Out of the wildly diverse Los Angeles music scene sails the grand entity known as Armada. The band’s super rocking sounds are sure to resonate throughout the City Of Angels and well beyond. Paper Ghosts if the title of their maiden voyage, produced by Mike Boden, who has worked with the likes of Journey and Tom Waits. From opening track Ghost Of Illinois on, the dazzling tunes found within will surely thrill fans of such noted indie acts as Wilco and Queens Of The Stone Age. Here is a recent interview with conducted with one of the Armada crew to find out more about this exciting band ready for the big leagues. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Armada, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Cody and I sing and play guitar in Armada. We’ve been together for about 4 years.
What do you think of the local Los Angeles music scene and how does Armada fit into the scheme of things?
We all gravitated to LA for the music scene and when we got into it, we were pretty happy with what we found. I think every city’s scene has its foibles but we’ve come to a point in LA where we know how and where to avoid them. When a venue curates the night properly, things lock in nicely and bands end up sticking around to watch each other and hang out. That’s the best.
Crowd-wise, you do get some of the crossed-arms-zombie thing every once in a while if you’re playing to an unfamiliar room. For the most part, though, there’s a lot more music love in LA than most people give it credit for. That’s even truer if you expand the scope to creatives in general–we have a giant extended family of photographers, artists, filmmakers, producers, etc. who have done so much for us and for each other.
Are there any local Los Angeles bands you could recommend?
Definitely: Queen Caveat are our friends and former rehearsal spacemates. They’re great. So is Deep Sleep Ops, Red Circle Underground, and Nico Vega (although I don’t think they count as local). Matt Bradford plays a mean dobro. He does a damn fine job fixing all our guitars, too.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Paper Ghosts?
I come from a writing background and still pencil out lyrics “analog” in notebooks. The original versions fade over time as the songs get added to our rotation. They get weird and interesting the more we play them because the memory of what inspired the song gets amplified or revised or warped but always stripped down to the simplest, most personally impactful core of the emotion.
Select two songs from Paper Ghosts and what inspired the lyrics?
Badge & Gun – I get restless sometimes and this is an affirmation that it’s important to demand the time and headspace you need to whatever it is you do best. For me, that’s creating things.
Ghost of Illinois – This is about someone I know who changed over the years and the way I took some of those changes personally.
Who produced Paper Ghosts and what was it like working with them?
Mike Boden is a fine human being. Armada is a fully independent band without very many outside voices telling us what to do. Mike was able to become one of us from the second he walked into the room as an engineer for the record we released in 2010. He’s whip-smart, resourceful, painstaking, tasteful, and one of the funniest people we know. He has the best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression I’ve ever heard and eats salads like a champion.
What could one expect from an Armada live show?
We try not to sweat but it’s just a lost cause, so: sweat and a lot of stomping around.
Who did the cover art for Paper Ghost and who much input did you have on it?
Our friend Callie Giovanna is a crazy-talented photographer and photo editor. It’s funny because she has all this really specialized gear but ended up snapping this picture of hammerheads in Hawaii (where she’s from) with a disposable point-and-shoot. She actually shot my wedding earlier this summer.
Once we had the photo, we sent it over to our buddy Kirk James, who designs for Nuco and Filth Mart. We wanted kind of a Chuck Jones thing for the logo and some grainy color correction and he just killed it. We’re excited to get the vinyl version back so we can see the art in big 12″ format.
What other bands have you been in prior to Armada?
Cody was in a band throughout college before doing the singer/songwriter thing immediately before Armada. Core was doing jazz band stuff overseas and Jeremy was in a band called Vertices. Before that, he was in a political hip-hop group.
If you could open up for any band either current or from the past, what band would it be and why?
Wow, that’s so hard–I’d greedily pair us up with so many bands that we sound nothing like just for the sake of getting an up-close seat for their show. Modern day, Arcade Fire would be incredible. Queens of the Stone Age would be cool too, although I think we’d probably get beat up. Maybe Delta Spirit… If we’re talking past bands, it would have to be Neil Young, Otis Redding, or Zeppelin.
Have you had a chance to do any touring so far? If so, what has the experience been like?
We’ve done a few west coast dates strung together as mini-tours. We absolutely love playing San Francisco and it’s treated us well every time. San Diego and a few other spots south of us a lot of fun, too. We travel well together even though Jeremy and myself are both terrible drivers.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing your music for the very first time?
I think that needs to be different for everyone by default, you know? Your hope as a songwriter is that a listener is going to “get” what you mean, but at the end of the day if they interpret it as something else that’s more meaningful to them, that’s much more important.
Any final words of wisdom?
Be good to each other. Listen to good music, watch good movies, read good books. And donate to CAST LA.
Armada is Cody Page (lead vocals / guitar), Eddie Core (drums) and Jeremy Gruber (bass / keyboards).
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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