Creator Chats: Arlo Aldo and Chet Vincent & The Big Bend

Welcome to Creator Chats - a conversation among two groups, bands or people in the music industry. Today we welcome David Manchester of Arlo Aldo and Chet Vincent & The Big Bend.

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Chet Vincent: Let's start with the basics: who is "Arlo" and "Aldo"? 

David Manchester (Arlo Aldo): They're no one specific. Arlo was a name I wanted to use for my son, but it was quickly vetoed. Aldo is the name of an Italian architect, Aldo Rossi, who designed cemeteries with the idea that they should be meeting places for the dead. I really liked the idea of one name signifying birth, and the other associated with death. Like our name itself represented the life cycle

DM: This does beg the returned question of, where/what is the Big Bend?

CV: The "Big Bend" comes from a remark in our guitar players notebook -- when he joined the band he made notes for all the songs, and one was "big ass bend" (as in guitar bend). We thought that sounded good as a band name. I especially liked it because I went on a road trip to the National Park of the same name during college. On that trip we got a hole in the gas tank of our rental car when we went on a off-road trail. We ended up stranded for a few days, it was pretty awful. 

CV: I love your harmonies, they sound so great with the sparse arrangements on your recordings. Did you put the band together with harmonies in mind? I'm curious how you found each other and realized your voices work so well together. 

DM: I definitely put the band together with harmonies in mind. That's what I always wanted. I am a huge fan of Low and the way that Allen Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's voices worked together. So when I moved to Pittsburgh in 2010, I put an ad on Craigslist for a female vocalist looking for a folk-inspired band. Ariel and I started working together with myself on guitar and vocals and her only doing harmonies. Eventually we worked in my old casiotone keyboard from 1982. In 2010 we brought Brandon in. Ariel knew him from work and knew he was looking for a band. We invited Susanna to join us at the recommendation of Jay Vega,  after we recorded Zelie. We realized we really needed a bass player, and her voice was amazing when she was in Boca Chica. Jessie was originally hired as a studio musician when we were working on House and Home, and we loved what she did so much we convinced her to become an official member of the band.i think we got really lucky at how well everyone's voices blend, and I give all credit to the women in the band for their creative harmony arrangements.

DM: When you decided to start the band, what was your vision for the sound, and how close to that vision are you now? Has that vision changed as you've played together?

CV: When I started The Big Bend, I had just finished recording some songs that had more of an 'indie-folk rock' vibe. I initially thought the band would be playing in that style, but as time went by we began to realize our strength as a group was playing a heavier style of rock and roll. It has been fun though, trying to fit folk song themes into loud rock song formats. Our one album "Unconventional Dog" is the point where I think we finally put all the pieces together for the first time. I am still very interested in acoustic folk songs though, I'm working on a side project now that will be more in that style! 

CV: How did you get connected to Fred and Future Oak Records? I think the first time we met was at one of his house shows in Lawrenceville! 

 photo: Molly Alphabet

photo: Molly Alphabet

DM: I met Fred through the magic of the amazing Pittsburgh Musical Spiderweb. I was asking Jay Vega about living room shows while we were at The Wilderness Recording Studio recording “Zelie." He suggested I talk to Jeff Betten, Jeff suggested I talk to Fred. It’s the perfect example of awesome people knowing awesome people. I am so humbled and grateful for the little musical family I’ve found myself in the middle of.

DM: When did you first know you wanted a band, and why?

Jeff Betten: Fred was the king of house shows during his time in Pittsburgh, so when Dave told me that doing more house shows was one of the goals of the band, I couldn't believe he didn't know about the Acorn Alliance! Good times there, for sure.

DM: Amen.

Abe Anderson of CVBB: I'll let Chet or whomever provide their own answer, but for me it was somewhere around 10 seeing two of my  camp counselors playing (in retrospect horribly fumbling through) a rendition of Blind Melon's 'No Rain.' I really envied the camaraderie that making music seemed to imply...but maybe it was that 1990 VHS tape I had of the Ninja Turtles' first and only Broadway musical 'Coming out of Their Shells' tour. Not really sure.

CV: Hahaha! That's awesome. I can't really pinpoint a specific moment when I knew I wanted a band -- although it was probably the first time I heard The Beatles. It has always been something I've been really into. 

CV: What projects do you have coming up? Hopefully some new Arlo Aldo recordings on the way??

DM: As of now, we’re working on a lot of new material. We don’t’ necessarily have a start date for recordings as a full band, but, Jessie and I did a 5-song EP called “Two Piece Promenade," which will be out in early 2018.

DM: How about you guys? What’s on your horizon?

CV: The Big Bend is gonna start working on some new material very soon. We don’t know know exactly what the next project is gonna sound like — but we know we wanna try to rent a beach house somewhere and record as part of a vacation. The idea is we can all be together and feeling relaxed and hopefully that vibe will translate to the recording! 

In the mean time I have a solo folk album coming out in February I’m excited about. Something a little bit different than Big Bend stuff!

Arlo Aldo's House & Home is out now on Future Oak Record Company.

Chet Vincent and The Big Bend's Celebrate is out now on Misra Records.