As an independent band coming up in the Soundcloud era, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. But when you have a marketing background and a self-taught set of skills ranging from finance to design, it’s that much easier to emerge as a fully functional brand.
Arrows in Action is a proudly DIY project out of Florida that’s been quietly releasing solid tracks over the past six years. Though the band cites pop punk as its strongest influence, they also draw inspiration from 90s-style rock and early 2000s mainstays like Fall Out Boy. So, it made sense when their music came together and sounded like a pop punk, alt-rock, and an eclectic blend of sounds that can’t firmly place them in any one subgenre.
Jesse Frimmel (drums,) the last remaining founding member of the band, and Victor Viramontes-Pattison (lead vocals/guitar) talked to Atlas about independent artists, branding, and an exclusive detail about their upcoming single.
What’s the story of Arrows in Action?
Jesse really started the band, so he can tell you the main back story.
This is like the origin story for me. The band got started about six years ago. I was in my freshman year of college here at UF in Florida and I hit that point where I had no idea what I was doing, I changed my major, like, six times, and I was like, I have no idea what I want to do for a job. But I do know that I can play the drums and I want to start a band. So I put up flyers all over campus looking for people who had similar influences as me, and that just made the first iteration of the band. We picked up Victor about a year and a half into it, so like four and a half years ago. Then we got Matt and Tony within the last two years here, so this is our most solid lineup, so to speak.
We spent a lot of time finding our sound and practicing and getting to where we are now, but this is the busiest we’ve been and the most excited we are to move forward. In terms of influences for me, I really enjoy a lot of 90s-style rock and pop punk, like Third Eye Blind and Fall Out Boy. I also like a lot of disco and funk, so that’s fun to sprinkle in there.
I mostly like the pop punk stuff, but also some heavier bands. Also Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. (Laughs)
I’d say for Jesse like State Champs, stuff like that.
Did you have any idea of a direction, or were you winging it?
When we started, totally winging it.
We were winging it for awhile, but when we actually got around to releasing music, we realized we needed to start cracking down. That’s when we realized how much of an undertaking it is and how much of a business you have to treat it as if you want it to be good and you want it to be taken seriously. We did two EP releases in the past, in 2015 and 2017, so this one we’ve taken everything we’ve learned from the last two and we’re trying to do a really good job with this one and make it a significant branded release.
What are some things you’ve learned along the way besides having to have cohesion in releases, like industry things that surprised you?
The biggest thing I’ve realized, just in the last year really, was like I had this illusion that you’d play enough bars and a record label executive would come sign you to a record label deal. And I’ve kind of had that in the back of my head, but in the last year I’ve realized how much you can do independently and how much you really have to sit down and learn and get good. Not just music, but promotion and public relations and management and finance and design. And both financial and artistic pieces, just because we do most things in house now from merch design and photography, and we’ll hire our friends. We try to be very hands on with everything. The biggest thing we’ve learned is we can make everything ourselves with the people we have and the environment we’re in. We can do a lot on our own.
And I think this is a newer thing in the industry, with all these bands that are coming up: no label is looking to sign a band and then make them big, they need to find a band that’s already doing really well and then they’ll sign them. It’s not about, ‘Oh this is the next big thing, let’s sign them’, it’s ‘These guys are already the big thing, let’s see if we can work with them now’. And that’s something we learned through research and talking with people who are already in the industry, just being like okay, that’s not our goal. Our goal is just to do what we’re doing and make that successful, and if someone else reaches out to us, that’s cool, but it’s all about doing it on your own and doing your own thing.
Independent is so cool because it’s come such a long way, and it encourages creativity so much more.
I used to source stuff out to other artists, but when you force yourself to be hands on and to be creative or artistic and do what you want to do, it’s a cool exercise to try. It allows you to really focus on what you want the release of the album or the theme to be. I was a marketing major at UF, so I go crazy for branding and polar aesthetics. It’s funny because I’ve used my degree more in this band.
How has social media played into all of this?
Social media is huge. It’s the best possible way to promote your music. No question about it. As long as you’re on your game, social media works for you. As long as you have a direction and you’re being intentional with your branding and your posts and doing your due diligence seeing how other bigger bands who are doing it right, learning from them and adapting to your own thing. It’s also an easy way to connect with bands. I wasn’t in a band before social media, which I guess makes me pretty young, but before that it would have been a lot more about face to face connection, which is super great, but you you don’t get to do that every day. But with social media, we can be personable and connect with people all the time every day no matter where we are.
