Birds and Arrows mixes music and art in his work | Music function

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Andrea and Pete Connolly from folk-influenced band Birds and Arrows have a strong visual element to their work.

For their latest album, “Electric Bones”, they took it a step further by creating a corresponding concept music video. Center stage is their beloved 1973 El Camino for the moody duet between Andrea and fellow artist Brian Lopez on “Saviors of This Town.”

The car, a birthday present from Pete to Andrea a few years ago, inspired the name of the album “Electric Bones”.

“Looks like he never left the desert,” Andrea said.

“It’s like a road warrior you’d see in the ‘Mad Max’ movies. Thanks to COVID, I had time to learn how to work on it…I was able to really immerse myself in working on the cars, which I always wanted to do.

“It’s like electricity and bones that keep him on the road. We love hiking in the desert and spending a ton of time in the desert. We’re taking him to Saguaro West. We’re going to do a hike and sit in the back after a hike, have a beer and star gaze, it’s our vehicle that transforms us from our daily lives into our own little world.

The car may well make an appearance on Arizona Arts Live from the Hotel Congress for Birds and Arrows on Friday, August 19.

“Electric Bones” has a classic 70s folk-rock sound reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. For the album, the pair tried to bring in carefully written songs, moody soundscapes and dynamic harmonies.

“We both have that love of that era. The late 70s and early 80s were magical for both of us,” Andrea said.

Pandemic break

The two began working on their sixth studio album just before COVID-19. They had written and recorded about half of “Electric Bones” but halted work at the height of the pandemic. They resumed in 2021.

Andrea said that although half of the songs were written before and the other half during the pandemic, the album feels cohesive.

“I feel like the first stuff that was written had a bit of an apocalyptic vibe even before COVID happened,” Andrea said.

“There’s a song that was written before COVID that was very anti-capitalist and frustrated with that aspect as artists and musicians and having to think about it from a capitalist side. So there were a lot of little things in there that came to a head even more during the pandemic.

Pete said that while the album doesn’t deal directly with COVID-19, the music speaks to the experience of living through a pandemic and the feelings of uncertainty that come with it.

They recorded the album at Dust and Stone Recording Studio with a quartet, which featured Andrea on vocals, rhythm guitar and synth soundscapes; Pete on drums and vocals; Ben Nisbet on lead guitar and Gabriel Sullivan on bass.

Sullivan, owner of Dust and Stone, also served as producer with Frank Bair as engineer. Sullivan also produced and recorded his first album in Arizona “Arbitrary Magic”.

Although the couple tend to tour as a duo, they enjoy recording with other musicians.

“It’s nice to know what other people are feeling or thinking, to have their vibes on the record and their presence, because it really gets the record moving, we couldn’t move it on our own,” Andrea said.

Besides Lopez, the album also features guest artists such as Saul Millan from Los Esplifs, Daniel Martin Diaz from Trees Speak, Chris Pierce from Katie Haverly and the Aviary and Marta DeLeon from Weekend Lovers.

The duo have also been part of compilation projects featuring Wilco, Big Star, Whiskeytown and Yo La Tengo.

Click to enlarge

(Book Art by Pete Connolly)

Birds and Arrows, a husband and wife duo from Tucson, released their album, “Electric Bones,” on August 5.

hard times

The pandemic has been a difficult time for the couple. They had to find other ways to support themselves when they couldn’t tour and perform. Andrea taught private guitar and vocal lessons online, and Pete focused more on his visual art.

Being independent musicians hasn’t been easy despite the pandemic. They often had to take other jobs to support themselves. It affected them before and during the pandemic.

“We had hit it so hard as musicians and artists and had been completely self-funded,” Andrea said.

“None of us come from the means. It’s always been a struggle. No matter how good things are, we always have to keep up the rent and all the things that life demands. I think it was a mix where we had a lot of pent up energy and we wanted to be creative, we wanted to get back there, but we also had to find another ground to stand on.

Going through COVID-19 and not being able to perform has given the couple a whole new appreciation and need for their music.

“When it gets muffled and repressed in an environment where you can’t be as free of expression, there’s a certain buildup there that we’ve been looking forward to and continue to address with this record,” Pete said. .

The couple founded the band in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2007 and moved to Tucson nearly seven years ago. They moved to Tucson after visiting the city on a cross-country tour.

Right after their upcoming shows, they’ll set off on an East Coast and Midwest tour during which they hope to engage with their longtime fans in places like North Carolina.

“We’ve spent 10 years or more building an audience,” Andrea said.

“Our plan was to go back once a year when we moved here. We went back once, then COVID hit. Then we haven’t been back since. We feel like we want to recoup all the work we put into this.

The group has already gained traction in the Tucson music scene during the few years they have been in Arizona. In 2021, they were voted “Best Rock Band” by readers of Tucson Weekly.

Since moving to Arizona from North Carolina, where they met, the duo have given their music a harder edge.

“When we were in North Carolina, we were definitely doing more folk-rock,” Pete said.

“I think we were a bit frustrated to be pigeonholed into the folk-rock genre. We deliberately invited back when we moved to Tucson. We took the opportunity to change style and energy.

Their latest album is a mix of influences. Pete and Andrea have always mixed visuals and music in everything they do, but they’ve taken it to another level since moving to Tucson.

Pete and Andrea have a background in visual arts and graphic design respectively. They do the band’s artwork, graphics and videography and, for other acts, design t-shirts, album covers and logos.

The couple illustrated a series of children’s books for a Baltimore nonprofit in 2013. They are used as learning tools in schools in Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis and New Orleans.

Pete also illustrated two decks of tarot cards in the 80s, and his paintings have been featured on network television shows.

long time musicians

During their 16 years together, the pair have been involved in music together. Pete has been playing in bands since middle school. Andrea started doing community theater at a young age and started performing with bands at 18.

Pete said that from the start they got along well musically.

“Our styles were different, but we had a similar base of appreciation for music. So I think it was easy to merge the slightly different styles. I think it just came naturally,” Pete said.

“My style was a bit moody and slower rock, and Pete’s was a bit more direct rock ‘n’ roll. They definitely intertwined and became its own thing,” Andrea added.

Andrea said having a similar level of commitment to music was important to them.

“We have this mix of being creative people but also being grounded too. It helps us stay together and work together. And then we were super in love when we met and we still are,” Andrea said.

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