Shot across the bow
Published 6:01 am Monday, April 20, 2015
To know the bandmates of Arrows At Dawn is to know four guys chasing a dream. Even though their newest release, the eight-track “Pieces” is coming soon, making them veterans of sorts, they are never content.
They’ve played small shows and they’ve played big shows. All that time, it’s been a pursuit that has taken them through just as many tribulations as exhalations.
Like many bands still playing an indie circuit, Arrows At Dawn has paid its dues and because of that, they are firmly placed at a point where the rest of the Twin Cities is catching up.
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A big success, a scary time
Highs and lows often times walk hand-in-hand, something Arrows At Dawn can relate to.
A couple years ago, when the band released its second album, “No Place to Hide,” it experienced one of its biggest highs. On the night the CD was released and though only a couple hard copies were printed, they didn’t stick around long.
“That did real well,” vocalist/guitarist, founding member and Blooming Prairie native, Tim Andrews said. “ We only printed a couple hundred but we sold out at the release party.”
It was an exciting time for the foursome that also included fellow BP native and bassist/vocalist Patrick Zak, guitarist Matthew Wallberg and then-drummer Adam Szczepaniak. They were gaining a following and revving up their live shows which is still reverberating for them.
“We’ve actually had a nice string of shows,” Andrews said as the band, now with drummer Mark Puder.
“At our last show, we went backstage thinking we would have a typical show with a couple hundred and then we come out and the entire floor is packed with people. We were a little intimidated. Arrows has never had a show like that,” he added.
But as things look good for the band now, back then things were starting to look iffy, despite how good “No Place to Hide” did.
Starting in 2013, Andrews began to notice something was wrong when after a few of the shows he was spitting up tiny amounts of blood. Andrews went to the doctor and found that he had vocal nodules, a mass of tissue that grows on the vocal cord. Andrews had to immediately give up singing and talking, which went on for months.
Clearly, not good news for a singer.
But Andrews went through everything and eventually got back to the mic. Things are a bit different, but Arrows At Dawn is moving forward again.
“They’re good,” he said of his vocal cords. “Singing is really different for me now. I’m still an aggressive punk-rock vocalist, but I’m more open-piped now. It’s changed how I approached song-writing.”
Also, during the time between their second and third albums, Szczepaniak left the band. A mutually-agreed step, the departure was another hiccup for a band that saw itself on the rise.
“Adam is a really cool, talented friend of ours, but he likes to do more experimental stuff,” Andrews said. “When he joined us it was more of a fill-in basis, but he stayed with us a little longer. We all had fun, but he wanted to go his direction and we wanted to keep going with what we were doing.”
Putting ‘Pieces’ together
For many bands who are unsigned to a major label, there comes a time when they reach a crossroads — keep going or call it good. Andrews admits that Arrows At Dawn faced that crossroads a couple times in recent years.
“Because of the nodules, having kids, losing members, we were really worried that this might be it,” Andrews confessed.
Anybody familiar with Arrows’ history will see that reflected in “Pieces.”
“We kind of wrote about that feeling,” he said. “What if we were to hang up our coats right now? If you heard it, and you know our story, I think you would connect some of the dots.”
Andrews and his wife Amanda our expecting their second child and Zak got married last year. The calendar for the band was filling up, but they pushed forward and they are very much different.
In 2014, they added Minneapolis-based drummer Mark Puder and his arrival to Arrows was like a shot of adrenaline.
“I’ve seen a lot of bands,” Andrews said. “He is the most talented drummer I’ve seen come out of the Twin Cities.”
Compared to the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, Puder comes with a lengthy musical resume. While he sits behind the kit, he can also sing, play guitar and is a writer.
“He’s a very talented musician,” Andrews said. “He had a lot of say on the songwriting for this album and will have even more on the next,.”
“Pieces” may represent Arrows At Dawn’s biggest step musically yet. The writing has matured and the music has become more layered. While the band initially was very much Foo Fighter-inspired, it has now evolved into it’s own sound.
“This record tells a story,” Andrews said. “It’s kind of a heartbreaking story — so many story lines because of the things that have happened.
“Our first record was a nice mix of rock songs and our last record we got really aggressive,” Andrews explains. “We were really p***ed off by some things. This one we wrote from a different place.”
The music of “Pieces” reflects a band comfortable with itself and willing to stretch itself.
“We’ve layered things really well on this record,” Andrews said. “We have some songs with different time signatures and we definitely dabbled more with effects than we’ve done before.”
The end result is Arrows is at its own place now and it’s happy to be there. While all the mixing is done, there is no set date still for the release of “Pieces” but when it does drop, Andrews said it will open eyes.
“I think we have our own style now,” Andrews said. “I don’t think there is a band in the Twin Cities that sounds like us.”
The Twin Cities scene
Andrews doesn’t hesitate when asked about the Twin Cities music scene that’s bustling with different genres, different styles and plenty of bands.
He even goes so far as to compare Minneapolis and St. Paul to the better-known music capitals.
“We’ve been in this band for five or six years now,” Andrew explains. “There’s never been a better time than right now in the Twin Cities. There are so many good bands. You don’t have to be in LA or New York to be in a band.”
Arrows At Dawn is also getting linked to bigger acts, including a show on May 6 at POV’s in Minneapolis that features Flaw on The Reawakening Tour. The show also includes the nationally known Seasons After who are known for their remake of the “The Lost Boys”-featured track “Cry LIttle Sister” in 2009 and the more recently-released “LIghts Out.” Also on the docket will be local Twin Cities act Late Night Fights.
“We’re really excited,” Andrews said. “I think this is our second or third national act we’ve been a part of. We’re extremely excited to do our part to bring the show and make everything we can.”
It’s a strong step for a band that just keeps walking forward. But the band is also at a point where it can look back and say it’s done what it wanted.
That being said, Arrows At Dawn isn’t done by a longshot.
“If we were to quit tomorrow I can say we’ve done some cool things,” Andrews said. “To say I don’t want to do more though, then I would be lying.”
The Reawakening Tour
Flaw, Seasons After, Arrows At Dawn, Late Night Fights
Tickets: $12 in advance,
$17 at the door
Doors open at 7 p.m.
POV’s, Minneapolis Minnesota
Arrows At Dawn
Late Night Fights