In a genre as niche as mathcore, even its biggest players are lucky to break into the mainstream. Pioneers like Converge, Botch and Coalesce remain passionately supported, if not broadly popular - but while legends The Dillinger Escape Plan and Long Islanders Car Bomb flew the flag to great acclaim in 2016, elsewhere there is a healthy wealth of bands proving the style is more exciting than doing your double calculus homework on the bus to school.
Florida’s Arms are one such unit – indeed, a unit of one, for all intents and purposes. Also of math rock band City of Ifa, as Arms, Paul Hundeby last year dropped one of the most complete mathcore debuts we’ve heard in a long time. Paul took time out of preparing for next month’s Dutch celebration of tech, Complexity Fest, to answer a few questions about Arms’ sonic sidewinder BLACKOUT and its reception, transferring to a live setup, and what to expect from the band this year.
Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background, and how and why you started Arms?
No problem! My musical background simply begins with receiving an instrument in high school which allowed me to play in local bands, then transitioning into producing music for myself and others while touring the US and different parts of the world. Arms is a musical extension of me, usually 1 of 3, it was a sound I felt like I was missing out on and wanted to have the opportunity to produce and improve upon over time.
BLACKOUT was a hugely pleasant surprise, and it’s been about a year now since you released it. I originally saw it being touted by Mathcore Index on Facebook, but how have you found the reception in general? How do people react to it?
BLACKOUT was a pleasant surprise for me too. It seemed like for supporters it was just a surprise attack of sonic aggression and technicality, but for me the creative process was a drawn out two years of writing and tracking in different homes/practice spaces within different towns and even states.
Mathcore Index loves it and they continue to share and support us, I can’t thank them enough. The majority of people into our niche have been so supportive of us, and positive album reviews from such reputable sites as Metal Injection, The Monolith, and Mathcore Index have really helped us establish our presence as a positive one within said niche. Our lack of notoriety beforehand essentially helped us; no one really knew about Arms until BLACKOUT; it was just a quiet Facebook/Bandcamp page with a self released album that I had produced very quickly. I have experience a lot of growth in all of my creative outlets this year.
What is Blackout about? Does it have underlying themes, or is it something more abstract?
BLACKOUT on a fundamental level is centralized feelings or expressions on the portrait and worth of humans’ existence. I try to express this through a more complex story line conceptualizing these elements while more importantly trying to create some type of objective view of how a foreign being or entity would see us without our conditioning or limited perspective on existence. I wanted BLACKOUT to also welcome anything a listener would put into it as well; I wanted it to grow over time and not be constricted to the boundaries of any guidelines from society.
Who or what is the biggest influence on the music you create?
I have artists and producers that I look up to but now it’s the drive to push music alongside of them so that one day we could have the opportunity to work together, pushing our ourselves/genres of music and creating art to inspire thought from our collective listeners.
Arms started as just you, but you’re now playing the songs live. Who makes up the rest of the live band?
After the album release the potential was there and it was time to finally start playing live, Quinten O’Neal (bass) and Michael Hollinger (guitar) joined the band right after the release and then we got Jordan Weaver (drums) shortly after that.
What can people expect from an Arms set?
Pure expression. We never know what to expect ourselves but it’s always a great time and a chance to connect with our listeners.
You’ve been booked for Complexity Fest in the Netherlands. How did that come about?
We were invited a couple months ago and since we were in the position to take advantage of this amazing opportunity we immediately confirmed Arms to play.
Do you have any plans to play more shows in Europe whilst you’re over?
We’ve been in contact with promoters and bands over there, we’re open to anything. With this being my second time having the opportunity to play over there I am confident it won’t be too long before we’re back.
What are your plans for Arms in the rest of 2017?
Currently planning tours for the rest of the year and hashing out some exciting announcements to come. We’ve also been writing for our new release that you might be able to expect late 2017 or early 2018.