I feel like the music industry has changed so much even in the last ten, twenty years really. When you look at bands like Panic! At the Disco, they didn’t play their first show until after they’d already been checked out by Pete Wentz. You can do so much online, whether it’s through Facebook, god forbid MySpace, SoundCloud, anything. The coolest thing that we’ve learned in the last year, just through Instagram and Twitter, there’s such a huge environment that’s so connected now to interact with fans. It’s such a cheap—free, really—and effective way to get your sound out as quickly and far as possible. It’s just about putting it out as much as possible and whoever likes it will follow you. That’s how we’ve moved forward, just saying here’s what we have, and we have people come to us and it’s really nice. And if you have the money to do it, social media advertisements are definitely a solid go. Instagram and Twitter are great ways to show personality.
I think social media definitely allows that right amount of access, and it encourages fans to get out to more shows because there’s a more defined cause to support.
What we try to do also is stay consistent with content and showing people we’re active. Like the minute I see a band is falling off, I assume they’re working on an album or something. So I think it’s cool to have a consistent presence online to let people know what you’re doing and I think you’re right, it gets people out to shows and it reminds people to check the band out.
Do you have any specific band role models or people you look to when you’re going to make your next move?
That’s tough. For me it’s kind of like all of them? That’s lame as an answer, but for me when I’m drawing inspiration from bands who are out and touring, it’s seeing how they connect with people. State Champs was doing something where they’d hang out and interview someone from another band, it had no real purpose other than to be fun and for people to watch and get more of their personalities. We like that kind of stuff. We’re not a serious group of people as far as demeanor goes, so we like to be goofy and we like to show that in our videos pictures and stuff. So I connect with bands who are funny, like goofy in their videos and in their marketing.
For me, I’d say I really like bands like The 1975 and The Maine because they do a really good job of rebranding every time they want to put a new release out. The 1975 does a really good job of pushing and pulling their audience by ghosting off of social media and then coming back in very slow deliberate movements. And then another band who did that really well in the last couple of weeks is this band Chase Atlantic, and they did this cool thing where they bought a burner phone and posted the phone number on their Instagram profile and would have fans call it. And they’d text them back or leave them a voicemail saying, ‘Hey, thanks for reaching out’. And I thought that was a really cool way to do that. In terms of writing, bands like—currently my jams are Polyphia and The Story So Far.
So what about your band name?
I guess I have to answer this one. We came up with the name—obviously that was six years ago. We were playing our first show, actually was opening up for Victor’s band at the time, so we were in two separate bands. I’m the only person in the band now who was there when we picked the name, and it was just like, we wrote down like 30 things and it was very Red Jumpsuit Apparatus style where we picked different words and just pushed them together, like ‘Oh that sounds cool!’ That’s pretty much how it happened. I almost don’t want to give a meaning to it because I want people to give their own meaning to it. However they want to relate to us and take Arrows in Action for how it means to them. It’s kind of cool in that way that it doesn’t have one specific meaning so people can give it their own. But as far as coming up with it, it was mostly random.
What are some crazy or funny gig stories so far?
I don’t know how crazy or funny relative to other stories, but we played a show…I won’t even name the venue. We played with a band we play with a lot, they’re called Flipturn, and they’re based in Jacksonville/Gainesville. We got into a really weird heated battle with the venue owner, and we’re all pretty nice understanding people, but it got to the point where the show almost got cancelled. It was a crazy time. Eventually the venue owner apologized to us, but it was a whole thing. That was the “craziest” experience we’ve had.
He wouldn’t let us put our photo up, he was just giving us a lot of trouble setting up. There was a weird parking thing.
Call us in a year. We’ll have crazier stories then.
It was weird. Thankfully every other experience has been pretty awesome, so I’ll take it.
So you have this single coming out on February 23, and you have your EP coming out later this year. What are your big dreams and big plans with those and down the line?
The sky’s the limit for us at this point. We’re all incredibly gung-ho about turning this into a real thing. We’ve got a unique plan for this release, which I don’t want to get into too much, but we hope for more music after this EP this year. We want to tour the southeast like we mentioned and maybe get up the east coast by the end of the year. And then getting out to Arizona within the year would be cool too.
We do have a plan for what we’re doing right now. We’re definitely deliberately releasing things how we want to do it. I’m really excited to show the rest of the songs we have. We’re really hitting the ground writing right now, getting a lot of new stuff done, in addition to the release. This is the busiest this band has been and it’s been the happiest we’ve been with it. We’re doing really well I feel like and making good strides. Like Jesse said, hit the southeast and hit the coast as soon as possible.
Anything else you want to put into the universe?
Anyone who knows who we are or has been paying attention or listening to us, thank you so much for getting our single “Chasing Rhymes” to 60,000 plays. It’s been incredible, added to Spotify playlists, thank you Spotify. We’re getting ready to put out a single on February 23rd, so watch out for our next song. We’re putting out a bundle of songs. Check out our “Chasing Rhymes” lyric video. Hit us up on Instagram! We’re super active on social media, we’ll send you videos of us drinking beer and playing video games.
Story by Taylor Gilliam
Photos courtesy of Arrows in Action