Tuning into A Static Lullaby
By Naughty Mickie
Chino Hills is an odd mix of town in Southern California. Upscale homes merge with suburbia just steps away from dairy farms and horse pastures. Here, you would most likely expect to find radios dialed in to country cowpoke twang or urban pop grooves, yet this is also home to A Static Lullaby, a post hard-core rock outfit that mixes aggressive and melody with aplomb.
Founded 2001 by vocalist Joe Brown and vocalist/guitarist Dan Arnold, the group has been paying more than its share of dues. They have recorded, toured and gigged, as well as seen member turnover, the recent the most dramatic with three of the quintet parting ways. Undaunted, Brown and Arnold have persevered, recruiting guitarist John Death, bassist Dane Poppin and drummer Jarrod Alexander and releasing "A Static Lullaby" (Fearless Records) this October.
I caught up with Brown mid-tour, working his way from the East Coast back to the Southland. Cordial and upbeat, he was happy to share some of his secrets.
"Dan and I grew up playing in bands together, since we were 15 and 16," Brown begins. "In high school there were four or five different bands and we were always competing and that was fun. After high school we put our own band together.
"My first real approach at music was at 13. I was singing and I was really really into Slapstick and Link 80 and Voodoo Glow Skulls." Brown continues, "Then I went to more aggressive punk rock bands, then I got into hard-core and then I got interested in metal hard-core and did that thing. Then I wanted to cross-blend all of it together."
A Static Lullaby was off and running before Brown could pursue college, but he had already learned the value of hard work.
"I always worked for my father." Brown explains, "My father sells furniture to major hotels and he had his own shop and my brother had his own thing and I would go work for him in the shop. I worked at Disneyland, I sold balls with Mickey's face on them. I got commission though, so if you sold x amount of balls you could make a pretty penny. That was a funny job.When I was 18 years old, I worked at The Avenue, it's a plus-size woman's store. It was really funny."
"So you must be pretty good with the ladies," I tease.
"I'm all right," Brown replies with a shy chuckle and then tells me how he spends his free time. "I enjoy romantic walks on the beach. I try and read a little bit, but that doesn't go too far. I'm full-time with my dogs and my wife. I try to pursue new musical ventures and get into the business side of music a lot. I'm never really off, the band is a full-time deal. I like to play video games like any other boy and go out and have a good time with my friends on the weekend."
Brown has two dogs- a pug and a sheltie.
Arnold pens most of the music for A Static Lullaby and then brings it to the rest of the band to collaborate and refine. Brown concentrates on the lyrics.
"Everybody contributes when we write, we have it good enough working, it hasn't failed us yet." Brown cites their work on their new self-titled effort, "We put together the album in four months- wrote, recorded and put the band together in four months, which seems impossible, but it happened and the songs came out naturally. I'm really proud of them.
"I've never been more proud of anything in my life. It's really reflective of everything that's going on with me, my personal life, life on the road and everything." Brown goes on, "It's a breath of fresh air and I actually truly believe in this one and the music's there and my band is my favorite band again. It's awesome to be able to have that."
I ask him what he thinks of the current music scene.
"There's things that make me happy and things that give me hope.Like bands like Underoath, that they can chart number two on Billboard and heavy music can get out there and do it that way and Underoath can get Top 50 on Billboard," Brown says. "I know the metal scene is doing really well right now. As far as the genre that we get clumped into with all these watered-down copy of a copy of a copy screamo band, that shit's getting old to me, I don't like it. I'm not going to point fingers or name names, but it's all just a little weird. Kids don't even have to like a band any more to know the music is the hot thing. I think that slowly but surely the music is coming back around and that gives me a bit more hope than I had about it."
He thinks that record sales are actually being helped by the Internet even through retail stores may be suffering.
"You have to have a little faith that if a kid if he truly likes your music and he hears your record for free online that he's going to go out and buy it because he wants the liner notes. I've never been huge in the download community. If I like a band, I'll go out and buy the record," Brown states.
A Static Lullaby normally brings a "friend band" along for their tours, but this time it's different. They've been on the road with three groups with whom they were previously unfamiliar, including Long Beach favorites I Am Ghost. I wondered what Brown thought of the dark rock band.
"They're all really good guys," Brown quickly replied. "This tour altogether is funny. I make fun of Steve (Juliano of I Am Ghost) because he wears make-up, but it's all in good fun. They're doing their thing and I support them. They're young and I don't think they've toured much. It's cool, kids come along and they're singing their songs. It's good to have the type of tour that we have because no band is really similar in any light and it brings a really cool crowd."
After a rest, A Static Lullaby hopes to go back out as a support band on a big tour, then travel to Japan and Australia, returning home to the States for another "Vans Warped Tour" style gig. This doesn't mean their music will be getting stale.
"We already started talking about it," Brown tells me when I ask if they're gearing up for new material yet. "One thing the band does not want to do is stay stagnant, especially with writing because we did that once. We're going to bring the laptop out on the next tour with Pro Tools and just start writing and have a record done so a year or 10 months after the album drops (which it had by press time) we're already ready to go in and start another one, which is cool. That way everything keeps going and there's no down time.
"I feel better as a musician to go with my band when we're writing because you get a sense of how you're evolving and developing. It also makes you proud too.Writing's a huge part.
"Everybody that's involved with us right now is A Static Lullaby and everything is directed to the same goal of what the band is and holding its integrity so we can continue to make records we love for people who love it and try not to stray too far away from everybody." Brown pauses and sums it all up, "Basically we just want to make aggressive, pissed off, emotional records."
Learn more about A Static Lullaby and hear some cuts from their new album at www.astaticlullaby.com
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