AroarA's Andrew Whiteman Talks About Poetry Inspired Record "In The Pines"

One of the notable aspects of AroarA’s new album is it based of the poems of Alice Notley, is that correct?


That’s right


How heavily did the poems influence the songs? Are the lyrics completely derived or more of a framework?


Well, it’s kind of in between that. Basically the whole work itself is derived from Alice’s book, In The Pines. There are fourteen poems in that book which tell this super psychedelic, visionary story, so I made fourteen songs. What I would do was go through these poems, which are not necessarily narrative based, and I would find a phrase or a word, maybe just two words. Then for each poem I started to create what could be like a fake song. I made the lyrics before there was any music. When I had finished making these “songs”, me and Ariel began to put music to them.


Do you think each song tried to capture the feel of the poem it was based on?


The music is related in a way because I wanted the music to feel like part of the poem. There are some constraints on the music. For instance, there is very little bass on the record. A Lot of it was done just on my laptop in the living room in really lo-fi conditions. That all led to create a palette that matched with the hallucinatory, cepia world of In The Pines.     


What exactly drew you guys to these poems?


Well I am a big poetry reader of Modern American poetry and I think Alice Notley is just one of the best writers around these days. I was just reading this particular book of Alice’s and while I was reading it the idea just basically dropped into my mind.


Was there a dialogue with Alice Notley throughout the process?


I let her know in many stages. I would send her my lyricized version and any of the demos. I definitely kept her informed the whole way because this is the type of thing where if she said no go, it would be no go.


AroarA is a group made up of you and your wife. Is this the first time you have ever collaborated and how was that process?


When me and my wife began playing together we were actually doing a very different kind of music. It was still just the two of us but had a very different feel and purpose. This In The Pines thing just kind of happened. It had so much energy so we just went with that. Basically our friend was going away and she invited us to her country house and suggested we just record a record there. So that seemed like the thing to do. Now that we have done In The Pines we will start getting back to the other stuff we were up to.


You are part of both Apostle Of Hustle and Broken Social Scene, but as of now would you say AroarA is your main focus?


Yeah, it is. I don’t think Apostle Of Hustle will happen for awhile. Broken Social Scene might start working again next year. So this is my main thing for this fall, writing a new AroarA record.


Now, will this new AroarA record be based off any existing work or completely original?


Were going to move in a little different direction. Its a very heavy situation to be singing these songs to people. Its pretty heavy stuff. I think the next record might kind of a nursery rhyme theme to make it a bit lighter.


Walk me through a little bit of the recording process for In The Pines?


I had actually done a bit of soundtrack stuff recently so I had gotten MIDI, which I had been in the dark about.  All of a sudden I had this world of sounds, like “whoa! I can have anything I want here”. So I just started making stuff up on that and just recording straight into the laptop. Ariel also has a cigar box guitar which she plays a lot on the album. We even rolled up socks and put them on the end of drumsticks and hit things. Just having fun with it.


How does all that transfer over to touring with this album?


What we do is have a little 404 sampler on stage. So I put a lot of the sounds in there. We both sing and play guitar. We put the sampler right up front in like a suitcase because I want people to know that it is just a glorified drum machine and this is what we’re doing. We just think that the audience ought to know what is going on.