Local pop-punk/alt band Aim Your Arrows has come very far in a short amount of time. In the three years since I met bassist Sam Metzler and drummer Austin Mills in high school, the band has released two albums, their debut Reflections and their newest album Mania, they’ve had a ton of tour dates nationwide and have opened for bands like Icon for Hire, Every Avenue, and Sparks the Rescue. The most amazing part of all of this success is that they are completely self-made with no label, no agent, no manager – just raw talent and a drive to succeed. And it’s working. Their fan base is gigantic! And the band has just recently won a Battle of the Bands contest and scored a July 8 show at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour. I sat down with the band to talk about their success, their music, and how they’re taking it all in.
Badger Senate: You guys have come very far while still being an unsigned band. What does that mean to you and how much hard work have you put in?
Aim Your Arrows: Thank you for the kind words! It’s an incredible feeling just to know that there are people out there who care about our music. We are truly blessed to be able to do what we love and have people appreciate it. We couldn’t be happier!
BS: Describe the experience of winning a performance at Warped Tour.
AYA: Being selected to play Warped Tour is arguably the biggest accomplishment of our careers thus far. Hopefully there will be many, many dates on Warped Tour in our future. We’ve all been going to Warped Tour for many years and we’ve played shows supporting some of the national acts on the tour, so it’s very cool to get to be part of that. The whole Warped Tour experience is so unlike anything else out there, and this is the 20th year so that makes it even more rad. We’re very excited!
BS: You’ve gained a massive amount of success in a short period of time, what has contributed to your approach towards creating music and touring?
AYA: Thank you! As far as writing goes, it’s a very organic process. Samantha (lead singer) will come up with a set of lyrics, usually a chorus, that will inspire Brent (lead guitar) to write a guitar part, or sometimes the guys jam on some stuff and Samantha will get hit with a bolt of inspiration. That’s how “Act Of Forgiveness,” the opening track from Mania, happened. Brent just started playing a random riff, and everybody jumped in, even Samantha. That song remained largely unchanged from the moment it came into existence all the way up to recording it in the studio. Other times Brent and Samantha work on stuff at home with an acoustic guitar. But everybody contributes in some way to the final product musically. Austin (drummer) will oftentimes come up with cool ways to change parts up with little subtleties. And Metzler (bassist) has brought bass lines to the table that we extrapolate into entire songs. We’re all very involved!
Touring for us is very DIY. We don’t currently have a manager or agent so Brent handles that. We love touring, and that’s really what helps get bands noticed. So it’s pretty much a necessity. But it’s a necessity we love and we wouldn’t want to do anything else.
BS: You are a female-led band. Has that caused any difficulties for your rise to success in male-dominated rock? Does it make the success all that much sweeter?
AYA: To be honest, from a purely career trajectory point of view, it’s probably helped us more than hurt us because there are a lot of people who dig girl-fronted bands. The other side of that coin is that we are probably scrutinized by some people more critically than a lot of male-fronted bands, and for reasons that may not have to do with music. There is a lot of crap that girls in music, and everywhere for that matter, have to deal with and it’s truly unfortunate. That’s something that we would like to see change.
Our success is sweet just because. The coolest part for us is just looking back on how much we sucked when we first started and seeing how far we’ve progressed as a band and as individual musicians. It’s a great feeling.
BS: What was it like opening for so many big bands?
AYA: We’ve been able to open for a lot of really great bands and we are super, super thankful for that! Every show has been pretty amazing. Especially being able to play the Crofoot Ballroom so many times. Those shows have been great for us as a band and we’ve made some of our greatest fans and even friends from those shows.
BS: What can you tell me about the recording process, and what are you hoping your fans will get out of your music?
AYA: Recording with Matt Dalton at Metro 37 has been an incredible experience. He is a phenomenal producer and he knows how to pull the best out of us. And it’s always fun working with a good friend. We pretty much never stop laughing the entire time we’re there recording.
Hopefully, people who are fans of our music will feel something. We do our best to pour our hearts and souls into this and we think that shows in our music. There’s a large spectra of emotion in our music and hopefully that will connect with people in some way.
BS: You guys seem to be constantly touring. How has performing so often shaped your sound and your musical approach and is there another tour in the near future?
AYA: There is ALWAYS another tour in the future! And usually one in the works beyond that. One way our tour regiment has shaped us in a musical sense is it led directly to the creation of our song “Sunsets.” That song speaks for itself and was entirely influenced by our experiences on the road. It’s a topic that has been explored by a zillion bands before us, but there’s certainly a good reason why. It becomes such a part of you and your life. You can’t help but write about it.
Written by S. Elyse Schultz