'm gonna do with that?". Sure enough 4 hours later I wrote to the guy like a goofy fankid, sent him a song, and he wrote back saying he liked it and would master the album.
I felt like I won the lottery that day.
The best person out of all the billions of people on this planet to master our sound was doing it. Serious odds.
W&H: I felt the same when a good friend of mine gave me Henry Rollins’ personal email address. Over a decade on, I still haven’t emailed Henry. But Shellac had the same profound effect on me. As did Big Black and Rapeman before, but I digress... The album’s due in September: what can we expect from it, and from the band in the future?
NT: Man I don't even know what to expect right now. I'm not kidding.
‘The Knife’ is out now. The album ‘Everything’s Fucked’ is due in September.
Arrows of Love Online