|Origin||Kingston Upon Thames, England|
|Labels||Easy Life Records, Play It Again Sam. Publisher: Sony/ATV|
Arcane Roots were a three-piece alternative rock band from Kingston Upon Thames, England, formed in 2006. In its final incarnation, the band consisted of Andrew Groves (vocals, guitar), Adam Burton (bass) and Jack Wrench (drums).
After self-releasing several EPs, their debut album, Blood & Chemistry, was released in 2013. This was followed by the Heaven & Earth EP in 2015, and their second studio album, Melancholia Hymns, in 2017.
In 2018, they announced their intention to disband after touring for their final EP, Landslide, which was released in September of that year.
Andrew Groves and Daryl Atkins met at Reigate College in Surrey, while studying music technology. The pair were in numerous function/studio bands together until realising their similar opinions and approaches to music, which lead to them forming the band in 2006 with bassist Frank Tiramani. Groves, though satisfied with being guitarist and songwriter, took up the dual role of guitarist and singer as they struggled to find a singer.
The band recorded a home studio demo of five songs and began to gig around South-East London, giving the CDs away for free. This culminated in a support slot with the French-Canadian band Malajube at the 100 Club in London in September 2007. The band also added a demo of new song "Becoming Of Age" to the CD for the Malajube date.
In late 2007, the band demoed three new songs - "Casualties", "An Easy Smile" and "Humanism is a Condition" - plus reworkings of "What Becomes You" and "Becoming of Age" from their original home demo, to be included on a new EP entitled Brave the Sea. The EP was produced and recorded by Chris Coulter, who was then working at Stakeout Studios in Richmond, which the band chose as it was where Reuben had recorded Racecar is Racecar Backwards. Coulter would go on to produce the majority of the band's material going forward.
Brave the Sea took over a year to record due to costs and Tiramani's travelling commitments, which saw him away from the band for six months. During this time, Groves and Atkins recorded home demos of new songs "Avalane" and "Long & Low", which were briefly available to hear on the Arcane Roots Myspace. Brave the Sea was released digitally by the band in August 2008.
Work on the band's next self-titled EP started sooner than expected, when the final Brave the Sea recording sessions finished early. In the coming months, three new songs were recorded: "Long & Low", "Nylon" and "Rouen". Financial problems within the band caused the sessions to be cut short, and only the latter two songs were completed and mixed. "An Easy Smile" was also taken from Brave the Sea and added to the EP. The EP was given away at shows, and was available to download from the band's Myspace. It received positive reviews from small press and secured the band management. In December that year, the band announced that Adam Burton would be replacing Tiramani.
In Spring 2009, the band began working on a mini-album with Brave the Sea producer Chris Coulter. This was self-released digitally in April 2010 as Left Fire. The EP was subsequently re-released numerous times, first through Bandcamp in February 2011, then in remastered physical form via PIAS Recordings in 2012 . The remastered version included two additional acoustic tracks (reworkings of "You Are" and "Rouen", both featuring Emily Denton), as well as an extended version of "Habibty". The album received mainly positive reviews from both press and online review sites.Left Fire's singles included "In This Town of Such Weather", and "You Are", the latter including the new, extended "Habibty" as its B-side.
Arcane Roots released their debut full-length album, Blood & Chemistry, on 6th May 2013, with Clash Music streaming the record prior to its release. This was supported by a United Kingdom headline tour with The JCQ, which started on 30th April 2013, as well as a number of appearances on the festival circuit. During June 2013, the band supported English rock group Muse on the European leg of The 2nd Law World Tour, playing dates in Italy and Switzerland - this included a gig at Stadio Olimpico. The band also gained support slots on various dates of Biffy Clyro's European tour in December 2013. The two tours with Muse and Biffy Clyro had been a big aspiration of the band, however after playing them realised that the large venues didn't fit their ambitions and felt more comfortable in smaller, intimate tours.
2014 saw the band head out on tour again in Europe and the UK, before playing a few more one-off support slots and festival appearances in the summer. They made their debut at Download Festival, and supported The Used at an intimate London show.
On 29th June 2015, the band announced that Atkins would no longer be touring. For the rest of the band's live shows in 2015, he was replaced by Jack Wrench, from Brighton-based band In Dynamics. That year, the band signed to Easy Life Records, a subsidiary label of Sony Music.
In July 2015, the band returned to Stakeout Studios, where they had recorded Left Fire, to record music for a new extended play entitled Heaven & Earth. The band had created 250 songs for the recording stage, selecting only five for inclusion on the record.Heaven & Earth was released on 16th October 2015 through Easy Life Records.
On 27th February 2016, Arcane Roots supported Enter Shikari on one date of their 2016 'Mindsweeper' tour at The Alexandra Palace in London. The band had decreased their tour schedule significantly in 2016, for the writing of their second album. Groves stated during the writing that the new album would be "even more left field" than their previous work. During the recording of their second album, Wrench was confirmed as Arcane Roots' official new drummer, replacing Atkins.
