I know, I know, I’ve been a terrible blogger. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But I’ve been promising myself I’d come back to the Feeve… In fact, just the other night I was driving through Ward Hill, when I made a wish on the North Star of Haverhill, twinkling high atop the incinerator stack: “Bring me something really good to get me back in the blogging spirit!”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, Tom from the Haverhill band Busy Arms was minding his own business when a Haverhill Fever bumper sticker fluttered into his lap, and BAM! here we are again.
Busy Arms are two guys- Tom on guitar and vocals and Brad on drums- and after one half of the outfit got hit in the junk with that serendipitous sticker, they contacted me with a couple of tracks and some news about their upcoming show at Kelley’s on Friday, December 17th.
In trying to sort out how to describe their sound the phrase “music made by boys with old-timey moustaches” sprung to mind, and believe me, being of the mopey indie rock persuasion this is just the sort of thing that turns my crank. The tracks they have up on ReverbNation are upbeat and quirky- distinct enough to be recognized as their own, but varied enough to hold interest, with the added bonus of appealing to a broad range of music-lovers- from folksy to gypsy.
I’m pretty psyched to know a band like this exists in Haverhill, and even more thrilled that they found me just in time to sit down and answer a few questions before their gig. Enjoy!
HF: What is the story behind the band name “Busy Arms?”
BA: That information is classified, but we like to leave any interpretation of our name up to the listener, much like our actual music.
HF: How did you guys come together?
BA: We have been friends for quite a few years. We were both orphans raised in the same catholic boarding house in the Czech Republic, and we were adopted by a pack of traveling gypsy wolves. It turned out that they were protestant cannibals so we had to flee. The only skills we had at that point were playing music and performing interpretive “tinman” mime skits, so we took the less dangerous route and decided to go to culinary school in America. That’s where we learned that we were better off just playing music. So we learned to play the drums and the guitar and we started recording our own records out of the kitchen. We’ve been delivering our savory delicatessen to basements and bar scenes all around New England ever since.
HF: You seem to have a pretty unique sound. How would you describe it?
BA: We really strive to make intricate and original music that incorporates chord changes and odd rhythms that you don’t normally hear in popular music. At the same time we try to make it approachable to the average person. It’s hard to pinpoint the kind of sound that we have, so we always ask people to listen and decide for themselves.
HF: Who are some of your musical influences?
BA: We listen to so much music, but the things that influence us the most are musicians/bands that have gone out of their way to be different and create a new artistic expression through their music that has been relatively untapped at that point. Artists also change album to album, and some albums that have really inspired us are “Smile” by the Beach Boys, “Their Satanic Majesty’s Request” by the Rolling Stones, “Sung Tongs” & “Feels” by Animal Collective, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel, and “Bows & Arrows” by the Walkmen.
HF: Describe the music scene in Haverhill. Who else is out there that you like?
BA: Honestly, the scene has been stagnant for quite some time. We think Haverhill needs an artistic revival, and not just musically. Fortunately there are some really amazing musicians around here and there are some good acts just starting to pop up. We have been in the process of setting up multiple musical shows/art gallery showings in the coming months, and we’ve been assembling some top notch musicians from all around the area. Four Legged Faithful are a really good old-timey bluegrass band, we’re looking forward to playing with them on Dec 17th!
HF: Any thoughts on/hopes and dreams for Haverhill?
BA: Well like we said, we really want to see an expansion of artistic expression in the storefronts and on the streets of Haverhill. Haverhill isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing city, but it has potential and we want to help it out in any way we can. It’s our hometown so it will always hold a special little place for us.
HF: Okay- who would win in a fight – Goro from Mortal Kombat or Dr. Octopus? (get it…they have a lot of arms)
BA: We debated about this for a long time, and consulted many outside sources, and we’ve come up with the conclusion that it would probably be a draw. Doc Oc’s got the reach, but Goro has got huge muscles.
HF: What’s your favorite venue, in Haverhill or beyond?
BA: TT the Bear’s in cambridge is one of our favorite places to play. It’s like the best kept secret of the Middle East that is a lot more intimate and accommodating to local acts like us.
HF: Idle Arms are the Devil’s playthings – what do you do to keep yourselves…um, Busy?
BA: We play music. Lots and lots of music. Brad has a recording studio out of Haverhill, and Tom designs print and web work for artists and bands.
HF: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Hey, before you go…plans for the future- upcoming gigs? Albums?
BA: We’re playing in Haverhill (Bradford technically) on Dec 17th at Kelley’s Pub with a bunch of our friends for the “Support Local Folk” event. it’s a night of folk, country, and rock music and it’s going to be tons of fun. We have other shows around the area which you can check out at busyarms.com. We are also working on a new EP to follow up our May 2010 full length release, and you can get a free copy of some new music at any of our shows.
So there you have it, folks! Kelley’s Pub: December 17. If you want to catch a bit of their quirky gypsy old-timey folksy charm before then, head on over to the Busy Arms pages on Facebook and ReverbNation.