Nashville indie-rockers Arlie have slowly been teasing something that’s coming soon. In June, we got the release of their comeback single “karma”, a euphoric pop-punk-inspired number that was their first release in three years. “poppin”, in August, took a detour into a poppier, dancier sound with an incredible music video that was equal parts entrancing with videos of their new live set and immensely entertaining with roller skaters and partying galore. These guys are on an unbelievable hot streak, and that continues today with the release of their song “wait a minute”.
“wait a minute” is yet another stunning preview of Arlie’s kaleidoscopic sound, as it takes on an almost Beach Boys-esque bent with swirling harmonies and baroque pop tinges. Lyrically, the song is an amalgam of mastermind Nathaniel Banks’s takes on existentialism and suffering that offers a twisted dichotomy between it and the song’s upbeat instrumentation. Its greatness isn’t limited to the song — “wait a minute” comes with yet another great music video directed by Gabe Dreschler that you can watch below, and keep scrolling to read a brief Q&A between us and Banks about Arlie’s recent reawakening.
After the wait EP’s release and the ensuing tours, Arlie went silent for a good while. Now that you’re back, do you feel like that time off changed how you approach the band’s sonic vision and your own songwriting?
My sonic vision definitely evolves over time regardless, but especially in this case because there were a lot more people involved on these new songs than on WAIT. The first stage of creating this music was mostly solo. Then, to help flesh out the demos I worked with a few different collaborators outside the band who I admire. However, it wasn’t until I got together with my bandmates Adam and Ryan in 2020 that we really honed in on the sound of these new tracks.
Were these recent songs written alongside the first EP or during the pandemic?
I wrote these over a wide span of time. I wrote “wait a minute” back in 2016, while I was in school, before there was a band. The others I wrote between fall 2018 and fall 2019.
In your own words, what would you consider to be the overarching theme of these new tracks, if there is one?
These new tracks are about consciously putting a stop to cycles of generational trauma. In our efforts to protect ourselves from being hurt, we wind up hurting others, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Different people might have different protective mechanisms but we all have them. Without a high degree of awareness and a sustained effort to heal ourselves, we will end up passing them on to our own offspring someday, and the cycle will continue. Each of these songs is about connection in one way or another. Every song has some kind of tension or conflict that can be traced to some kind of failure to connect. There are a lot of layers to these songs lyrically and a lot of different recurring/overarching themes, but if I had to name just one, this would be it!
Your momentum as a band is incredibly impressive — everyone I know who is a fan of Arlie is a SUPERFAN of Arlie. What do you think you’re doing differently to encourage that fan-to-artist connection?
I honestly don’t know. I think I could be better at this, so if you have any ideas for me on how to connect more deeply with our audience, let me know! But if anything, I think fans really care about the music because I really care about the music. I put my heart and soul into this and the band does too and I think our fans can feel that. Intentionality has a ripple effect.
What does the writing process consist of for you and the band?
I like to write alone at first, in the rawest/most vulnerable part of the process, and then bring things to collaborators when I’ve developed them a bit. When I’m at my best, I’m in songwriting mode every day. Going about my everyday life looking for lyrical material is an important part of my writing process. I will gather and develop lyrical concepts for days or sometimes months before turning them into full-fledged songs. I’m always gathering. The same goes for melodic and harmonic ideas — hundreds and hundreds of voice memos on my phone. The most important ones tend to stick in my memory and eventually make their way into my recording software, where I experiment with instrumental arrangements and sonics — that’s equally important to me as melody/lyric in my songwriting/composition process. Experimentation is necessary and there’s no way to predict how long it will take. I just follow inspiration until something feels done, or I get sick of it and put it aside for later. Usually, I’ll get excited about a song and finish the “writing” and some sort of demo in a 3-4 day span. Often, I will come back to it a month or more later and figure out it needs something different, and work on it another 2-3 days. That said, the process is different every time. “big fat mouth” took me 9 months to write and produce, while “didya think” took me 4 days total. On “karma” Carson [Lystad] helped me rewrite the lyrics in the second verse to fit the message we both wanted to get across, and he and Ryan [Savage] both helped me write fresh lyrics for the third build (“cold shoulder pulled over on the interstate …….you could cut this any other way“).