Neo-psychedelia, prominent synthesizers, fuzzy guitars, melodic strings, cozy campfire vibes and inter-dimensional aliens are just a few ways to describe !mindparade and the band’s upcoming studio releases.
What started as a musical project in 2011 for frontman and band mastermind Alex Arnold in Bloomington, Ind., has now morphed into the ever-evolving sound that it projects today. Though !mindparade is influenced by bands like MGMT and Tame Impala, Arnold grew up on the sounds of jazz and classical music.
“It’s part of my mission with having a band, to put that stuff into the rock format and bring it to these venues and indie rock bars, where you may not usually see that,” Arnold said.
The band’s current members include Timmy Barnett on violin, Kyle Huneau on bass, Sei Harris on cello, Clint O Brien on contrabass, Brandon Warren on drums and Arnold as lead vocals, guitar and synthesizer.
Arnold started out at a young age writing poems before picking up guitar around the age of 13 and turning those poems into full-fledged songs. He even used a Yamaha recorder and Windows’ infamous recording software – with multiple open screens – to record his first dubbing samples. The multi-talented artist also has experience playing the harmonica, piano, trumpet, accordion and synthesizer.
After studying composition in college, Arnold went on to intern at Indianapolis’ well-known Joyful Noise Recordings, which has released records for of Montreal, Deerhoof, Suuns, Kishi Bashi and Magic Sword, among others. Throughout his time there, he learned the ins and outs of selling independent music. He also met Zack Anselm, founder of the now defunct Tree Machine Records, which went on to release limited edition tapes and vinyl for two of !mindparade’s first recordings. This time in Arnold’s life inspired him to release his own music on his very own record label.
While touring the Pacific Northwest with another band in 2017, he found himself intrigued by the exuberance that is the Portland music scene. Arnold then began writing what will go on to be his next EP. It revolves around the acoustic guitar and other acoustic sounds, making for a warm, cozy, woodsy ambiance. Before he even decided to take the plunge and move to the Pacific Northwest, he was writing songs about the region without even realizing it.
Portland is also where his record label Neon Underground Archives was born, and where !mindparade would morph into the band that it is today. The first album to be released on Neon Underground Archives was the band’s 2020 album, “Hypertonic.” The release was not something planned for 2020, but experienced a few setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was half-finished when Arnold moved to Portland in 2017, but many of the songs were scrapped and redone to reflect his experience while living there. The record was finished and mastered in the summer of 2019, and sent to multiple labels before Arnold connected with the label that he wanted to press it on. The record label eventually dropped out of the project with the start of the pandemic. After a long writing process, Arnold was certainly ready to finally release it, and was disappointed with the setbacks. That’s when he formed Neon Underground Archives and released his very own album.
During the beginning of the pandemic, Arnold was accepting of some time away from distraction to focus on writing. He wrote around 30 songs in the first year and did a lot of jamming in his home studio. However, he started to feel the emotional effects of the time away from gigging – a first for him since he was 15 years old.
“I didn’t realize it was such this emotional, cathartic process that I had built into my life for a long time,” Arnold said. “But that also brought its own perspective. It made me think about how I want to go back to performing. I think when you’re doing it a lot, sometimes it just feels really fun, but it is this grind. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep perspective of what you’re doing. So, it is nice to step away and take stock of all of those things. Now, I feel like I have a renewed sense – I’m excited about it in this new way.”
“The audience was very active, they were not passive at all. It was a great feeling, really refreshing. I didn’t realize how much I relied on live shows for my psychological health the past 17 years,” Arnold said. “People come up and say ‘thank you for doing that right now’ – people need this right now. I need it.”
Along with the acoustic album, which Arnold is hoping to release in the fall of 2022, the genre-experimenting artist is also working on two other LPs. With one in its infancy, the other is also planned for release in 2022 and focuses on an electronic, pop-oriented sound, termed a concept album about inter-dimensional aliens and technology.
Arnold continues to reconfigure and expand !mindparade’s sound as the musical project closes out its tenth year. Catch the band, playing songs old and new, at one of their upcoming live shows: Sunday, Oct. 31 at Alberta Street Pub; Thursday, Dec. 2 at Mississippi Studios; and Saturday, Jan. 8 at Sou’Wester Lodge.