Q&A with Billings’ Groove Outfit Arterial Drive

Ahead of their first show at the Top Hat on Friday, February 15, Logjam had the privilege to learn more about the Billings-based band on the rise, Arterial Drive.

What brought the six of you together as a band in Billings?

5 of us were in University Jazz Band and wanted to take our music to a more commercial level.  We started playing together anywhere and everywhere from the corners of coffee shops to the airport baggage claim area!  We never turned down an opportunity to play our music!

You released your EPonymous Debut earlier this year. Can you tell us about the making of your album:

Where did you record it?

Amplify Studios, Downtown Billings, recorded with Mr. Neve! The Beast!

Who wrote the songs?

Track 1: Meg. Track 2: Drew. Track 3: Juan

All six of us take credit for songwriting contributions. This first EP has lyrics by Meg, Drew and Juan, but the full length album we are recording now has music and lyrics written by all six of us!!

What inspired the album?

EPonymous debut is a punny title that indicates it’s our first release of an EP, or any product for that matter.  The biggest inspiration was that we NEEDED an album badly because people were constantly badgering us for one! It was a good problem to have.

Anything else notable?

The album was done completely independently.  Drew and Meg engineered and mixed the songs. Some songs were written 10 years ago…

We tried to include a different style/genre song for each track on the EP.  It’s all over the place! Juan’s song, “The Horde,” is about a zombie apocalypse. Drew’s song, “Better Way,” is about the ugliness of addiction.

It looks like you all had the opportunity to perform in “Mrs. Jeffers” classroom in Billings. Can you fill us in on what that experience entailed and how it came about?

Mrs. Jeffers and her husband are huge fans of the band and she simply asked us to watch her class’s musical performance and play some songs with them afterwards… so, it was a no brainer to show up for that extravaganza!  The kids learned a few cover songs that we play during our sets, like “Hit the Road Jack” and “Wade in the Water,” so they chimed in strongly on those ones! Those kids had an amazing ear for music, I was so impressed!

Which artists have had a big influence on your sound?

Sublime.  The Beatles.  The Dear Hunter.  Martin Sexton. Reign of Kindo.  Sylvan Esso.

What’s the best part of being a band in Billings? What’s the most difficult part?

The best part is the love that we get from the Billings fans and Billings music community.  We consistently fill the venues with people who love our music. We were voted best band in Billings at the Magic City Music Award Ceremony along with Best Original Song!  We are so grateful for the love we get in Billings. The most difficult part is the fear of over-saturating the market here and playing too many times at the popular venues.  We are still the same “we will play anywhere” band and promoters often don’t agree with that philosophy! It’s also difficult to make the transition from cover band to original band.  Listeners appreciate our creatively different covers and have grown accustomed to them! We want to have the same awesome reaction to a 90% original set!!!

It looks like you’ve done a good job building a solid social media following (3,000+  followers on FB and 2,200+ IG). Is that something you pay attention to/concentrate on and do you think it’s played a role in your success?

We don’t go fishing for likes, but we do recognize the numbers game is important to venues.  It has not been very evident whether or not it’s played a role in our success… I mean, some bands I’ve met have 15k likes on FB and their music hurts my earholes.  I guess I’d like to ask Logjam Presents if our 3.6k likes gave us a better shot at a gig!? That alone didn’t get you the gig, but it’s interesting to see those numbers with Montana up and comers!

What are you looking forward to most about your first headlining show at the Top Hat?

The nationally acclaimed food!!! Also the fact that we’ve never played in Zootown and we feel like the culture there will really dig our sound!

What are your future plans for 2019?

We are going to gig our ass off this spring/summer!  We hardly have any Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays open! It’s nuts how many shows are booked already.  We are still chipping away at our first full length album and will have it finished in time for a fall tour! The ultimate future goal is to hire a server from the Olive Garden to tour with us full time and replenish our never ending breadsticks basket at the drop of a dime.

Do you guys spend a lot of time in Missoula? What’s your favorite part about Missoula?

Drew went to U of M for a semester and a half… he had too much fun. Ryan has a lot of family there.  Other than that we have no ties to the wonderful Zoo, but we love the scene there! The music and arts is unlike anywhere else in Montana. We don’t spend near enough time there.  Half the band travelled there for LP… that was a bit of a disaster! We are going to hit up Rockin’ Rudy’s when we get there.

How should people prepare to have the best time possible at your show?

Be ready to eat, drink, dance, sing along, and be merry.  We will probably jump into the crowd for solos and such… we feed off the energy in the venue.

EVENT DETAILS: Arterial Drive at Top Hat 2/15/19