With a name that harkens back to the halcyon days when turntables were used for more than DJ scratching (vinyl records turn on the player's spindle), Grant Arnow, Brett Scharf and Chris Rebholz of Spindle are three twentysomething musicians with one foot rooted in Rock & Roll's glorious past and the other stepping toward its sleeker future.
Accurately self-described as "Jimmy Eat World fronted by Robert Plant," the group mixes bruising power chords with Arnow's classically trained voice soaring on top. The result is a radio-ready sound equal parts '70s bombast and '90s edgy Modern Rock.
Together for a little over a year, the group has enjoyed regional and national success with airplay of its three-song debut EP, The $6,000 Tragedy. However, the band is most proud of a feature fashion article on Rebholz that singled out the bassist for his snazzy taste in slacker chic apparel. He defends his inclusion solely as an opportunity to advance the band's profile.
"I swear to God, it was the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me. I'm shameless in the promotion of my band," he laughs.
Rebholz and Scharf grew up in Alexandria, Ky., while Arnow, a Los Angeles native, had been living in New York City when he relocated to the Queen City at the suggestion of a friend. A voice major in college, and winner of MTV's "Say What Karaoke" contest in 1999, Spindle was born when Arnow responded to an ad placed by Rebholz and Scharf name-checking Built to Spill, Fugazi and Radiohead. Arnow auditioned for the duo in November of 2000, singing Radiohead's "Creep." After paying his dues in the New York music scene, Arnow was thrilled to find two like-minded musicians with similar aspirations to play straightforward Rock & Roll.
He's now settling comfortably into the Midwestern music scene.
"There are so many incredible bands in both L.A. and NYC all working toward record deals (and) all with equally elevated perspectives of how the music industry functions," Arnow notes. "As a result of that, the competition is so fierce that it's tough to break in to the necessary channels. In Cincinnati, the playing field is much more level."
Ironically, Arnow's first real taste of Cincinnati was last April's riots. Like any good lyricist, he immediately put pen to paper to catalogue his take on the city's growing civil unrest. The result yielded "Type A Protocol," a rocking critical commentary of players on both sides of the debate.
"Our perspective is that nothing has been done to heal those wounds. As far as we see it, both sides of the argument have retreated to opposite ends of a massive urban playground, and are staring at each other," Arnow explains. "We wrote that song, using the common phrases/ideas expressed by either side — both lay claim to the city, neither are satisfied with the way they have been treated."
"It's so much more than police brutality" he adds. "This is the boiling-over of generations of ill will and tension. It's very sad, however, that no positive steps have been made. The tension has simply been swept under the rug to rear its head another day."
Live, the trio is currently augmented by local music heavyweights Ashley Shepherd and Dave Becknell (Circus of the Sun, Semi-Automatic). The trio continues to search for the right players to enlist as full-time members.
"We have had a really tough time finding a guitar player or drummer who are ready to be serious about Rock & Roll and Spindle full-time," Arnow observes. "Dave and Ashley are helping us out in a major way."
Shepherd, an engineer/producer, also recorded the group's debut EP and is currently holed up with the band in his Grandin Music Studios working on additional tracks to comprise a full album (the band claims to have written 30 songs in the past year). Rebholz, who had never picked up a bass prior to joining Spindle has been impressed with Shepherd's production skills and pleased with the group's first studio foray.
"Growing up on a steady diet of Indie Rock, I was a bit suspicious. I was surprised our stuff could sound so accessible" says Rebholz. "But I'm stoked on where things are definitely going now. Ashley's been a big help."
Guitarist Scharf agrees and adds: "(Ashley) has many good ideas, especially with backing vocals and melody."
With the release of The $6,000 Tragedy in April, Spindle has hit the ground running. Their first single "The List" notched a spot in the Top 20 on National Specialty Radio playlists and radio play has included influential Rock stations in Boston and Atlanta.
Arnow is uncompromising in his goals for the group and exclaims, "We want to be the biggest band in the world."
Rebholz agrees, adding, "This band definitely has stars in its fucking eyes."
SPINDLE plays the BarrelHouse on June 22. For more information check out: www.spindlefamily.com.