Prior to the release of their second album the band promoted it by releasing three music videos: 'Curtains' on 1 February 2017, 'Matter' on 22 May and 'Off The Floor' on 18 July 2017. They played their first headline show since October 2015 on 6 February 2017 in the Bush Hall, London to 400 people, where they debuted three new songs from the album 'Before Me', 'Curtains' and 'Off The Floor'.
Prior to the release of the album the band performed at a few European festivals- including Reading and Leeds Festival, Moscow's Dobrofest and Switzerland's Bern Gurten festival- and supported Evanescence in London on two shows.
On 15th September 2017, the band's second studio album, Melancholia Hymns, was released through Easy Life Recordings. The album was a significant stylistic departure, relying heavily on electronic sounds - while the band remained confident in the songs they had written, they were uncertain of the potential response to the new music, with Groves describing his fear that it would be perceived as "'Arcane Roots Find A Synthesiser" or "Rock Band Finds Drum Machine". Nevertheless, the album was well-received critically, being included on The Independent's rock and metal year-end list. In support of the album, the band toured across the UK and Europe, the first dates taking place in September with Good Tiger and Gold Key. Complications arose when members of the band fell ill, leading to the London and Wolverhampton dates being re-scheduled to the end of the tour. Additionally, Good Tiger could no longer perform and after eight dates were replaced with Fizzy Blood.
On 31st October 2017, the band played alongside Architects, Enter Shikari, Marmozets, Neck Deep and PVRIS at Radio 1 Rocks, a one-off gig recorded by BBC Radio 1 at Maida Vale Studios in London. They played a cover of the Muse song New Born as part of their setlist.
In early 2018, the band went on a series of short tours, with support from The Hyena Kill and Grumble Bee in the UK, and Jamie Lenman on the dates in Germany and the Netherlands. This was followed in June by the release of a single entitled "Landslide", alongside the announcement of an EP of the same name.
In August 2018, it was announced on the band's Facebook page that they would be splitting up after the conclusion of the Landslide tour dates 'to look inwards and take on new long term projects'.
Arcane Roots has been described as a diverse band with a sound that ranges through different genres. Features of their sound include jagged guitar riffs coupled with sombre passages and possessing a "angular heaviness keeps them outside of the mainstream". Genres such as alternative rock,math rock,post-hardcore,progressive rock,indie rock and progressive metal. Their use of complex rhythmic structures and irregular beats has been accredited to their math rock influence. Covering the bands sound on their earlier extended plays, their sound has been noted as fusing progressive metal with "big, bombastic pop hooks".Rock Sound described their sound as fusing "At The Drive-In's skewed punk assault, a dash of Tubelord's high-pitched pop sensibility, a sprinkling of Glassjaw and some 10-fingered riffing that wouldn't be out of place on a Meet Me In St. Louis album" however noted that "when Arcane Roots are in full flight they're brilliantly uncategorisable".
When their debut album Blood & Chemistry was released critics were quick to compare their sound to that of Biffy Clyro. Reviewers note the songs complicated influences- such as mathcore and combining "metal guitar ability drives songs that most commonly blend soaring and melodic yearningly-worded indie pop verses with furious asymmetrical breakdowns".
The musical style of their second album Melancholia Hymns is seen as a distinct from their previous work, as it shifts away from their post-hardcore influences. Eleanor Goodman, when writing for Prog Magazine describe it as "electronically tinged, melodic rock record that shuns the shouty bombast of their debut, 2013's Blood & Chemistry, as well as their four EPs". During the song-writing process the band change their own conventions to create a new sound. Groves learned piano for this record and combined influences from various electronica, jazz and classical pianists such as James Blake, Aphex twin, Keith Jarrett, Nola Frahm, Bill Lawrence and Bill Evans.Electronica was attractive to Groves because of its use of "use of unconventional rhythms and accents".
The lyrics of the non-album single Over and Over was written by Groves about getting married, from a hypothetical perspective. The writing of this helped Groves to develop a more transparent approach to lyrics writing.Melancholia Hymns became a shift away from their personal experiences towards relatable themes and topics; "Indigo" comments on the life and death of British neurologist Oliver Sacks, whilst "Off The Floor" has political themes and talks about the importance of voting.
Arcane Roots are known for their energetic live shows. Groves has garnered particular attention from live reviewers for his tight multitasking of singing vocally demanding songs and complicated guitar playing.
|Arcane Roots discography|
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|2013||Blood & Chemistry||--||7|
|"--" denotes a title that did not chart.|
|2008||Brave The Sea
|2015||Heaven & Earth
|2011||"You Are"||Left Fire|
|2012||"In This Town of Such Weather"|
|2013||"Slow"||Blood & Chemistry|
|2014||"Over & Over"||Non-album single|
|2015||"If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves"||Heaven & Earth|
|"Off the Floor"|
|"Everything (All at Once)"|