GLOVERSVILLE — Fun is often the word used around Jocelyn and Chris Arndt.
The two college-aged, sibling rockers out of Fort Plain live at home with their parents when not attending Harvard University. Smart. Gifted. Hard working. Yeah. You can use those words to describe them, too. But, fun. That’s what you get.
There isn’t a moment when the two aren’t working on music. Of course, the morning shower is the ubiquitous setting for all would-be singers. Where you and I may sing [horribly], Jocelyn has been found to write.
Evidenced by their Facebook page, you can add resourceful as yet another adjective to describe these two.
In a recent post, one of them shared a picture of the shower in the family’s bathroom. On clean white tile are the words and phrases scribbled in black. “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll clean it off as soon as I transfer those lyrics to my notebook.”
Their father, Ted, replied, “Wait till mom sees her eye liner! You’re soooo busted!”
Their parents are both educators. Libby teaches first grade, and Ted teaches special ed. Outside of Libby’s stint singing in choirs, neither one was as musically inclined as their children. But, their love for music was passed down to them, as was their music collection. When Jocelyn and Chris started talking last year about putting their college education on hold, their parents encouraged them to pursue their passion for music. Right now, they’re on summer break, but plan on attending next fall.
This summer, they continue to promote the release of the band’s latest LP “Edges.” Since its release earlier this year, it has charted with FMBQ, Inc. and has continues to fuel a popularity that has taken them to Mountain Jam last year to L.A.’s Viper Room. On Saturday, July 30, the band plays the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in Gloversville, before heading off to Chattanooga, Tenn. The two stopped to talk to TheSpot518 recently to catch up on where we left off from last August.
Michael Hallisey: I was really looking forward to talking to you. I interviewed you guys last year, and it was a fun interview. You guys have been busy since I last spoke with you?
Chris Arndt: Yeah! We’ve been keeping ourselves busy, for sure.
MH: I remember, Chris, you telling me how you like to procrastinate, despite you being a Harvard student and all. Seeing what I read here and how busy you’ve been — 100 shows, an LP release back in March — I don’t think you’ve really had any time to procrastinate on anything. Am I right?
CA: [Laughs] You are definitely correct.
Jocelyn Arndt: Now we procrastinate with music.
MH: Also, when I last spoke with you, you were contemplating whether or not to suspend you studies at Harvard, are you still thinking about that?
JA: We are still currently going to school. Well, we just had finals.
CA: We’re on summer break. We are definitely still enrolled. We’re currently pushing the album to radio. It’s getting some pretty good chart success. We’re currently at No. 17 nationally for jam bands, and our single is No. 166 nationally for [FMQB.com] Triple A [Conference]. So, if that continues to go the way it is, chances are we’ll do the whole school suspension thing. It’s going to get real busy.
MH: I was listening to the LP just leading to the interview, and the only thing I can really say sounds trite, but it sounds like you guys had a lot of fun with that one.
JA: Oh, yeah.
CA: We did. I’m glad it came across that way. It was a blast.
MH: Was there any one of those tracks that came easy, just came out?
CA: Jagged was kind of like that. One day, we just started writing it and it was just there. I don’t know, it seemed pretty effortless, whereas the other ones required a little polishing and stuff. It wasn’t like it was five minutes and we were done, but it was pretty open and shut.
JA: It started with your riff and it built off of that.
CA: Yeah, it just kind of came together for some reason.
JA: It’s nice when that happens.
MH: Yeah, I was listening to it through Glide Magazine, as they’re streaming it on SoundCloud. You can see how many times someone has listened to a particular track. So, I purposely chose the track with the least amount of listens, because I want to hear it. That was “Dry Cereal.” I like that one.
CA: I really like it.
MH: It has this ethereal sound with the piano that sounds very 70s. Again, you take me back to my childhood, and I’m much older than you are, so that floors me. Tell me about that one. How’d that come about? Is there anyone in particular who influenced that track, or especially that intro, or is that something that just came out organically?
JA: I think that’s one of the first songs that Chris and I wrote together.
CA: I was in ninth grade.
JA: Yeah, that was really early in our music career, I guess. But, yeah, we started fiddling around with the chords on that one.
CA: I was just playing some random stuff on the guitar, and I came across that and thought, ‘Hey, that sounds kind of cool. We should do something with this.’”
JA: Yes. So, I started working on the piano. And, [it was] some of the first lyrics I ever wrote, as well. Dry cereal was the snack of choice for band classes in high school. We used to eat those, what were they, Morning Stars? The knock-off Lucky Charms?
CA: Yeah, Lucky Charms.
JA: We would eat those dry. So, that was kinda stuck in my head and I thought, ‘This is really indie and cool. We’re gonna be artists!’” [Laughs.] Singing about cereal. No. I’m really happy how it came out. Luckily in the studio, with this album, it’s like a playground. We get to go in there and put stuff on it we never would have been able to do by ourselves. It’s all sorts of crazy stuff. There’s a vibraphone…
CA:… and great percussion sets…
JA: It really brings it to life.
MH: And, it looks like you guys got some help on the LP. You’ve got some guests on there from Gov’t Mule, G Love and Tony Miceli.
