Meet Nathaniel Fregoso: Lead Singer of The Blood Arm Talks About His Next Album, Grilled Cheese, and Franz Ferdinand.
Photo courtesy of The Blood Arm's MySpace.
"I like all the girls, and all the girls like me!" A cocky line to be sure, but also one that will stick in your brain for days on end. The same can be said about the rest of The Blood Arm's second album, Lie Lover Lie, whose New Wave infused Los Angeles rock grabbed the world's attention three years ago. They're back in their LA studio, wrapping up material on their third disk. They will be debuting these new tunes at the Bordello this Thursday evening. Keeping us up to date on the latest developments lead singer, Nathaniel Fregoso was kind enough to speak to us from the Grilled Cheese Invitational on Saturday. Here is some of what was said.
What's the most memorable grilled cheese you've had so far?
Oh man, the most decadent one I've had had pork belly in it. I took one bite and thought, "Call the hospital. I'm going to have a heart attack."
What was your favorite?
It's really sad, but I liked the free ones that Kraft was giving out. I'm a simple guy. I like my grilled cheese with cheese and bread and butter.
Those are good ones. What made you pick up an instrument? How old were you?
I was in fifth grade, so I must have been ten or twelve. I played piano for about three years, but I quit.
When you’re twelve the piano is not the coolest thing in the world. I wasn’t the coolest kid at twelve anyway, so the two things combined were not great.
How did you guys get together?
I met Sebastian through mutual friends. We used to karaoke together all the time. Diane, I met at UCLA. Before Diane, I would play a little bit of piano, but she's a professionally trained pianist and so she took over those duties. We played without a drummer without for years with horrible results. It turns out you can't have a rock band with only a guitarist and keyboards. We auditioned a couple people before finding Zach. He's been really awesome.
How long have you guys been together as a unit?
The whole unit? About five years now.
Where did you get the name the Blood Arm? Did you hurt yourself horribly the day you formed the band?
No, no, I wanted a name to instill fear. (laughs) Before the Blood Arm even came into being, I used to talk about how it would be great it would be to have a tough name for a band. It turns out that a lot of people thought we were a death metal band.
Is your band a democracy or a dictatorship?
Democracy for sure. All four of us weigh in on every decision. Some times it can turn into World War III on the most minute of decisions, but it's worth it.
It's been three years since your last record, Lie Lover Lie, came out, when are we going to hear a new disk from you guys?
We're actually in the studio finishing up a new record right now. We're recording everything ourselves with our friend David, who produced The Little Ones and The Movies' albums. We've got fourteen songs right now, but we'll probably whittle it down to eleven.
Are you releasing it by yourselves?
No, no, we're just recording it by ourselves. We're signed to this French label called Because and they belong to Warner Bros, so we'll probably be released in the US on some off shoot of Warner Bros.
So you don't know who's releasing your album in the US? That's insane.
Welcome to my life. I have no idea what's going on with Warner Bros. I'm sure it'll get figured out. We're recording everything on our own energy, so I'll worry about releasing it later.
What happened to the British label, City Rockers, that released your first album?
City Rockers went under and so we were left in this weird middle space. It's incredibly confusing being on offshoots of major labels.
Who is the Suspicious Character in your single? Is it you?
It's about the narrator of the song. I won’t admit anything.
You won't admit to anything?
No, I won’t. (laughs) This is going to be the worst interview ever. It's going to be like Frost/Nixon. You'll have to charm the answers out of me.
I think I'm up to it. Where did you get the name Lie Lover Lie? Also, to be clear, is it lie down or tell falsehoods?
That’s half the fun I think. Diane came up with that title.
What are you going to call the new one?
We're not sure yet. My friend Jordan thinks it should be called Nathaniel’s Band. So that's where it stands. Hopefully it will be out by the end of the year in January, but there will definitely be singles before that.
What inspired you to write a song about Creditors?
I was financially doing really poorly a year and half ago when I wrote that song. I probably shouldn't be saying this, but I banked with Wells Fargo and wasn’t paying my bills on time, so they used to call me at eight in the morning. I would always panic and think it was a family emergency, you know? But it was always an automated phone message. Bastards. It really got my goat.
Would you have liked it better if they were actual people?
I would like that. I would have been like, "Hey what’s up? Lets get some breakfast."
I love the version of Do I have Your Attention you did in French with Anais. Any plans to redo any of your other songs in other languages?
We're always messing around with different sounds. The more languages the better, I say. I think it's weird that American bands won’t record in other languages. We just want to write a good song, you know?
What was the worst show you ever played?
Early on when we first started it was rough. We would play at this place called Ben's Sushi a lot, you know, to get our legs. They have a rule there that if there isn't ten people in the room, they will just cut you off. One night we had played out all of our favor cards with our friends and there were only two people in the audience. It was awful. Eventually though, we started getting good enough to play places like the Echo and the Spaceland. Those places come in with a built in audience.
What is the weirdest thing that's happened to you at a show?
Oh man, one of the first times I went to London, I went to the audience and lost my boot. I had just bought them the day before, and they weren't cheap. Also they weren't like small boots, they were the kind that are really hard to get off. But someone managed to pull it off of me. I had to wrap my sock in toilet paper so I didn't step on the beer on the floor. It was really sad. I had to go out and buy new shoes.
What your favorite place to eat dinner late at night in Los Angeles?
I really like Hank's Bar downtown. They usually have crock pots full of stew and sandwiches. I also love the Brite Spot in Echo Park, but I don't go there as often anymore because I moved downtown.
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
They should have records released more easily. Too much money is given to giant ad campaigns for U2's latest record, which is probably going to be mediocre, and not enough money to release local bands that sound great.
Do local bands that you really like?
Oh yeah, the band we're playing with at the Bordello, Sweaters, is my favorite band right now. They're the hottest thing in town. Seriously. They keep me on my game.
Franz Ferdinand often names you as their favorite band. Have they reached out to you?
Oh yeah, they wrote a really generous article about us in NME. We just saw them when they were here at Coachella. They're really awesome guys. We went and watched them when they were on Jimmy Kimmel. We were in the front row making silly faces at the cameras.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
I really like the Duran Duran's Wedding Album. I don't really feel guilty about it. I was hanging out with someone who had the new Britney Spears album playing and I quite liked it. I really like pop and Lady Gaga.
(A dog barks in the background.)
Do you have a dog?
Yeah, his name is Jackie. I named him after the lead singer from the 1990s. I love them. They have this song called You’re Supposed to Be My Friend. When he was a puppy he used to leave accidents all over the house, and I would sing to him, "You’re supposed to be my friend," while I was cleaning up after him.
If you were stuck on a deserted island and you could bring three worldly possessions what would they be?
An iPod, a Mojito, and a lighter. Wait! That's not very exciting. How about a theremin, my dog Jackie and a bicycle? That's much better.
Thanks for talking with us.
Be sure to catch The Blood Arm and the Sweaters tonight at the Bordello. Doors open at 9pm.