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An Interview with Chicago's Own Arsenal Road At Q Bar on July 23, 2016

An Interview with Chicago’s Own Arsenal Road
At Q Bar on July 23, 2016

By:  Coren E. McLeod

            With any band, change is always a good step in the right direction.  It tends to bring along new ideas and fresh attitudes.  I had a chance to catch the band Arsenal Road at Q Bar this past Saturday.  Aaron from Left With Tomorrow suggested that I go check them out.  Aaron has been a fan for a while and thought I would enjoy myself.

            Arsenal Road impressed me with their stage presence, amazing lyrics and one could see a great friendship among the band members.  With a philosophy of, “We play rock and drink Mountain Dew & Miller High Life. We drive vehicles with excellent storage capacity,” one could tell this band is super chill with a dash of hard core metal sneaking in with the music.
            Arsenal Road brings along years of experience with an unrestricted boldness towards the world of music.  Arsenal Road consist of: Nick Grawe (Vocals and Lead Guitar), Dick LaVergne (Bass), Liz Ele (Drums) and the newest member Steve Stanczyk (Rhythm Guitar).

            After I got to witness the intense yet coolness “fuck you….  I do want I want” set from Arsenal Road, I sat down with each member and get to know this band on another level.  Plus, with the addition of Steve from Left With Tomorrow, I was wondering how he was handling juggling both bands….

Here is how it went:

Coren UnRated:  Tell me the back story of Arsenal Road….  How did you acquire Stephen?

Nick:  For the past 9 years, it has been a 3 piece.

Dick:  It is an interesting story….  It involves campfires and drinking.

Nick:  I was basically band-less.  I had a gig booked.  A 44 kegger down in Joliet.  So, I had a couple of fill in guys for that show.  Dickie was in studio with another band.  So, Dickie and I started the project.  We went through a couple of drummers.  We were kind of going through a Spinal Tap deal.  We met a lot of cool people.  However, not the right fit.

Dick:  Here is how we got Liz as our drummer.  I am at a random dive bar. 

Liz:  It was Phyllis’ Music Inn.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.

Dick:  Yes it was.

Liz:  I was there because I was meeting up with some friends.  And that is how I met up with Dick. 

 Dick:  We just happen to be there at the same time. My buddy Pete knew Liz from a rehearsal space
Downtown.  He says to me, “This girl.  She’s got the pocket you need.”
The door guy was like, “That’s the pocket you need in your band.”


Coren UnRated:  Liz, did you play in a band beforehand?

Liz:  I have played around Chicago.  I have too many bands.   

Dick:  Not such a thing.  There could never be too many bands.

Liz:  Ok…  I have known Pete for a long time. I use to practice at athe place he worked at.  Pete hooked us up and the rest is history. 

Nick:  5 years ago, then Liz came in.  She set up her drums and we jammed a couple of songs.  It was like, “Nope, that's it.”  We started to pick up shows, playing and writing more stuff.  We recorded a little 4 song demo. 

Coren UnRated:  Who helped with the recording of the demo?

Liz:  Our buddy Frosty has a studio in Chicago called SOS.  He is a really good friend of ours.

Nick:  We booked sometime in the studio.  Steve (Left With Tomorrow) and I had played in a band years back.  And last couple of years we have talked about jamming.  We (Arsenal Road) are doing an album and I told Steve he had to be in on it. 

Coren UnRated:  Is that how Steve joined Arsenal Road?

Dick:  Yes.  He is the only guy that could join this band. 

Liz:  Steve was already a part of the family. We were like, “Hey, do you want to be in this nest of awesomeness?”  He is the only person that gets us and can play his guitar subtly.  He rounds out the antics of the band. 

Steve:  I played last night with Left With Tomorrow.  (Left With Tomorrow was at the Metal Grill in Milwaukee.)  I feel like I'm on tour.


Coren UnRated:  Steve, how did you and Nick get along with the other band?

Stephen:  In the other band, Nick and I were pretty tight like musically and friendship wise.  But then, I came back and I missed playing with Nick.  I think he missed playing with me. 

Liz:  Stephen came down and jammed with us at our secret lair. The Compound.  I believe it was 3 years ago.  We were all like, “We need to make this a regular thing."

Dick:  It was fun. 
Liz:  We were wondering when Steve was going to make it official.

Coren UnRated:  How long ago was that?
Nick:  About 2 years ago. 
Liz:  We were in talks and when the timing is right; it is right.

Coren UnRated:  How many shows has Steve played with Arsenal Road so far?
Liz:  I believe like 6 shows so far.
Nick:  Yeah, I think it is 6. 
Steve:  I am still kind of fresh to the band…
Dick:  You are not fresh.  YOU ARE IN!

Coren UnRated:  How does everyone come together to write music?

Liz:  It mostly starts with this guy…  (Pointing towards Nick.)  The dynamic may change since we have other members now.  Steve is bringing other guitar elements in there.  We have been jamming a lot more at practice.  Typically, Nick has an idea for a song.  He may have a riff or two he worked on.  Sometimes, we end up “Frankensteining” it all together.  We still have a lot of things in process with bits and pieces of songs. 

Dick:  We just come together and play. 

Liz:  We have a lot of instrumental that doesn’t have words to it.  So, we are kind of like metal meets jam band. 

Steve:  We are actually working on a “Sex Jams Session….” 

Nick:  It is like Santana with Ron Jeremy on bongos….   (Laughter hits an all-time high…)

Steve:  It music for people that really like “to get down…”

Nick:  I like to write songs people can relate to.  I don’t write hip, poppy songs.

Coren UnRated:  Ok, last question…  What can we expect from Arsenal Road for the rest of the year?

Nick:  We have an album coming out.  I am guessing this fall.  We are in post-production at Cherry Pit Studios.  The month of April was like 12 hour days on the weekends.  Nothing but work.

Dick:  It was a lot of work.  It was very hard work.

Liz:  We are very excited.  We finally have something to give to people.  We wanted something that represents our band.  And it is a good product to share with the world.  We are very happy with where it is going.  Arsenal Road is ready to get it out there.  Go around the Midwest and hopefully further.  Full Throttle!!!!!

            Let me be honest here:  I cannot wait to hear the new album from Arsenal Road.  The entire group brings such a great magnitude of positive energy and just a fun atmosphere to their shows.  Make sure you check them out throughout the Chicagoland area.  I was just amazed at how Arsenal Road combined different elements to their set.  A few of my favorite songs are “Homestead,” “Painkillers,” and “Wake Up.”
            So, if you are ready to rock out with some solid metal with a dash of clever musical drive, go see Arsenal Road.  Your dad may join you on a Saturday night.  Just make sure you offer him and the band a Miller High Life….   #Cheers

 - Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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