CA: Yeah, that was an especially cool experience. Imagine working with your professional hero. It was pretty amazing.
MH: I see you’re taking a break from shows until July now, am I right? So, what are you up to know?
JA: We’re focused on radio right now.
CA: A lot of radio shows and things like that. We’re also in the process of writing another album. I think we’re going to do maybe an acoustic “Edges,” and head right back to the studio for, uh… I don’t know what it’s going to be called, yet. But, it’s going to be a full-length album.
JA: Yeah, so right now, we’re really doing the radio. We recently just added a couple of shows in late June with Delta Rae… I want to go out with them and see how we fit in with those guys, because that would be cool. And, then in August we’ll go out and play again. But, right now it’s a lot of radio and press stuff, which is also fun in a different way, but it’s always fun to go out and just rock.
MH: Yeah, I guess it’s kinda the necessary evil to go out and promote yourselves, and what not, right? Going back to last year, do you have any highlights? Last I spoke with you were just coming off from playing at Mountain Jam. Anything happen since then that you can share that encompasses what your year has been like?
JA: That’s still a huge highlight. We did get down to Texas for South by Southwest.
CA: And, in January we did a cross country tour that started in New York City and ended up in L.A., where we played the Viper Room. We actually had a headlining act at the Viper Room. The whole thing was just surreal. It was amazing.
JA: It was cool that we got to drive across the country. It was always something that I wanted to do. That was definitely a highlight, but about 20 hours in we were like, ‘Maybe we should have bought a plane ticket.’ But, you know, it’s cool to see how big a country we have, and get there and do a show at the end of it.
CA: It’s also about being able to play shows along the way, instead of taking a plane.
MH: South by Southwest is in Austin, and is one of the biggest music festivals in the country. That’s a feather in your cap, to be able to play there.
JA: It was huge, and it was such a cool feel. We walked around Austin (known as the Live Music Capital of the World) and we’ve never been there. It was our first time. So, we were just trying to soak everything in. There’s a million bands in every single bar. Every single storefront, every single restaurant had bands. Some places had multiple bands. So, you’re just walking down the street and it’s like [hearing] a mixtape that just keeps shuffling. All these crazy bands with all kinds of different music. Which was so cool for us, because we could just walk into anywhere and see and amazing show.
MH: That’s cool. Going into this interview, I was thinking of questions I wanted to ask differently from last we spoke. And, one thing that popped into my head was how you guys speak with me — it’s just a natural conversation. I was thinking to myself while listening to your LP, you sound so differently, and naturally so, because you’re not go to speak to me like you’re singing at a show…
MH: … Now, I can only draw from my own experience through other things. There’s got to be a switch you turn on and off when both of you go to perform. What is that like? Can you describe that to someone who like me, has never been on stage?
CA: [Pause…] That’s a good question.
JA: It’s the weirdest thing. It’s the weirdest transition in my head. I feel like every show starts with me being nervous because I’m a nervous wreck. I just get nervous performing before hand, and then all of a sudden, I walk on stage and something kind of clicks. And, it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m not nervous anymore. I’m up here. I’m going to do what I came here to do.’ It’s like our alter ego. Off stage, we’re us. On stage, I think we’re us, but we’re like an amplified version of us. It’s like someone I wouldn’t be able to be, otherwise.
MH: That makes total sense. What about you, Chris?
CA: So, I actually, when I get nervous before shows, I just get really tired. Like, I start yawning, and go to sit down, and feel like I’m going to fall asleep. And, then I get up on the stage and… . Usually we start out with “Cinderella” right now, and we all know that song so well, it’s like second nature. Honestly, there’s something about hearing everything from the stage. It just pounds through you. The entire show is just kind of a blur. When we come off stage and I’m like, ‘What? Where did all the time go?’ I usually don’t remember half the show.
JA: I’ll say, ‘Chris, I really liked that thing you did there in the second solo,’ and he’ll be like, ‘Cool. I don’t remember what I did at all!’ [Laughs…]
CA: I don’t remember playing that, but, okay! It’s just a major stress outlet. It’s really freeing, I guess. That’s the best way to explain it.
MH: That sounds exactly how I imagine it being. I was speaking to another performer, and he was saying how he was very much into the energy of things. And, he would feed off the energy of the crowd. I’m not sure if that’s something you are in tune with when you’re on stage, or if that’s something you disconnect yourselves from.
JA: I think it’s a little bit of both.
CA: Yeah. Obviously, if it’s a huge crowd, it’s easy to feed off of it. When people are standing, and cheering and dancing, it’s hard not to get really amped up. But, then on the other side of the coin, you have to be able to bring out that energy from within. Without feeding off the crowd. If there’s a crowd there, I generally try to do my best. Feed energy off of it. Otherwise, I just get up there and rock out.
JA: A crowd that’s into it just makes it all effortless. Instead of going from normal — zero to 60 [mph] — and the room is already at a solid 45 [mph], you only have to kick that up a couple of notches as opposed to a long ways energy-wise. We played a ton of shows at high school where our parents were there, and that was it. Now, when we play for big crowds, that’s easy. It’s so fun.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.